I hope this is the first chapter in a really long book ...Dorel Sports CEO Peter Woods
SPRINGFIELD — An explosion of growth in the international bicycle business is reverberating in Effingham County.
Dorel Sports, a division of Dorel Industries Inc., conducted a virtual grand opening Thursday for its new flagship fulfillment center at the Georgia International Trade Center (GITC) in Rincon. The 775,000-square-foot building near a previous Dorel Sports fulfillment center will be used to distribute products from iconic brands Schwinn, Mongoose, Kid Trax, Cannondale and GT.
With more than double the square footage of the previous facility, the new structure provides an opportunity to expand in-house product assortment, which will lead to improved transit times for customers east of the Mississippi. The new Rincon facility, along with existing facilities in California and Illinois, creates a logistics network to service all Dorel Sports customers within two to three days, regardless of geographic region.
Dozens of people watched a ribbon cutting via Zoom, including Georgia Ports Authority and Efingham County Industrial Development Authority officials. The proceedings were led by Brad Gandy Sr., senior director of North American Operations for Pacific Cycle/Dorel Sports.
“Obviously, we weren’t able to do this live (because of COVID-19) but this is the best we can do under certain circumstances,” Gandy said.
Gandy thanked his company’s leadership team and contractors for getting the new facility up and running ahead of schedule and on budget despite the lingering pandemic. He then turned the floor over to Dorel Sports CEO Peter Woods, who viewed the event from his Connecticut home.
“I wish, of course, I was there in person,” Woods said. “I’ve never done a virtual opening ceremony before but it’s still great to see everyone and be part of a very exciting day.”
Woods, sporting a Schwinn T-shirt, joked that he hasn’t left his home in a year. He hopes to visit the new building soon, however.
“We are in the industry of cycling, and cycling is a wonderful activity,” he said. “Many of us ride bikes today. Lots of us rode bikes when we were kids and we’ve seen our kids learn how to ride a bike.
“These are special moments in people’s lives that we are a part of — people getting outside, being healthy, having fun, getting the fresh air and exploring, freedom. All of these wonderful sensations — that’s what we do everyday and we are lucky to be able to do that and, during this crazy last year of COVID, we’ve seen more and more people get on a bike.”
Dorel offers a wide variety of bicycles — from entry level to premium.
“Our whole mission as a company is to make cycling a part of everyone’s life,” Woods said. “That’s what we want to do.”
Increased capacity at the new location will also create increased employment opportunities.
Woods said, “This is a very important part our strategy — this new flagship operation — because, not only does it give us a lot more space so we can do a lot more things. It is state of the art and gives us so much more flexibility in how we run our business ...”
The Rincon facility will be able to fill gigantic orders from companies like Walmart or requests for a single bike to be sent to a customer's residence.
“The ability to be flexible in that way, which is fantastic with this facility, will help us achieve our mission,” Woods said.
Dorel Industries Inc. has annual sales of $2.6 billion and employs approximately 8,000 people in facilities located in 25 countries worldwide.
“I hope this is the first chapter in a really long book ..., ” Woods said.
Effingham County Industrial Development Authority CEO Brandt Herndon is pleased that Dorel Sports opted to operate here.
While watching in his office, Herndon said, “You know, our mission here is pretty simple. It is to try to help create jobs and to attract investment to Effingham County, but we couldn’t do it by ourself. Obviously, it is a teamwork approach.”
Herndon thanked the Georgia Ports Authority, the Georgia Department of Economic Development and private investors, including Chesterfield, for their assistance.