Founder & President
In 1974, while working in Raleigh, NC, Ed's entrepreneurial nature kicked in and he decided to forge out on his own. Ed and his wife, Polly, moved to Hickory and opened Kontane, Inc. in 1975. The original business manufactured wooden storage containers used by the moving and storage industry and freight forwarders. The company quickly grew to include more services and by the mid-1980's, Kontane, Inc. had built a reputation as one of the leading packaging designers and suppliers in the Southeast.
In 1995, Ed and Polly founded Kontane Logistics, now a leading dedicated third-party logistics provider with six locations in NC and SC.
Today, Ed continues to oversee all operations across the board at Kontane and Kontane Logistics, including maintaining a vital partnership with COO Rusty Byrd to achieve the organization's mission, monitor all financial planning and set corporate-wide strategy. As a family-run business, Kontane continues to flourish as they utilize innovation, customer service and experience to maintain a competitive edge in the global marketplace.
Raised in Spruce Pine, NC, Ed originally came to Hickory to attend Lenoir-Rhyne College. Finding something very special about the close-knit, foothills town, Ed decided to plant his roots in Hickory, raising two children, Annie and Rusty, and becoming deeply involved in the local community. Ed generously volunteers his time and resources to a variety of charitable causes, including Piedmont EducationalFoundation, Corinth Reformed Church, Lake Hickory Rotary Club, North Carolina Community Foundation and the Board of Advisors for First Citizens Bank.
Chuck Helms has been an integral part of Kontane, Inc. since he began his career in 1986. At the time, the company was a small, 10-employee firm with just a few regional clients. Under Chuck's leadership and industry know-how, Kontane now boasts over 250 employees and clients that span the globe. Chuck joined our team as an Area Sales Representative and was promoted to President in 1991, a role in which he has served for over 20 years. Chuck now oversees the overall day-to-day operations of the Hickory manufacturing facility, as well as managing a SKD kitting operation and aftermarket fulfillment program to far-reaching locations like South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.
Chuck was born and raised in Hickory and is an avid devotee of his alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Chuck and his wife, Deda, live in Hickory and are enjoying their new roles as grandparents to their first grandson, Arlo. Chuck is an active member of the community, serving as Chairman on the Board of Directors for the American Moving & Storage Association and the Piedmont Council BSA Friends of Scouting Committee.
After a few years spent acquiring industry experience at a local logistics provider, Rusty officially joined the Kontane Logistics team in 2005, though his time spent at his family's company started many years before. Since he can remember, Rusty has learned the ropes at Kontane from the ground up, working during school breaks to help with trade shows, pack boxes, sweep the floors and drive the forklifts.
Rusty's Kontane Logistics career started in Charleston, where he worked as Operations Manager. He was promoted to COO in 2007 and is now responsible for the management and daily operations of all logistics facilities while managing a staff of over 50 employees.
Because of his numerous years spent learning the ins and outs of each Kontane facility, Rusty has a deep understanding of the company, our employees and clients. He travels extensively to meet with clients and oversee employee needs, and serves as an ambassador for the goals and mission of the company.
A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduate, Rusty also completed logistics-related coursework and certification programs through Georgia Tech and the College of Charleston.
He and his wife, Nell, live in Mt. Pleasant, where he serves the President of his Homeowners Association. On the weekends, Rusty can most likely be found golfing or fishing for redfish on the Charleston Harbor.
Jason Essenberg joined the Kontane family is 2002 as Project Manager in our Huntersville/Statesville plants. Soon after, he was recruited to move to our Charleston facility, where he was promoted to General Manager, a post he held for 6 years. Under Jason’s leadership, the logistics branch of the company flourished. In 2011, Jason once again made his commitment to Kontane discernible when he moved back to Hickory, NC to take the post as Vice President.
Over the years, Jason has been involved in numerous aspects of the business, from running various project start-ups, to establishing supply chains and management for global clientele, to implementing Charleston’s first General Purpose Foreign Trade Zone. Jason's commitment, client-aligned methodology and creativity have been invaluable to the growth of the company.
Jason attended Appalachian State University and lives in Hickory.
Director of Logistics
Prior to joining Kontane Logistics in July of 2009, Van spent 28 years with Freightliner Trucks, where he acquired an unsurpassed understanding of warehousing and production processes that has proven valuable to Kontane Logistics' growth.
As Director of Logistics, Van oversees warehousing and logistics for our NC operations, helping to grow the business to over 50 individual programs of Line Set, Line Sequencing, Sub-Assembly and Processing. Van's 6 Sigma, 5S and Lean Manufacturing processes learned during his time as Materials Manager at Freightliner has instilled in his Kontane employees to help maximize efficiency and effectiveness in the workplace.
Van and his family—wife, Paula and 2 children, Anna and Brian—live in Lincolnton, NC. In his leisure time, Van is a gardening enthusiast who enjoys restoring his family’s farmhouse, originally built in 1890.
Kontane's history is a classic American success story founded on intuition, hard work, a commitment to clients and the strength and stability that comes from our dedicated, savvy team of employees, from forklift drivers to executives.
In 1974, Ed and Polly Byrd were newly married and living in Raleigh, NC, where Ed worked for a box manufacturer. A self-starter by nature, Ed made the decision to forge out on his own and capitalize on his passion for sales. In 1975, the young couple moved to Hickory, NC, where Ed had attended college a few years earlier, and started Kontane, Inc., a manufacturer of wooden crates used by the moving and storage industry to accommodate household goods. What started as a small, localized business with few employees quickly blossomed into one of the top companies in the moving and storage industry. By the mid-1980s, Kontane, Inc. had built a reputation as one of the leading packaging designers and suppliers in the Southeast.
In 1995, the Byrd's once again saw a niche that needed filling and expanded the company in a new direction with the formation of Kontane Logistics, a dedicated third party logistics provider involved with packaging and exporting to several countries around the globe. Kontane Logistics is now a leading dedicated third-party logistics provider with four locations in NC and SC.
Since inception, Kontane Logistics has expanded considerably to include warehousing and distribution, cross-docking, freight consolidation, import material receipt, line sequencing, parts distribution, development of logistics information systems, sub-assembly, and foreign trade zones services. Today, we can integrate all or any of these services, utilizing transportation, sub-assembly, multi-warehouse locations, and expanded information systems. We work within a competitive, global environment and are proud to call some of the top companies in the world our clients.
Every one of our customers has a unique set of needs based on supply chain constraints, customer needs, and market requirements. We work within your parameters to develop a flow center design that creates value and efficiency within your supply chain strategy. Every member of our team has a "do whatever it takes" attitude to meet and exceed your company's expectations. We constantly strive to improve and find ways to help our clients be able to compete on the highest level, and we look forward to showing you what makes Kontane unique.