Haley Yates | Staff Writer
Employee-owned supermarket company WinCo foods has opened its sixth distribution center in Denton, the largest commercial development project in Denton to date.
Located at 300 S. Western Blvd., this distribution center is WinCo’s first to regulate full-line and non-food items, meaning perishable foods and things like beauty products and household items will be distributed from the same facility. Combining the distribution of these items saves the company time, money and resources, Noah Fleisher, director of corporate communications at WinCo said.
At 800,000 square feet, the center has an operations office that acts as a connector between the grocery department and non-food areas. Having all of the operations offices in one setting is another first for WinCo, Fleisher said, as the other centers have separate offices for each department. He said this makes communication much easier and also lowers costs.
The opening of this center makes a huge difference in the price of goods as it is in connection with all distribution centers, Fleisher said, and many of the investments to the facility will result in profit for the company, and therefore employees too.
“Our efforts are to push the best quality with the lowest prices,” he said.
The center will start shipping out fresh products first in order to maintain just-in-time delivery.
In order to keep the highest quality of products, different parts of the facility are kept at specific temperatures based on the product concealed.
The dock area is kept at a brisk 34 degrees, as is the “wet room” that stores produce that requires moisture, like broccoli and greens. Citrusy produce like peppers and oranges are kept at 45 degrees, and tropical produce like potatoes are kept at 55 degrees.
Possibly the most innovative part of Denton’s distribution center is the banana control rooms. Roberto Garibay has been deemed WinCo’s “banana whisperer,” with 30 years experience regulating climates for the company’s produce, specifically bananas.
Garibay’s process includes slicing green bananas in half to check the texture and smell — unripe bananas give off the aroma of a cucumber — and regulating the temperature of the rooms two degrees at a time. The bananas also undergo an insulation period where ethylene, a gas naturally emitted from the fruit, is released to ensure even ripening.
“You have to be able to read the fruit,” Garibay said.
Fleisher said that bananas are the number one seller in any grocery store, and nearly every customer that shops at WinCo leaves with a bunch in their basket.
Denton’s facility employs roughly 165 people and each of them are given the same benefits as any other WinCo employee, meaning they have partial ownership of the company. Fleisher said employee ownership is a big deal, and this distribution center is a big commitment to that.
“We want to see the company grow, not just for us, but for everyone,” he said.
The center currently serves for nine stores in the DFW, and three stores in Oklahoma that are set to open soon.
Featured Image: Employees at WinCo Foods Distribution prepare to begin distributing operations tomorrow. The $135 million, 800,000 square foot center officially opened , Tuesday, February 14, 2017, at 300 S. Western Blvd in Denton, Texas. Tomas Gonzalez/DRC