Baker Industrial Supply, a company that designs and installs warehouse racking, is expanding its footprint across the U.S. to tap into the rise in e-commerce, a trend that has been accelerated by COVID-19.
Baker Industrial Supply, a Houston-based supplier of racking systems and other storage solutions, completed a project at a new 250,000-square-foot distribution center in Spartanburg, S.C. for a global sports apparel and equipment company.
The Houston-based company maintains 12 crews who travel job sites to provide turnkey installations of rack systems at both newly built and retrofitted distribution centers. Three of the crews operate out of Dallas.
The firm recently outfitted a 250,000-square-foot warehouse for a global sports brand in the southeastern United States. The new warehouse, part of an expansion project, required a significant amount of rack to handle sports equipment and apparel for both retail and online sales.
The team worked seven days a week on 10 to 12 hour shifts to complete the project in 40 days, shaving 10 days off the target, according to Joe Rooney, a company vice president.
The assignment came as shoppers increasingly bypass traditional stores to buy whatever they need online. In March, as people stayed home to keep from catching the virus and businesses were closed, they went online to shop. E-commerce sales zoomed 45 percent year over year in the second quarter, according to the Commerce Department. Online sales made up 16.1 percent of all retail sales in the second quarter, up from 10.8 percent in the second quarter of 2019.
Founded in 2004, Baker assesses facilities for its customers, examining what types of products are stored and how they can be handled most efficiently using the best layout and design, Rooney said.
The company also installs rack for manufacturers such as furniture makers, retail stores and outdoor storage of oil and gas equipment.
While the growth in e-commerce has been a boost, the pandemic has cut into Baker’s business. At Home, a home décor store and one of Baker’s biggest customers, put its store openings on hold, Rooney said.
Baker, which employs more than 80 people, handles smaller projects ranging from $30,000 to $60,000 and up to $600,000 for the largest.
Across the U.S., the 1.5 billion square feet of distribution center space that’s projected to be built over the next five years presents opportunities to companies such as Baker, Rooney said.
However, he said, more than half of the company’s work consists of retrofitting existing buildings.
The company, which has until recently focused on the southwestern United States, has helped overhaul existing distribution centers for several companies in Los Angeles to create more storage within the same square footage.
Rooney sees more companies opting to build higher rack with narrower aisles to take advantage of the space they’re already in.
“I think the pandemic has certainly been a catalyst for people to rethink their businesses in regard to the supply chain,” Rooney said. “They’re just trying to maximize the space that they have and get the biggest bang for their buck.”