January 17, 2013 | Vol. 116 -- No. 39

Caterpillar officially opens

Strong kickoff for new West Plains distribution plant

The new Spokane Caterpillar Distribution Center opened last Thursday, Jan. 10, to a well-attended group of local business leaders and elected officials.

James Eik
Caterpiller, Inc. president Stu Levenick, and facility manager Brad Gile cut the grand opening ribbon at a ceremony Thursday, Jan. 10 at the Caterpillar Distribution Plant.

Inside, the facility has 562,000 square feet on which to operate; enough to fit at least five football fields. On the outside, an additional 250,000 square feet provide some extra storage and bays for trucks to load or unload items.

The facility contains around 130,000 parts from over 2,600 different worldwide suppliers and ships as far west as Russia and across the United States. It also runs on a continuous emergency response plan. Should a company request emergency shipping, the plant has 90 minutes to get a specific item from the warehouse to Spokane International Airport. Facility manager Brad Gile said the plant has already seen some emergency shipments.

Gile said the plant has been up and running since the end of August last year, and had operations were in full swing by Thanksgiving. Remaining constantly busy, he said the facility has a couple years of storage built into it.

Workers at the plant are restricted to lifting items that weigh under 50 pounds. For the numerous items that may be over that weight, a series of rollers, vacuum lifts and cranes are there to assist them.

Stu Levenick, president of Caterpillar, Inc., said the plant needed great partners to make the project happen. Originally from Washington, he was happy to make a trip home.

“I’m proud to see my company is making an investment in my state,” he said.

Approximately 1,500 people showed up at a job fair last year to apply for one of the 150 jobs at the facility.

“It was really quite an outpouring,” Greater Spokane Incorporated president Rich Hadley said.

James Eik can be reached at james@cheneyfreepress.com.

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