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The opening of the third building at Wegmans Food Markets’ Retail Service Center in Pottsville, Pa., completes a distribution hub that enables the Rochester, N.Y.-based grocer to deliver a full range of fresher products to stores more quickly. The $70 million warehouse also lowers transportation costs, so the company can continue offering customers items at value prices.
The third and largest building on the Pottsville site is for fresh and frozen foods. Wegmans is hiring more than 200 new employees to staff it, bringing the total number of associates at the Pottsville facility to 529. The grocer also operates 15 stores in Pennsylvania, including one that just opened in King of Prussia, and has a total of more than 8,000 employees in the state.
“How products get to the store is admittedly something most people don’t think much about, but it has everything to do with giving customers the freshest food at the best price,” explained David DeMascole, general manager at the center. “It also allows ours stores to restock quickly so customers can count on finding what they want when they want it.”
The expanded facility was necessary because over the past decade, Wegmans has opened 25 new stores, most of them in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia, gradually outgrowing its distribution facilities in Rochester. “We were operating well beyond our capacity,” noted DeMascole. “We needed additional infrastructure to support the company growth.” In addition to the Pottsville site, Wegmans will continue to operate all of its Rochester distribution facilities.
Highlight of the new facility, Retail Service Center III (RSC III), include a whopping 492,000 square feet of space, five temperature zones to keep refrigerated and frozen foods in peak condition, and 103 loading docks for shipping and receiving.
The new building operates along with two other warehouse facilities opened earlier on the Pottsville site to stock a full range of products for Wegmans stores. A full-service produce distribution center opened in 2004, while another warehouse for grocery items bowed a year later. All three buildings are networked with the Rochester facilities, improving Wegmans’ ability to keep products in stock in all stores, especially when adverse weather threatens to interrupt normal operations.
The Pottsville facility will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by powering up to 150 pieces of equipment such as pallet jacks and reach trucks with hydrogen fuel cells. In 2009, Wegmans received a $1 million grant from the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority to offset a portion of the costs of installing an on-site hydrogen infrastructure, which includes an outdoor hydrogen storage tank and indoor fueling dispensers.
Family-owned Wegmans has 80 stores in stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts.