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New Schwab distribution center dedicated in W.Va.

May 11, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Fourteen months after he walked with a prospective development client across a muddy field near the Berkeley County airport, Rick Wachtel marveled Tuesday at the new S. Schwab Co. distribution center.

"I want to welcome another chapter to what we hope will be a continual best-seller at the Eastern Regional Airport," said Wachtel, the head of the county's Airport Authority.

S. Schwab will use the center to distribute Ralph Lauren Childrenswear. The company expects to have about 140 employees working in the 187,000-square-foot facility by July.

West Virginia Gov. Cecil Underwood, who was among the 250 people gathered for the center's dedication, joked that his family would soon be giving the company some added sales with the birth of his sixth grandchild.

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"Mr. Schwab, my family's doing their best to keep you in business," Underwood said.

It was Underwood's third visit to Berkeley County in five days, with Monday's ground-breaking for a new hardware distribution center and last week's dedication of the new Parcel/Direct facility at Quad Graphics.

Visitors to the new S. Schwab building got an up-close look at the "chutes and ladders" maze of conveyor belts that are guided by four computer systems to ferry products into the facility and then out to about 3,000 retailers across the country.

Underwood commended the company for its fast-track approach to getting the new facility built.

He said the state expects to receive approval this year for its request to have a free-trade zone established at the airport.

The free-trade zone designation will allow S. Schwab to import clothing for distribution without paying duties.

If the imported clothing is shipped to a U.S. location, the duty is not paid until the order is sent. If it is exported, it will remain duty-free, which will help S. Schwab capitalize on international markets.

Samuel and Sylvia Schwab began the company in 1915 in New York, and members of the family continue to run it.

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