Anchored by its location along the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore- Philadelphia corridor and other enviable assets, Maryland’s Eastern Shore is growing as a magnet for distribution, logistics and fulfillment firms. Thanks to access to major Mid-Atlantic markets, highway connectivity, plentiful warehousing and transfer facilities, affordable space and an experienced workforce with skilled mechanics, the region is a location of choice for companies on the move.
Several large firms have distribution and warehousing operations in the area, including Medifast, Hanover Foods, IKEA, Restoration Hardware, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Performance Food Group and GE/Holman. Fast-growing specialty transport firms like Win Transport in Hurlock, which delivers frozen foods and seafood to markets nationwide, are also discovering the value of an Eastern Shore location.
The distributor chose Dorchester County for its home base as the region was becoming nationally known as a trucking hub. Warehousing and transfer facilities as well as office space were nearby and affordable, says Wayne Cole, CFO and co-owner of Win Transport. A number of independent truckers operated in the area, and there was a pool of experienced dispatchers to choose from as well as skilled diesel and refrigeration mechanics, Cole says.
Fulfilling Customer Needs
Fulfillment firms are also flourishing in the region for many of the same reasons. These include USA Fulfillment, Benchworks, Safe Chain Solutions and Warwick Fulfillment, which operates an FDA- certified, 100,000-square-foot fulfillment facility in Hurlock.
Drawn by Caroline County’s competitive rent and business climate, Lorry Dudley moved her company, Lorry Industries, to Denton several years ago. The business, which provides packaging for upscale style- and art-driven brands, began out of Dudley’s connection with modern furniture and decor from Italy. The firm now operates warehouse and distribution centers for European furniture brands, as well as e-commerce companies and a rug manufacturer.
“About five years ago, we began assisting a few very small e-commerce companies that have grown tremendously,” Dudley says. “Our biggest client came to us less than four years ago with all their inventory in the back of a Subaru station wagon, and now they occupy over 10,000 square feet.”
Lorry Industries doubles its workforce each year from 15 to 30 employees to prepare for holiday deliveries, and it ships about 15,000 packages each December.
USA Fulfillment in Chestertown also provides third-party logistics solutions for e-commerce clients, including those serving the cosmetic, dietary supplement and health-care industries. In 2015, the company shipped more than 3 million units to customers and made “major technology upgrades within our fulfillment operations and contact center facility,” says Jay Stamerro, general manager and vice president.
Choptank Transport, a nationwide third-party logistics (3PL) company headquartered in Preston, is launching for its third expansion in eight years. The company recently broke ground on a 10,000- square- foot addition, which will make room for an additional 120 sales and logistics positions, according to Geoff Turner, president and CEO.
Supplying Talent for the Future
To boost the pipeline of trained workers needed to support logistics and fulfillment growth in the region, industry leaders are working with area colleges to develop programs to enhance the local pool of talent.
Cecil College and Chesapeake College offer professional truck driving training programs to prepare students for careers on the road, and Delaware Technical Community College worked with H&M Bay and Burris Logistics to developa logistics coordinator program.
Choptank Transport is partnering with Salisbury University’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business to launch the Choptank Transport Annual Sales Program. With Choptank’s financial support, the university will offer a specifically sales-focused academic program that will complement the Perdue School’s current marketing curriculum.
“We have worked closely with the Perdue School over the last several years and feel it has been a great investment,” Turner says. “The caliber of talent we have realized from the school has been well worth it.”