KeHE Distributors has opened a new distribution center in southern Indiana to serve natural food retailers in the Midwest.
Naperville, Ill.-based KeHE said Monday that the 376,512 square-foot DC, located in West Ellettsville, replaces the company’s current facility in Bloomington, Ind. The opening comes about six weeks after KeHE launched a 550,000-square-foot DC in North East, Md., serving parts of the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast.
KeHE now operates 16 DCs overall, including in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Georgia, Florida (two), Illinois, Indiana, Texas (two), Colorado, California (two) and Oregon, as well as three DCs in Canada (in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia).
“Essential workers, like our retail customers, have worked tirelessly to keep food on the table of their communities this year during the unprecedented times,” Chris Sieburg, executive vice president of warehouse operations at KeHE, said in a statement. “We are extremely proud to enhance our operations for natural retailers throughout the Midwest to ensure they have the products and support they need to weather this storm. This new facility will expand our product assortment and inventory, improve delivery times and increase speed-to-shelf of new items, all incredibly important to the success of our customers.”
The West Ellettsville DC houses 80,195 square feet of freezer space and 61,000 square feet of refrigerated space, with the latter including a 32,350-square-foot refrigerated dock to keep perishable items cool and fresh during the loading process, KeHE said. The facility, with more than 225 employees, also features energy-efficient LED lighting, an Alta cooler and freezer system, and energy monitoring systems.
“This year has been full of unique and unforeseen challenges. When the pandemic hoarding began, our store was wiped out seemingly in minutes,” commented Jennifer Radtke, grocery buyer and assistant manager at Health Hut Natural Foods in Mukwonago, Wis. “In the first few weeks of March, I realized that how I purchase for the store was going to present challenges in not only the ordering process, but present challenges in receiving product. KeHE has been key to our success both during the last eight months and as part of our daily operations for many years.”
An employee-owned, B Corp-certified company, KeHE supplies natural, organic, fresh and specialty food, groceries and other products to more than 30,000 natural food stores, supermarket chains, independent grocery stores, online retailers and other specialty retailers across North America.
“We appreciate the outstanding customer service that each one of the [KeHE] employees provided during the COVID-19 pandemic. Manufacturers’ out-of-stocks have a massive effect on our stores,” stated Ken El-Talabani, chief operations officer at Sunrise Health Foods, which has stores in Illinois and Indiana. “The KeHE team was hands-on in our day-to-day operations finding [comparable] products to fill our shelves. Choosing KeHE as our distributor years ago has been a winning experience for our stores and customers.”