Northeastern Pennsylvania, including Greater Hazleton, is home to a growing cluster of e-commerce companies that distribute their products from the area. With numerous e-commerce companies operating in the area, the region is a major hub for logistics companies serving the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Midwest, as well as companies that sell their products over the Internet.
With the continuing increase of online retailing and the push for ever-shorter delivery windows, e-commerce companies have sought out areas where they can establish strategically located and cost-efficient fulfillment operations. The region’s combination of immediate interstate access, close proximity to the East Coast’s consumption zones, availability of FedEx and UPS service, new speculative industrial development, affordable operating costs and a great workforce backed by an exceptional higher education network, continues to drive logistics growth in the region.
CAN DO Vice President of Sales and Marketing Joseph Lettiere said online retailers continue to realize the value of Greater Hazleton’s location for their company’s bottom line. “Companies in our industrial parks and corporate center have the benefit of reaching customers quickly and having access to an experienced and dedicated workforce. Our largest park, Humboldt Industrial Park, is directly off Interstate 81, with Interstate 80 only a few miles away. These highways connect to Interstates 84, 380, 476 and others that serve major cities, putting Hazleton within a day’s drive of markets and ports such as New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, D.C.”
One of the largest e-commerce merchants in the Hazleton area is online giant Amazon, which employs more than 3,000 people at peak season at its facility in Humboldt Industrial Park. The company is among many e-commerce retailers that have found Greater Hazleton to be an exceptional location for their type of business.
New Global Marketing, which operates as BestCigarPrices.com, moved its headquarters to the CAN DO Corporate Center in Drums in 2011. The company sells premium handmade cigars from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras, as well as accessories such as humidors, lighters and cutters, to hundreds of thousands of customers around the world.
Greg Fox, the company’s chief operating officer, said New Global Marketing sends thousands of shipments each week.
After the company decided to move from New York and began scouting locations, the listing for the facility in the CAN DO Corporate Center caught Fox’s eye. “When we saw the CAN DO park and the building, we knew it was the perfect location for us. It was in excellent condition and had the open floor plan we were seeking,” he said.
He said New Global Marketing’s operational costs are “100 percent positive” as a result of its location. “The combination of the favorable tax rates and quality labor, far above the quality of work I’ve ever seen, is a dynamite combination for us and is helping us grow,” he said. The growth includes a few startup companies that New Global Marketing is establishing in its CAN DO Corporate Center location.
“The interstate system is a fantastic benefit of being here. That makes it easy to reach the airports, which is great for shipping and for the visitors we have from all over the world. The proximity to the interstates also lowers shipping costs for companies who use large shipping companies,” he said.
From Valmont Industrial Park, online retailer ozbo.com sells 165,000 different items for the home, including grocery items, gifts, lawn and garden items and pet supplies. The company ships all over the country and to military bases around the world. The company serves its customers through its website as well as third-party sites such as Amazon and eBay.
Ozbo.com got its start in Valmont Industrial Park, its only location to date. “In the five years since we started, we have shipped 1.1 million packages from our location in Valmont. Our business is accelerating and we expect to ship close to half a million packages this year alone,” said Joshua Wood, co-founder of Ozbo.com.
The company started in a 3,000-square-foot facility and has now grown to occupy 65,000 square feet. Wood said the cost of doing business is much less expensive in the Hazleton area compared to other areas and that there is a readily available workforce, with 70 to 80 applicants for each position posted.
“From a logistics standpoint, the area is nicely located, especially for businesses that use carriers such as UPS or FedEx. We also have plenty of space available to us if we need to expand,” he said.
“Since coming to Hazleton, we have discovered more and more that this is an excellent place to have a warehouse. Using Interstates 80 and 81 for shipping enables us to have packages arrive the next day for customers from Boston to Washington, D.C.,” Wood said.
Another e-commerce site that operates from Valmont Industrial Park is AimToFind.com, which stocks products from various medium to high-end manufacturers and ships them throughout the United States and Canada. The company’s stock includes home and garden products, housewares, consumer electronics and appliances.
Rocco Ciavarella, company founder and president, founded the company from his parents’ house in 1999. AimToFind.com has experienced dramatic growth since then, now operating out of 250,000 square feet of industrial warehouse space between two large facilities in Valmont Industrial Park and shipping several hundred thousand orders each year.
“I was able to find ample space in the Hazleton area as I needed. As my business grew, I did not have a hard time finding facilities to rent or purchase to meet the demand of my growth,” Ciavarella said.
He cited the company’s location and workforce as among the reasons for its success, saying, “This area has great interstate access, particularly to Interstates 80 and 81. Since it’s so close to major cities and we ship via FedEx ground to places such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Baltimore, many of our customers get their packages the next day. Also, the Hazleton area has a strong workforce, with many great, motivated hardworking people.”
In the City of Hazleton, Choice Brands Equestrian, Inc. operates its HorseLoverZ.com retail operation on North Cedar Street. The company started in a nearby space in 2002 and then expanded to its current space of 60,000 square feet in 2006. HorseLoverZ.com ships a variety of equestrian products for horses and riders to every state in the country as well as Canada and more than 300 other countries, sending about 8,000 to 10,000 packages each month.
Thomas Murphy, director of sales and marketing, said the company is able to keep its operational costs very low, which he said is just one competitive advantage of the Hazleton area.
“The East Coast location is vital to our industry, and being only two hours from Philadelphia and New York City is important from an importing, travel and industry trade standpoint. It is also beneficial to be so close to metropolitan areas to help fuel our company’s very specific needs,” he said.