A food distribution plant is coming to Shawnee, thanks to a building that the company turned down.

THE ISSUE: Shawnee is in stiff competition with a lot of other cities to attract new businesses to their own community and area.

LOCAL IMPACT: Shawnee Economic Development Foundation's (SEDF) shell building proved to be a catalyst for a plant's relocation here, even though the building itself was not the right fit.

A food distribution plant is coming to Shawnee, thanks to a building that the company turned down.

Shawnee Economic Development Foundation (SEDF) is ponying up to show businesses that it's in their best interest to take notice of Shawnee as a viable place to settle. SEDF took a chance, and now that chance is paying off.

“To separate ourselves from our competitors, the SEDF board elected to develop a parcel of land we already owned, and build an industrial building that would be attractive to businesses that want to locate in our area,” SEDF Executive Director Tim Burg said.

SEDF's building is unique in that it offers a great deal of finish out flexibility for the end user's needs, which means they won't have to spend a lot of money customizing the building to their specific needs, plus it will save them 120 to 150 days in design, engineering, site development, bidding, and construction, Burg said. “If time is money, we can save the right occupant both of those items,” he said.

“Since the start of construction and until now, we have been able to use the building to respond to 28 different Requests for Information, (RFI), regarding any available buildings in our community,” Burg said. “A RFI is where a prospect has identified a certain geographic region that they are interested in locating in. If we had not have had this building as a resource, we could not have responded to any of those enquiries.”

Since the start of construction on the shell building, SEDF has had seven different site visits, where the prospect has been to the community, looked at the building to determine if that would meet their specific needs.

“We have been visited by a heat treating firm, an artificial lift manufacturer, a consumer product warehousing business, an aerospace manufacturer, a food distribution company, a tire distributor, and a oil field tank manufacturer,” he said.

In all of those visits the building was either not going to be finished soon enough or wasn't exactly what they were looking for or was simply too large, he said.

“However, those site visits have allowed us to have a face to face meeting with the prospects and one of those meetings has allowed us to find the prospect another available building in the community,” he said.

That business was Keystone Food Services.

“Long story short, having an available product allowed us to meet the prospect and in turn find a property that did meet their needs,” Burg said.

A good fit

Keystone Foodservice CEO Josh Sanders said when the plant started looking at sites for a warehouse it developed a 60-mile radius based on being best located to service its accounts from a logistic standpoint.

Shawnee was a preferred location from the beginning, he said.

“Shawnee quickly distanced from the others due to Burg being available to alert us to possible buildings as they became available,” he said.

“We met Tim because of the SEDF building being for sale,” he said.

Burg said the shell building was much larger than what they were looking for, so they continued searching for a suitable building in the community and within the greater Oklahoma City region.

He said with the help of SEDF board member Greg Brown, it was discovered that the former Coca-Cola building at Kennedy and the Kickapoo Spur was going to become available.

“Once Keystone was connected to the building owners, they were able to negotiate a deal that allowed them to purchase the site,” he said. “We are thrilled that we found something that works for them, as they bring even more business diversity to Shawnee.”

Burg's networking within the community for possible sites was integral, Sanders said.

“He went above and beyond to assure we chose Shawnee as a location,” Sanders said.

About Keystone

Sanders said Keystone is relocating its warehouse from Stillwater.

“We envision this being our lifetime warehouse location due to Shawnee being centrally located in the state,” he said, “having interstate access and a talented community to find dedicated employees.”

He said the plant serves 93 school districts food and supplies to position their child nutrition programs to better serve their students healthy meals, made from scratch.

“Keystone Supply distributes products all across the state,” he said.

The plant uses fresh products to increase participation and excitement in public school cafeterias, he said.

He said Keystone Supply will employ numerous individuals with an annual payroll of $600,000.

“Those individuals will be executives, a warehouse manager, an office manger, drivers and product specialists,” he said. “This team of dedicated individuals will work daily to best service our customer base.”

He said the company is hoping to occupy the building July 1 and start shipping orders out the last week of July.

“Keystone Supply is proud to be part of the Shawnee community and looks forward to being a good partner in the community for years to come,” Sanders said.

For more information, visit http://www.keystonefoodservice.com/.

To apply for a position with Keystone, call Tammy at (405) 385-4884.

You can reach Vicky O. Misa at (405) 214-3962.