Westwego Food Distribution Center Is Big Economic Development Win
WESTWEGO, La. – The subsequent time you dine at a restaurant in New Orleans, chances are high the substances to your meal will come from US Foods’ large new distribution heart, situated on River Road on the west financial institution of the Mississippi River between the Crescent City Connection and Huey P. Long Bridge.
On Nov. 16, native officers joined US Foods workers and prospects for a dedication ceremony and social gathering on the roughly 200,000-square-foot facility, which is basically an enormous loading dock related to a number of enormous, temperature-controlled warehouses. An hooked up administration space features a demonstration kitchen and an “interactive technology center” for patrons. The operation is residence to about 200 workers, a lot of whom have been current on the celebration, the place caterers served lunches, fritters and different celebratory meals.
Left to proper: Rebecca O’Brien, Business Development Manager at GNO; Cheryl Sayles, US Foods HR; Steve Baham, undertaking supervisor of LED enterprise enlargement and buyer retention group; Keith Knight, President of the US Foods Region; Jerry Bologna, President and CEO of JEDCO; Jay Kvasnicka, US Foods EVP Sales and Field Service; Bill Hancock, US Foods chief provide chain officer; Dan Hildreth, president of US Foods; Bob Deiters, former US Foods M&A; Nick Christiana; Randy Taylor, President of the US Foods Region; Richard Wilson, President of US Foods; Melissa Hosner, advertising supervisor for US Foods
You might say the grand opening occasion, which additionally featured a marching band and swag baggage, has been within the works since 2017, when Illinois-based US Foods purchased F. Christiana, an area retailer of groceries and food-related merchandise that had been there for 3 generations household owned. At the time, F. Christiana had almost $100 million in annual gross sales and greater than 1,800 prospects in Louisiana, southern Mississippi and southern Alabama. Independent eating places, resorts and comfort shops made up the vast majority of the distributor’s clientele.
F. Christiana additionally owned a 70,000 sq. foot distribution heart at 7251 River Road, the location of US Foods’ new outsized facility.
Operations have continued for the previous 5 years as new house owners draw up plans for expanded services and eventual renaming. The pandemic has slowed the method considerably, however firm executives are proud of the top outcome.
“This is an important milestone for our growing Louisiana team as we continue to partner with local foodservice operators who support our vibrant and thriving New Orleans community,” mentioned Dan Hildreth, market vp of US Foods. “We value our role in helping our local restaurants make it through with our differentiated and expanded resources and services, and look forward to serving additional markets with our growing service footprint.”
According to March 2022 figures from commerce group SIAL America, US Foods is the second largest main grocer within the nation behind Sysco, which had worldwide gross sales of $60 billion in 2021. US Foods is about half the dimensions however rising. The new New Orleans space distribution heart is the corporate’s seventieth to go surfing.
US Foods, whose firm’s roots stretch again 150 years, virtually merged with Sysco in 2013, however the Federal Trade Commission blocked the transaction. According to the corporate, it has round 250,000 prospects, 70 distribution facilities, 80 money and carry shops and 28,000 workers. It sells greater than 400,000 merchandise.
At the grand opening on November 16, the corporate’s director of exterior communications, Sara Matheu, emphasised that e-commerce, know-how and enterprise options are additionally on the menu.
“We’re focusing on the independent operators,” she mentioned. “Many of the national chains have their own machine that helps them work more efficiently. That’s our role when it comes to independent operators because they don’t have that oversight authority. So we work with them to say, ‘Hey, here’s the latest technology to run your business and help you balance your income statement. So we can help you reduce labor costs. This is where food costs go up. So it’s a whole partnership. It just doesn’t deliver food.”
The undertaking is a win for group and regional financial growth officers. JEDCO, Jefferson Parish and Louisiana Economic Development started discussions with US Foods in 2017 about enlargement. A JEDCO spokesman mentioned the group helped discover “funds” for infrastructure enhancements on website and within the surrounding space and “provided creative solutions to support and win the company’s significant investment.” The state of Louisiana, in the meantime, supplied an incentive bundle.
According to JEDCO, the undertaking benefited from two “merit-based” grants from the state’s enterprise growth program. US Foods acquired $327,000 to construct sanitation services, and $234,000 went to the group to assist fund the price of upgrading public water techniques to assist the undertaking. In addition, Jefferson Parish paid $800,000 for added upgrades within the “close vicinity” of the US Foods location.
“Business preservation and expansion has long been a key element of our economic development strategy,” mentioned Jerry Bologna, President and CEO of JEDCO, who attended the dedication ceremony. “When a nationally recognized company of the caliber of US Foods chooses to expand in Jefferson Parish, it adds credibility to our efforts and promotes our community as a destination for global business. We commend US Foods for creating jobs, investment and opportunity in Jefferson Parish and throughout the region.”
“US Food’s expansion solidifies Jefferson Parish and Greater New Orleans as a premier business location and food manufacturing hub,” mentioned Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc., the regional financial growth group. “We are grateful for the work done by JEDCO and the state to support US Foods and boost the local economy.”
A marching band entertains friends at a celebration November 16 at US Foods’ new distribution heart in Westwego.
The facility enlargement is designed to fulfill the sustainability necessities of Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The firm mentioned power and environmental enhancements embrace energy-efficient cooling techniques, energy-saving LED lighting, optimized HVAC techniques and water-saving landscaping.
For Sara Matheu, nonetheless, it is all about customer support.
“Usually we’re a food service partner to them,” she mentioned. “So we deliver food and supplies. And on top of that they can come and test products and there’s all these free services that we offer. It’s about a strong partnership and helping them succeed. I love being a part of this company because you just love to see the success of these independent restaurateurs.”