Dart Container is expanding its warehouse capability with its recent purchase of a Waxahachie facility.

Construction crews are working to make improvements to the inside and outside of the building, located off of U.S. Highway 77 and Elk Trail.

“We had been leasing outside warehouses for four years and we felt that we needed to have space of our own. A lot of times when you’re leasing for awhile it comes to the point that you’re better off by purchasing a building. What made this property really attractive to us is that it touches our current property line,” Dart plant manager Mike Kitchens said.

“We are going to put a private road in to connect the two facilities and traffic wise it should not be an impact on U.S. 77,” he said. “Recently we applied for a permit through the city and once that is approved we should begin building the road within the next month.”

The 5,600 square foot warehouse was originally built for Eckerd and was used for the Superconducting Super Collider project before it was sold to Tyler Refrigeration and then to GAF Materials-ELK Corp. With the addition, Dart will have about 1.8 million square foot under roof including its existing facility. When the new facility opens, about 20 warehousing positions will be added. 

“We have a lot of large customers and our manufacturing facility specializes in a lot of national accounts like Sonic, KFC and Jack in the Box. We make cups in different shapes and sizes and we print them. One out of every two cups we make gets printed and we also make foam dinner ware, bowls and plates,” Kitchens said.

“We make approximately 100 million cups a week. Recently we have gone through a tremendous growth. Three years ago we only had 432 employees and now we have 800. When I started 30 years ago there were only 82,” he said.

Before any finished product is moved into the new building, improvements will have to be completed. A sprinkler system is being installed and the fire alarm system is being tested to see if it is in proper working order. Excess electrical equipment is being removed and a majority of the office space is being cleared out for more floor space.

Once the improvements are completed, the building will be inspected for sanitary conditions.

“Even though we are not making food we have the same high standards apply because the product that we make touches food. We have never not passed an audit from food service inspector from ASI or ABI and we have been rated as excellent for the past 12 years,” Kitchens said.

“It will be anywhere from 60 to 90 days before we start utilizing the building and we want everything right before we start putting product in there. We have some of our raw materials stored out there but no product yet,” he said.

Because Dart’s product is sealed and sleeved the company doesn’t have to use pallets, which will allow it to use the entire footprint of the building. The floor will be marked with stripes so that the driving aisles are visible in conjunction with the building lighting.

“We were able to purchase this building and this land for the same price we could have built on site,” he said. “The difference being is that we gained an additional 60-plus acres.”

E-mail Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com