Polar King International Celebrates 40 Years of Innovation and Growth

The year was 1978 and brothers Joe and Vince Tippmann, who were already producing fiberglass hockey boards, took notice of small oil rigs encased in fiberglass and set off on what would be a four-year mission to perfect the adaptation of this seamless technology for walk-in refrigeration and freezer units. Polar King International debuted at the 1982 National Restaurant Association trade show with great fanfare, and the success story began.  

The Tippmanns initially manufactured and shipped their state-of-the-art outdoor fiberglass commercial walk-in coolers and freezers from a modest 12,000 square-foot facility in New Haven, Indiana. With escalating demand, Polar King scaled up operation and relocated production to its current 204,000 square-foot facility in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In the past two years, the company has added additional manufacturing and warehouse space to keep up with accelerated sales. 

For 40 years, Polar King has been revolutionizing the industry while maintaining its family roots and unwavering commitment to customer service and its community. The company has provided thousands of one-piece walk-in outdoor refrigeration and freezer units to single unit operators, chain restaurants, schools, health care facilities, government agencies and many others. 

In recent years, Polar King added two complementary business units: Polar Leasing Company and Polar King Mobile. Polar Leasing  offers standard refrigerated walk-in rentals. Polar King Mobile was created to meet North America’s needs for a commercial-grade, affordable solution to refrigerated transport. These operations are making a positive impact during the global COVID-19 pandemic by providing storage for vaccines and test samples, as well as fulfilling requirements for emergency refrigeration/freezer storage in response to disasters. 

Polar King president Dave Schenkel says that while the company is constantly evolving, its core values remain unchanged. “Though we are perpetually moving forward, we sustain the principles and standards upon which Polar King was founded.” Schenkel notes that even in today’s digital age, “We answer every phone call with a real person and never use automated email responses.” 

Schenkel says, “The people of Polar King really make the difference. Many have served our customers for 30 years or more. They know what customers need and ensure that quality products are delivered where and when they are needed.” He adds, “We are proud of our exceptional workforce.” 

Schenkel continues, “The Tippmann’s legacy lives on through the company they built. We are deeply involved in the community where we live and the industries we serve through the support of the Culinary Institute of America and North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers charities.” He concludes, “Polar King’s culture is entrenched in family. We are proud to be family owned and strive to treat our outstanding employees and loyal customers as part of the family.” 

Polar Leasing is also flourishing, says Jimmy Kollmer, national business development manager for the life science cold chain division of Polar Leasing. “We are honored to be a cold chain supplier to many pharmaceutical companies involved in temperature-sensitive distribution. From research and development to the clinical trials phase, preconditioning gel packs or prior to transport, Polar Leasing temperature controlled cold room rentals are the ideal on-site solution for temporary refrigeration anywhere throughout the cold chain.” He adds, “Polar Leasing has stepped up to the plate when disasters strike or restaurants or other businesses need supplemental cold/freezer storage.” 

According to Polar King Mobile executive vice president Christian Aitken, Polar King Mobile fills a previous gap in the marketplace. “We are growing rapidly and creating a national network of value-added resellers by recruiting the best trailer distributors from the North American Trailer Dealers Association,” he explains. 

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