Spirit of Rowan: Chewy bringing big business of online retail to Rowan’s doorstep

Published 12:01 am Monday, March 30, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

A 700,000 square foot facility with 1,200 jobs on offer has been big news in town for the previous year after online pet supply retailer Chewy tapped Salisbury as the home for a new fulfillment center.

“It’s huge. It’s our largest job announcement that’s ever been made in Rowan County,” said Economic Development Commission President Rod Crider. “It’s a site that the county has marketed for a long time.”

Crider said the county was picked over another site in South Carolina to house the facility, and the announcement has validated what work over the past five years to put a greater emphasis by the county on economic development.

“This fulfillment center is an investment in the region and we’re excited to be part of this community,” said Pete Krillies, Chewy vice president of real estate, facilities and procurement.

Krillies said it has been an “incredible experience” working with local leadership in the EDC and the county commissioners.

At first, the party looking at the site was a mystery. But the announcement came in April 2019 that Chewy wanted to put a $55 million fulfillment center on the site. And the company quickly got to work clearing the land.

That investment is bringing business to local contractors as well. Chandler Concrete is a Burlington-based supplier that serves central and western North Carolina as well as some parts of Tennessee and Virginia. Chandler supplied about 30,000 cubic yards of concrete for the Chewy facility, and it has one of the company’s mobile plants on site to supply most of the concrete being used.

Salisbury Chandler Manager Bob Cartner said mobile plants are usually reserved for larger jobs and saves time, resources and money compared to delivering all of the concrete off site.

“Obviously we have to be competitive when we look at a job like this, it’s a job we go after,” Cartner said, adding the project is a great opportunity.

Chewy VP of Fulfillment and Supply Chain Human Resources Gregg Walsh said the company is focused on creating a customer experience that extends to its fulfillment centers, including the people who work at the centers.

“We hire full-time positions with competitive pay and benefits packages and then make sure that we’re providing growth potential for all of our team members. We view this as an extension of our investment in the community,” Walsh said.

Chewy began clearing the site has already been hiring for positions at the facility since July, with an anticipated opening in June and a ribbon cutting this spring. The company anticipates adding more than 1,200 jobs by 2025.

Chewy was attracted in part with a $2.3 million property tax incentive and a $400,000 equipment grant. Those incentives require the company to meet employment goals.

Chewy is owned by brick-and-mortar retailer PetSmart, and this will be its ninth fulfillment center in the country. It will be its first in North Carolina.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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