Whenever a company decides to establish itself in a new community, its leadership tends to adhere to the general rule of real estate: Location is everything. Of course, location means different things to different entities depending on their personal needs. For a small mom-and-pop shop, it may be an empty storefront on a bustling street corner, but if it is one of the largest distributors in the Midwest, transportation matters as well.
When Orgill Inc. decided to consolidate two of its distribution centers into a single facility, company officials needed to find a space with enough land to accommodate the sprawling operation, plenty of interstate access and a community committed to road maintenance. They found the perfect place in Sikeston, Mo., a city of 16,500 in the southwestern portion of the state.
“When we came here in 2009, we had a very extensive search to find a location for our Midwestern distribution center,” said Denny Koonce, division manager of the Orgill Distribution Center in Sikeston. “Being able to reach our customers who are located throughout the Midwest is very important to us.”
Giving credit where it is due
It’s easy to see why transit is so important. As the world’s largest independently owned hardlines distributor, providing hardware and home improvement products to retailers throughout the U.S. and in more than 60 countries around the world, Orgill has sales in excess of $1.84 billion annually. Naturally, with that much at stake, the company has to have its centers located in areas that enable it to reach its customers wherever they happen to be. The Sikeston location covers parts of 17 Midwestern states, employs 300 people and has a tremendous impact on the local economy.
“It really was the perfect storm that brought them here,” said David Wyman, a Missouri Department of Transportation engineer who works out of the district transportation office next door to the Orgill facility. “Although there were a lot of people who had a hand in Orgill coming to Sikeston, one of the major players was former Mayor Jerry Pullin who owns a trucking company himself and always has transportation on the forefront of his mind.”
Another key figure was Sikeston economic developer Ed Dust, who played a role in the early discussions with Orgill. According to Wyman, the company was impressed with the community’s road maintenance efforts, even during a recession that hamstrung most municipalities.
“It’s a good place to be headquartered, especially when you have an economic developer who has lived here all his life and knows the trends of everything that is happening. I give him a tremendous amount of credit in starting the discussions that led Orgill to the area,” he said.
In a MoDOT video posted on YouTube, Dust explained how Orgill decided to make Sikeston its new home. “When Orgill was looking for a site … they wanted to serve 10–12 states from this location … we had the site and everything they wanted but the best thing we had going for us was that we had the highways … If you don’t have a good transportation hub, people are not going to look at you. If people can’t get their product in and out. It’s just a matter of fact, they won’t be there,” he said.
Orgill’s 75,000-square-foot facility is conveniently located at Interstates 55 and 57, having a direct link to Chicago as well as Highway 60, which goes to Springfield, Mo.; Joplin, Mo.; and beyond. The center is also right next door to the district MoDOT office, which will always have Orgill’s back when the roads get rough.
Dust said that in the six years that Orgill has been in Sikeston, the company has hired over 300 people in the community, and the money invested in local talent turns over three to five times before it leaves.
“That’s a tremendous amount of money being spent in the area,” he said.
Koonce said the match has been a good one for Orgill as well, and after six years of being in Sikeston, the company is expanding its operation to nearly 1 million square feet, which will lead to a 10 percent increase in business and approximately 70 jobs. One of the things that makes the Sikeston center so unique is its worldwide sourcing department. This department is dedicated to merchandising that has been sourced overseas and imported so that Orgill customers can compete with Lowe’s, Home Depot and other major retailers.
“We bring product in in containers that have … come up from Memphis, and we bring them by truck to Sikeston and then send them out to our other distribution centers … so the transportation element is very important,” he said.
One big picture
The decision to make transportation a priority is not an easy one, especially when budgets have to be slashed to the bare minimum, but in his video, Dust said if communities don’t take care of their roads, they won’t be able to attract new companies to their areas. And if by chance, they are able to get something, but people can’t get to work, municipalities won’t have the employees necessary to keep the businesses running.
“It’s all one big picture,” he said. “We have to all pitch in … we have to keep the roads up to keep Missouri going the right way.”
“Ed has done a great job. He is humble in the way he approaches things and he’s been good at talking to companies and marketing the city of Sikeston. He has been very successful in bringing in companies that have resulted in a lot of jobs,” Wyman said.
To view MoDot’s video on Orgill’s move to Sikeston, watch: