BULLHEAD CITY — From site selection to facility building to opening the doors, bringing Dot Foods to Bullhead City came full circle Wednesday at a ribbon- cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of the company’s 11th distribution center.
“We welcome you to this historic day — another milestone in the history of Bullhead City,” said Bullhead City Mayor Tom Brady in his remarks to the crowd of about 200 people attending the ceremony. “We hope that you succeed beyond your wildest expectations and we hope that we can both grow together.”
The ceremony welcomed Dot Foods, the nation’s largest food industry redistributor, to the community and officially opened its $30 million, 190,242-square-foot building. “This is a great day for all of Bullhead City and Mohave County,” said Sup. Hildy Angius. “We’ve been waiting and watching it go up and check it out, it is unbelievable. It’s a work of technology that we would not ordinarily get to see and it’s pretty great.”
Family owned and operated since 1960, Dot Foods was founded by Robert and Dorothy Tracy in Mount Sterling, Ill. Sales hit $7 billion in 2017, and Dot now sits at No. 63 on Forbes list of America’s largest private companies.
“I have to say, infrastructure matters, highways matter, but also the local spirit from the community matters,” said Dot Foods President Dick Tracy. “Why would we set up shop somewhere where we’re not welcome — and that has been anything but the case for us here. Thank you very much for all the support you’ve given us.”
The Dot Foods Arizona development on a 55-acre plot adjacent to the Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport includes warehouse space, offices, and a truck yard and garage to service the Dot Transportation fleet. The warehouse is divided into four temperature zones: 77,325 square feet of dry warehouse; 38,546 square feet of frozen warehouse; 28,252 square feet of refrigerated warehouse; and 10,495 square feet of fourth temperature warehouse, a space that is temperature and humidity controlled specifically for chocolate and candy.
The Arizona facility serves Dot’s customers in Nevada, Arizona, and California.
The company currently employs 109 workers for office, warehouse, truck driving and transportation roles. The company is on pace to meet or exceed its goal of 125 new jobs within the facility’s first year of operation, marking a payroll investment of $8.5 million in the local economy.
“All across our business, the people are the heart of Dot Foods,” said Rocky Vecera, Dot Foods Arizona general manager. “We have a great workforce at our location that has wholeheartedly embraced our unique company culture. We began hiring in June 2017 and have been so impressed with the talent in this region. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished, and I can’t wait to see what our team will do moving forward.”
“Not everything goes perfectly so of course we’ve had some bumps in the road; but in general, if you add all this up from the time it took to build it, to the support that we get from the community to the quality of the employees that we’re hiring, we’re very excited,” Tracy said. “Knock on wood, we like where all this is going and we’ll have close to 200 employees by 2020.”
Tracy said as a growth company, they know they will need to expand the facility sooner rather than later and that the company took that into account in the initial facility design. “It’s larger than we typically build our warehouses when we construct a new location,” Tracy said. “I’m thrilled at the work done so far and there is a lot more to come at Dot Foods Arizona.”
Bullhead City Manager Toby Cotter called Dot Foods a welcome addition to the city.
“The City of Bullhead City enthusiastically welcomes Dot Foods to the community,” Cotter said. “For many years the city has been trying to diversify its economy, and Dot Foods is the first step in that direction. From job creation to community investment, Dot Foods is a welcome addition to Bullhead City. The company has already shown great leadership, ingenuity and investment at its new distribution center. We proudly welcome them to our community and look forward to a great working relationship for decades to come.”
Mohave Community College provided a home base for Dot management while the distribution center was under construction, providing a business incubator and truck driver training programs for Dot Food employees. The first students were enrolled in that program in January.
“Dot Foods was just marvelous to work with from beginning to end,” said Shawn Bristle, MCC-Bullhead City Campus dean. “Our truck driver program is in place, we’re expanding it right away and the business incubator is here to stay.”
Tracy said while no one can promise anything forever, while the current generation is around there is no interest in doing anything but being a privately owned professionally run business.
“We built this beautiful facility and we’re not going anywhere,” Tracy said. “We’re going to be around; we’re hopeful that you will be a part of our life and we’ll be a part of yours. That you’ll have family that works for us, that our success is going to contribute mightily to your success.”
While Wednesday’s event was for invited guests, the company will conduct a public open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 31.