By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: October 21, 2018 | 12:30 p.m.
Hiring event planned for Tuesday, Oct. 23 at Dinwiddie facility
DINWIDDIE – Nearly two years ago, the vast plot of land near the corner of U.S. Route 1 and 460 was just that, a plot of land with little activity. Now, that same land is abuzz with activity as one of the county’s newest business partners began operations at their state-of-the-art facility.
Earlier this month, ALDI began shipping products from their new regional headquarters and distribution center in the county, the culmination of a $57 million investment into Dinwiddie by the German grocer.
While the facility was fully operational as of last week, the 562,500-square-foot building reached substantial completion in late August, with Charlotte, North Carolina-based A M King serving as the design-build contractor on the multimillion-dollar project, overcoming “significant weather-related challenges,” including a relatively snowy winter and rainy spring to deliver the building ahead of schedule.
In order to attract ALDI to Virginia and Dinwiddie County, the state competed against its southern neighbor North Carolina, a competition that was eventually successful and a fact touted by then-Governor Terry McAuliffe when he visited the county for a groundbreaking event in the winter of 2017 as he discussed the advantages Virginia has over other states.
“As you know, about 45 percent of the U.S. population is within a one-day drive of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” he said to an assembly of local and state leaders, joined by ALDI representatives. “We have a unique asset here if you are into distribution and logistics.”
Noting that Virginia’s economic policies are friendly to businesses, the then-governor mentioned that he was focused on economic development in the Commonwealth and sought to stay out of “socially divisive issues,” which, at the time of the ALDI’s search for a new home for their regional headquarters and distribution center, North Carolina was embroiled in a fierce debate between the business community and state legislators over House Bill 2, known as the “bathroom bill,” a bill that was seen by many as discriminatory against the transgender community. As a result, a number of businesses began re-evaluating their business interests in the state and even saw the NCAA move championship events out of the state for a time.
While not directly saying the debate in North Carolina helped tipped the scales in Virginia’s favor for the ALDI deal, McAuliffe reiterated that the state is open to all who want to do business in the Commonwealth.
“We have to be open and welcoming to everybody,” he remarked. “Don’t put walls up around our state, we need to focus on jobs. This dirt is going to be something where 145 families are going to be impacted positively. Once others see this, they are going to want to put their facilities and I hope this is the first of many logistics facilities here in Dinwiddie.”
Regarding how ALDI’s new center in the county plays into the grocer’s future plans, at the 2017 groundbreaking, ALDI’s Vice President of Real Estate and Construction Dan Gavin said the massive project is just a portion of their “accelerated growth plan” for the next half-decade across Virginia and America.
Over the course of the next five years, Gavin said ALDI plans to add another nearly 700 stores to their already-existing over 1,500 American stores, with over $1.6 billion earmarked for expansions and renovations at stores already in operations.
Specifically for Virginia, thanks to support from the new regional headquarters and distribution center in the heart of Dinwiddie, Gavin noted they plan to grow their current footprint from 30 stores to “in excess of 80 stores” over the next decade.
“To say there’s not much going on at ALDI would be an understatement, ” Gavin joked.
While heavy equipment moved earth across the site during the 2017 groundbreaking, it wasn’t long before the immense structure rose from the grounds of ALDI Way. Upon completion of the building, A M King walked through some of the features this new facility has, one of several the design-build team has done for the grocery store chain.
Among their work was the installation of an ammonia refrigeration system, structural precast building, an 80 mil PVC roof, high-end dock equipment, high density concrete warehouse flooring, racking for 25,000 pallet positions, a Quell fire suppression sprinkler system in the perishable space and a 2500 kW generator– which supplies enough power to operate the entire facility during a power outage.
The building was constructed with sustainability initiatives in mind, including full LED lighting throughout the building and an electrical system installed with a 2,000,100 percent-rated amp service designed for a 1.66 MW peak solar system–which will run the bulk of the refrigeration system and, at times, even part of the building.
In addition, the regional headquarters will operate out of a 35,000-square-feet Class A office, which includes Italian marble flooring and walls and the latest technology to handle the company’s various needs.
ALDI becomes the third major company to establish some form of a distribution hub in the county, joining Amazon and Walmart, two of the biggest retailers in the world in taking advantage of the county’s logistical assets, including two interstates, 95 and 85, two U.S. Routes, 1 and 460, along with dual-railroad access and the county’s regional airport.
“If you’re a distribution company and you want to get in and get out quickly, while you may not be able to do that as quickly in Northern Virginia or Hampton Roads, you can come to Dinwiddie where you have access to all the rail and interstate options and get in and out very quickly,” Dinwiddie County Administrator Kevin Massengill said in past discussions about ALDI and the county’s distribution assets “In this industry, time is money and we are fortunate to have these options here.”
As the company brings more than 200 jobs to Dinwiddie County, ALDI is expected to hold another hiring event at their new center located at 6801 ALDI near the corner of Boydton Plank Road and Airport Street on Tuesday, October 23 from 7 to 11 a.m.