Dealer or not, QBP’s latest moves are worth paying attention to. Obviously, for dealers of QBP (Quality Bicycle Products), the opening of new distribution centers is great news as it should help cut down on delivery time. Consumers benefit as well, as the ability to get product to shops faster means you’re more likely to find that part you’re looking for without having to order it on line.
Earlier this year, QBP relocated from a leased facility in Middletown, PA to their new home – a purpose built, Energy Star certified 122,000 square foot building in beautiful Lancaster, PA. Showing their commitment to the area, the building is owned by QBP and was even built with one wall meant for future expansion. After starting out of Minneapolis, MN, QBP’s first expansion was to Ogden, UT. Now with Lancaster up and running, QBP is already set to open another distribution center in Reno, NV in December. Needless to say, business for one of the largest distributors in the U.S. is good and it bodes well for the cycling community as a whole…
Walking into Q-East, you get the impression that this is not your average warehouse. Everything is super clean, well designed, and built with high end materials. Having built it from the ground up, this new building features exactly what QBP was looking for and what they expect to need at least 5 years down the road. Opened just after New Year’s in 2015, relocating from Middletown was an impressive feat that took only 3 days over the holiday so dealers weren’t without product. Currently there are about 78 employees that fluctuate seasonally, but Q is planning for future expansion of offices that could be located here.
QBP always places a big emphasis on their employee’s health and well being (as well as advocacy and community involvement), and that continues here. The facility includes a fully equipped bike shop, bike storage, demo bike use, a full kitchen/lunch room, water throughout the entire facility, and stretch breaks through the day. They even have a snack cart loaded with healthy options to keep employees hydrated and well fed. It’s not surprising that most employees seem to really enjoy working here and stay for the long haul. Q also believes in employee development and promotion as evidenced by Site Manager Nancy Carlson who started with QBP in Minnesota as seasonal help over 10 years ago.
QBP employees are also pretty big on commuting as evidenced by their Commuter Bicycle League. It didn’t take long for the Q-East Pennsylvania Dutch Masters team to bring home the championship cup.
Part of the build out included energy efficient lighting which is all over the building. Very few fluorescent lights are used in favor of impressive solar tubes, or the massive LED system that was built with the help of Digital Lumens. The lights are all computer programmable for different times, brightnesses, and energy consumption. Between the two technologies they have reduced energy consumption by 40-50%.
QBP changed the process a bit for Lancaster, but it still involves a paperless system until the packing slip is placed in the box. Using fewer conveyors means the building is a lot quieter – something QBP is bringing back to Q-North after seeing the results here.
Compared to QBP North, the East warehouse is currently smaller with 20-25 thousand SKUs compared to about 40 thousand in the QBP catalog. However, the building is ready to expand as Q East grows to meet the needs of the East coast. To me, one of the most fascinating parts of the tour is seeing how the products are arranged on the picking shelf. Instead of putting like parts together, the system places products on the shelves based on how frequently they’re ordered. That make the picking process much more efficient, and also allows you to get an idea of what products are the most popular at that current point in time.
To celebrate the occasion, QBP hosted their first Dealer show here, appropriately named Biketoberfest. Essentially a smaller version of Frostbike or Saddle Drive, the event gave dealers a chance to see and ride some of the new product at Rocky Ridge County Park, as well as attend educational seminars and explore Lancaster which turns out to be a really cool town.
As we speak, product is on the way to the new Reno facility which will be a similar layout but in a leased facility. With employees from all three current locations relocating to Reno, the newest distribution center is set to open December 10.