Global Transportation and logistics company Werner Enterprises Inc. kicked off a yearlong celebration to mark its 60th anniversary, and the company has big plans for the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania.
In November, Werner officials presented the Palmer Township Planning Commission with plans for a proposed training and maintenance center off 1460 Tatamy Road. The 67,000-square-foot facility would replace and triple the size of its Upper Macungie terminal, Associate Vice President Randy Kraft said.
He added that total employment could swell to about 70 people at the Palmer facility. The company employs about 40 at its Upper Macungie site on 4 acres that Werner leases.
"We've been in [Upper Macungie] for 10 years, maybe a little more," Kraft said. "It has served us well, but it's woefully undersized."
The new facility would serve Werner for tractor-trailer maintenance and driver training, Kraft said. Amenities include showers, a barbershop, workout center and "quiet lounges," Kraft said. "It's a nice home away from home for [truckers]."
Kraft said the recent opening of the Charles Chrin interchange on Route 33 in Palmer Township "had a big impact" on the decision to relocate. He said Werner, headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, had been looking at finding a new Lehigh Valley site for several years.
The company hasn't received conditional approval from the township, and Kraft said Werner hasn't closed on the more than 25-acre farmland it intends to acquire from the Raub family.
Kraft and Palmer Planning Director Cynthia Carman said among issues the company needs to address are stormwater runoff and traffic flow. She said the company could appear in February to update the township on its plans.
Kraft estimated once the property is sold and the company obtains the necessary approvals, it will be a late 2017 opening for the Palmer facility. "If it can be done sooner, we want it done sooner," he said, "but it takes time."
Part of the deal with the Raub family includes keeping the former Chesterfield Manor, a landmark property and former restaurant. Kraft said the Raub family has been adamant about keeping the building.
Carman said the Werner site is the largest new development proposed in Palmer since last summer's opening of the new Route 33 interchange. The terminal borders the Palmer Industrial Park and is about 1 mile from Main Street, the road which intersects with the interchange.
Publicly held Werner Enterprises claims to be among the five largest truckload carriers in North America, China and Australia. The company, whose stock appears on the Nasdaq exchange, also transports cargo in Europe, South America and Africa.
The company has 13 U.S. terminals, 10 of which it owns and three that are leased, Kraft said.