Facebook Twitter

FINGERHUT TO PROVIDE ECONOMIC BOON

SHARE FINGERHUT TO PROVIDE ECONOMIC BOON

The row of 15 well-dressed people shoveling dirt symbolized the increased variety of jobs that Fingerhut Companies Inc. will bring to Spanish Fork within the next 18 months.

Western Distribution Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Fingerhut, broke ground Wednesday for its 1 million-square-foot distribution center in Spanish Fork Canyon.Fingerhut is a national mail-order company that distributes merchandise, including electronics, housewares, furniture, clothing and jewelry. The Spanish Fork facility will become Fingerhut's Western hub, servicing 16 states including Alaska and Hawaii.

The company anticipates hiring 527 permanent employees within 24 months of the center's projected opening in July 1995. The company will be in full swing by 1996 and should employ between 700 and 800 people during peak periods, officals said. Job projections are based on full-time equivalencies, said Jim Moran, senior vice president of operations.

Most of those jobs will earn $6.75 to $7 an hour. Benefits will be based on a varied scale according to the number of hours worked, Moran said.

"Our intention is to hire the vast majority of the people here," spokesman Lee Wilwerding said in a public hearing in June. Western Distribution will also use as many local workers as possible during construction, which starts immediately, said Vice President Scott Abernethy.

All of those jobs should stimulate the area economy and produce another 174 indirect jobs, an economic analysis shows.

Ted Deikel, Fingerhut chairman and CEO, said Utah was chosen as the company's Western distribution center not only because of its geographic location but also because of the cooperation of local and state governments.

"Utah had a very can-do attitude," he said.

The facility is needed to keep pace with Fingerhut's rapid growth, Deikel said. Fingerhut's net earnings increased by 25 percent over last year's second-quarter showings. That growth should spread to the local Utah economy.

"We need to continue to attract jobs to Utah," said Charles Johnson, a representative for Gov. Mike Leavitt, who is on a working vacation. "We are absolutely delighted" that Fingerhut would choose Utah as its project site, he continued.

The property in its current state brings in $1,660 a year in taxes. Western Distribution should pay $5,124,295 within 12 years, the analysis shows. The project would generate approximately $10.4 million in new wages yearly for Spanish Fork and the surrounding areas. It is also estimated that the company will spend $163.7 million in Utah during the next decade.

Niles Elwood, a spokesman for Rep. Bill Orton, D-Utah, was also pleased with the economic outlook.

"Well, we're thrilled with the injection of this kind of business in Utah County," he said. "It's great for Spanish Fork and great for Utah County and great for Utah."

Spanish Fork Mayor Marie Huff expects the facility to provide jobs to workers without technological training, although some employees will need special training to work computerized vehicles. The computers ensure that "you get the right thing at the right time in the right place," said Fingerhut spokesman Lee Wilwerding. The facility will have the capacity to sort 140-150 packages a minute, or 20 million packages a year.

Fingerhut is building its facility, which is large enough to cover 24 football fields, with the intention of adding 500,000 square feet in the future. With growth as rapid as it is, it shouldn't be long before the addition is a necessity, Deikel said. Fingerhut may also add other buildings, including a possible telemarketing center, he said.

The facility will be in Spanish Fork Canyon south of the intersection of Powerhouse Road and U-214 and west of U.S. 6. The city will spend $220,000 to straighten Powerhouse Road for the nearly 60 trucks that will enter and exit the facility each day.