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Kaiserslautern Cold Storage turns 50

Terry Batenhorst, DeCA Europe director of operations, Austin Romesburg, Kaiserslautern Cold Storage(KCS) chief, Thomas E. Milks, DeCA Europe director, and KCS newest and longest employed members (left to right) cut the cake during a ceremony celebrating KCS's 50th anniversary, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, March 20, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tony R. Ritter)

Terry Batenhorst, DeCA Europe director of operations, Austin Romesburg, Kaiserslautern Cold Storage(KCS) chief, Thomas E. Milks, DeCA Europe director, and KCS newest and longest employed members (left to right) cut the cake during a ceremony celebrating KCS's 50th anniversary, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, March 20, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tony R. Ritter)

Employees and friends of Kaiserslautern Cold Storage attend a ceremony commemorating KCS's 50th anniversary, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, March 20, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tony R. Ritter)

Employees and friends of Kaiserslautern Cold Storage attend a ceremony commemorating KCS's 50th anniversary, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, March 20, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tony R. Ritter)

Kaiserslautern Cold Storage celebrates 50 years of operation and has grown to a stock inventory of over 1,800 items, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, March 20, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tony R. Ritter)

Kaiserslautern Cold Storage celebrates 50 years of operation and has grown to a stock inventory of over 1,800 items, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, March 20, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tony R. Ritter)

Kaiserslautern Cold Storage celebrates 50 years of operation and has grown to a stock inventory of over 1,800 items, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, March 20, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tony R. Ritter)

Kaiserslautern Cold Storage celebrates 50 years of operation and has grown to a stock inventory of over 1,800 items, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, March 20, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tony R. Ritter)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- This year marks Kaiserslautern Cold Storage's 50th anniversary serving commissaries and customers within the United States military European theater. The momentous anniversary was commemorated with a ceremony and reception, as well as guided tours of the state-of-the-art facility March 20. 

KCS stores frozen foods and goods to be distributed to and sold in commissaries throughout Europe. It is currently the primary cold storage facility for 42 commissaries spanning 10 countries and delivers to customers in more than 35 countries. It is located just outside of Ramstein Air Base's east gate and is conveniently connected to the public road system, the autobahn, and the German railways. 

The Defense Commissary Agency purchased the operation in 1997 and spent a considerable amount of money and man-hours streamlining operations, increasing items stocked, and upgrading the facility itself. 

"When DeCA took over KCS twelve years ago, it needed a lot of money and time to bring it up to standard. We invested in everything from new computers and warehousing systems to upgrades to the loading docks and transportation," Thomas E. Milks, DeCA Europe director said. 

KCS has nearly 150 employees, of which 90 percent are local nationals. Many of the DeCA team members have been employed at the KCS for several years and have been a part of the facility's evolution. 

Manfred Young, a 22 year employee of KCS, commented on one way in which his job had improved. 

"The storage grid for the items in the warehouse and the location of new items used to be only on paper and we had to go to the control office every time we had to move an item to get the location paperwork," he said. "Today everything is computerized and has replaced a lot of the unnecessary paperwork. We have headsets for communicating with the control office; we can call in location requests and get an answer immediately. This system saves a lot of time and allows us to keep working." 

And indeed the KCS team has worked diligently over the years, vastly contributing to the facility's success. 

"I regularly challenge the management and staff to find more ways to save costs and satisfy customers, and they deliver every time." said Mr. Milks. 

KCS is not only a vital part of the U.S. military community in Europe, but has become an economic asset to the local German community as well. 

"This anniversary means an extraordinary cooperation of numerous organizations. From purchasing, stock administration, to transport companies, drivers, mechanics, food inspectors, security personnel, engineers, constructors, computer specialists, technicians as well as administrators and managers of the different branches are all included in this process up to the delivery to the U.S. forces, the final customer," said Dr. Klaus Weichel, Lord Mayor of Kaiserslautern. "You can be assured that Kaiserslautern Cold Storage serves as an illustrious signboard to Kaiserslautern and the region. It is in any aspect a flagship organization and an impressive example of an utmost successfully managed American establishment."