03 January, 2023

The History of WSI

Our story begins in Wisconsin in the 1960s with a group of six lift truck operators who, while working in a coated paper mill, recognized an opportunity: The mill had nowhere to store the paper they made after it was finished. So, the small group of entrepreneurs started meeting in a basement (where each would take turns bringing a case of beer) and started brainstorming.

Front Row (Left to Right): Charles Lindberg, Unidentified, Mark Vandeyacht Back Row: George Holloway, Donald Romenesko, Joseph Dietzen, Gerard Van Hoof, Carl Nagan, Marvin Schumacher

In 1966, they pooled their resources to build the first warehouse in Combined Locks, Wisconsin, paving the way for what would become a nationwide presence with facilities in key locations like Dallas and Long Beach. They poured the concrete for the foundation themselves! And so, Warehouse Specialists (or as we know it today, WSI) was born. By 1970, WSI was operating in over one million square feet of warehousing space – That’s 6 football fields!

Jerry Van Hoof joined the company in 1971. He brought additional expertise to the company and helped the original group rapidly expand their business. When the last founder retired in 1983, he became the sole investor in WSI. Jerry was a powerhouse throughout his career – He continued to be active in the company and the community well into his 80s!

In 1979, WSI took its first step outside of the state of Wisconsin and acquired a building in California. Today, WSI operates in 10 states: Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Arizona, California, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Oregon.

From 1980 on, WSI widely expanded its service capabilities. Today, we’re able to provide our customers from an array of industries with all-inclusive logistics services. From apparel to chemicals to snacks, we have the facilities and knowledge for handling goods with the highest level of care.

WSI evolved from operating a single warehouse to its leadership position as a full-service, integrated logistics firm with locations across the country. The problem-solving, collaborative approach to doing business, first exhibited in the early years, has led to more than 55 years of growth. Throughout our growth and successes, WSI has remained true to its values and commitment to taking care of the customer at all costs. These guiding principles have helped us build long-term relationships with customers and employees alike.

“Our goal is absolute reliability,” says CEO Bob Schroeder, “Our employees understand that and work towards that every day. I’m grateful for that. Without that attitude, we would not be successful.”

2023 marks our 57th year in business. After all that time, one thing is still certain: The company that those six forklift drivers built on a foundation of hard work, ethics, and innovation will continue to serve our customers and help our employees succeed for years to come.

Thinking about starting a future with WSI? Connect with us at www.wsinc.com/contact.