Archive for Thursday, February 4, 2010

Family business prepares move to Edwardsville

February 4, 2010

Earp Distribution has made some changes since it was founded in the 1950s, but the biggest change happened through a mixture of chance and a good reputation.

As the sole wholesale provider of foods and goods to about 450 McDonalds’ and Chipotle Mexican Grills in the Midwest prepares to begin construction on a new Edwardsville location, a look at the businesses past shows an interesting history.

“I’m a third generation. My grandmother and father started the fresh meat business,” said current Earp Distribution owner and operator Cliff Earp.

The business began by selling fresh hamburger and steaks to restaurants and schools in the Kansas City area. In 1962, however, the business got a break.

A local McDonald’s chain was in need of hamburger quickly and someone suggested Earp as a last-minute provider.

“That got our foot in the door,” Earp said. “It’s just grown and grown from there.”

Now, Earp is the sole food and goods provider for the Midwest McDonald’s and Chipotle chains. The business brings in products from thousands of vendors, ranging from Coke to meat to paper supplies and register tape. A store will place their order with Earp and the company’s fleet of truck delivers the items needed.

“We’re partners with McDonald’s and Chipotle,” Earp said. “They have the utmost quality and character. They are the best people to deal with.”

The business’ current location is in Kansas City, Kan., near the Turner Diagonal. Earp said the move to Edwardsville was brought about by the need for more space.

He said the business currently has some inefficiencies that could be solved with more square footage.

When the search began, Earp said he was hoping to stay in Wyandotte County, but his work with Brent Miles, president of the Wyandotte Economic Development Council, is what really convinced him of that fact.

After looking at several possible sites, Earp said Edwardsville was chosen because it was the perfect match.

“As of right now I couldn’t think of a better partner to have,” he said. “The town is filled with common sense, down to Earth, good people. Meeting the mayor and city administrator, they’re fantastic. There’s not a lot of politics in their politics. I just think the world of everybody we dealt with.”

Earp said his business was still deciding what financial institution to use and will follow that process by letting the project out to bid. He said he expected construction to begin in the next couple months. Once construction starts, he said the project could take between nine to 11 months.

The new distribution facility, which will come with a price tag of $23-$26 million, will be built on the corner of Woodend Road and 98th Street and will encompass 23 acres with a 160,000 square-foot warehouse and corporate office facility.

“I think it’s exciting for the business,” Earp said. “We’ll be able to do things more efficiently and better serve our customers, and that’s what it’s all about.”

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