Logistics & Distribution: Delivering The Goods In A Real-Time Economy

Efficiency, optimization and speed have always been top priorities in logistics and transportation. Today, as digital transformations are ushering in the next revolution of industry, known as Industry 4.0, these priorities are even more crucial.

By the BF Staff
From the May/June 2019 Issue

In 2019 State of Third-Party Logistics Report, 3PL cites five new opportunities for leveraging digital transformation technologies that rapidly are moving the logistics and distribution sector into what is broadly known as Industry 4.0. These include the expansion of warehouses while coping with labor shortages; eCommerce and Omnichannel customer experience; the rising pressure to increase 3PL profitability; increased competition and “the Amazon Effect”; and the need to improve warehouse customer service.

3PL, a leader in warehouse management solutions, says in the report that today’s third-party logistics managers have to find ways to increase speed, accuracy and productivity without hiring new workers. These operations managers also must adapt to eCommerce-specific workflows in order to expand into omnichannel marks that grew by 14 percent ($506 billion) in 2018. According to 3PL, maintaining operational efficiency in the digital world of online buying requires warehouses to automate labor-intensive tasks—deploying mobile scanning technology, for example—while offering data accuracy.


As a leading international trade center, Florida excels at getting people, products and services anywhere—fast. Most key global shipping lines and airline alliances, (including specialized cargo operators), 3PLs and VALs have a presence in Florida. Last year, more than $153 billion worth of goods flow through Florida’s ports and airports, fueled by the state’s strategic location and impressive trade support services. In fact, Florida is home to one of every five U.S. exporters.

Florida is an economic super-state—home to more than 20 million residents and home-away-from-home for 100+ million annual visitors. Whether you and your customers are serving Florida’s large market, the U.S., Latin America or the globe, the Sunshine State can help you find new growth opportunities anywhere.

More than a dozen Fortune 100 companies have chosen Polk County to set up their e-commerce, fulfillment and distribution facilities. Walmart, Amazon, Publix, Ford, FedEx and UPS—just to name a few—all favor the strategic central Florida location with access to more than 9 million people with a 100-mile radius. “If there’s an e-commerce business that’s getting placed in the state of Florida, it’s getting placed in Central Florida because of its interface of interstate highways and access to the entire state. Virtually every single user is looking for a hub in Central Florida,” said Jared Bonshire, Director at Cushman Wakefield.

Located off of Interstate 4 between Tampa and Orlando, Polk County has more rail miles than any other county in the state of Florida. CSX opened a state-of-the-art Intermodal Logistics Center (ILC) in Polk County capable of processing up to 300,000 shipping containers each year. This centralized hub manages transportation, logistics and distribution for Central Florida’s regional markets. Additionally, Tampa International and Orlando International airports are both within 60 miles of the county and three deep water seaports are within 75 miles—Port Canaveral, Port Tampa Bay and Port Manatee. It is this connectivity that makes the county a logistics hub to major corporations from around the world.

Qualified targeted industries (such as logistics and distribution) that expand or relocate in Polk County are potentially eligible for a number of incentives that include tax rebates, grants, ad valorem tax exemption and impact fee mitigation. For more information and a confidential assessment of an expansion or relocation project, please contact Jennifer Taylor, Vice-President Business Development, at the Central Florida Development Council. Jennifer can be reached at jennifer@cfdc.org or (863) 937-4430, ext. 105.

The Gulf to Gadsden Freight Logistics Zone (FLZ) is a grouping of activities and infrastructure associated with freight transportation and related services that serves as a platform for broader economic development. Establishment of the FLZ provides the counties with priority for funding and incentives from the State when pursuing certain projects within the FLZ.

logistics and transportation
The Gulf to Gasden Freight Logistics Zone (FLZ, map above) gives the counties of Gasden, Liberty, Franklin and Gulf priority for state funding and incentives when pursuing certain economic development projects within the FLZ. (Source: Enterprise Florida)

Four north Florida counties of Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin and Gulf created a strategic plan for the attraction of business to the zone that was accepted by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and adopted by the Board of County Commissioners in each county.

These counties share a common transportation asset in the Apalachicola Northern Railway, owned by St. Joe Company and operated by a subsidiary of Genesee and Wyoming Inc. The railroad connects the Port of Port St. Joe in Gulf County with the CSX Class I railroad and Interstate 10 in Gadsden County, thereby providing for the movement of goods across the nation.

Two Intermodal Logistic Center (ILC) sites and several industrial sites have been identified and qualified by Enterprise Florida’s Strategic Sites program along the railroad and proximate to additional transportation assets. Interstate 10 and major arterial roads like Highways 65, 71 and US 98 together with the Apalachicola Regional Airport in Franklin County comprise a transportation network that is valuable to the growing industries of transportation, logistics, manufacturing and distribution.

The Gadsden County ILC is 600 acres bordered by the AN Railroad and Interstate 10. The property, located in the city of Gretna, is optioned to the Gadsden County Development Council. Gretna has received a grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to achieve a Phase I environmental permit and site master plan. To learn more, contact Beth Kirkland, Executive Director of the Gadsden County Development Council at BethKirkland@GadsdenFLDev.com.


Located in the middle of everywhere, Lubbock, TX is home to nearly 300,000 people and is accessible by Interstate 27 which connects to Interstate 10 and Interstate 20 as well as by plane with the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport.

logistics and transportationTo address the projected growth, the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance partnered with Bandera Ventures, a real estate developer from Dallas, to build a hi-tech speculative distribution building with 161,555 square feet of space in the Lubbock Business Park.

The building known as the Lubbock Logistics Center will have a clear height of 32 feet, 56 trailer parking positions, and be cross-dock configured.

logistics and distribution
Sun Gold Foods specializes in roasting and salting sunflower seeds and other nuts. Food processing is a major industry sector in Lubbock. Food manufacturers with processing facilities in the city often use agricultural crops grown in the area, including wine grapes, corn, peanuts and sunflowers. (Source: LEDA)

Due to the low industrial real estate vacancy and Lubbock’s role as a regional hub, Bandera Ventures chose to build the facility in the “Hub City.” The facility is on schedule to be completed by early fall of 2019.

“My partners and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with LEDA on this exciting development project benefiting the citizens of Lubbock,” said Pryor Blackwell, partner at Bandera Ventures. “I fell in love with Lubbock 40 years ago as a freshman at Texas Tech, and I’ve loved the city, Texas Tech and the people of West Texas ever since.”

Known for its roots in agriculture, education and healthcare, Lubbock’s economy is often perceived as a three-legged stool. These three legs provide the essential foundation to our economy. And yet, what once was three primary legs, now is closer to seven with the growth of Lubbock’s technology, manufacturing, finance and professional services, and tourism industries.

With more than 10,000 graduates every year, Lubbock’s businesses benefit from a new generation of workforce prepared to generate solutions and address real world issues with fresh ideas. This solution-driven mentality positions these graduates to be a true asset in the local technology sector, which encompasses programming, data services and more.

Among those companies, an L.A.-based technology firm, Hoverstate, will bring new operations to downtown Lubbock adding 50 positions in computer programming to the market. Within the sector, other local companies offer solutions for practical issues; for example, Truno is a leader in retail technology solutions for grocery stores, and Tyler Technologies produces software for more than 15,000 state and local governments.

Another industry making significant strides is manufacturing. Lubbock is home to numerous pump manufacturers which build pumps for agricultural, oil and gas, and municipal needs. Whether it is food, fiber or machinery, the manufacturing industry continues to expand production.

As the world’s largest analog/mixed-signal foundry group manufacturing silicon wafers for mixed-signal integrated circuits, X-FAB Texas is home to the world’s first six-inch silicon carbide (SiC) foundry. The facility manufactures SiC power devices which are used in improving the efficiency of electrified vehicles, data centers, the generation of renewable energy and industrial applications.

Naturally, food manufacturing is a prominent aspect of Lubbock’s industry mix, with wine grapes, corn, peanuts, sunflowers and more grown in the region. Companies like Shearer’s Foods, Inc., produces and distributes snack food throughout the country, and Sun Gold Foods, Inc. roasts and salts sunflower seeds and other nuts. It’s often noted that food manufacturing thrives in Lubbock because the workforce knows the ins and outs of food production.

The finance industry continues to see high returns in Lubbock with a diverse portfolio in commercial and investment banking. With substantial economic growth, the industry added 17 percent more jobs in the last five years. Now, as the second fastest growing industry, 8,200 people are employed in the financial sector.

As the epicenter for art, wine and music in West Texas, more than six million visitors travel to Lubbock and spend a combined $840 million annually. Not only does the “Hub City” see leisure travelers, but business travelers, conference attendees and athletes visit Lubbock for meetings and tournaments.

With its central location, diverse industries, highly-skilled workforce and opportunities for expansion, Lubbock is poised to remain on a consistent upward trend for years to come.


Long known as the Crossroads of America, Indiana attracts companies that need to move goods quickly and efficiently. Nowhere is that more important in this day and age of just-in-time delivery than in the e-commerce sector. Central Indiana, with its easy access to an interstate system that spans the nation, quickly is becoming the prime location for ecommerce companies to grow and expand.

Last October, Amazon announced the company had signed a lease for a new $80 million distribution facility in Greenwood. The site is the same one FedEx Corp. had initially considered for one of its distribution centers. When those plans were called off earlier in 2018, Amazon took advantage of the opportunity.

The Greenwood facility is one of only a handful of Amazon “receive centers” in the country. The facility will support customer fulfillment by taking in large orders of inventory expected to sell quickly and allocating that inventory to fulfillment centers within the Amazon network. The Greenwood receive center is expected to create 1,250 full-time jobs and slated to be operational this summer, with full employment expected by the end of 2021.

Amazon isn’t the only company to see the value in central Indiana’s location and logistics attributes. Pitney Bowes was the first, building a new fulfillment, delivery and returns super center in the same 300-acre industrial area just east of Interstate 65 near Allen and Collins Road in 2018. That facility is now open and operational.

Then in April 2019, Los Angeles area-based California Custom Fruits and Flavors Inc. announced plans to establish its first Midwest manufacturing operations in Greenwood. The food processing company plans to invest more than $11 million to construct, equip and furnish a 65,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility that will create up to 24 full-time positions by 2023.

Why do large corporations find central Indiana so attractive?

“People see opportunities here,” said Dana Monson, CEO and Executive Director of the Johnson County Development Corporation. “From central Indiana you can get to 80 percent of the country in 48 hours,” she said. “Thanks to companies like Amazon, people are expecting that just-in-time delivery.”

The Hoosier state’s easy access to just about anywhere in the United States, low tax rate and local partners working together all add up to create an attractive business climate for logistical operations, Monson said.

“Companies are working at the speed of business, and we need to be responsive to the speed of business.” That responsiveness depends upon reliable local partners who provide excellence in customer service, she added.

John Sturm, CEO of Johnson County REMC, the electric service provider for the Amazon facility, agreed. “Companies like Amazon know exactly what they want and what they need. With a competitive rate and excellent customer service, we’re here to help them succeed.”

Indianapolis-based developer Scannell Properties owns the Amazon site and worked with the ecommerce giant and local service providers such as Johnson County REMC to meet the company’s tight deadline.

Often, Sturm noted, people don’t realize the behind-the-scenes logistics necessary to meet the power needs of a large operation.

Powering a massive fulfillment center such as the 615,000-square-foot Amazon facility or the 450,000-square-foot Pitney Bowes center requires electrical infrastructure that must meet the demands of today’s robotic machinery, conveyor systems, parcel sorters, racking systems, material handling equipment, IT scanning or picking equipment.

None of that would be possible without the underlying infrastructure to support just-in-time operations. With substation facilities already in place to accommodate the power needs of the growing industrial area, Johnson County REMC could handle an aggressive timeline. “Amazon was on a very rapid schedule, and we responded,” Sturm said. “They wanted and needed permanent electric service now.”

The electric cooperative’s engineering team designed the system to accommodate Amazon’s projected 4 Mega Watt peak demand power usage while also allowing for future growth in the industrial area. The first of three transformers that will service the receive center was delivered in February, and by April all had been installed, tested and energized.

“Once they said they were ready, we pulled in the wire,” said Tim Hogue, Director of Operations for Johnson County REMC.

“I can’t thank the operations and engineering teams enough on how quickly and efficiently they met Amazon’s needs without sacrificing service to our other customers,” Sturm added.

For Hogue, it’s business as usual. “We determined what needed to be done and we did it. We would have done it for anyone. That’s what cooperatives do.”

More opportunities could be on the horizon.

Scannell Properties currently is building a 500,000-square-foot speculative building on Collins Road adjacent to the Amazon facility. This facility is being marketed to prospective tenants in the manufacturing, logistics and distribution industries.

From a logistics standpoint, Monson said, Indiana is the place for companies to go to distribute their products. Just ask the Amazons of the world.


Logistics and Distribution, the unsung heroes of many a conglomerate. What does it refer to? What does it involve? And how does Topeka, the capital city of Kansas, benefit distributors and suppliers looking for a transportation advantage?

Logistics can be considered the nurturer of all goods and products. It determines where goods will be stored, how long they can be held there and how they will be handled and transported. This involves packaging, inventory, transport and warehousing. Logistics also often includes security of the goods and product.

Logistics regulates how the company’s product gets to its destination as well as what conditions are needed for safe delivery. It also determines the delivery process itself. Will the product be shipped by plane, train or automobile? Have you considered drone delivery?

If Logistics is the nurturer, Distribution is the provider. Distribution determines the movement of goods through the distribution channel, from warehouse right up to the customer or supplier. It involves the handling of customer returns and the replenishment of goods. Basically, it’s everything including the bright paper packaging tied up with string.

And how do distributors and suppliers benefit from setting up their operations in Topeka? Location, Location, Location…and Transportation.

Topeka is home to several large distribution centers. Major distributors include Target, Amazon, Hill’s Pet Nutrition and The Home Depot. These companies greatly benefit from their heartland home.

Topeka, and Kansas in general, has a huge logistical advantage. To quote the Kansas Department of Commerce, “Kansas’ strategic location at the convergence of I-35 and I-70 places it at the crossroads of America.” As a “hub of accessibility,” it takes less than three days to reach anywhere in the continental U.S. from Topeka. It also doesn’t hurt that Kansas City—only an hour away from Topeka—is home to major facilities of leading national trucking lines.

Kansas itself has four Class-1 railways operating; these include Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), Kansas City Southern Railway (KCR), Northfolk Southern Railway (NSR) and the Union Pacific (UP) Railroad (Kansas Department of Commerce). These railroads provide long-haul service both for in- and out-bound products. BNSF Railway Co’s Topeka location, at 920 SE Quincy St, is one of BNSF’s 11 subdivisions in Kansas. BNSF’s Transcontinental (Transcon) corridor “stretches approximately 305 miles through Kansas, connecting Chicago to Los Angeles and Oakland, California” (Kansas Department of Commerce).

Air-travel is also a viable option for distributors and suppliers. The Topeka Regional Airport has two runways and more than two million acres of apron space for military, general aviation and commercial aircrafts. When you get right down to it, the capital city of Kansas is at the center of it all, including in the Logistics and Distribution process.


Utah is known for being a well-connected state. Whether it was the completion of the first Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory Point in Box Elder County or the current expansion of the Salt Lake City International Airport, Utah has long been about making strong connections. Utah is the place where people and companies come to live, work and play.

Known as the Crossroads of the West, Utah’s network of trains, roads, airports and broadband are the reasons why the state exports a surprising $12 billion annually in goods and services.

Utah’s reputation for strong connections is why the state is moving forward with the creation of an Inland Port next-door to its international airport. Once completed, the Inland Port will serve as a cost-effective hub to distribute goods throughout the Western U.S. and the world.

From Logan in the north to St. George in the south, Utah’s unmatched infrastructure has earned a reputation for building mutually beneficial relationships with companies in the logistics and distribution sectors.

The northern part of the state attracts national and international companies whose employees benefit from a reasonable cost of living and sense of adventure for outdoor activities.

Amer Sports Winter & Outdoor Company recently announced it will expand its headquarters and distribution operations in the state, adding up to 155 jobs, $6.5 million in new state revenue, and $32 million in capital investment over the next 10 years. Its close access to outdoor recreation areas provides the company with hands-on product development conveniently located where outdoor products are designed and manufactured.

  • Proctor and Gamble expanded its northern Utah operations to include a state-of-the-art paper products manufacturing facility in Box Elder County. The expansion generated approximately $500 million in capital investment in the new plant. The company invested heavily in Utah because of the state’s innovative and business-friendly environment.

The number of companies that proudly call Salt Lake City home is at an all-time high. With a highly ranked national quality of life, the intersection of I-15 and I-80, and an abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities to enjoy, it’s no wonder why more and more companies choose Salt Lake City as a premier destination.

  • Amazon selected Salt Lake City for a new regional fulfillment center. The company’s 850,000-square-foot distribution center in the city’s northwest quadrant has more than 1,500 employees.
  • United Parcel Service currently has more than 4,000 Utah workers and recently added more than 1,700 employees to its Salt Lake City location. The company also recently opened its doors to a new $275 million packaging center.

The natural beauty and breathtaking scenery of southern Utah speak volumes for themselves. Mother nature definitely played favorites here. Several companies have made their home here so their employees can enjoy the awe-inspiring backdrops while benefitting from the booming economy.

  • Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Company, the nation’s top maker of cast iron and plastic pipe and fittings, recently expanded its Cedar City, Utah facility. The expansion added more than 157,000 square feet to the plant and 30 new jobs. In 2010, the company began storing cast iron pipe and fittings in the facility to reduce delivery time to customers in the west.
  • Port15 Utah, also located in Cedar City, is a 540-acre rail-served industrial park that is fully developed with high capacity industrial utilities and Union Pacific rail service. Port15 Utah combines the best aspects of transportation, warehousing and manufacturing. It has access to major freeway systems, Union Pacific rail service, state road systems, fiber optics, a fully-developed airport and other important amenities.


Marion, Ohio has unique assets and programs designed to attract, develop and retain qualified workers for its diverse base of employers and prospective employers. From innovative workforce development programming to a track record of economic development success, Marion is dedicated to connecting employers with the resources they need to expand or relocate their business. Below are a few of the many reasons why Marion is America’s Workforce Development Capital!

logistics and distribution
Aerial shot of the Marion Industrial Center (Source: marioncando.com)

Marion is home to an outstanding “educational corridor” comprising Ohio State University-Marion, Marion Technical College, Tri-Rivers Career Center and the RAMTEC robotics automation training center—all within a square mile of one another. Marion City Schools also pioneered the Graduate Pathways to Success program, which enables students to choose one of three curriculum pathways to achieve a two-year degree or certification by the time they graduate high school. The program has been recognized by the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation and the Ohio Department of Education.

Marion offers customized training programs to help develop skilled workers suited to an employer’s unique workforce needs. With the help of JobsOhio, Marion Technical College received a $500,000 mobile training lab to teach new skills to a developing workforce. With the capacity to train hundreds of workers every year, the 400-square-foot simulator can provide onsite training to local manufacturers, thereby reducing costs and time for companies and employees.

The Marion Area Workforce Acceleration Collaborative (MAWAC) was formed in 2018 to ensure students and adult learners throughout Marion County have increased access to workforce development opportunities. MAWAC membership is an innovative collection of talent that includes an equal number of Marion County secondary and higher education leaders as well as workforce development and business leaders. Together, they are focused on combining resources to shape programs that meet today’s in-demand jobs.

As part of the greater Columbus, Ohio metropolitan statistical area, Marion benefits from its proximity to one of the nation’s fastest growing and vibrant cities. Columbus was one of 20 finalists for Amazon’s HQ2 headquarters and is expected to grow by more than one million people by the year 2050. This helps Marion attract a diverse set of employers and workers who benefit from the many quality of life attributes the greater Columbus region has to offer.

The community has a rich manufacturing heritage, from the invention of the revolving hay rake in the late 1800s to the engineering of a highly sophisticated “crawler” that carried Apollo Saturn V rockets and space shuttles to the launch pad for NASA. Marion’s Whirlpool plant produces millions of dryers a year, and the community is home to a number of industrial employers including divisions of Andersen Windows, Nucor Steel, Union Tank Car and many others. It is also headquarters to Wilson Bohannon Lock Company.

In 2018, Marion shattered its goal of $50 million new capital investment and 400 new jobs by securing $300 million in new capital investments and creating 700 new jobs. Companies like OhioHealth, Whirlpool, CenMac, Central Ohio Farmers Corp, RobotWorx, Sakamura USA and many more see value for their business and that is why they have decided to invest, expand or relocate their business to Marion. This year has already seen success with projects in progress or in the pipeline totaling $105 million in new asset investments and 200 new jobs.

Marion is dedicated to success in 2019 by focusing on reputation building, workforce development, new industrial park promotion, business attraction team assembly, education corridor success sharing and outreach visits to the headquarters locations of Marion area companies.

One of the tactics for Marion’s continuing success is the promotion of new industrial parks. Development of a new seventy-acre park is underway on Victory Road. The groundbreaking for the first 160,000 sq. ft. building will be the fall of 2019. Marion CAN DO is working with the Port Authority on acquiring 500+ acres of prison farm land north of Marion Correctional Institute.

In addition to maintaining excellent relationships with our local plant managers, Marion CAN DO is reaching out to the headquarters offices of its area companies to meet and provide updates to those responsible for making site selection and expansion decisions. Marion CAN DO continues to partner with Columbus 2020 and JobsOhio on corporate visits to attract businesses to Marion.

If you’re looking to expand or relocate to a community that’s dedicated to meeting your workforce development needs, please contact Gus Comstock at gusc@marioncando.com.