Ace Hardware to expand local distribution center

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Ace Hardware Corp. is expanding its existing 500,000-square-foot retail distribution center at 5520 Astrozon Blvd. by nearly 50 percent in response to growing sales and an increasing number stores in the western region. Construction is scheduled to be completed by December.

The expansion of the center, which currently has 85 doors for shipping and receiving inventory, will increase its capacity by 225,000 square feet and will add another 40 doors, said Kalen Franklin, retail support manager. Upon completion, the Colorado Springs Retail Support Center, which opened in 1996, will cover an area as large as 20 football fields, and will feature the latest in warehousing and distribution technology. The facility will be in operation seven days a week, 365 days a year.

The 725,000-square-foot distribution center serves Ace retailers in Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Wyoming and parts of Utah.

“Sales are growing in this region at a 5- to 8-percent rate,” Franklin said. “This includes existing stores and new retail centers. We’ve added retailers in Fort Morgan, Colorado Springs and Lafayette, Colo., as well as in Santa Fe, N.M. All of these new retail centers are branch stores that are being opened by a current Ace Hardware owner. We see this trend continuing.”

Ace’s retail support center receives shipments from thousands of manufacturers. The products are sorted and then shipped.

“We’re a hard lines distributor for Ace Hardware,” Franklin said.

The center stocks about 62,000 products, including paint, tools, electrical items, plumbing, hardware, lawn and garden, sporting goods, automotive, housewares and Christmas and office supplies, Franklin said.

“The corporate offices in Oak Brook, Ill., takes retailer orders, while we process and fill orders,” Franklin said. “We basically pick and pack orders, load them on trucks and ship on our own trucks. Most orders are delivered within 48 hours of an order being placed.”

Bill Bauman, Ace’s vice president of retail support for the west, said, the expansion will allow the company to better serve its retailers. “At maximum capacity, the expanded facility will be capable of warehousing between $40 million and $50 million of inventory,” he said.

Franklin said he the expansion should create jobs. The facility currently has 225 employees.

“I foresee a growth in the number of employees based on a percentage of how our sales continue to grow,” Franklin said. “If sales continue to grow at 5 to 8 percent, that same percentage will be reflected in the number of additional employees we hire.”

- Jan.Mowle@csbj.com