New DC allows SanMar to stock more apparel |

New DC allows SanMar to stock more apparel

Rob Sabo

Bill Peer, general manager of the SanMar Corp. distribution center in Sparks, has his work cut out for him this fall.

SanMar in September will occupy a new 750,000-square-foot distribution center on Ingenuity Avenue in Spanish Springs, and Peer estimates it will take as many as 1,200 tractor trailers to move the apparel, gear and merchandise distributor the 12 miles out to Pyramid Highway from its existing warehouse on Vista Boulevard.

“Those 1,200 trailers will be full of cases (of apparel) going into a new building,” Peer says. “Our biggest move was under 400 trailers. This is going to be huge — but it is going to be great. It will be a lot of really fun times.”

Lake Washington Partners, a privately held development company based in Seattle, last week broke ground on the project for SanMar, which is headquartered about 20 miles east in nearby Issaquah, Wash. Both companies are owned by the Lott family.

Peer says SanMar’s need to carry a wider range of inventory to better serve its customers drove the need for the additional distribution space.

“The building that we are in is big, but we needed to be bigger. We need to have enough SKUs so that anybody that comes to shop with us, whether they need a small or a 5X, 6X or 7X, will have that breadth of inventory,” Peer says. “The reality is that where we were was not going to provide that kind of room; we needed SKU growth.”

SanMar occupied its imprinted apparel distribution center at 555 Vista Blvd. in 2005 and over the years grew the operation to occupy about 630,000 square feet.

The new facility will have a 600,000-square-foot footprint, with an additional 150,000 square feet of mezzanine storage and office space. The building can easily be expanded to double its size if necessary.

“When we need to, we can knock out a wall; we already have the land and can double our capacity,” Peer says.

In additional to the logistical challenges, SanMar will be putting in place a new warehouse management system when it takes possession of the new building, Peer adds.

SanMar currently has 301 hourly employees and an additional 11 salaried employees. The company added 50 people to its payroll in Sparks in 2013.

SanMar was founded by Marty Lott in his parent’s basement in 1971 and now has several million square feet of distribution space in New Jersey, Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Ohio and Washington. The company also has a presence in Canada, as well as a direct-sourcing center in Hong Kong.

Lake Washington Partners last year acquired 66 acres at Spanish Springs Business Park and plans to develop additional industrial space at the site. Jordan Lott, president of Lake Washington Partners, says the size and timing of future development depends largely on tenant interest and needs. A building of 750,000 to 800,000 square feet would fit well on the site, he says. United Construction is general contractor for construction of the new SanMar facility.

LWP also will spend upwards of $3 million renovating the Vista Boulevard property to better position it to draw a new tenant. Upgrades include energy-efficient lighting, heating systems and boilers. The property was constructed in 1978.

“We want to modernize it and hope it will be a benefit to Sparks,” Lott says. “We are really tenant-focused, and anything we can do to accommodate a larger tenant we will do.”