Opens New Distribution CenterBelron'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.
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
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
"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
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 glassBYTEs.com/AGRR
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
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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