Author: HOMER MARQUEZ – Herald News Editor

Wal-Mart is here to stay and a huge investment to expand its local distribution center is proof, with new General Manager Eric Hudson revealing plans to add on to the Plainview facility.

“Currently we’re under construction to improve our distribution receiving,” said Hudson. “It’s a significant amount of money we are investing in this building for the future.”

In brief, the Wal-Mart Distribution Center is working to add on to its “Freight Identification System,” otherwise known as the F.I.D. department.

Initially, freight sent to the distribution center first goes through the F.I.D. system to get sorted and eventually shipped to the Walmart locations serviced by this particular center. Stores include Walmart’s in Albuquerque, El Paso, Lubbock, Amarillo and everywhere in-between.

In recent years, growth in the southwest region has continued to spur the openings of new Walmart stores, and the expansion of Plainview’s operation will help ease the need to provide for new inventory.

“Were looking toward store growth over the next five years,” said Hudson. “And this will help us support more stores.”

The massive upgrades to the F.I.D. department will allow incoming freight to be scanned and sorted faster. Hudson explained that the new system will allow for a 50 percent increase in the distribution center’s capability to service store locations.

“We will become more efficient and have a quicker flow, because we will be able to scan faster and at a higher capacity,” said Hudson.

Hudson said the distribution center should jump from processing 6,000 cases per hour to 8,500 per hour.

Although there won’t be an external expansion of the building, crews for the last month have been building up, as a two-story system is being constructed so more case scanners can be brought in.

Completion of the project is slated for Sept. 16.

Hudson did not give exact figures on the cost of the construction, but insisted it was “quite a bit of money.”

Hudson also said it was hard to pinpoint actually how many jobs will be created by the expansion, as it will depend on the continued growing need for inventory for the new Walmart locations.

But Hudson assured that jobs will be created, and there is a great possibility that growth in F.I.D. will create a need for growth in other departments down the processing line.

“It’s going to create an opportunity to have more staff on the other side of the building, too,” said Hudson.

Short term, Hudson says the distribution center should have around 45 job starting in September.

“This kind of investment tells our associates and the community that we are planning to be here for the long term,” said Hudson. “We’re proud to be a part of the Plainview community, and out of the six states I’ve worked in, I’ve meet the friendliest and most hardworking people here. This distribution center is about to be on the rise.”

Hudson took over as the distribution center’s general manager in late May. Currently, Plainview’s Wal-Mart Distribution Center is the city’s largest employer.