A beverage distribution company with a Castle Hayne location plans to move its operations to Pender County and expand, opening a 155,000-square-foot warehouse in Pender Commerce Park, according to the company and an announcement Tuesday morning from Wilmington Business Development Inc.
The Pender County Board of Commissioners approved the proposed sale Monday of 15 acres at the park, for about $30,000 an acre, where Empire Distributors of North Carolina Inc. would open a new warehouse and a distribution center. The company mainly handles wine but also beer and other beverages.
If the deal is finalized, Empire Distributors would move the Wilmington branch from its current New Hanover County location, a 10,000-square-foot warehouse at 4805 Las Tortugas Drive in Castle Hayne, to Pender County by next spring, said Jay McGrady, local general manager.
The Empire Distributors workforce would grow from 64 in Castle Hayne to between 84 and 94 at the new site, which would be a full-scale distribution facility and is expected to involve a $10 million investment, McGrady said. Among the products the firm distributes to retail establishments and restaurants are Duplin, Yellow Tail, Kendall-Jackson and Franzia wines, as well as Sierra Nevada and Samuel Adams craft beers.
"We've had good growth over the past couple of years, so that's been a big factor in the change," McGrady said Tuesday.
Located on U.S. 421 in Currie, Pender Commerce Park is a 450-acre full-service, ready-to-build industrial park, according to WBD. Acme Smoked Fish is the park’s first tenant, and this year announced the opening of its $30-million facility on a 20-acre tract there.
The county bought land for the park in 2006, completing engineering and infrastructure development work on the property in 2011, Tuesday's announcement said.
“We’re excited to welcome the park’s second industrial resident and the new jobs and capital investment this company will bring Pender County,” said David Williams, chairman of the Pender County Board of Commissioners, in the news release.
Pender County has a contract with WBD for economic development services, and the organization "worked quietly with representatives from Empire Distributors of North Carolina Inc. in recent months to assist the company in its site search," the news release said.
“Empire is a great fit for Pender Commerce Park, which was developed with just these sort of state-of-the-art manufacturing and distribution operations in mind,” said Scott Satterfield, CEO of WBD, in the announcement.
Founded in Atlanta in 1940, Empire Distributors also has operations in Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh and Winston-Salem. McLane Company Inc. acquired Empire Distributors in 2010.
By state law, Pender County’s sale of the land must fulfill a 10-day upset-bid period, according to the WBD release.