Imagine a million square foot grocery store, but instead of filling up a shopping cart, you are filling up a semi-truck. This is the reality of where our food comes from. Before it gets to your grocery store, these products were stored in a warehouse like UNFI in Centralia.
United Natural Foods, Inc., or UNFI is an industry leading nation-wide grocery wholesaler that delivers a wide variety of products to more than 800 grocery stores in the region. The Centralia location opened in 2019 and has over 250 truck docks, allowing them to ship over 150,000 cases of water a day, and 90,000 cases a week. That’s just bottled water. They see 120 – 130 trucks come in and out daily for loads. The products shipped here not only go locally around Washington, but to Oregon, Montana, Alaska and Guam.
The Centralia plant employs over 900 people. UNFI is continually hiring employees and recently participated in the Chamber’s Fall Hiring Fair. Not only do they offer medical and 401k benefits, but also paid volunteer time so employees can give back to the community. UNFI has a 6 week training program called Warehouse to Wheels where UNFI pays for the new employee’s CDL training, which includes a bonus when you become a driver trainee.
The new Site General Manager of Operations Tom Jaurequi’s positive leadership has impacted the company in many good ways. “We are passionate about leadership and positively impacting the community. We are no longer the same team. We have a new mindset where we celebrate associates and teamwork…we can change the world, one person at a time.” states Jaurequi. “People just need someone to believe in them, and to appreciate them. Positivity changes everything.” explains Jaurequi.
As you walk through the warehouse you can feel the positive energy all around you and you can see the team work in action. The future is looking bright for UNFI as fill rates continue to improve since Covid made fulfillment rates drop down to about 70-80%. Before Covid these rates were around 95% normally, but the good news is the fill rates are improving.
With a passion for safety, employee personal development, opportunities for growth and a new positive mindset, UNFI is investing in its employees with competitive benefits and encouraging and growing its outreach in the community.