Trucking company All Pro Freight adds new cross-town location | Crain's Cleveland Business

2022-07-22 07:39:05 By : Ms. Hedy xue

Chris Haas, president and CEO of All Pro Freight Systems Inc., standing in his company's headquarters.

As a trucking executive, Chris Haas, president and CEO of All Pro Freight Systems Inc. of Westlake, appreciates the value of time, distance and energy. He also prizes the benefit of being close to his customers — and potential ones.

"Proximity absolutely matters," Haas said in an interview. "The closer you are to your customer, the better you can serve customers. For example, manufacturers want cartage to distribution centers. Then want it shipped from one facility to another or the end customer. In transportation, you take what they offer. By comparison, real estate is easy. You just have to pull the trigger."

Haas, who has a property portfolio of about 1 million square feet here and in Florida, just pulled the trigger on a deal he expects to benefit his trucking and warehousing business.

One of his affiliates on July 6 acquired the R.L. Lipton Building, 5900 Pennsylvania Ave. in Maple Heights, for $3.5 million, according to Cuyahoga County property records. All Pro has immediate use for part of the building and will occupy all of it after R.L. Lipton, a beverage distributor, exits for a new facility.

The deal also plays a more strategic role for All Pro. It puts the company, and Haas, in the southeast industrial market, the most vibrant in Northeast Ohio.

"We have looked for a location in the southeast for years, from Solon to Bedford," Haas said, noting he had been been deterred by what he viewed as soaring prices.

The move-in condition and good location of the R.L. Lipton building overcame the negative of the 90,000-square-foot warehouse's age. Part of the structure, which was constructed in two phases, dates from 1965. (The other is from 2009.) Tax records show it has a 30-foot-wall height, which matters to storage operations that benefit from more room to stack shelves and products and hold more inventory in a building with a smaller floor size.

"From our original base in Lorain County (Avon), we've expanded to Westlake with our headquarters and now the East Side, so we have presence to cover the market," Haas said.

Adapting to recent conditions also has prompted Haas to evolve from his original entry into real estate by building his own buildings.

Last year, he was preparing to construct another building in Lorain County but dropped the idea when he was shocked by construction quotes of $80 a square foot. He was used to building industrial properties for years at $40 per foot.

"So for the first time last year, we bought a building," Haas said, referring to a Baumhart Road property in the city of Lorain. "I told the (commercial real estate brokers) that if they can find something that costs $40 a square foot to let me know."

Buying to cover the region with locations puts Haas in a position similar to many industrial property owners who have for years bought or built around the region to tap different local markets, said George Pofok, a principal of the Cushman & Wakefield Cresco realty brokerage in Independence. Owners and developers in the category include Weston Inc. of Warrensville Heights, Ray Fogg Corporate Properties, Premier Development Partners and Industrial Commercial Properties of Solon.

"It's important to have options for clients on both sides of town," Pofok said. "Companies in Solon or Twinsburg do not want their product shipped to Westlake or Lorain only to have it shipped back to them later. This will definitely open a client base to him that he didn't have before. Meantime, proximity of warehousing gains value with higher diesel fuel prices, which Haas would know well."

Although the run-up of building costs has opened Haas to the benefit of buying existing products, it's not a permanent phenomenon. He's preparing to build a warehouse in Avon Lake with 100,000 square feet of space.

Haas said the city of Avon Lake has agreed to sell him acreage on Pin Oak Parkway that borders one of his properties, which will allow him to construct the additional structure. Avon Lake City Council has approved legislation to sell All Pro the acreage for $50,000, according to city records. The city gained control of the property, which Haas said is 10 acres in size, after the prior owner forfeited it at a sheriff's sale.

Another nearby customer is going to want to expand in the future, Haas said, so this would accommodate that.

Pofok said building in Avon Lake has additional value beyond today's busy industrial market. He said he believes Haas could construct a building two or more times larger if he has the land for it. The planned expansion of Ford Motor Co.'s Avon Lake plant to add production of electrical vehicles is likely to bring more, and different, auto suppliers to that area, Pofok said.

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