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Book group keeps its word, opens distribution center

June 28, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - One year after announcing it would open a giant book distribution center that would bring 500 jobs to Chambersburg, Ingram Book Group kept its word and dedicated the new facility Thursday.

The 650,000-square-foot center - encompassing more than 15 acres - is on Garber Road, just north of Pa. 316. Ingram moved its operations at a smaller facility on Sheffler Drive and about 100 employees to the new location.

There are 420 employees at the distribution center, which opened about two months ago, and officials expect that number to grow to 600 in the next three years.

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"This time a year ago, we were just putting the stakes in the ground marking the footprint of this building," said Michael F. Lovett, president and chief executive officer of Ingram Book Group.

About 300 Ingram executives, local officials and workers attended Thursday's ceremony, which was held in the midst of the two miles of conveyors and stacks of thousands of cardboard boxes overflowing with more than 6 million books.

The $24 million center is the largest single investment Ingram has ever made, Lovett said.

"It is a clear sign of our enthusiasm for and commitment to the book industry," he said.

Lovett said Ingram chose Chambersburg from 57 potential sites. He said its central location to a key market, access to transportation and the company's experience with the community were the reasons they settled on Chambersburg.

"I am pleased with how the facility looks and what I see here in the people of Chambersburg," said John Ingram, chairman of Ingram Book Group.

Emily White, deputy secretary for business development for Pennsylvania, said the state offered several incentives to entice Ingram. They included an $800,000 Opportunity Grant, $500,000 of infrastructure improvements, $675,000 to assist Ingram in job training and $1.5 million in tax credit incentives that become available to Ingram once the distribution center employs 500 workers.

The new center is the result of "right-sizing" Ingram Books' operations, officials said.

The Nashville, Tenn.-based company said last year it would consolidate the operations of its eight distribution centers into just four, including the new facility in Chambersburg. Operations previously handled in East Windsor, Conn., and Petersburg, Va., were moved to Chambersburg.

The new distribution center will receive large shipments from publishers, break them down and ship the books to the retailers. It also assumed the operations of the return center on Sheffler Drive and collects unsold copies of books from retailers and returns them to the publisher.

The return center takes up 255,000 square feet of the new center and processes 1.3 million books a month, said Ida Booth, an Ingram manager.

The distribution center operates two shifts six days a week from about 6 a.m. to midnight, said Joe Patrick, regional vice president of Ingram's Eastern operations.

Ingram was the first of three companies to announce plans last year for distribution centers in the Chambersburg area that will bring an estimated 2,000 jobs. Kmart opened its facility in the Chambers-5 Business Park in January and Target expects to complete and open its facility along Interstate 81 in Guilford Township next year.

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