News Article | 5/5/2006

Grainger set to expand operations in D-FW

Customers need only look at W.W. Grainger Inc.’s new 5-inch-thick product catalog to see the company is expanding.

A major U.S. business-to-business supplier, Illinois-based Grainger in April revealed it was adding 40,000 new products to its catalog. And now it’s rolling out a nationwide, $50 million expansion that will leave its mark on Dallas-Fort Worth, said Joe Seagraves, district branch services manager.

“We’re certainly a significant player in that total, and we’re certainly going to get our fair share of that money,” Seagraves said. “D-FW represents a significant market for us.”

Grainger supplies operations, repair and maintenance items — like belts, motors, pumps, power tools, safety equipment and fasteners — as well as janitorial supplies. Its customers are businesses in industries across the spectrum, from manufacturers to hospitals. The publicly held company (NYSE: GWW) first started operations in North Texas more than 70 years ago. D-FW is one of the company’s top 25 metro areas, Seagraves said.

The expansion will increase the company’s total square footage here by 50%, add 25 employees and boost local product offerings by 50%.

Grainger has 15 branch showrooms and warehouses in a 12-county area of North Texas, extending from as far south as Waco to as far north as the Red River. Each branch, some 15,000 square feet with 10 to 25 employees, targets a particular customer base within a 15- to 20-minute radius.

“Each market is a little different,” said Erin Ptacek, regional communications director. “We look at each one individually and what will best serve the customers.”

Of those branch operations, three are being relocated to be more convenient for customers and five will be expanded. Grainger also plans to add three new branches, Seagraves said.

Alliance operation

One of the largest business-to-business suppliers in North America, Grainger has a 350,000-square-foot distribution center in Roanoke at Hillwood’s Alliance industrial park. That center replenishes inventory to the company’s branches. Customers phone, walk in or place orders online. The product is delivered the same day or the next day, Seagraves said.

In adding 40,000 new products, Grainger’s catalog now features about 100,000 products. For the most part, Grainger has expanded its offering of fasteners — nuts, bolts, screw, rivets and other devices for mechanically securing components. The branch stores now offer 25,000 products, with more than 4,000 of those being fasteners.

“Fasteners are a core item that all business have a need for,” Seagraves said. “We’re now making it one of our largest product offerings. That’s in direct response to customer requests.”

With changes at the eight D-FW branches and its new locations, Grainger’s total square footage in the market will reach 250,000. The number of employees will grow from 160 to 185.

Grainger will add branches in Carrollton, Arlington and downtown Fort Worth. Seagraves said the real estate deals on those locations remain to be completed. They will open in the first or second quarter of 2007, he said.

Grainger will relocate branches in Farmers Branch, Grand Prairie and Dallas. Those changes will begin in September and wrap up by the end of the first quarter of 2007.

Showrooms and warehouses set for expansion are located in Garland, Plano, downtown Dallas, the Red Bird area and Fort Worth. Those will largely be completed by this fall.