Baldor expansion: non-stop work, with time for yoga

You have to stay alert when wandering through Baldor Specialty Foods headquarters at Hunts Point in Bronx, N.Y.

Employees zip around as they command pallet jacks, navigating paths among Baldor’s old and new warehouse sections to place fresh produce in designated sections for speedy picking and loading.

The activity is business as usual, even as the last phase of a $25-million, 110,000-square-foot expansion of the office, storage and distribution center nears completion.

“At night, there are about 300 of these whipping through the warehouse. They go pretty fast,” said Chaka Wilson, marketing and sales ambassador, on a recent tour for The Packer.

Starting as a Balducci’s fruit stand in Greenwich Village in 1946, the wholesale division began in 1991. Today, Baldor has more than 1,000 partner farms globally and locally. The company delivers to retailers, corporate foodservice, wholesalers, hospitals, schools, stadiums and restaurants.

The company delivers throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic from its main location in New York, plus smaller facilities in Washington, D.C., and Boston.

After the older part of the New York warehouse is emptied into the addition, it will be renovated and cleaned. Meanwhile, workers carry on the day-to-day business of receiving, inspecting, organizing, picking, loading and shipping from the rows stacked with produce boxes.

“We’re a moving target. Since we’re working all the time, 24/7, it’s hard to do these things and keep everything running on top of it,” said Alan Butzbach, Baldor’s vice president of New York operations.

The new space has a teaching kitchen, new offices and a fitness center with regular yoga classes, popular with employees after they complete night shifts. The warehouse has seven temperature zones, from -10 degrees Fahrenheit to upwards of 60 degrees Fahrenheit for tropical fruits.

The need to continue business during the expansion was why Dresdner Robin, a land use consultancy/engineering firm, did the design and work in phases, starting in 2015. The expansion increases the company’s overall space to 270,000 square feet. The warehouse’s 49 loading docks have increased to 99 docks, and there are 300 more parking spaces.

“Ninety-nine doors means 99 trucks can leave at 6 a.m.,” said Leigh DeNardo, director of marketing. “It’s about finding a way to keep more product in the right condition and getting it out faster.”

Baldor dispatches about 340 trucks of food daily, turning over the entire inventory within 24 to 36 hours, Butzbach said.

“Since we’ve made this completion, our trucks are rolling out earlier in the morning,” said Jon Hansburg, director of foodservice sales who’s worked for the company 26 years. “It’s ongoing for the most part. Now we can pick more trucks and stage more truckloads at once. So really, it’s just it’s just efficiency all around.”

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