Growth prompted Gabe’s to make largest investment in Springfield

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Gabriel Brothers has opened 40 stores in the past five years and that growth is now leading to the department store’s largest single investment in its history with the building of its new distribution center in Springfield.

The company, known as Gabe’s, was founded in in West Virginia in 1961 and is investing $77.5 million in the Springfield area to build a 870,000-square-foot facility that will support its operations as well as pave the way for more growth.

The news was announced in October as representatives of Gabe’s promoted the project as a major step for the company; local officials touted it as a byproduct of years of hard work to generate more economic development in the area.

This year also marked Gabe’s 60th anniversary. The chain sells apparel, home goods and footwear at discount prices.

Its closet retail store to Springfield is on North Fairfield in Beavercreek.

The retailer was founded by James and Arthur Gabriel, whose father Z.G. sold merchandise in coal towns out of the back of a green-paneled truck he had outfitted with shelves and drawers.

Though the 1980s and 1990s the retailer expanded its presence and added stores in several states. The stores were originally marketed as Gabriel Brothers and it was rebranded as Gabe’s when the company came under new ownership in 2005, according to the company.

Since its first store opened in 1961 in West Virginia, the company has grown to include 120 stores in 13 states. Gabe’s new distribution facility will support those stores.

The facility will be located at 1801 Prime Parkway at the Prime Ohio II Industrial Park in Springfield, which was completed in 2014 in order to aid local development efforts in the area.

It will be the first of its kind at the industrial park. The distribution center is currently being constructed and is expected to be operational by this time next year.

The project in Springfield is also expected to create over 1,000 jobs in the area over the next five years as well as help the company expand.

The company plans to create the equivalent of 833 full-time equivalent jobs in the Springfield area. That amounts for over 700 full-time jobs and over 300 part-time jobs. Employment created as a result of the distribution center is slated to generate up to $27.8 million in new annual payroll.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

“Right now if we did not open this (distribution center) we wouldn’t be able to open any more stores after 2022. This gives us a runway to the next 120 stores. This is the evolution of our company and we are thrilled to be here,” said Gabe’s President and CEO Jason Mazzola.

Gabe’s has 20 retail stores in Ohio, a presence which played a part in the chain selecting Springfield as the location of its new distribution center.

Gabe’s also has locations in West Virginia, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

The distribution center in Springfield will be the company’s first in Ohio and is larger than its five other distribution centers combined, Mazzola said.

Leigh Guldig, the Chief Marketing Officer for Gabe’s, said they chose Springfield due to a number of factors. That included the location’s proximity to stores in Ohio and nearby states as well as the site being off of Interstate 70 and there being a large labor market in the region.

Positions that will need to be filled include material handlers, packers, sorters, equipment operation, truck drivers, counters, maintenance, administration, supervisors and managers. The retailer is expected to start hiring early next year.

The project also has been awarded state and local economic incentives. The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved a 1.488%, 10-year job creation tax credit last month for the Gabe’s project.

The City of Springfield approved two agreements with Gabe’s, including a 100% tax abatement for 15 years regarding the property. The same agreement was approved by the Clark-Shawnee Local Board of Education in August.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Springfield city commissioners also improved an Employment Incentive Agreement with Gabe’s that will provide an annual 30% return to the company depending on income tax generated by new jobs created at the facility each year over a five-year period.

In addition to being the stepping stone for further growth in Gabe’s portfolio, the distribution center is also seen by local leaders in Clark County as the result of years of work to attract investment, business and jobs.

Mike McDorman, the president and CEO of the Greater Springfield Partnership, called the project a key milestone in the community’s renaissance and said it was another “catalyst in helping us build a vibrant Springfield and Clark County.”

“Our community had stopped dreaming big a long time ago. The city had declined for several decades due to the loss of approximately ten thousand manufacturing jobs, and it was difficult for many leaders to see a path forward. Our community needed a new vision to help lead it onward,” McDorman said in a column submitted to this news organization.

“The good news is twenty plus years later the community is beginning to believe again and is working closely together on dream big types of initiatives that are helping to move us forward. With this latest announcement, along with the attraction of companies like Topre and Silfex, and the growth of some of our existing companies, we have gained back the jobs which were lost over several decades and find ourselves in a unique position to grow again,” he added.

Gabe’s has been looking to build a new facility for the past 18 months, and had been in talks with Springfield and Clark County officials since May.

An affiliate of Gabe’s paid $4.7 million for 114 acres at the industrial park. The company has enough space to expand to 1.3 million square-feet depending on the future needs of the company.

“Operationally, it was important to invest in a distribution center to support our store growth and merchandising efforts, so that we may continue to deliver fast-moving goods to our customers,” Guldig said in an email to this news organization.

By the numbers:

833 - Number or equivalent full-time jobs to be created by Gabe’s in Springfield as a result of its new distribution center

27.8 million - Estimated annual payroll as a result of Gabe’s project in Springfield

870,000 - Number of square footage of slated distribution center in Springfield

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