On June 2, 2020, AWG was pleased to announce the most exciting undertaking in the history of AWG with the launch of a new All-In-One Distribution Hub located in Hernando, MS. AWG continues to lead the industry in new and innovative solutions by investing in state-of-the-art technology in distribution and logistics. This new facility will allow AWG to continue growing as a company and excelling at its mission -- providing its members the products, tools, and services they need to compete in the markets they serve, all at the lowest possible cost.
The grocery business is changing fast, and with this new All-In-One Distribution Hub, AWG and VMC will be well-positioned to meet the needs of their members for many, many years into the future. Today is a great day for all of AWG's members, teammates and vendors! The new facility is set to open in 2023, so there is a lot of work ahead. The amazing teammates at AWG and VMC will work together to create the most amazing new facility for our member retailers.
Why are we building a new facility?
Our mission is to provide our members with all of the products, tools, and services they need to compete favorably in all markets they serve. As our business continues to grow, our members already need products that we cannot provide, especially in high growth categories of refrigerated and frozen natural and organic products as well as locally grown goods.
Now more than ever, people understand the important role AWG plays in ensuring there is food on our grocery store shelves, and that we must continue to provide this essential service to our customers in increasingly efficient ways. With our current facilities at or near peak capacity in volume and well beyond capacity in the number of products they can stock, sticking more products into the current warehouse configuration simply makes the work harder on our teammates, reduces productivity and adds cost.
A new state-of-the-art automated distribution hub will allow us to increase efficiency, leverage productivity opportunities, and create a better working environment for employees. The new warehouse will be capable of double the volume and SKU count across our facilities.
This is going to be a new and exciting project for AWG.
Why turn to automation?
Automation will allow us to provide more products to our retailers, increase efficiencies, improve accuracy and cause less damage to goods. The design of the facility will accommodate more SKUs and 30% more volume than a traditional facility.
Automation allows us to:
- replicate the most tedious and manual tasks
- increase the number of hours per day we can operate the facility while still improving the overall accuracy, all without increasing employee fatigue
- place our best people into roles leveraging these new technology solutions throughout the end-to-end lifecycle while providing increased growth opportunities
- reduce product damage incurred by reducing manual touchpoints
- increase volume based on demand without incurring additional cost
- provide increased variety of products to offer more items to our retailers at an efficient cost structure, allowing the retailer to improve their competitive position in the marketplace
- attract and retain talented employees
- reduce costs for members by providing aisle ready pallets
When will the new facility open?
Given the exciting new technology to be included in the facility, it will open in phases, with the first phase likely to open in Spring 2023. The various phases will allow us time to get the procedures properly developed and organized as we migrate product and orders to the new facility, and it will provide the redundancy of having the existing facilities up and operational for any needed adjustments.
We anticipate some product will begin shipping out of the new facility as early as Spring 2023, with all product and shipping moved over by the end of 2023 or the beginning of 2024.