FINDLAY — The McLane Co. Inc., a wholesale grocery products distributor, said on Tuesday that it plans to build a $119 million distribution facility in Findlay that will create an estimated 425 full-time jobs.
McLane, a $44 billion firm that supplies convenience stores, mass merchandisers, drug stores, and chain restaurants, plans to construct a 337,000-square-foot facility in Findlay’s new industrial park, Tall Timbers West, north of downtown.
The distribution facility will be built on 88 acres of the new 350-acre industrial park, located on Hancock County Road 212 across from the current Lowe’s distribution warehouse.
Construction is expected to begin in mid-June with completion by March, 2016.
“We’re very happy about it, although we still have one or two more steps in the process,” said Tony Iriti, director of the Findlay-Hancock County Economic Development organization.
On Tuesday, the project received a 60 percent, eight-year job creation tax credit from the Ohio Tax Credit Authority.
State officials said the 425 jobs the project is expected to create will pay an average of $57,000 annually. But Mr. Iriti said job applicants will need more than basic skills to be hired to work at the McLane distribution facility.
The warehouse, which is expected to serve Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, relies heavily on automation and robotics. It will employ engineers and skilled technicians to operate its machinery.
“This is a distribution facility that is basically very highly automated and there’s not a whole lot of tow motors flying around,” Mr. Iriti said.
Of the $119 million, just $38 million will be used to construct the building, he said. The remaining $81 million will be used for high-tech equipment and computers to run the facility.
“It’s so highly automated, that even from the customer’s standpoint all they do is enter their orders from an online system and the warehouse knows what to do. It is set up with an artificial intelligence so that it understands what stores typically use,” Mr. Iriti said.
In a statement, McLane Grocery division President Mike Youngblood, said the Temple, Texas, firm is “thrilled that Findlay, Ohio, will be home to our 22nd grocery distribution center within our nationwide network. The values and work ethic of the community fit perfectly with McLane.
“The invaluable assistance of state and local officials was one of the primary reasons in selecting Ohio as our new home. Their focus on promoting a business-friendly environment was a critical part of our selection process,” Mr. Youngblood said.
Mr. Iriti said McLane began its facility site search clandestinely about a year ago. It wasn’t until February that economic development officials in Findlay learned that McLane was the company seeking land in Hancock County. Findlay, as it turned out, was competing with sites in Indiana and Michigan.
“We are very pleased that McLane has chosen Findlay’s new industrial park to build their state-of-the-art distribution center,” Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik said. “Their decision to locate here underscores the strengths of our area, which include logistical and work force advantages.”
Gary Thompson, director of JobsOhio’s Northwest Region, said the decision by McLane provides another example that northwest Ohio is regarded as a top location for transportation, logistics, and distribution.
McLane is a wholly owned unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., a company owned and run by billionaire Warren Buffett. McLane has 20,000 employees and four divisions involved in grocery, food service, alcoholic beverage, and supply chain management. According to McLane, the company has 80 distribution centers across all units, and it buys, sells, and delivers more than 50,000 different consumer products to nearly 90,000 locations across the United States.
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