REI breaks ground for Bedford, Pa., Distribution Center

Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), broke ground today for its new distribution center in Bedford, Pa. At the ceremony to celebrate the milestone, two community grants – as well as the donation of a house to Habitat for Humanity – were announced.
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Kicking off construction of the 400,000 square-foot facility on 40 acres in the Bedford County Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), a national retail co-op providing quality outdoor gear and apparel, broke ground today for its new distribution center in Bedford, Pa. At the ceremony to celebrate the milestone, two community grants – as well as the donation of a house to Habitat for Humanity – were announced.

Business Park II, in Western Pennsylvania, REI Vice President for Logistics Dave Presley said REI will incorporate green building concepts to reduce energy usage and environmental impacts. http://www.snewsnet.com/cgi-bin/snews/processREI is using the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program to guide these efforts. Indianapolis-based Lauth Property Group, LLC is serving as general contractor.

The Bedford distribution center will improve delivery time for east coast e-commerce customers and allow REI to replenish stock more quickly and efficiently in eastern region stores. More frequent product replenishment will also speed delivery times for REI's store pickup service – which allows customers to order online and pick up their purchases at the retail store of their choosing without incurring shipping charges.

Initial warehousing and shipping operations will begin in the fall of 2007, with full distribution operation slated for January 2008. Hiring will begin in August of 2007 to ramp up to 250 employees. Peak employment will be nearly 350 employees.

“The regional culture of enjoying the outdoors, a great local work force, and the proximity to major transportation corridors make Bedford the perfect spot for REI to improve our efficiency and customer service,” Presley said. “There is also a strong sense of community here. We are delighted with the support and welcome we have received.”

In addition to providing jobs and economic benefits to the community, Presley said REI is committed to making other positive contributions. Three recent donations were highlighted at the groundbreaking ceremony:

• Presley announced that REI will be moving a house on the construction site to a home site selected by Habitat for Humanity. Jim Wehling, Habitat for Humanity board member, said the house will be placed on a piece of property in Fishertown. A family on the waiting list has been selected to take ownership of the home once it is fully renovated.

• Mike Jones, Lauth senior vice president, office and industrial, announced a donation of $15,000 to Mid State Trail Association. Tom Kelliher, president of the association, accepted the donation. He said the money will be used to do trail work in Tenley Park in Everett and to match dollars to construct a footbridge over Yellow Creek.

• Chris Joyce, REI director of REI's eastern region distribution center, presented a $10,000 donation to Pennsylvania Forest and Parks Foundation to support Shawnee State Park. Bob Bromley, manager at Shawnee State Park, accepted the donation. Bromley said the donation will be used to plant red and white oak trees near the campground. The red and white oak trees will be planted largely by volunteers.

The distribution center will support REI's expanded presence in the eastern U.S. Currently, REI has 83 stores with 25 located east of the Mississippi River. The distribution center will also improve east coast delivery times for REI.com and REI-OUTLET.com customers. REI has had east coast stores since 1987 when it opened in Reading, Mass., and College Park, Md. REI recently opened stores in Pittsburgh and Raleigh, and announced plans for stores in Greensboro, N.C.; Pineville, N.C.; and West Hartford, Conn.

REI, which has been named to FORTUNE magazine's “100 Best Companies to Work For in America” list for eight consecutive years, announced in October that it will begin providing healthcare benefits to all part-time and seasonal employees effective Jan. 1. Other benefits offered to REI employees include flexible scheduling, gear discounts, free gear rentals, tuition reimbursement, performance-based incentive program and gear grants to support employees' personal outdoor adventure challenges.

REI is an outdoor retail co-op dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting for a lifetime of outdoor adventure. Founded in 1938 by a group of Pacific Northwest mountaineers seeking quality equipment, REI operates retail stores nationwide, two online stores – REI.com and REI-OUTLET.com – and an adventure travel company, REI Adventures. REI offers products from all of the top brands for human-powered outdoor recreation, including its own line of award-winning gear and apparel. While anyone may join or shop at REI, members pay a one-time $15 fee and receive a share in the company's profits through an annual member refund based on their purchases. As an active supporter of communities in which it does business, REI is committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through education, gear donations and financial contributions.

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