HANOVER TWP. — Boxes of pet food and other pet products ready to be shipped throughout the Northeast move along a conveyor belt inside Chewy.com’s new fulfillment center.
The online retailer of pet food and other pet products recently opened the 800,000-square-foot center in Hanover Twp.
Huge bags of pet food are stacked high on shelves inside the new facility, which is the size of 16 football fields and is located in part of the industrial park called the Hanover Ridge Trade Center.
The company has already hired 300 people. The goal is to hire a total of 700, said Gregg Walsh, vice president of human resources operations, who led a tour of the massive facility on Tuesday.
Many types of jobs need to be filled, including fulfillment specialists, and positions in human resources, information technology and management.
People can apply for jobs online at Chewy.com/jobs and hiring events are being held at the facility.
According to the website, the starting salary for fulfillment specialists is $11.25 an hour.
Employees are working day shift seven days a week, but there are plans to launch a night shift soon, Walsh said.
Chewy.com, headquartered in Dania Beach, Florida, was founded in 2011 and has grown to include five warehouses.
In addition to its Hanover Twp. facility, its largest other fulfillment centers are located in Mechanicsburg, Texas, Nevada and Indiana. Another one will be launched in Florida later this year, Walsh said.
“In each of our facilities, there have been so many stories of folks who came on as fulfillment specialists and were promoted to coordinators, leads or supervisors, or moved into human resources or IT,” he said. “There has been so much opportunity for folks to grow with Chewy.”
Walsh said Chewy.com has seen growth because of increased interest in online shopping and its customer service.
People who do not want to lug giant bags of pet food from a store to a car and from the car to the house prefer to order pet food online to be delivered to their doorsteps, typically in one or two days, he said.
The facility’s location in Hanover Twp. was ideal because of its proximity to major markets, Walsh said.
“The labor market here is phenomenal. We’ve been really happy with the market here. That’s how we figure out where we are going to put a building,” he said. “There is great labor here and there was the real estate to do it and that’s how we ended up here.”
Missouri-based NorthPoint Development owns the Hanover Twp. site and construction also continues there for two other buildings. One building is 840,000 square feet and the other is 365,000 square feet. There are no tenants yet, said Brent Miles, vice president for NorthPoint. Construction should be completed in the fourth quarter of this year, he said. NorthPoint bought the 172 acres last year for $15 million from KTR Capital Partners and construction of the three buildings will total more than 2 million square feet. The goal is to create about 2,000 jobs on the site, he said.
Luzerne County Council, Hanover Township Commissioners and the Hanover Area School Board approved a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act tax abatement for the property that will continue until Dec. 31, 2026. For the first eight years, 100 percent of applicable property taxes are exempt. In the ninth year, 90 percent of those taxes are exempt, and in the 10th year of the agreement, 80 percent of the taxes are exempt. The LERTA approval came after a prior owner had secured a Keystone Opportunity Zone extension, forgiving real estate taxes and most state taxes on tenants through 2024.
The Earth Conservancy formerly owned the site that once was mine-scarred land. Major reclamation work was done, said Mike Dziak, president and CEO of the Earth Conservancy. Dziak said the Earth Conservancy’s goal was to bring economic development to the mine-scarred site. While it took more than a decade, he said he is happy the goal was achieved.
Chewy.com is a “welcome addition to the community,” Dziak said.
“You have to have a lot of patience to accomplish something like this and we’re very proud of it,” Dziak said. “I think it’s remarkable.”
Chewy.com has partnered with the SPCA of Luzerne County and will provide the organization with pet food donations, said Chewy.com spokeswoman Roxsanne Tai.
“We really believe that wherever we have a presence, we think the work that they do is obviously impactful,” Tai said. “We want to support them in any way we can.”
Date: July 12, 2017
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