Gov. Steve Beshear donned a hardhat and joined Buffalo Trace Distillery officials Wednesday for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the company’s new 83,000-square-foot distribution center.
“We’re here to celebrate once again the expansion of our bourbon industry in the commonwealth of Kentucky,” Beshear told the crowd assembled near the future construction site.
“Over the last, at least, half dozen years, if not more, the bourbon industry has been an endless source of jobs, capital investment and tourist visits — not to mention polishing the state’s image across the country and across the world,” the governor added.
“It’s a gift that keeps on giving, and we’re very happy that the bourbon industry is a signature industry here in the commonwealth.”
Jeff Conder, vice president for manufacturing of Sazarac, Buffalo Trace’s parent company, thanked the governor and other dignitaries for attending the groundbreaking and showing their support for the growing bourbon industry.
“We’re here to break ground on a distribution center,” Conder said. “It’s the largest of a number of investments going on at this facility, and we’re certainly fortunate as a company, and really as a state, to be enjoying the benefit of the growth of bourbon.”
Beshear applauded Sazerac for investing not only in Frankfort, but in other Kentucky cities as well.
Sazerac will invest $20 million in the distribution center, adding 40 full-time jobs at the 228-year-old distillery over the next two to three years.
“The company is going to invest some additional funds to make sure that the new building is going to maintain this distillery’s current look and make sure that, from an architectural standpoint, they’re enhancing their status as a national historic landmark,” Beshear said.
The company also plans to spend an additional $50 million to expand its two other Kentucky distilleries: The Glenmore Distillery in Owensboro and the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown.
Steve Summers, executive vice present of Gray Construction, the company hired to design and construct the facility, explained that the new building would have an older look to fit in with its surroundings.
“The walls will be about 55 feet tall,” Summers said. “It will be a concrete tilt up facility, but it will have brick inlays, so it will favor the buildings that you see around you today.”
Another company, Westfalia, designed the automated storage and retrieval systems that will be at the core of the building.
Westfalia President Dan Labell said the system operates within a compact warehouse.
“It’s essentially lights out, which means there’s no people inside, there’s actually machines inside that are storing and retrieving the products,” he said.
Sazerac is the first spirits supplier in the United States to use such technology.
The new portion of the warehouse will be connected to the existing distribution center.
In February, the Frankfort City Commission approved de-annexing 5.48 acres of land on Wilkinson Boulevard for the expansion.
Before the decision, the site crossed from the county’s jurisdiction into the city’s land. The governments reached a tax-sharing agreement to push the plans forward.
The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority has given preliminary approval for tax incentives totaling approximately $7.4 million between the three Sazerac-owned sites.