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Published: Thursday, February 28, 2019 @ 7:30 AM
— Footwear company Crocs — one of the 10 largest non-athletic shoe brands —plans to move its North American distribution operation from Ontario, Calif. to a site near Dayton International Airport, with plans to hire more than 130 full-time employees late this year.
The decision marks yet another distribution operation planting a flag in the Dayton area where the local jobless rate remains near historic lows.
Ted Griffith, JobsOhio managing director, said he believes workers are out there. In an interview Thursday, he said Crocs leaders are confident they can find the workers.
“My take on it: there is a labor availability to travel and to come into jobs like this,” Griffith said. “The key is to have workforce training available.”
That’s where local collaboration comes in. Area organizations and schools should work to find and train new workers, he said.
“Talent was a big part of the conversation,” Griffith said of the state’s dealings with Crocs. “One reason they chose this location is they do feel there is an ability to attract and bring in the talent.”
Steve Staub, co-owner of Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Harrison Twp., and a local and national voice for manufacturing companies, is concerned about where workers will come from.
“With such a record low unemployment rate where are the workers for these positions?” Staub said. “They are going to come from and hurt existing companies.”
Crocs, best known for its varieties of clogs and sandals, has more than 4,000 employees worldwide.
Shannon Sisler, Crocs senior vice president of global human resources, said Crocs representatives visited several companies in the Dayton area, which she declined to name, before a decision was made to move the company’s distribution center here.
“When we looked at their workforces, their ability to draw on talent, we felt like the geographic location and then the talent within the market seemed to be a fit for our growing business,” Sisler said.
It’s a tight jobs market pretty much across the nation. So the question becomes which community can organize the talent to meet a new employer’s needs, Griffith said.
Crocs expects regular seasonal hiring increases in the spring and near the holidays, company executives told the Dayton Daily News in an exclusive interview.
Griffith said Dayton and Ohio have a central location and infrastructure going for it. Locating here will give the company greater reach and speedier delivery.
“Dayton is a natural center for logistics, and Ohio is a natural center for e-commerce,” he said.
Bill Bine, Crocs senior vice president, global supply chain, said moving to Dayton will sustain the company’s growth, give the Crocs distribution operation a facility that is 40 percent larger than its current California site and put the distribution work closer to its customers, Bine said.
Crocs will lease a NorthPoint Development building that covers 540,000 square feet.
The new operation in Dayton will be able to serve some 80 percent of Crocs’ customers within about four days’ shipping service with the company’s “free economy shipping.”
“Which is what we see as an important part not only of sustaining our growth but of being competitive in the e-commerce market, where other even larger e-commerce businesses provide similar service,” Bine said.
Crocs adds to the e-commerce companies that have made the Dayton area home for their distribution operations in recent years. Companies such as Amazon, Caterpillar, P&G, Meijer, Yaskawa Motoman Robotics and many others have anchored e-commerce and logistics operations in the area and some plan to do more.
A Payless Shoe Source distribution operation has been in Brookville for years but recently announced closure plans.
Sisler said the Crocs operation should be fully operating in about the third or fourth quarter this year.
The project is contingent on Crocs receiving economic incentives, Sisler said. Neither she nor Griffith could offer immediate details on what those incentives will be.
Bine said it was the company’s research that led Crocs decision-makers to the Dayton area, rather than immediate overtures from area development professionals. But once those contacts were made, they went smoothly, he added.
As Crocs leaders considered their options, he added, “Ultimately, the city of Dayton and the state of Ohio hit the highest marks in our evaluation.”
There is no operating presence at the Dayton site yet. Sisler said prospective job applicants can go to Crocs.com/careers site for information about job openings. Area career fairs are also a possibility, she said.