Dollar General's massive distribution center in northern Berks County is now fully up and running.
The inside of the 930,000-square-foot building in Bethel Township sounds like the streets of New York City. Forklifts navigate through the facility, which encompasses 109 acres of land in the Berks Park 78 industrial complex, which is also home to a PetSmart distribution center.
The distribution center opened its doors to the media Friday. It started receiving vendor products in December and began shipping to stores in January.
"We have over 400 full-time positions right now and we will grow throughout the year up to about 500 jobs," said Steve Kujovsky, director of the distribution center in Bethel.
The complex is filled with enough steel to make 6,400 automobiles, and if you put the 85,500 pallets together end to end, they would stretch from Bethel to New York City. Approximately 30,000 tractor trailers will arrive and depart the center annually, each spending an average of just 18 minutes between arrival and departure.
The warehouse is Dollar General's 12th distribution center in the United States. It currently supplies merchandise to 706 stores in seven states, and officials said that number is expected to reach 1,000 stores up and down the East Coast by the end of the year.
"We went through weeks of training and came on board and we're very excited to actually be here and open and running," said Jami Arnt, a supervisor at the center.
Dollar General made a $100 million investment in Berks County to build the facility. The company has 11,000 stores in 40 states, including nearly 500 in Pennsylvania, 11 of which are located in Berks County. Kujovsky said the Berks County area is a targeted growth area.
"We should have some additional stores coming on locally this year and overall, Dollar General will grow at the rate of about two stores per day into next year," said Kujovsky.
An employee-only grand opening celebration is set for Saturday.