Digi-Key Electronics — No. 4 on MDM’s 2022 Top Electronics Distributors list — held a grand opening at its Product Distribution Center Expansion on Aug. 17 at the company’s headquarters in Thief River Falls, Minnesota.
The project expanded the company’s headquarters footprint by 2.2-million-square-feet to a current total of more than 3-million-square-feet. The company said the expansion allows it to pick, pack and ship nearly three times the previous daily average of 27,000 packages to customers in more than 180 countries.
Digi-Key celebrated the opening with an official cutting of tape from a Digi-Reel and ceremonial first package handoffs to each of the company’s four carrier partners: DHL, FedEx, UPS and USPS. Remarks were given by Digi-Key President Dave Doherty, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove, Thief River Falls Mayor Brian Holmer and several other Digi-Key executives, as well as video messages from U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz.
“This is a significant milestone for all Digi-Key employees and our community,” said Dave Doherty, president of Digi-Key. “Our new product distribution center expansion will help us continue to deliver excellence to our customers for many years to come. As exciting as this expansion is for us, our hope is that our customers truly don’t notice a difference – the transition for them should be seamless, and if anything, result in an even better customer service experience than they are already accustomed to. For us, it’s deeper roots in Thief River Falls and a commitment to continue investing in this community and the state of Minnesota.”
Steve Grove, the commissioner of Minnesota DEED, said the expansion will contribute an additional $500 million in economic output, as well as add over 1,000 new jobs.
Digi-Key noted that it closed 2021 with a 65% growth rate and that bookings in 2022 were up 25% year-over-year as of the grand opening. This year, the company has already added 250 suppliers, for a total of 1,500 suppliers and 1.5 million part numbers added since construction began in 2018.
The new facility is full automated besides the task of parts picking done by employees. Among the racks of components, carts are wire-guided so that the only thing a cart driver will have to worry about is where to stop. Digi-Key noted that the wire-guided system will save more than 10% of time and is significantly safer.
Other features of the expanded facility:
- It has over 27 miles of automated conveyor belt, and an average order will travel more than 3,200 feet inside the building.
- It features six backup diesel engines and pumps along with a water tank built for fire suppression. It also has its own storm sewer and run-off ponds so as not to contribute to any flooding or storage concerns in the community.
- It features multiple common work areas and break rooms with oversized windows for optimal natural sunlight, as well as a café and a spacious quiet room for employees.
- Outside of the new building there is a new community garden where employees can adopt a plot for the summer and plant seasonal flowers, fruits and vegetables.
- In the Skybridge connecting the original PDC to the PDCe building, there is a “Digi-Walk” mapped out from end to end, offering a place for employees to get in some extra steps during their breaks.
- The facility’s roof has a white membrane to reflect the sun’s heat, sensor-activated LED lights to minimize electricity usage and a specially designed conveying system which maximizes energy usage as well as efficiency.