Editor's Note: The following editorial by News and Sentinel of Colebrook Publisher Karen Harrigan initially ran in that newspaper last week. It reflects, as only that hometown newspaper could, on the...
The Associated Grocers facility in Pembroke. (COURTESY)
PEMBROKE — Associate Grocers of New England, the region's largest retailer-owned wholesale grocery distributor, is about to expand its physical footprint in southern New Hampshire.
Associate Grocers announced Tuesday that it's breaking ground on a 105,000-square-foot expansion to its 380,000-square-foot Pembroke location, with construction expected to be completed by the end of the year. The current building was constructed in 2006.
"We've grown noticeably over the last 10 years," said AG President and CEO Mike Bourgoine. "In fact, we've almost doubled the size of our revenue and our customer base, so this is really a matter of outgrowing our current facility."
But increased space does not necessarily translate into additional jobs, Bourgoine said.
"Other than the short-term increase in jobs from the perspective of the construction workers who will be working on the expansion, we're not planning on adding a lot of permanent jobs initially to the Pembroke operation," he said. "We're maxed out on space and overgrown the building, so really this is about trying to get back to a comfortable work environment."
The co-op business model, which has served independent retail grocers of various sizes along with country and convenience stores since 1946, has been extremely attractive in the current economy, added Bourgoine.
"One of the things we're trying to accomplish with this expansion is the ability to continue to grow, and so I expect we'll have a bright future," he said. "We're adding a number of products to our offering, and we hope that will help us to maintain our current customers while attracting new ones."
Associate Grocers has charged another company with local operations, Design Group Facility Solutions, which has offices in Concord, with the design and construction of the new facility.
An automated product movement solution by Dematic is expected to be an integral upgrade.
"It's cutting-edge technology. With the increase in SKUs over the past decade, we needed to reduce the number of 'touches' to increase our efficiency and maximize the use of our square footage," said Bourgoine, who noted that his company will be among the first in the United States to use the automated technology.