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Macy's center a perfect fit for Berkeley Co. family

July 18, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Eric Thomas’ hour-and-a-half commute to work from Berkeley County to College Park, Md., is over thanks to the opening of the Macy’s new online fulfillment center near Martinsburg.

And not only does the 53-year-old Bunker Hill, W.Va., man now work in his “backyard” as a maintenance supervisor at the 1.3 million-square-foot facility, but his daughter, Kandice, works for Macy’s, too, as a financial analyst.

“It’s a family affair,” Thomas said smiling.

Macy’s has been a great place to work so far, said Thomas, who was hired March 5 while the building was still under construction.

“It’s a great ground-floor opportunity with plenty of room for growth,” Thomas said Wednesday morning before the start of a ribbon-cutting ceremony that attracted the state’s political heavyweights and a host of local community leaders.

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Thomas was among the vast majority of employees attending the ceremony who stood when U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin asked those from or living in West Virginia to be recognized at the onset of his remarks.

After they were applauded, Manchin joked that there was a place for those who live out of state to live in West Virginia, too.

Those commuting into the state as a result of the facility’s opening include Chuck Basa of Frederick County, Va., who was tapped to run the fulfillment center for Macy’s as the facility vice president.

Prior to Macy’s, Basa said he opened a 750,000-square-foot distribution center for Home Depot in Winchester, Va., as the general manager.

“In some respects, its sort of like once you learn to drive, then you get a bigger car,” Basa said. “This is a much bigger car.”

To date, the company has added more than 400 workers to the payroll, but officials said  1,200 people are expected to work full time by late next year or early 2014 to meet the company’s growing online business via macys.com and bloomingdales.com. The company payroll is expected to be about $30 million.

Before being hired by Macy’s, Thomas said he worked for The Washington Post, which he said had a lot of similar distribution equipment. 

Thomas said he took a slight pay cut, but that was offset by the cost of his commute.

“It was a wash for me, so I’m very happy about that,” Thomas said.

When he left the newspaper, Thomas said he was working night shift, but now has a daytime schedule.

“It works into my family life great,” said Thomas, who said he will mark 29 years of marriage in October.

Thomas said he had no idea his daughter, who was a teacher for Berkeley County Schools for two years, would end up working with him at Macy’s.

“She saw this as a better career opportunity for her,” Thomas said.

Manchin, who said the state’s workforce is West Virginia’s greatest asset, told the employees that their work ethic and dedication would make the company successful and ultimately benefit them as well.

Saying he was proud to be part of the team to bring Macy’s to the Eastern Panhandle, Manchin welcomed Macy’s executives as part of “our family” in West Virginia. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., was unable to attend the ceremony, but said in a video message that having Macy’s locate in Berkeley County represented “another great stroke” for eastern West Virginia.

The fulfillment center joins similar facilities in Goodyear, Ariz., Portland, Tenn. and Cheshire, Conn., is expected to eventually serve customers up and down the East Coast, according to the company.

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