Governor Kay Ivey announced Wednesday, June 26, that Ben E. Keith, a major food and beverage distribution company, plans to invest $100 million to open an advanced foodservice distribution center in Coffee County. The facility will also serve as the company’s Southeast Regional Headquarters.
The project will create 80 direct jobs over the next five years and provide an economic boost to New Brockton, a town of around 1,100 people in Southeastern Alabama. Ben E. Keith also plans to expand its manufacturing facilities at Kelley Foods, located in nearby Elba.
“We welcome the decision by Ben E. Keith, one of the nation’s largest family owned distribution companies, to significantly expand its presence in Alabama with a new, state-of-the-art facility in Coffee County,” Governor Ivey said. “The investment in the New Brockton facility will not only create good jobs in that community but also provide a springboard for this first-rate company to continue to grow in Alabama.”
Fort Worth, Texas-based Ben E. Keith’s new Alabama facility will span 425,000 square feet and will be designed to accommodate future expansions up to 1 million square feet, positioning the company to expand its distribution activities in the Southeast.
“When we acquired Kelley Foods in 2016, we saw it as our gateway to expand in the Southeast to better serve new and existing customers and to uncover new opportunities,” said Mike Sweet, president of Ben E. Keith Foods. “We are deeply committed to the communities of Alabama in which we live, work and serve, and we look forward to many more years of shared success.”
Construction on the facility in New Brockton will begin by December 2019, with a completion date by December 2021. Ben E. Keith Foods continues to expand its market area in the Southeast and the added capacity will allow it to better service customers, while staying committed to the local community.
“Alabama can offer distribution companies an extensive infrastructure network and a highly motivated workforce to make their operations a success,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “We consider it an economic development priority to recruit job-creating projects in the state’s rural counties, so we’re thrilled that a high-performance company like Ben E. Keith has selected Coffee County for a project with substantial growth potential.”
Established in 1906, Ben E. Keith Foods is the nation's eighth largest broad line foodservice distributor and operates today with eight divisions shipping to 15 states throughout the country.
Ben E. Keith entered Alabama in 2016, when it acquired Elba’s Kelley Foods, a homegrown business dating back to 1957.That operation today has 230 workers.
“Coffee County is proud to continue our relationship with Ben E. Keith and honored to serve as the site of their Southeast Regional Headquarters. It is always gratifying when our existing corporate partners make such a substantial new investment in our community,” said County Commission Chairman Dean Smith. “Ben E. Keith has been an outstanding corporate citizen and their expanded presence in Coffee County will provide a significant number of excellent job opportunities for our citizens.”
“Ben E. Keith has an impeccable reputation and is a perfect fit for Coffee County and for Alabama,” added Jonathan Tullos, executive director of the Wiregrass Economic Development Corp. “We are proud of the efforts of our state and local elected officials to secure this project, which will create quality jobs in Southeast Alabama.”