By LOU WILIN
Campbell Soup Co. began construction Tuesday of a $44 million, 740,000-square-foot distribution center which will employ over 200 in about a year on Findlay’s north end.
Key draws were Findlay’s location along Interstate 75, and proximity to Campbell’s Napoleon factory and CSX’s North Baltimore freight railyard, said Mark Cacciatore, vice president of supply chain at Campbell Soup.
The distribution center will be south of Hancock County 212 and the McLane distribution center.
“Because of the transportation lanes available here, we can distribute (products) nationwide via truck or rail right from here,” he said. Goods loaded onto trains at CSX’s North Baltimore railyard will mainly be shipped to the West Coast, Cacciatore said.
Campbell’s “Midwest Distribution Center” in Findlay will receive Campbell’s soups, Swanson broth and stock, V8 beverages, Pace Foods, Prego and Plum Organics products from factories in Napoleon; Maxton, North Carolina; Paris, Texas; and Toronto, Canada.
The distribution center almost did not come to Findlay.
“This project was almost dead,” said Joe Needham, director of food and agribusiness for JobsOhio, the state’s economic development agency.
“This site had some challenges,” Needham said. “It needed remediation.”
“And when you get into that, everything gets complicated,” he said. “Maybe it’s easier to find a different site. Maybe it’s easier to go to a different community.”
Needham said it was a Campbell official who kept the project in Findlay: Jennifer Sweeney, the company’s senior manager of state government affairs and political programs.
Needham praised Sweeney on Tuesday during a groundbreaking ceremony and afterward.
“Jennifer really got into the arm-wrestling part of making sure that the right pieces came together and that we were able to contribute along with everybody else,” Needham said.
“JobsOhio helped with the remediation of the property,” he said. “It ended up working well.”
At some point, products from Campbell’s Findlay distribution center will come to people’s homes when they order them through Amazon or other e-commerce providers. Campbell has set a company-wide goal of generating $300 million in e-commerce sales over the next five years.
The Findlay site will be used to test e-commerce capabilities, Cacciatore said.
“This is still kind of an area that we and other manufacturing companies are trying to find out how do you serve e-commerce efficiently and profitably,” he said. “That’s something we will be experimenting with.
“So folks might place an order for a four-pack of our Campbell’s tomato soup,” Cacciatore said. “How do we get it into that stream and in an efficient way and utilize this facility?”
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