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Imperial Supplies celebrates opening of larger distribution center

SALISBURY — After several decades at its distribution center on Litton Drive, Imperial Supplies in 2019 began to look for a facility with more space.

The trucking part supplier, a subsidiary of the Fortune 500 company W.W. Grainger, wanted to stay close to its employee base in Salisbury. That’s why it limited the scope of its real estate search to a 25-mile radius.

That was too far for Rod Crider, president of the Rowan Economic Development Council.

“That’s outside of Rowan County, so we worked very hard to keep them here,” Crider said.

In April, Imperial Supplies announced it would move its operations to a 150,000-square-foot building off Chamandy Road at the Granite Quarry Industrial Park — just 7 miles from its previous warehouse.

The company hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday morning to celebrate the grand opening of the new distribution center. The event was attended by representatives from the company’s headquarters in Green Bay, Wisconsin, including CEO Rob Gilson and President Gregg Sterling.

“(Today) is important because it shows the growth that we’ve had and most importantly the people behind it,” Gilson said. “Growth creates opportunities for our associate base and, as you can see, we have a lot of great associates here taking care of those customers everyday. It’s a big day. It’s a big day for us, a big day for Salisbury.”

The fact that Imperial Supplies chose to stay in Rowan County was a win for Crider and his team at the Rowan EDC. The company’s decision to relocate to the Granite Quarry Industrial Park made it even sweeter.

“What’s particularly pleasing to us is that (Imperial Supplies) picked this facility,” Crider said. “This facility was a joint effort between the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, the town of Granite Quarry and Easter Creek Partners. It was the first time those three groups came together to build this first spec building.”

The 80-acre industrial park is Rowan County’s newest. It was made possible after Rowan County purchased the land from Gildan, who is currently the only other tenant in the park. A second 100,000-square-foot speculative building is currently being planned on a piece of land near Imperial Supplies’ facility.

Imperial Supplies moved its operations from its Litton Road facility to its new distribution center over the course of four weekends. Despite having to transport parts, equipment and people, the company continued shipping out products to its customers throughout the move.

“We did not miss a beat,” said Sara Vestal, distribution center manager. “We operated out of both facilities and we did not disappoint one single customer.”

The warehouse formerly occupied by Imperial Supplies at 1335 Litton Drive has already found a new tenant in MaxLife Industries, which announced an expansion into the building last week.

Imperial Supplies’ 150,000-square-foot facility, which is triple the size of the old warehouse, will give the company more space to meet the growing demands of its customer base. The distribution center is one of five operated by Imperial Supplies in the U.S.

“As we grow the business, we need more space,” Gilson said. “We need pick, pack and ship capacity and this gives us that capabilities. You couple that with our Scranton, Pennsylvania, facility, it covers the east coast and we can continue our double-digit top line revenue growth every year.”

Imperial Supplies ships truck parts and fleet maintenance supplies, which could be anything from nuts and bolts to electrical tape.

“Anything that will service a fleet industry, a fleet of vehicles, we sell,” Vestal said.

With the move to a larger facility, Imperial Supplies has increased its workforce to almost 40 employees. The company is still hiring for three positions. The vacant positions are for material handlers, who walk between 7 and 9 miles per day moving products to and from the warehouse’s shelves.

Along with more space, the facility on Chamandy Drive also has several new features that will benefit the company’s employees, including charging stations for 11 “Cherry Picker Lifts” and six forklifts. The machines are used by certified drivers to transport large boxes of products around the facility, including on shelving units that almost reach the warehouse’s nearly 30-foot tall ceilings.

The dozens of employees who staff the warehouse participated in the grand opening ceremony and even got to enjoy a piece of celebratory cake before returning to work.

More information about Imperial Supplies can be found online at www.imperialsupplies.com.

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