Walgreens opens 15th DC in Connecticut

WINDSOR, Conn. Walgreens on Wednesday unveiled its newly completed distribution center in this suburban Hartford, Conn., location, bringing its total warehouse network to 15 centers, and vastly upgrading and streamlining product distribution capabilities for its expanding store presence in the Northeast and New England.

The 700,000-square-foot facility – big enough to fit 12 football fields inside its walls – will supply hundreds of Walgreens stores throughout the Northeast. But its opening also signifies major advances for the 6,736-store drug chain in two areas the company considers critical: its ability to apply technology to the goal of a more efficient, cost-effective distribution operation; and its ability to accommodate the needs of physically and mentally handicapped workers as it staffs up its supply-chain processes.

Walgreens reported that the center will be 20% more efficient than its last generation of DCs, with “some of the most innovative logistics systems in the distribution industry. The Windsor, Conn., location and [the] facility in Anderson, S.C., which opened in 2007, are now the models for every future Walgreens DC, the company noted.

The high level of user-friendly technology and highly planned work stations within both Walgreens’ newest distribution centers have also opened the doors to new job opportunities for the disabled. Some 30% of the workforce of nearly 300 in Windsor – as well as that of the DC staff in Anderson – is made up of people with disabilities, according to Walgreens, driving the company toward its goal of filling 10% of its warehouse production jobs with people with disabilities.

“Walgreens is more than halfway there,” the company reported Wednesday. “Employees with disabilities have been trained to work side-by-side with other team members – with the same productivity goals, earning the same pay.”

Disabilities range from autism and retardation to hearing and physical impairments. An on-site training facility helps those with special needs become prepared for employment so everyone can work productively and effectively.

“We’ve worked technology and creativity into every inch of this place, but the people here will amaze you,” said Randy Lewis, senior VP of supply chain and logistics. “We originally went into this project wanting to change the work environment but soon discovered we were the ones who changed in dramatic and wonderful ways.”

The Windsor, Conn. location and facility in Anderson, S.C., which opened in 2007, are now the models for every future Walgreens DC, according to the company.

“For many, this is their first full-time job,” said Lewis. “For a parent to finally see their son or daughter experience what it’s like to hold a job, be responsible and actually look forward, can fulfill a lifelong dream.”

Featured speakers at Wednesday’s grand opening included Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson and Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell.

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