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Macy's fulfillment center in Berkeley County 'redefines big'

Officials attend ribbon-cutting ceremony and dedication of 1.3 million-square-foot facility

July 18, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • Craig O'Conner, from left, Scott Prieto, Chuck Basa, Sen. Joe Manchin III, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, CEO and President of Macy's, Inc. Terry J. Lundgren, Rep. Shelly Moore Capito, Bill Stubblefield and Christina Combs cut the ribbon at the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Wednesday at the new Macy's Online Fulfillment Center in Martinsburg, W.Va.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The 1.3 million-square-foot fulfillment center that Macy’s Inc. built in Berkeley County for its fast-growing online business “redefines big,” the retail giant’s CEO said Wednesday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the company’s $150 million investment.

“This is so big, this facility, that we actually had to take into consideration the curvature of the Earth when we poured the foundation,” Terry J. Lundgren said, prompting laughter among a large crowd that included Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, several other prominent state and local officials, and company employees.

“That’s not a joke!” Lundgren added, saying he was serious. Lundgren said he spoke with the architect and doesn’t know of another building in the country that is as large on one level.

The company said it expects to employ 1,200 people full time by late next year or early 2014 to handle web-based customers via macys.com and bloomingdales.com. Another 700 temporary, seasonal workers are expected to be hired each year for the holiday shopping season, according to the company.

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Lundgren said the company saw a 40 percent increase in online sales last year and noted sales through June of this year are up about 35 percent.

At peak, the facility at 333 Caperton Blvd. in Cumbo Yard Industrial Park will be able to ship about 250,000 packages per day to individual customers, according to Lundgren.

To date, between 425 and 450 people have been added to the payrolls, said Peter Longo, president of Macy’s Logistics & Operations.

“Come back in November, you’ll have to fight hard to find a place to park,” said Longo, who presented a $10,000 donation to Blue Ridge Community and Technical College for assisting the company in the months leading up to the building’s completion in May.

Before presenting an oversized check to college president Peter G. Checkovich, Longo recognized the school for providing the company office space before the new facility was occupied.

Longo also recalled having lunch with Tomblin in Charleston, W.Va., on “a very cold, snowy day in December of 2010” as being a pivotal day in the company’s decision to build in the Eastern Panhandle.

The announcement was made later that month and officials broke ground on the project in April 2011.

Tomblin said he remembered that day having only been in the governor’s office for a few weeks after Manchin stepped down to fill the Senate seat formerly held by the late Robert C. Byrd. Discussions with Macy’s about the facility were already under way, said Tomblin, who credited Manchin for his early role in the project.

After touting efforts to make the state more business-friendly, Tomblin concluded his remarks by publicly assuring Lundgren and Longo “you made the right decision to come to West Virginia.” 

Capito, R-W.Va., said the company’s investment was a “once-in-a-generation, once-in-a-lifetime game changer” for the economy, and also noted Macy’s “corporate citizenship” in support of community initiatives will be “immeasurable.”

Joking about the building’s size, Capito told the crowd to just think about how many women’s shoes the building would hold.

“I look forward to picking out dozens of pairs of shoes as I walk through the 1.3 million-square-foot facility,” said Capito, who wore a pair of aqua pumps.

“These are not from Macy’s, but my next pair will be,” Capito said as she left the building. 

Visitors who toured the facility Wednesday were told there  eventually will be 900,000 pairs of shoes on inventory there. Inside the building, there are 14 miles of conveyor belts, and the structure contains 46 football fields of “walkable” space, according to the company. There are 23,300 sprinkler heads, 988 lockers and 1,388 parking spaces, and 38,000 cubic yards of concrete were poured to build it.

A 2,000-linear-foot tilt tray sorter was the world’s largest when it was installed, the company said.

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