MORTON GROVE, ILL. — W.W. Grainger Inc. recently showcased one of its expanded facilities here with an open house that attracted area contractors who came to see firsthand the company’s increased local inventory and to meet its additional staff.
The larger facility is one of 12 locations the company is improving or expanding. It includes a 2,500-sq. ft. remodeled showroom that allows contractors to pick up frequently purchased products. The showroom also features will-call order pick-up counters staffed by customer service associates.
As part of its expansion efforts, the Lake Forest, Ill.- based company added 50 more customer service employees to its current Chicago- area staff of 235. Robb Kristopher, regional communications director, said Grainger’s customer service representatives have additional training that will benefit contractors who need supplies immediately.
“Our branch (store) merchandising and inventories are designed to showcase our product breadth to contractors,” Kristopher said. “Branches offer will-call service in order to help contractors get the products they need quickly so they can get back to their job. Time is money and if they are traveling to multiple suppliers for products, they have less time on the job.”
The distributor of facilities maintenance and repair products and supplies has 18 branch locations in the Chicago area now. That number will increase to 20 once the company completes its expansion project next year. The company, which had sales of $5.9 billion in 2006, said it also will realize a nearly 20 percent increase in overall square footage in the market as a result of the expansion.
Grainger is opening new branches in the Chicago suburbs of Mundelein, Aurora and Elgin and recently opened a branch in Joliet, Ill.
The expansion is part of a national initiative designed to make buying facilities maintenance products faster and easier for business customers in metropolitan areas, the company said. It already has completed changes in Atlanta, Denver, Cincinnati, Seattle, St. Louis and Tampa. The company now is expanding in markets such as Baltimore, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Philadelphia and Phoenix.
“Contractors have told us that they want more local inventory, closer to them with superior service,” Kristopher said. “We’re doing this by enhancing our presence in the top 25 metropolitan markets across the U.S. to ensure we have more of the products our customers need readily available to them.”
Grainger plans to invest up to $80 million on the national effort. Additional information is available at www.grainger.com/contractorinfo.