After 18 years of working for the Goodman family and its small beverage distribution houses in Norwalk and Lorain, Wendy Pickett was nervous about the future of her job when the company was sold in October 2008.
But Pickett’s longstanding employers had found a buyer in Heidelberg Distributing Co. — a beer, wine, spirits and beverage distributor in Ohio and Kentucky — that believed in preserving its workforce and investing in new facilities.
This best-case scenario for Pickett and her 102 fellow employees was evident in August when Heidelberg consolidated the two locations — Goodman Beverage in Lorain and Mid-Ohio Wines in Norwalk — under one name. Heidelberg Distributing Lorain and its consolidated workforce is now under one roof at a newly renovated site carved out of the old Ford Lorain Assembly Plant.
“The Heidelberg family bought the south end of the Lorain Ford plant, roughly 178,000 square feet, and they detached it from the building by putting a wall in so that we are kind of free standing,” says Pickett, vice president of operations.
Heidelberg also had to remove a significant amount of duct work and wiring from the ceiling and had to cover wells in the floor that were used for assembly. Then the company built a 12,500-square-foot office space, installing an intricate racking system to hold all the room-temperature beer, wines and drinks, and building a 6,000-square-foot cooler to house thousand of its kegs of beer, says Kevin Knight, vice president and general manager of the facility.
He says the Ford plant was chosen mostly for its access to state Route 2 and the Ohio Turnpike and its proximity to the largest volume of its business.
“This was the best choice of the buildings we looked at in Norwalk, Oberlin and Lorain,” says Knight. “The overall circumstances were right — its ceiling height, availability of docks and the fact that it was fairly movable.”
As a wholesale distributor, the Lorain facility serves about 2,000 retailers, including grocery stores and restaurants in a 14-county region, mostly north-central Ohio.
A land-swap deal and an attractive jobs-retention agreement with the city of Lorain led Emerson Network Power-Energy Systems to invest more than $4 million in renovating a new facility at 1510 Kansas Ave.
The longtime Lorain enterprise, which has 270 employees and provides power systems equipment and global service for the telecommunications and data communications industries, was able to consolidate its five-building campus on F Street into a 124,000-square-foot facility.
“It helps position our company strongly for providing services to our customers and increases the competitiveness of our operations,” says David Baldridge, company spokesperson.
The renovation project was launched earlier this year with upgrades to the roof, HVAC, offices and interior, along with a new lobby and parking lot. Employees completed their move into the new workplace in September.