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Rite Aid holds grand opening of Spartanburg center

Distribution & Logistics
Bill Poovey
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Workers loading items for shipment to hundreds of Rite Aid stores in the Southeast. (Photo by Bill Poovey)

Rite Aid has about 250 employees already working at its new distribution center in Spartanburg County and wants to hire another 150 by the end of summer, a company executive said today at the center’s grand opening. Wilson A. Lester Jr., the company’s senior vice president of supply chain, said the $90 million center is in a phased startup and will grow to 600 employees.

“We would love for people to go to www.riteaid.com and take a look under the career section,” Lester said. “We’d love to take aboard more resumes and continue to hire folks.” Starting pay is about $11.50 an hour.

 

Rite Aid Chairman and CEO John Standley speaks at grand opening of the company’s distribution center. (Photo by Bill Poovey)
 

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The 900,000-square-foot center is replacing Rite Aid distribution operations in Charlotte; Tuscaloosa, Ala.; and Poca, W.Va., and will service stores in the Southeast. Ride Aid Chairman and CEO John Standley said there are “some but I don’t think it’s been a huge number” of the hundreds of displaced workers relocating to Spartanburg.

Lester said the company has been pleased with the applicant response and hiring.

“Most of our prehiring work was done with readySC (a division of the S.C. Technical College System) so we utilized their capabilities and support,” he said.

“We are finding that there is a wealth of associates in this market with supply chain literacy already,” Lester said. “You know one of the things you look for when you open up this kind of facility is folks who really have a baseline understanding of our kind of work — how to operate scanners, bar codes, receiving, order fulfillment, shipping, those kind of basic supply chain areas. We are looking for folks that have those abilities.”

S.C. Department of Commerce records show the 600 jobs are among the most added in relocations or expansions in recent years in the Upstate.

Standley said the main reasons for consolidating the distribution operations is that Spartanburg is “strategically located. It gives us great access to our stores. It is an efficient place for us to be. It’s a great community. We looked at a couple of different locations and the community; an opportunity to hire great people here and staff the facility was a key factor.” Standley said he expects there will be 600 employees in 2017.

Lester said the company decided to start anew in Spartanburg “because the three sites that we are consolidating just did not have the footprint or the physical characteristics that were due expansion or the inclusion of new technology. So if we had invested our capital in those facilities we would have wound up with what I would call suboptimized facilities, so we felt that a better play was to start fresh in a new location where we could really design for the kind of performance characteristics we wanted to have … and this market and this logistical area provides a great footprint for servicing this 1,065 stores that we are going to be serving out of here, and we have the (S.C.) Inland Port in the area. So just logistically it made a lot of sense.”

Lester said the center is not using the inland port at Greer “but it has a potential of future use because we are probably going to be doing more importing in the future. We don’t export. Our imports right now are basically seasonal items. And we’ve probably import from four or five different countries, seasonal products. It means that the containers that now come in from other ports could possibly flow through the inland port for this facility, as opposed to the port of New York.”

A company statement said Rite Aid has 1,531 employees in South Carolina at its 91 stores and distribution center. The Camp Hill, Pa.-based company has about 4,600 stores in 31 states and the District of Columbia and fiscal 2016 annual revenues of $30.7 billion.

As part of the grand opening, The Rite Aid Foundation presented a $25,000 donation to Boys & Girls Clubs of the Upstate. The donation will expand and support the programs and services offered by the club at Mary H. Wright Elementary School.

Reach Bill Poovey at 864-235-5677, ext. 104.

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