Valdosta Daily Times

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February 16, 2009

Welcome, Smith Drug Co.

VALDOSTA — A little more than a year ago, Spartanburg, S.C.-based Smith Drug Company had narrowed a search for its new distribution center to three cities, none of which was Valdosta. But on Monday, the company celebrated the grand opening of its new Valdosta center in the Azalea West Business Park.

Company President Ken Couch said after learning about all of the things that the city had to offer, Valdosta was clearly the best choice for the company’s third distribution site. “We’ve been servicing our customers from Tampa and below from our distribution center in Spartanburg, and we’ll be glad to move those customers to this center,” he said.

The company distributes pharmaceuticals as well as just about any other item you will find in a drug store to customers in more than a dozen states. Couch said pharmacists place their orders with Smith by 6 p.m. and they have their shipment by mid-morning the next day, cutting down on the amount of inventory they have to carry in-house.

Couch and Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority Executive Director Brad Lofton both credited Hahira pharmacist Hugh Chancy with bringing Valdosta to the company’s attention. Chancy has been a customer of Smith’s for more than 10 years, and said when his sales representative told him the company was looking for a site for a new distribution center, “We went to work.”

Chancy said he contacted individuals within the company and “we got the ball rolling. The deal just evolved over several months.”

Smith invested $15.5 million in the 108,000-square-foot distribution center, with more than half of that amount invested in the automation equipment inside. Covering the center from floor to ceiling with storage bins and conveyor belts, the company has created a state-of-the-art, fully automated system to keep track of the more than 14,000 products on its shelves, ensuring that each customer receives exactly the order they requested.

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