Perfectly Positioned

With access to 80 million people within a 500-mile radius, there’s no better place than Oklahoma for companies to position their product for delivery. At least that’s what Macy’s Inc., Mathis Brothers Furniture and Dollar Tree discovered.

In December 2013, retailer Macy’s made big news when the company announced it was building a direct-to-consumer fulfillment center in Owasso, Oklahoma, investing more than $170 million in a 1.3-million-sq.-ft. facility, which would include the latest technology in material handling equipment and warehouse management systems. Steve Sluzewski, senior vice president of corporate communications and external affairs for Macy’s, said a strong combination of factors led the company to Oklahoma.

“It’s the right geographic area of the country to reach our customers,” he says. “There’s a supportive and business friendly environment and close proximity to major transportation routes and shipping facilities.”

Construction on the fulfillment center began in spring 2014 and proceeded without a hitch. The facility began receiving merchandise in April 2015 and will begin shipping in summer 2015, right on schedule. The region’s available workforce was another factor in the selection of the Oklahoma location. When fully operational, the project expects to hire 1,500 employees year round, with another 1,000 temporary seasonal employees during the holiday season.

The hiring process began in late 2014 and continues to ramp up, a steady and gradual process. “Initially we hired the center’s management team, then we began hiring the team to handle receiving merchandise,” Sluzewski says. “As we look to begin shipping this summer, we will be hiring the teams to pick, pack and ship orders to individual customers.”

Macy’s partnered with Tulsa Tech to help prepare the workforce. “Since our initial announcement we have worked closely with state and local officials, business leaders and the Cherokee Nation to prepare for the hiring process,” says Sluzewski. “So far, we are extremely pleased with the quantity and quality of applicants for our positions.”

Macy’s isn’t the only distribution center success story. Recent expansions in the sector include Mathis Brothers Furniture, currently putting the finishing touches on a reported 325,000-sq.-ft. distribution facility close to three of the company’s retail stores in Oklahoma City.

Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma-based company announced in August 2014 that it will build a new distribution warehouse in Oklahoma City. The $88-million, 1.9-million-sq.-ft. facility will support future growth of the craft retailing giant.

In 2013, Dollar Tree, Inc., expanded its distribution center in Marietta, Oklahoma. The $25-million expansion grew the facility by an additional 400,000 sq. ft. and created more than 100 full-time jobs. The Marietta facility supplies products to Dollar Tree stores in eleven states including all of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas, and portions of Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana.

Major distribution centers supplying everything from ice cream to pharmaceuticals to auto parts dot the Oklahoma landscape from east to west. As Sluzewski mentioned, transportation infrastructure plays a significant role in distribution center attraction. Both Will Rogers World Airport and Tulsa International Airport handle air freight shipments. Three major Interstates crisscross the state and rail and trucking options abound with over 10,000 trucking companies — many of them small and locally-owned — located in Oklahoma.

Sluzewski says the process of locating and building the Macy’s fulfillment center in Oklahoma has more than met expectations.

“The Owasso, Tulsa and Oklahoma communities, including the Cherokee Nation, have been welcoming enthusiastic and very helpful,” says Sluzewski. “This is a great place to do business.”

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