You may not have heard of Bon-Ton, but you’ve probably heard of one of its retail stores: Elder-Beerman.
The Midwest company operates 270 stores in 26 states in the country, and has just opened its newest and most modern online shopping warehouse in West Jefferson’s industrial park.
The 743,000-square-foot building, located at 115 Enterprise Parkway, was officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday, Aug. 26. In addition to Elder-Beerman, Bon-Ton operates Boston Store, Bergner’s, Carson’s, Herberger’s and Younkers stores.
Kathy Bufano, president and CEO of Bon-Ton, said the new “state-of-the-art” facility will aid the company with its rapid E-commerce sales increases, and put the company “in the position for growth.”
“This building is critical to our goal,” she said.
The warehouse will serve online shoppers only, with a capacity of up to 350,000 units per day at its peak during the holiday season.
Among the attendees for the grand opening was Ohio Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, who lauded the “great partners” the state had with securing the expansion.
West Jefferson was competing with Obetz, among other cities in Indiana and Illinois, according to Taylor.
“We’re proud when we can come to the table, compete and be successful,” she said.
Also in attendance was former Dallas Cowboys football player Emmitt Smith, chairman and co-founder of E Smith Realty.
Smith’s company, among others, served as a consultant to Bon-Ton when it was choosing its location, providing information on local populations, tax incentives, and workforce potential “so Bon-Ton can make the right decision.”
During his remarks to the crowd, Smith mentioned meeting with Ohio State University football coach Urban Meyer during the morning. He said he expects the Buckeyes to achieve back-to-back national championships with another win this season.
Smith, who has been called the greatest running back of all time, said his title maybe be challenged locally due to competing with Ohioans Jim Brown and Archie Griffin.
“But this isn’t about football,” he concluded. “It’s about American people having the opportunity to order things online.”
Following the ceremony, Smith told the Press NFL quarterback Roger Staubach and NBA legend Magic Johnson introduced him to the real estate industry. Business has always been a passion, but it was about figuring out what type of business to pursue, Smith said.
He made the transition in 2005.
“Along the way through football I figured out what I wanted to do,” he said. “I figured if they can do it, I can do it.”
Bon-Ton’s automated E-commerce center is a consolidation of several non-automated distribution centers — including one in Fairborn — and is expected to improve efficiency and accelerate delivery time for customers. The Fairborn facility will be closed over the coming weeks.
The warehouse is currently staffed with 200 full-time employees, about 15 of which transferred from Fairborn. During its eight-week peak seasons, beginning at the end of November, staffing will increase to 400.
The company is hiring first and second shift seasonal employees, with the potential to become permanent after the holidays. Available jobs include material handlers, processors, and pick and pack associates. Interested applicants can visit www.careers.bonton.com.
Jim Rawlins, senior VP of distribution and logistics, said the company was flooded with a pool of qualified applicants during the previous months.
“The quality of our associates has been terrific,” he said. “This has been very successful.”
The warehouse, which has been operational for about seven weeks, is currently operating at 35 percent, but is expected to reach 100 percent by Oct. 5.
Leaders said about $100 million of product — mostly apparel, cosmetics and fragrances — will be in the facility by that time.
Reach Andrea McKinney at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619, and on Twitter @AndeeWrites.
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