"In distribution, we came from the 19th century into the 21st century overnight," President Earl Flack said of the December morning the new McKay Napa distribution center opened on the west side of Litchfield.
The new 54,000-square-foot distribution center replaces the former warehouse–and semi trailers–that were at the same site as the Litchfield retail store. That much new space, along with the new tech processes now in place in the new building, allow McKay to buy direct to keep costs down, and service the 22 auto parts stores in the system twice daily.
"We know our process is benefitting our customers," Flack said.
McKay Napa spent about $1 million to upgrade an empty building in the Litchfield Industrial Park with new efficient LED lighting, eight miles of shelving to hold $4.5 million in auto parts, and a meticulously organized system that allows parts to be checked in and sorted for quick turn-around to one of the 22 stores. Stop into the new distribution center and you'll see a well-oiled system, with employees zipping around on scooters to save steps.
If a customer stops by any of the 22 McKay Napa stores in the morning, and that store has per chance run out of a particular part, it will be restocked from the new distribution center and in the store later in the afternoon–the same day. If a customer stops by a store in the afternoon, the part will arrive from the distribution center the following morning.
And if even that kind of turn-around isn't sufficient–picture a farmer broke down in the field and in need of a particular ag part–the store can have the part ready for the customer to pick up himself, ready to go just inside the door of the distribution center.
Don't worry; the new distribution center will have it.
"We now stock 13,350 new SKUs that we did not have in stock before," Vice President Ed Hamman said. "We have over 5,000 different brake rotors now, just as an example."
When it came time for the move in December, every available member of the McKay staff lent a pair of hands, plus Napa loaned a crew of more than 50 employees from Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Indianapolis.
"We even had customers volunteer to help," Flack said. "We moved the equivalent of 26 semis in five and a half days."
The new distribution center now processes about 80 trucks a week, moving in and out more than 540 pallets of auto parts–up from about 125 pallets at the old warehouse.
With the new distribution center, McKay Napa hired six new employees on the warehouse staff and in sales, as well as a new loss prevention/auditor, Ali Andrasko, and a new vice president of sales and operations, Chad Zimmerman. That takes the total number of employees in the corporation up to around 200.
"Litchfield still fits us," Flack said. "We may be McKay Corporation, but we're still family owned. We have been for 83 years."
Flack is president and principal owner in an ownership group that includes Hamman, Ryan Ocepek and Bill Stoneburner. That group bought McKay from Jim McKay in 2012, and he remains on staff and active in the company.
Plans for the future–the very near future–include a new retail store in Litchfield this year on the same site as the present one, and a new office built onto the distribution center next year.
McKay Napa offers the option to buy online and pick up at any of their 22 stores: Bethalto, Carlinville, Edwardsville, Gillespie, Hillsboro, Highland, Jerseyville, Litchfield, Nokomis, Godfrey, Staunton, Greenville, Virden, Collinsville, Carlyle, Centralia, Granite City North, Granite City South, Wood River, Fairview Heights, Mt. Sterling, and as of last summer, Nashville.
Stores in Litchfield and Hillsboro are open seven days a week, and retail customers who take advantage of Napa rewards get $5 off for every $100 spent.
Not only is McKay an important retailer in the 22 communities they serve, the company also has a community-minded history. In the past 16 years, for example, McKay employees have raised over $538,000 for Make-A-Wish Illinois.