Safelite Opens New Distribution Center—Belron's Largest in World
July 15, 2009

You wouldn't know the auto glass industry is struggling by the event held today in Ontario, Calif. Safelite Auto Glass opened a new, 282,000-square-foot distribution center there, which will serve as a hub for all of the company's facilities west of the Mississippi and is Belron's largest in the entire world.

"I can't tell you how proud I felt when I stepped into this distribution center this morning for the first time," said Lubner during the grand-opening ceremony. He pointed out that the flags hanging in the facility represent all of the countries in which Belron does business, including one of its newest, Lithuania.

The facility can hold 130,000 glass units, and ultimately will see 1 million units per year go through the distribution chain, according to Rich Glover, assistant vice president of manufacturing and distribution. By 2013, Glover predicts the facility will handle 2.5 times that amount of glass.

Though the facility will house some parts made at the company's manufacturing facility in Enfield, N.C., it will also handle parts made by other manufacturers, including Asian imports, according to Tom Feeney, chief executive officer of the Columbus, Ohio-based company.

The company is placing a renewed focus on green with the opening of the facility and even has a new slogan, "The glass is always greener on the Safelite side."

Among the green elements of the facility are skylights throughout the warehouse, which, on a sunny like today, provide bright lighting throughout the area. Likewise, the lights in the facility work on motion sensors; if there's no one working near or under them, they remain off.

"We believe we have a responsibility not only to give back to the communities in which we do business, but also to support the environment," said Lubner.

Glover added, "We will eliminate 1 million transport miles and will reduce our carbon footprint by 1,500 tons."

Lubner also said the company is exploring the option of putting solar cells on the roof of its newest facility as another way in which it can save energy.

"It's not just good for the environment," he said, "but it's good for our bottom line as well."

The company began making preparations to open a West Coast distribution center last July-one year before the opening.

"I'm sure for many this feels like the end of a great project, but in fact it's the beginning of a great project," Lubner added.

Belron US chief operations officer Rich Harrison echoed this sentiment.

"This is a good demonstration of our commitment to our growth strategy in the United States," Harrison told™/AGRR magazine.

Feeney said that the company currently serves 300,000 customers in the state of California-and looks to triple that number with the new distribution facility. He also spoke of the company's four-year plan to change the culture of the company with a focus on people and customer service.

"We're making investments in our supply chain so we can better service our customers," he said. Feeney said the company plans to invest a total of $60 million this year to reach its goals.

"Our goal is very simple-to delight each and every one of our customers," he said. "I'm proud of all we've accomplished with this distribution center."

Several legislative representatives were on-hand to celebrate the opening, including Sheila Mautz of the city of Ontario, who presented a certificate of congratulations to the company, with a particular emphasis on the company's efforts to become more green.

"Your commitment to leading the way in greening the glass industry is commended," said Mautz, as she presented the plaque to Glover.

And the event wasn't without some excitement. Glover joked that he was going to christen the facility with the official breaking of a Safelite windshield.

Instead, employees of the facility provided a bit of entertainment for the crowd at the pinnacle of the opening ceremony-raising forklifts in unison with banners touting the company's core tenets to the tune of U2's "It's a Beautiful Day" as confetti poured to the ground.

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