What began as a 315,000 square foot location with 150 employees over 30 years ago has now grown into a 788,000 square foot facility with close to 300 employees that is bursting at the seams.
Ace Hardware opened the doors of its Distribution Center off of River Road in Yakima in January 1984. Only six years later it was preparing for its first expansion, an addition of 187,500 square feet. In less than a decade it had outgrown that space and was in search of a larger location.
“Our office has been engaged with Ace Hardware since the day we were formed back in the late 80’s,” said Jonathan Smith, Executive Director for the Yakima County Development Association. “We assisted with the first expansion of the River Road facility and in the early 2000’s we guided the company to the site in Moxee where they are located today.”
The Moxee site is just under 75 acres and is the current home of Ace Hardware. “When we purchased the site we made sure we had space to grow,” said Justin Heater, Warehouse Manager. “We can easily add another 400,000 square feet to the existing building to bring the total floor space up to 1.2 million square feet.”
Heater further explained that when the company first opened its door in Yakima it was handling 38,000 skus, or different products. That number has more than doubled to 74,000 skus that now move in and out of the distribution center. That is equivalent to roughly $40 million of inventory flowing through the facility.
That anticipated growth Heater referred to may be just around the corner. “We need another 50 employees to keep up with demand and we have just about utilized all the available space we have,” said Chelsea Kennedy, HR Manager.
Chelsea explained that the need for additional employees to support the growth has prompted a special job fair in partnership with the local WorkSource office to engage with potential job seekers. The job fair will be held Friday February 23rd from noon to 5pm at the Ace Hardware’s Moxee location. The fair is open to all job seekers and is an opportunity to learn more about the positions available and interviews and applications can be completed on site.
Although the distribution center industry is growing on a national scale, the rate of growth in the Yakima Valley has been remarkable. In just the past 15 years, the GDP for the wholesale industry in Yakima County has grown by 81% from $395 million to $713 million.
“Nationwide the GDP for the wholesale industry has only grown by 23%,” said Jean Brown, Director of Business Development for the Yakima County Development Association. “When you compare the national growth rate to the 81% rate of growth here in the Valley you can really see how strong our competitive advantage is for these kinds of facilities.”
This competitive advantage rests on several key assets that make the Yakima Valley a strategic location for these facilities. These assets include large tracts of flat land, a robust interstate, highway, and rail system, and multiple trucking and logistics companies.
One of the Yakima Valley’s strongest advantages is its location amongst the major Pacific Northwest population centers. “We are within an eight-hour drive-time of a population of roughly 12 million people,” explained Brown. “We are ideally located for moving freight and product by truck to over 450,000 businesses across the entire region.”