Organically Grown plans move to new office, warehouse facility

07/06/2012 03:16:00 PM
Jim Offner

Eugene, Ore.-based organic produce distributor Organically Grown Co. soon will close its leased office/warehouse facility in Clackamas, Ore., and open its own new 120,000-square-foot complex about 20 miles north, in Troutdale, Ore.

“We’re in the process of installing a warehouse management system, and, of course, that’s a big undertaking for a company our size,” said Tom Lively, senior salesman.

The move is necessary for the company to stay competitive, he said.

The new building, which is scheduled to open Oct. 1, is about twice the size of the current facility near Portland, Lively said. It will handle as much as 85% of the company’s business, he added.

Retailers and other consumers will benefit by having fresher product, Lively said.

“We move product fast enough it’s not going to be a huge issue for us, but it will be at the tail end of the deal,” he said.

Mike Hansen, vice president of operations, is directing the project.

Natalie Reitman-White, sustainability director, is in charge of the sustainability features of the building.

There are many, she said.

“We’ve done a lot of maximizing the energy efficiencies of the building, and we’re building it to the Leadership in Environmental Engineering and Design Gold equivalent,” Reitman-White said.

Among the green features she listed are an energy-saving ammonia refrigeration system; nontoxic finishes, including paints, carpets and laminates; low-flow water fixtures; Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood, which ensures “responsible harvest” of lumber materials; advanced lighting controls and increased natural light; and bicycle-commuting incentives for employees, Reitman-White said.

To encourage employees to bike to work, Organically Grown Co. has showers available and offers and other amenities that incentivize workers to bike to work, she said. The company also will offer employees a mileage stipend for bicycling to work, she added.

The building is designed to control the cold chain, Lively said.

“The whole dock is going to be cold, so it’s really going to help our ability to manage the cold chain, which is one of those funny intangibles,” he said.

The new building won’t change the routine at the company’s Eugene operation, Lively said, adding that he wasn’t sure whether it would lead to any new hiring.

“If anything, our current facility is so inefficient, hopefully we’ll really buckle down and keep our crew intact and mature into it and have a nice growth spurt,” Lively said.


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