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Hanover County and Ashland received a large dose of economic development Oct. 16.
Vitamin Shoppe’s new distribution center is completely open for business, now shipping health products to stores in four states from their 311,740 square-foot warehouse in Ashland.
Company officials said the location sold them.
“We felt that Ashland was a good fit culturally for us as a company,” said Richard Tannenbaum, senior vice president of supply chain at Vitamin Shoppe.
After looking at other potential spots in Virginia and North Carolina, Tannenbaum said the company chose the “Center of the Universe” because of the welcoming town and easy access to I-95. It allows for smooth and quick transportation of products, both large and small packages, to their retail stores.
Within the next two years, the business will continue to add “health enthusiasts,” or employees, to the staff.
At the time of the official “grand opening,” Tannenbaum said there were 50 workers, but the company hopes to eventually generate more than 170 jobs in Hanover County and the town.
“We haven’t had any trouble recruiting folks to our operation,” Tannenbaum said. “I think that’s a big testament to the folks who are here and the demographic in the Hanover County and Ashland region.”
Most of the warehouse positions consist of “picking” inventory off shelves for shipments, packing products for shipping, and loading up the trucks for distributing.
Tannenbaum said the company hires a combination of people with the skills for some jobs and those who they will train for various positions.
The Ashland location services 56 stores in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico. However, as the company continues to expand the center’s distribution capabilities, the amount of stores it serves will increase to about 120 by the end of 2015, eventually stocking shelves of Florida shops, Tannenbaum said.
Next year, the site will start shipping off nutritional supplements, vitamins and protein products like shakes and powders to online customers.
The company itself is also growing. Tannenbaum said Vitamin Shoppe opens up roughly 60 stores each year.
Land size for the facility played a big role in deciding on a location for the new structure. Tannenbaum said they were able to find a large enough lot in Hanover for future expansions.
“That was important to us because the Vitamin Shoppe is in a growth mode right now,” he added.
Since distribution started ramping up in early September, Tannenbaum said workers from the home base in New Jersey have made Ashland their home during the week – living, eating and shopping in town – while helping train employees and get the location ready for its opening.
Tannenbaum added that local companies and workers were hired for all the construction, landscaping and repair work.
“We’re in the community and we’re a neighbor here,” Tannenbaum said. “And we want to do business with our neighbors.”