Earthgrains Co., based in St. Louis, plans to open a distribution depot in September at Franklin Business Center, along the south side of 25th Street directly east of the Douglas County Jail.
The depot will supply at least 18 stores in Lawrence, Ottawa, Louisburg, Paola, Baldwin, Eudora, Perry, Oskaloosa and McLouth, said Greg Stahl, Earthgrains supervisor for Lawrence. The 10,000-square-foot distribution center will open with at least eight employees.
"It's a growing market for us," said Stahl, who currently works out of a depot in Topeka. "The whole town's growing. The volume over there has grown, and we pick up more business all the time."
The Franklin Business Center fit Earthgrains' needs, in particular, by being close to Kansas Highway 10.
"Businesses are growing in that direction. We're looking at growth between Kansas City and Lawrence. That's a good spot."
Earthgrains markets its bread, rolls, buns, bagels and other baked goods under several brands, including Earthgrains, IronKids, Grant's Farm, Colonial and Rainbo. Among its franchise brands are Sunbeam, Country Hearth, Roman Meal, Taystee, Healthy Choice and Pillsbury.
Earthgrains, the country's No. 2 producer of fresh packaged bread, had sales last year of $2 billion.
Site work began Monday at the center, a two-phase, $2 million project that is expected to have 43,000 square feet available for lease, said Tim Keller, a member of the center's Franklin Business Center LLC ownership group. The first 25,000 square feet, including the Earthgrains space, is to be completed by November.
"This is going to be geared toward people who need to move product in and out very quickly," Keller said. "That's the new business model -- you don't store inventory for very long. It's there one day and shipped out."
-- Business editor Mark Fagan can be reached at 832-7188.