Wholesaler moves to new ‘green’ digs

After a long wait, wholesale distributor Hill & Markes Inc. has moved its operations out of Amsterda

After a long wait, wholesale distributor Hill & Markes Inc. has moved its operations out of Amsterdam and into a new, 130,000-square-foot facility in the town of Florida.

The new facility is located in the Florida Business Park on Route 5S, next to the new headquarters of baby food maker Beech-Nut. The move, completed last week, came after seven years of consideration of whether to leave its former location in Amsterdam’s Edson Street Industrial Park.

At its new site, Hill & Markes was able to build an environmentally friendly facility from the ground up, train staff on-site and expand its work force in the spacious building.

“It was a huge project, so we took everything carefully,” said vice president of marketing Andrea Parker. “As a family business, we’re extraordinarily proud of what we’ve accomplished and very in awe of where we are right now.”

Hill & Markes, founded in 1906, used to be one of 10 businesses located in the Edson Street Industrial Park, managed by the Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency. But the space at 120 Edson St. was more cramped, Parker said, and the company had to rent space at multiple warehouse sites.

“For many years we always had an additional warehouse,” she said. “This is much more efficient with one warehouse, and it makes us more accurate with our orders, with our inventory and with our labor.”

The move leaves a vacancy at the old facility on Edson Street. AIDA officials did not return calls for comment Tuesday.

The company employs 170 throughout the state and provides services in food, janitorial products, industrial packaging and office supplies to New York and Vermont customers. Since many of its products are environmentally friendly, the company wanted to build a state-of-the-art green building, Parker said. Along with new computer systems, Hill & Markes installed energy-efficient lighting and heating systems at its new facility. It’s also in the process of applying for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

“We had to walk the walk and talk the talk,” she said. “I’m sure the old building could have been made environmentally friendly if we had made the commitment to stay there. But it’s easier to do when you build from the ground up, picking out units and insulation and windows and all the aspects of making a building green.”

At the previous location, new employees were forced to train out of cubicles with other people. Now, with the Route 5S facility, individuals can use a designated training room that is equipped with wireless Internet, phones and computers.

“We were so completely short of space that we never had enough meeting rooms,” Parker said. “We had no way of hooking up computers to PowerPoint screens. We have a space now that’s dedicated to teaching people about products where everything’s displayed and hands-on.”

As Hill & Markes’ business grew, so did the need for its workforce to grow. The company has added salespeople, fleet truck drivers, sales support and customer service workers.

“So it becomes a domino effect,” Parker said. “We really didn’t have the room in the other building. And now everybody has a cubicle. And we plan to add more as business grows, because we have room for growth. We also know which wall we could break down to add more offices and warehouse space if we needed to.”

The facility took three years of planning by company officials; Schenectady construction firm Malone and Tate Builders Inc; Schenectady-based Stracher, Roth and Gilmore Architects; Rovetto Design Group in Ballston Spa; Clifton Park firm MH Professional Engineering, PLLC; and a LEED consultant.

The 500-acre Florida Business Park was shovel-ready and closer to the state Thruway, which is advantageous for a distributing company. Company officials were glad to see seven years of consideration pay off last week, she said.

“We’re just grateful to the community for supporting our business through these changes,” she said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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