Center of attention: Prescott Valley becoming distribution center mecca

The Daily Courier/Matt Hinshaw
Matt Benyi welds together part of a conveyor at Superior Industries in Prescott Valley on Thursday afternoon.  Benyi has been a welder for Superior Industries for five weeks and considers his job a good start to his career.

The Daily Courier/Matt Hinshaw Matt Benyi welds together part of a conveyor at Superior Industries in Prescott Valley on Thursday afternoon. Benyi has been a welder for Superior Industries for five weeks and considers his job a good start to his career.

PRESCOTT VALLEY - Henry Smith's career began in November.

Smith left his landscaping job to work at Superior Industries as a press brake operator.

The new job pays better than the old one and Smith gets steady hours.

"The time goes by pretty quick doing this," he said. "I get to work indoors."

Matt Benyi has a similar story.

Benyi was working part-time at a sandwich shop and studying welding at Yavapai College.

He submitted an application to the manufacturing company and got a call a week later.

"This is by far the best job I've ever had," he said. "It's a career. Without this job, I wouldn't be where I'm at."

Smith and Benyi are two of the 30 employees building custom conveying equipment for the construction and mining industries.

The reason Smith and Benyi's story is worth noting is because these businesses are setting up distribution centers in town and building the job base.

Superior Industries opened in 2006 and is about to double the square footage of its manufacturing plant in the Big Sky Industrial park from 55,100 square feet to 110,000 square feet.

Plant Manager Lane Koehl said they hope to break ground in February and complete the expansion next summer.

That also means doubling Koehl's employee base to 60 employees.

The Prescott Valley operation serves clients from Colorado to New Mexico, portions of Texas and California and businesses in Mexico.

The growth allows them to add a second production line on the other side of the building.

Koehl said they paid more than $1 million is payroll to existing employees this year.

"The Southwest market, when we came down two years ago was really, really hot," he said. "We've been able to get into some mining markets by being in the area."

Another major distribution center recently expanded operations.

The Ace Hardware Corporation is putting the finishing touches on an expansion giving it more than 900,000 square feet of space.

Anthony Lunch, retail support manager, said about 80 trucks make their way in and out of the center serving 300 stores in portions of Nevada, Utah and California.

"We came up here primarily for the quality of the area, the weather and a good talent pool," he said.

Earlier this month, town council members approved Nackard Co.'s request for a 50,000-square-foot Pepsi Distribution building on roughly 12 acres east of the county fairgrounds.

Gary Marks, executive director of the Prescott Valley Economic Development Foundation, said businesses like the relatively mild climate and easy access to major highways.

"All distribution centers are set on service, they know the volume of the service region that comes out of that area," he said.

Marks said they look for short and fast routes to get their products to their destinations.

"That's going to tie you to those markets,"

he said.

And that generates more jobs and keeps more dollars local, according to Marks.

Contact the reporter at jsoifer@prescottaz.com