More than 800 Dollar General distribution center employees and family members joined the store chain’s top leadership and several local officials on Saturday for the official grand opening of the store’s newest distribution center in San Antonio’s Eastside.

The $100 million, 930,000 sq-ft. facility located in South Foster Industrial Park employs more than 530 new employees who work as truck drivers, stock workers, and shipping specialists. The center employs those in clerical and management positions, too.

The center began shipping in February, but Saturday’s event was the first opportunity for the families of the new employees to see where their family members work.

“It takes a lot of hard work and elbow grease to get a place like this up and running, and we just want to hold an open house and thank (the employees),” said Dollar General Senior Director of Corporate Communications Dan McDonald. “This is a really nice way for us to say ‘thank you.’”

The event included activities for kids, photo opportunities with the Dollar General racing show car and tours of the facility. But for new employee Shayla Dickerson, the event was further proof that she’s working at a family-friendly company. Dickerson’s husband also works at the center, but in a different zone.

The Dollar General Racing show car was at the Grand Opening of the Distribution Center June 4, 2016.  Photo by Sarah Talaat
The Dollar General Racing show car was at the Grand Opening of the Distribution Center on Saturday. Photo by Sarah Talaat

“This is the first time the kids get to see where Mommy and Daddy work. We just moved here and we’re happy that they let families work together in the same facility,” Dickerson said. “With this event they’re really showing that they don’t just talk about being a family-oriented company. I’ve never been at a company that put something like this on for the families.”

Dollar General worked closely with San Antonio and Bexar County officials and the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (SAEDF) to establish the location and build the center. Plans for the center were first announced in October 2014 and construction began in January 2015.

“This is absolutely a city that has tremendous momentum. From our most recent designation as a World Heritage Site to the emergence of what’s going on in our downtown core … this is an absolutely fantastic community,” said SAEDF Chairman Wayne Peacock. “With this great workforce, with this diverse workforce, here in San Antonio, we’re at the forefront of the future of (the U.S.).”

The distribution center, one of 13 operating in the U.S., will service stores in Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico. Dollar General operates more than 1,300 stores in Texas – its largest presence in any state – which was a key reason why the company decided to open a center in San Antonio.

“In choosing the location for this facility, we wanted a community that has a good business climate, has a strong workforce and a location to fit our needs, and San Antonio, by far fit all of those needs,” said CEO Todd Vasos.

The facility tours, which were led by employees who work in the warehouses, gave family members the opportunity to see the inner workings of a center that supplies stores with food, houseware and cleaning supplies.

Adults and children alike marveled at the state-of-the-art multi-story air-conditioning units, the cardboard-bailing machine and the 152 loading docks for recycling, receiving and shipping.

New machinery at the Grand Opening of the Dollar General Distribution Center in San Antonio on June 4, 2016.  Photo by Sarah Talaat.
New machinery at the Grand Opening of the Dollar General Distribution Center in San Antonio. Photo by Sarah Talaat.

On average, there is a truck entering or exiting the center every three minutes. There is still room to growth: the center currently operates at 60% capacity.

Distribution Center Director Mario Tort presented a $10,000 check to the Carver Branch Library on behalf of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. The foundation, which was started in 1993, promotes literacy, completion of GEDs and English-language acquisition.

“Education is the key to success, and serving others is important to our culture within Dollar General,” said Senior Vice President of Global Supply Chain Mike Kindy at the event. “We believe in giving back to the communities that we call home.”

Dollar General Donates $10,000 to the Carver Branch Library to Celebrate the Opening of its new San Antonio Distribution Center. From left: Mario Tort, Director, San Antonio Distribution Center; Lindsey Sublett, Dollar General; Dianna Morganti, San Antonio Public Library; D.L. Grant San Antonio Public Library.  Photo by Sarah Talaat.
Dollar General Donates $10,000 to the Carver Branch Library to Celebrate the Opening of its new San Antonio Distribution Center. From left: Mario Tort, Director, San Antonio Distribution Center; Lindsey Sublett, Dollar General; Dianna Morganti, San Antonio Public Library; D.L. Grant San Antonio Public Library. Photo by Sarah Talaat.
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*Top image: Dollar General executives and local leaders celebrate at grand opening celebration of the company’s new San Antonio Distribution Center. From left: Wayne Peacock, San Antonio Economic Development Foundation chairman; Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff; Mike Kindy; Mario Tort; Todd Vasos, Dollar General CEO; Jeff Owen; City Councilman Alan Warrick (D2).  Photo courtesy of Dollar General.

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Sarah Talaat

Former Rivard Report intern Sarah Talaat graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in May 2016. You can find her in Beijing, China where she is pursuing a business journalism master's at Tsinghua...