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Uline starts shipping today from its new shipshape Florida distribution center in Naples.  

“We’re ready to go live,” said Naples Branch Manager Brad Heisner, noting that the launch will be celebrated throughout the company. “It’s a momentous thing.”  

The new branch at 3830 Uline Drive in Collier County is the 13th for Uline, a Wisconsin-based shipping supply specialist which has nine locations in the United States, two in Canada and two in Mexico. This first location in Florida is responsible for quickly packaging, sorting and shipping items to customers in South and Central Florida.   

Until Monday, that responsibility has been handled by the Uline plant in Georgia. Some crew members from Uline are temporarily in Naples to assist in what is expected to be a seamless launch. New crew members experienced on-the-job training and team-building activities last week at the local plant, which completed construction earlier this year on 92 acres just west of the Paradise Coast Sports Complex and the future Great Wolf Lodge in the City Gate commerce park east of Collier Boulevard and north of Interstate 75’s Alligator Alley.  

The 915,750-square-foot warehouse spans the length of more than 16 football fields with stock neatly stacked on 40-foot-tall shelves. More than 40,000 items are available for next-day shipping from 188 dock doors at the new plant. 

The fully air-conditioned plant features order pickers accessing cartons and products from high-level shelves, wrappers securing pallet shipments with Uline-branded stretch film protection and high-speed conveyor lines sorting and transporting packages into the correct outbound trailers.  

“Everything we do is about the customer here. Everything,” Heisner said. “Uline prides itself on legendary customer service.”  

The sparkling clean warehouse is staffed by employees wearing red polo shirts and navy slacks or shorts. “You show up to work professionally and it permeates throughout the entire operation,” Heisner said.  

In an operation structured for safety and efficiency, some employees use golf carts or bicycles to traverse the massive plant. Every inch of the warehouse’s floors is scrubbed daily, Heisner said, and company perks include plant cafeterias, outdoor walking paths and an on-site fitness center with showers and lockers. Local framed art and huge photograph murals are displayed throughout the offices and plant.  

“It’s clean, bright, inviting,” he said. “It’s a place you want to work at.”  

The Naples branch will have 200 employees when fully staffed. About 50 employees transferred from other Uline plants and about 150 will be hired locally. About 60 visitors from Uline locations are on hand this week to support the new plant and help it achieve a smooth launch, Heisner said.  

“We do everything very deliberate and well thought out, so it goes off without a hitch,” he said.  

The night shift of 50 employees has been fully staffed and stocking the towering shelves in the local plant to prepare for Monday’s launch. Despite two major job fairs, the company still has about 30 vacancies for its 150-member day crew. Another hiring event is planned for Thursday and prospective employees also may apply at Uline’s website.  “We anticipated hiring to be difficult, and it has been a challenge,” Heisner said. “But our above-average wages helped us achieve our hiring goals. The money gets people in the door and the culture keeps them. Who wouldn’t want to work here?”  

Local positions include roles in customer service, administration, human resources, information technology, mechanics and custodial services. “A lot of good local jobs are provided,” Heisner said.  

The North American company has experienced double-digit growth in the past five years, employing more than 9,000 people. Last August, Guil Rodriguez transferred to Naples as the new plant’s warehouse manager, a role he previously held at Uline’s branch in Reno, Nevada. Also previously a manager at Uline’s plant in Mexicali, Mexico, Rodriguez has witnessed the company’s growth firsthand.  

“Before joining the Naples branch, I worked at another Uline facility for 11 years,” Rodriguez said. “Being in Uline and seeing the growth and development has been encouraging and has kept me going year after year.”  

The new plant will operate at about 30% shipping capacity during its first week and will be slowly ramped up until the plant is fully operational in about two or three months.  

“We’re quite a bit different than most companies out there. We want to be the best,” Heisner said. “We’ve been doing this for 40-plus years. We know what works and doesn’t work.” 

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