Archive for Saturday, February 3, 2001

Classic Eagle eyes new home

Lawrence-based Anheuser-Busch distributor shopping for more space

February 3, 2001

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A Lawrence-based distributor of Anheuser-Busch products is looking to move and wants to stay close to home.

Classic Eagle Distributing LLC, 801 E. Ninth St., is outgrowing its building and is shopping around for land to build a new warehouse and distribution center, said Kirk Lambright, a company co-owner.

The owners of Classic Eagle Distributing LLC, 801 E. Ninth St., are
shopping for site to build a larger distribution center. With 29
employees in Lawrence, additional parking is among the top needs,
co-owner Kirk Lambright said.

The owners of Classic Eagle Distributing LLC, 801 E. Ninth St., are shopping for site to build a larger distribution center. With 29 employees in Lawrence, additional parking is among the top needs, co-owner Kirk Lambright said.

The company wants seven or eight acres in or around Lawrence, he said. Among the possible sites are lots in the East Hills Business Park and vacant property near the Kmart Distribution Center north of the Kansas Turnpike.

"We're just growing out of the space here," Lambright said. "We don't have enough office space. We don't have enough space to park our vehicles. We just need a better setup, a better use of space."

The new building would be about 50,000 square feet, Lambright said. The distributor's current home in East Lawrence covers 37,000 square feet, built in stages during the past three decades.

Classic Eagle's 10 trucks currently have to back in off the street to pick up loads. Last year the company delivered more than 1 million cases of Budweiser, Busch, Michelob and other products to 400 bars, restaurants, grocery stores and other customers in Classic Eagle's six-county area: Anderson, Atchison, Douglas, Franklin, Jefferson and Leavenworth.

"We'd rather have a drive-through," Lambright said.

Company officials say they have no specific time frame for the project, but hope to start construction in late summer and be open within another six months to a year.

Classic Eagle then would sell its current Lawrence warehouse, Lambright said. The fate of the company's other warehouse, in Leavenworth, has yet to be determined.

In all, Classic Eagle employs three dozen people, up more than a third since Lambright and partner David Duncan finalized their purchase of McDonald Beverage Inc. in December 1998. The McDonald family had sold Budweiser in and around Lawrence since 1933.

Since the shift, Lambright said, Classic Eagle's sales have been growing about 7 percent to 10 percent a year.

"We can't move outside of Douglas County," he said. "Douglas County is where we have our biggest volume. We want to stay near where most of the business is."

Tim Holverson, director of existing business and industry for the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, couldn't agree more. He's busy lining up prospective sites for a move, and reviewing possible financial incentives including tax abatements to help ensure a smooth transition.

"We're trying to do everything we can to keep them here, but we're tight on land," Holverson said. "Everybody thinks about the recruitment of new business, but this is a good example of a good, solid employer that has 35 to 40 people and with the new facility even more.

"We definitely want to help protect them and do everything we can to ensure their growth in Douglas County."

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