Dawn Foods breaks ground on new Merrillville location
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent March 20, 2013 9:46AM
Carrie Jones-Barber, CEO of Dawn Foods, (right) gives a high-five to Jeff Hill, vice president of operations for Dawn Foods, (left) during a groundbreaking ceremony for Dawn Foods' new distribution center in Merrillville, Ind. Friday March 15, 2013. The facility, located at the AmeriPlex at the Crossroads development, is anticipated to be completed in September. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
MERRILLVILLE — Dawn Food Products Inc. held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for its new 116,000-square-foot distribution center, to be located on 13 acres in the Ameriplex at the Crossroads development.
Steve Tippmann, executive vice president of Tippmann Group, which designed and is building the $13.5 million facility, said actual work would begin after the ceremony on Friday with a targeted completion date of Oct. 1.
About 350 trades workers will be employed during construction and 75 will be employed by Dawn, a supplier of commercial food service products for bakery owners and bakery management.
“We’re delighted and excited and can’t wait for the next step in Dawn’s growth. This facility will continue to grow,” Dawn CEO Carrie Jones-Barber said.
She said the facility will be a consolidation of two other facilities. It has closed its Crown Point and Munster locations.
Eric Metzendorf, president of Dawn Bakery distribution, said the facility will stock about 3,000 unique products, move more than 5 million cases of product, fill more than 30,000 orders and have more than 35,000 private carriers coming and going in a year.
The largest portion of the building, 39,000 square feet, will be dedicated to frozen storage, with 10,000 square feet for cooler storage and 33,000 square feet for dry storage needs.
Metzendorf thanked the town of Merrillville and Indiana Economic Development Corp., which provided financial incentives to make the project possible.
The Merrillville Town Council in January approved 10-year real and personal property tax abatements for Dawn Foods.
Councilman Shawn Pettit, D-6th, said the entire council embraced the project.
“The public says, ‘Why are you doing this?,’” Pettit said of the financial incentives. “We’re doing it because it creates jobs for residents of Merrillville. It keeps young kids here and others come back after college,” Pettit said.
He announced that the town is looking at widening the 101st Avenue bridge to four lanes, now that businesses like Dawn are locating in the Ameriplex and generating more traffic.
He said the bridge improvement would cost about $6 million to $7 million. He said the council is looking at financing the project by possibly refinancing a bond issued to widen 101st Avenue, from Broadway to Georgia.