A decade after Fruit of the Loom opened a Summerville distribution center, company officials, Berkeley County leaders and facility employees celebrated the plant’s 402,000-square-foot expansion on Friday.
The Bowling Green, Ky.-based clothing manufacturer announced plans in July 2014 to more than double its existing 350,000-square-foot distribution center in Summerville. The recently completed expansion is expected to create 50 jobs.
The Palmetto Distribution Center’s growth — about 230% since operations began in 2006 — required more capacity, said Jay Medlin, senior director of distribution for Fruit of the Loom’s Summerville plant.
Medlin said the expansion brought some automation and ergonomic improvements into the facility. The new equipment enables 1,200 shipping cases to be packed in an hour, up from 150 cases an hour. Additionally, most of the packing is now done at hip level, preventing workers from repeatedly bending over to pick up boxes, Medlin said.
The expansion “makes Palmetto (Distribution Center) one of the largest facilities in our organization, and it certainly makes it one of the most modern,” said Bill Tucker, Fruit of the Loom’s senior vice president.
The facility, at 1116 Business Park Road off Interstate 26, is mostly responsible for packing and shipping Fruit of the Loom’s intimate apparel. Products are packed in the facility and shipped to customers and retailers throughout the United States, as well as overseas through the Port of Charleston.
“Due to the state’s logistical capabilities, the location of our Summerville center made it the ideal place for growth,” Fruit of the Loom President and CEO Rick Medlin said in a news release. “The ribbon-cutting ceremony will officially launch a new chapter for Fruit of the Loom and our growing e-commerce and intimates divisions.”
The company said that the center has not sent anything to a landfill since 2011 and that it will remain a landfill-free operation. About 225 employees work there now, ramping up to 400 during the peak back-to-school season in the summer, Jay Medlin said.
Reach staff writer Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist on Twitter.