OnTrac Reno’s $35 million automation warehouse project ‘a game-changer’
RENO, Nev. — It’s no secret: The coronavirus pandemic has crippled many companies across Northern Nevada, forcing a wave of temporary closures, layoffs and furloughs as businesses scramble to survive during the state shutdown.
Some of the area’s essential businesses, however, are seeing an increase in activity, and even hiring because of it.
One of those is OnTrac, the largest parcel carrier in the United States, which opened its first automated sorting facility in north Reno in February. It’s OnTrac’s fifth expansion of its Reno operation since adding Nevada to its service area in 1996.
With the COVID-19 crisis driving online shopping sales in the short-term, OnTrac’s new 33-acre, 183,000-square-foot warehouse is still seeing tens of thousands of packages humming on its conveyor belts daily.
The automation kicks in when barcodes are scanned by a computer that then sends information to “shoe sorters,” which swiftly divert products onto the proper take-away line.
Rob Abel, director of OnTrac, told the NNBW as of mid-April there were 281 employees working at the facility and the company was hiring for 25 positions due to its increase in volume.
“We want to grow with our customers, and the ability to sort more packages in the same amount of time will help us to continue meeting their needs for fast and affordable parcel logistics,” Abel said.
All told, OnTrac’s new system will help speed delivery without any additional costs, the company said, enabling delivery of three times more packages than it could before.
At full capacity, OnTrac’s automated hub in Reno can sort up to 26,000 parcels an hour, which is about a 50% increase compared to its non-automated facilities, said Mark Magill, VP of business development at OnTrac.
The warehouse project, which broke ground in November 2018, had a price tag of $35 million.
“It’s a game-changer,” Magill said. “It’s a big deal for us, it really is. In this business, being prepared for that spike at peak (season) is ultra important. So, we’re putting our money where our mouth is with all of this.
“For us to open a $35 million sorting facility is reinventing our network.”
Founded in 1991, OnTrac has a service area that includes California and the major metro areas of Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Colorado and Idaho — an area that is home to over 65 million consumers, according to the company.
“Reno is our sweet spot because it sits right in the middle of our coverage area,” Magill said. “From Reno, we’re delivering next day 850 miles on the ground — all the way up to the Washington-Canadian border and down to Yuma, Arizona, on the Mexican border.”
To celebrate its new expansion, OnTrac held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its new facility on Feb. 20, 2020, which Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve declared as “OnTrac Day” in the city of Reno, according to the company.
The Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce also presented a welcoming recognition, as well as commendation from Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. Congressman Mark Amodei also presented a congressional recognition and thanked OnTrac for its reinvestment in Northern Nevada.
“We love to be good business community members and partner with the local community, because they help us and we help them,” Magill told the NNBW. “It really is a win-win situation. If you’re expanding it’s creating jobs, even with automation. It allows us to bulk up Reno as a distribution hub.”
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.