With a goal of reaching 500 stores within the next few years, Sheetz Inc. plans to build a second distribution facility in the South.
The Altoona-based convenience store chain is looking at sites between Raleigh and High Point in northern North Carolina and in the Danville area of southern Virginia to build its second distribution center and bakery/commissary complex, said Ray Ryan, executive vice president of Sheetz Distribution Services.
Plans call for the new facility to be up and running by late 2014.
With Sheetz focusing a lot of its future expansion in North Carolina and West Virginia, adding a second facility to join the one in the Walter Business Park near Claysburg made sense.
"It comes down to a commitment to get fresh products to our customers on a daily basis. We plan to build a lot of stores in the South. We are traveling a tremendous amount of miles from Claysburg. We know when we open this new facility, we will save a million miles a year and save a lot of fuel and money," said CEO Stan Sheetz. "At some point it just makes sense."
"This [Claysburg] was going to be our only [distribution facility], but the driving factor is transportation costs and the freshness and quality of our products," Ryan said. "We are doing this to support our stores in North Carolina, southern Virginia and West Virginia. We thought we could respond quicker to our stores down there."
Sheetz will continue to make many of its food items at the Claysburg location, and the focus at the southern facility would likely be on products like doughnuts "to cut down on delivery time so they are fresh," Sheetz said.
Plans call for construction of a 200,000- to 250,000-square-foot facility. The 540,000-square-foot Walter Business Park complex includes the 390,000-square-foot Sheetz Distribution Center and 150,000-square foot Sheetz Bros. Kitchen.
The cost of the project hasn't been determined but it is likely to be in the $30 million range.
"It depends on what we get in terms of land and building costs. We are looking at all options of existing sites or building a new structure," Ryan said. "Nothing is off the table."
The project is expected to lead to the creation of more than 200 jobs in production, warehousing, supervisory positions, transportation positions and management, Ryan said.
Plans also are in the works for an expansion project at the Claysburg complex.
"In the next couple of years, we will be adding some additional warehouse space. It is all centered around our store growth," said Ryan, who will design the project.
The Walter Business Park complex employs about 800 people in warehousing, transportation, manufacturing and management positions, Ryan said.