by Mike Sharkey
Volkswagen of America has six parts distribution centers in the United States and Thursday the German auto manufacturer officially cut the ribbon to its newest.
“This building has truly been a labor of love for us,” said Jack McEowen, director of parts logistics.
The Jacksonville center is another step in Volkswagen’s plan to sell a million cars a year in the market by the year 2018. At 260,000 square feet, the Westside center is state-of-the-art from the loading docks and motion-sensitive, energy-efficient lights to the voice-activated parts selection system. The center serves the Southeast U.S. and Puerto Rico, shipping parts to VW and Audi dealers throughout the region.
“VW has big plans and this parts distribution center is part of that plan,” said McEowen.
James Ackley works for Dedicated Contract Carriers, the company that has the contract to physically load and ship the parts. He said the new building is much better than the old center on Central Parkway near the University of North Florida.
“This thing is outstanding,” he said. “We used to have two bays, now we have a bay for every truck. Every single thing we ship gets there overnight. The drivers make that happen. If the dealers don’t get their parts, this operation is basically useless.”
Mike Beamish, executive vice president and board member, said Volkswagen is proud to expand in Jacksonville.
“This represents a $30 million investment by Volkswagen into Jacksonville and is another tangible sign of our interest in this area,” said Beamish, who repeatedly thanked the employees of the center for making the move seamless and for their dedication to the company. “This is a great place to do business and I have been told a great place to live.”
Beamish also talked about the importance of growing as a company despite the economy.
“We know these are tough times and we are not unaffected by the global economic conditions,” he said. “We are better prepared than our competitors. We are ready to grow in this market because we produce the kind of car American consumers want.”
Jacksonville Economic Development Commission Executive Director Ron Barton said the new center, and Volkswagen’s commitment to the area, is the kind of economic development he and City leaders are seeking.
“This is a celebration of the short-term issue of job creation and capital investment in the community. Those two things are very important to the City of Jacksonville,” he said. “We all operate in, and prosper in, a global economy. We have a German company that gets parts made in Brazil and Mexico and they use our port. This company, this building allows us to participate in the global economy.”
One big facility
So, how big is a 260,000-square-foot warehouse? It’s big enough to hold:
• 4 football fields
• 34 tennis courts
• 50 basketball courts