(Michelle Felter/Standard Democrat)
"For the past few weeks, we've been training employees on order filling and shipping," said Denny Koonce, vice president of the company's Midwest division. "Now, we're basically doing the same thing, but instead of putting it back in stock, we're filling trucks for actual customers."
Orgill distributes about 65,000 product lines, including kitchen goods, pet products and farm and hardware items. The 795,000-square-foot building is in Sikeston's Industrial Park.
Over time, the plant is expected to send out about 40,000 product lines daily. This week, an average of six trucks will be sent out daily, Koonce said. "We'll increase that each week until the end of August, when we'll average 100 per week," he added.
As of Monday, the Sikeston plant employed 250 people and is still hiring, Koonce said. The number of employees tops predictions made by the company when it announced its relocation here in July 2008.
"Then, they guaranteed us 150 jobs after three years, and 350 in five years," said Ed Dust, Sikeston's director of economic development. "The way it looks, we could reach that in just a couple of years."
Dust said there was a good cooperative effort between the city, the construction company and Orgill. "By all working together, we were able to make everything happen in the necessary time frame," he said.
Dust said jobs are good for the community, where more than 4,000 people submitted applications. "We are able to supply a good workforce for this company, and future companies," he said.
Koonce said gradual growth should be the key to success for the company.
"By starting off small and building gradually, we're able to work out any systems issues and also work on our quality so we can do the best job for our customers," he said.
The experience also helped Sikeston officials gain more confidence in what they have to offer companies looking to locate in the city. "We know now that we will be successful with them, too," he said.
While construction on the facility is complete, other preparations for Orgill are wrapping up. Dust said the road construction on U.S. 61 near Orgill, designed to create turn lanes, is almost complete. "That should be done within the next week," he said.