Dot Foods opens $37M redistribution center
BEAR – Dot Foods officially opened its $37 million redistribution center in Bear on Feb. 24, marking a homecoming of sorts for the 60-year-old, family-owned business.
Dot, the country’s largest food redistributor and a top 100 largest private company, leased a facility in Delaware from 1986 to 1994. It left to build a facility in western Maryland but came back to the First State when it was looking to build its 12th facility, CEO Joe Tracy said.
“When you look at Delaware’s location in terms of the Interstate 95 corridor and access to the Port of Wilmington, it made an awful lot of sense from a logistics standpoint,” Tracy said, noting the company may move its port operations from New York to Delaware in the future. “We just came off one of our best years ever in 2019, but we’ve needed more capacity on the East Coast for quite some time.”
The 188,000-square-foot facility, located on 35 acres of land at 301 American Blvd. near the intersection of Red Lion and Wrangle Hill roads, includes offices; dry, refrigerated and frozen warehouse space; and a truckyard and garage to service the Dot fleet.
The company broke ground on the site in October 2018, and to date has hired 88 people, including Class A CDL truck drivers, warehouse personnel, management roles and support staff. Tracy said that the Bear facility will employ 125 by the end of the year, with total employment targeting 200 by 2022.
The L-shaped facility was built for the potential of future expansion, which Tracy estimated could someday push employment to 300 to 350 people.
As a redistributor, Dot buys full truckloads from more than 900 manufacturers nationwide and consolidates their products in distribution centers across the United States. It then resells these products in more manageable quantities to distributors, which include major names like Sysco, BFG and Aramark, Tracy said.
The Bear distribution center will serve Dot’s distributor customers in eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, officials said. Inventory may sit in the warehouse for days or even months depending on the product, officials said on a tour of the facility. Temperatures range from ambient in its dry goods to below zero degrees for its freezer.
Notably, the company received a $1.1 million Strategic Fund grant from the state to build the facility and hire staff. It also received a five-year tax incentive deal worth up to $150,000 from New Castle County.
Celebrating the grand opening was a panel of state leaders, including Gov. John Carney, Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, State Senate Majority Leader Nicole Poore, State House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, and New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer.
Carney told Delaware Business Times that he was excited to have an employer like Dot Foods, which offers competitive wages and a benefits package worth $20,000 per employee, in Delaware. The company also proudly touted that it has never had a layoff in its history.
“It’s really exciting for a facility like this that provides really good jobs for the part of our workforce that really needs jobs,” he said. “Jobs that can supply income with benefits that support their families.”
The quality of the Dot jobs was something that Meyer echoed as well.
“When you’re getting the best company in its vertical in the world to come to your state it means something,” he told DBT.
While chemical engineering, banking, financial technology and legal jobs have long had a home in Delaware, Meyer said he wanted to create opportunities for all.
“It’s important that we create jobs on all ends of the economic spectrum,” he said. “These jobs don’t require a college degree but after a few years as a truck driver, you can earn $100,000 a year.”
Despite a growing number of distribution and logistics centers in New Castle County, including the now-announced Amazon facility at the former General Motors Boxwood plant near Newport as well as the under-construction Delaware City Logistics Park about a mile from the Dot Foods site, Meyer said that the local workforce can support more such facilities.
“One thing that I’m hearing from logistics providers constantly is that they believe they can attract talent from the county, state and region to work here, and that’s a good thing,” he said.
By Jacob Owens