Chep is opening a new facility in Southaven, leasing 200,000 square feet at Hillwood’s DeSoto Trade Center development.The company, a provider of pallet and container pooling services, currently operates a 50,000-square-foot center in Memphis and will continue to operate that facility in addition to the new Mississippi plant. Brian Beattie, Chep senior vice president of marketing, says the company expects 40-50 employees will be hired at the new Southaven plant. Chep expects to be operational in Mississippi by mid-year. The company chose a Mississippi location as opposed to expanding in Memphis because of the attractive location at DeSoto Trade Center. “We continue in an ongoing basis to rationalize where our locations are and as long as our business continues to grow, we continue to expand,” Beattie says. “Location is typically the No. 1 factor on deciding where we’re going to go, and location-wise, it’s attractive.” Most Chep plants are managed by third parties, including the Memphis plant. The Southaven plant will also be managed by a third party, but Beattie says the company has not finalized contract details. Dan Wilkinson, Colliers Wilkinson & Snowden principal, and Richard Burnette of The Burnette Co. represent Hillwood locally. Chicago-based Equis Corp. represents Chep nationally. The Chep deal boosts Hillwood’s first speculative building in DeSoto County to about 80% leased. Kenco Logistics Services signed a 116,867-square-foot lease in the building, at 710 Venture Drive, earlier this year. “This was a site that initially people viewed as being further south, but now from all the deals that we’re working on, there is absolutely no hesitancy from people in considering this,” Wilkinson says. “Chep could have gone anywhere but were very, very satisfied with this location.” Hillwood secured a foreign trade zone designation within the development, but Chep will not utilize the FTZ status. Emerson Electric also leases 365,000 square feet in the 846,000-square-foot DeSoto Trade Center I building. 164,000 square feet remains available in the building. Hillwood is working to begin construction on a second speculative building, but is waiting for that space to be absorbed before construction begins on DeSoto Trade Center III. “That may change, but that’s the plan right now,” says Preston Herold, Hillwood marketing director. “I think it’s really picked up as of late as witnessed by the Kenco deal and the Chep deal, and we expect to go forward very soon on the spec building.” The next building Hillwood has planned on the site is a 552,000-square-foot speculative facility. Conair occupies and owns DeSoto Trade Center II, a 400,000-square-foot facility developed by Hillwood. A division of Ross Perot Jr.’s development company Hillwood, Hillwood Investment Properties purchased 93 acres south of Church Road between Interstate 55 and Highway 51 in December 2001 and has an option to purchase an additional 125 acres. DeSoto County’s industrial market has grown exponentially over the past several years, from 7.55 million square feet in first quarter 2002 to 13.05 million square feet in first quarter 2005, according to The CoStar Industrial Report. Chep’s business model is simplistic and specific. The company reuses pallet and containers throughout a supply chain, and, as opposed to customers purchasing their own pallets, they can rent pallets from Chep. “What that means, by going through this process of reuse and renting, is that it takes cost out of just buying and shipping one way and utilizing a chain,” Beattie says. The company has more than 300,000 customers worldwide including Procter & Gamble, SYSCO, Carrefour, Kellogg’s, ESSO, Shell, Woolworths, Kraft, Nestle, Lion Nathan, The Home Depot, Tesco, Unilever, Hewlett Packard, Ford and GM. Chep, a Brambles company, employs more than 7,700 people in 42 countries. Brambles is a leading global support services group, providing a variety of industrial and business services, including pallet and container pooling, waste management and recycling, information management and contract based industrial services.