NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

September 19, 2013

US Foods looks to relocate to Seabrook

With move, distribution company would add 100 new jobs

(Continued)

Most of the renovations to the building, about $30 million worth, would be inside, Barnes said, including turning dry storage to cold and frozen storage areas, to accommodate their entire assortment of products. But some additions would be outside, such as the installation of above-ground fuel tanks, light repair and washing facilities to maintain its extensive fleet of trucks.

One of the things that could prove problematic and time-consuming, however, is that Poland Springs’ Ledge Road lot is in the town’s aquifer recharge area. Allowing automotive repair and fuel on the site would require a variance from the Zoning Board of Adjustment, Planning Board chairman Donald Hawkins told Barnes and Glynn.

To gain approval, Hawkins said, US Foods would have to provide a “100 percent guarantee” that there would be no spills that could ever access the groundwater and possibly affect the town’s drinking water wells.

“We’re going to want to know how does a spill gets contained,” Hawkins told the two men. “This is our water supply. There has to be backup upon backup. That’s it. The town’s water has to be protected.”

Both Glynn and Barnes promised the company was prepared to engineer and build whatever needed to prove it could contain any spill that might occur.

“We’re good corporate citizens,” Glynn said. “We live up to the highest standards.”

The Poland Springs facility was built years ago and town officials had high hopes for job creation when it first came to town. However, it never reached the potential projected by its representatives, and it has been for sale or lease in recent years.

Assessed at almost $19,822,000, last year, the building and land generated $287,616 in property taxes, according to town records. However, improvements to the building and site could increase its assessed value.

One of the country’s largest food service distributors, US Foods has 24,000 employees nationwide, with 60 distribution centers in 37 states. With annual revenues of $21 billion, it is among the largest privately held corporations in the country, according to published reports.

With headquarters in Illinois, the company is owned and run by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Inc. and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., two large private equity firms that acquired the company in 2007 for $7.1 billion.

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