“If you’ve eaten a cheeseburger in Utah, the cheese went through our facility,” David Bornemeier said in an interview last Wednesday. Their company, Western Gateway Storage, has provided cold storage services for 100 years and David said, “We’ve always been available to the local rancher, farmer or manufacturer. We grow with Utah, and that’s a cool story.” How they came to own—and love this legacy—is a story too.
In 2011, David and Becky Bornemeier owned Stringham Real Estate School, but David got an itch. “It was running on its own, a beautiful little company,” David said, who was 32 at the time. “And I got bored.” Becky laughed, “That's the truth of it.” So they searched for an existing business to buy with both an excellent reputation and tangible real estate. One day, David asked Becky, “How would you like to buy a freezer?” She envisioned a stainless steel walk-in-type, and she said, “Sure, I love to cook.” But David clarified, “This one is 63,000 square feet.”
When they found Western Gateway Storage for sale, the economics were right, but it was the history that caught their imaginations. Founded to fill a need for local ranchers and meat packing, the facility was critical for the Ogden Union Stockyards to flourish. Its original site was co-located with Ogden Packing and Provision Company. After meat was dressed, it had to be cold-stored until shipped by rail or truck to markets as far away as Philadelphia. (Read more about their legacy here.) In 1920, Western Gateway Storage Co. spun off as its own entity, still next door. They built a new facility at 130 28th Street in Ogden in 1950.
Today, the supply chain principles remain the same. “We don’t own any inventory ourselves. We are like a food hotel.” They never get bored because they’re constantly learning about all the products they store, including 10 million pounds of cheese, cookie dough, pharmaceuticals, and carbon fiber for the F-35.
One of their favorite local products will come through the doors soon: “Peaches the size of a softball,” David said. He adds that when one local farmer realized refrigeration would preserve his harvest longer, it extended his selling season and kept those beautiful peaches from going to waste. The farmer always brings in a “thank you” case for the Bornemeirs because it has made a difference for his family.
Where refrigeration technology is concerned, what was old is new again. David sets a scene in Ogden after the turn-of-the-century, “All of a sudden you've got transport, and electricity and refrigeration. Ranchers here are producing for the entire world. Once upon a time, Ogden was a technological and innovation hub. Now it's going to get even bigger.”
Today their company is harnessing cutting-edge breakthroughs that are grounded in its origins. David further explained, “Western Gateway has always used natural ammonia refrigerant. Then, after the turn of the 20th Century was this big evolution of man going to artificial refrigerants which have been known to have a detrimental effect on the environment. Now we were featured in a worldwide magazine with brand-new, low-charge ammonia. It is the pinnacle in refrigeration. And we have it here in sleepy Ogden, Utah.”
Becky added, “Ogden is taking charge and leading the industry. We want to help make Ogden a bigger dot on the map.” They added that other businesses like Costco are coming to see their refrigeration units to benchmark best practices. Western Gateway Storage is located at 130 W. 28th Street in Ogden and they just opened a state-of-the-art addition, adjacent on Doxey.
Today, about 80 percent of the inventory they store is frozen, and about 20 percent is refrigerated, a ratio that is opposite what it was a hundred years ago.
The Bornemeiers teach their company’s legacy to their children too. Becky explained, “History is what grounds you. It makes you excited about what you are doing as a company. It lets you know who you are. We wanted to know the history of our company so it makes us stronger to move forward.” Their scrapbooks contain every article, photo and advertisement they could get their hands on since Western Gateway Storage began.
The Bornemeier family values include both an entrepreneurial spirit and the value of work. Their children operate the soda machines in their facilities, and they detail them spotlessly every time they restock. Becky said, “Because if you are going to make money, you have to work hard.” Becky added that they also have fun together and teaches the children, “You have to find the joy in everything you do."
It will be each child’s choice whether to ultimately join in the business, but Becky says, “through our enthusiasm, they have caught the spirit of it, especially with the history. They catch the fire if you have the fire.” David and Becky Bornemeier are raising kids who are independent, yet know how to work together. Becky said, “Our children will be givers to society.” David added, “Makers, not takers.”
Then and Now:
Original Western Gateway Storage building co-located with Ogden Packing and Provision Company.
The Bornemeier family stands in front of Western Gateway’s first cold storage facility