Fuel Costs and Higher Service Demands Push Iowa Food Distributor to Restructure

Earlier this week food distributor Harker's Distribution, Inc., Le Mars, Iowa, eliminated 72 positions, including 12 at the corporate level and sold five of its distribution centers to Reinhart Foodservices of La Crosse, Wis. Reported as "a change in the company's direction," the company also announced plans for a 35,000 sq.-ft. warehouse by the end of the year that will expand its product line. Jeff Kelly, the company's v.p. of marketing and vendor development, said the focus on a smaller geography was driven by rising fuel costs and greater demand for service.

"This is an opportunity for Harker's to be more relevant to our customers in the areas we now serve," said Harker's chairman and CEO Jim Harker. "Our new concentrated geographic reach will allow us to execute our customer service commitment to deliver what our customers ordered, when promised, and in the conditions they expected."

Since purchasing the company in April 2007, Harker and his family have invested in new technology and facility enhancements to the company that was founded by his great-grandfather George Harker in 1908. Harker's has also recently launched an aggressive product expansion plan that will more than double its product offering to more than 2,500 items. Going forward Harker's plans to serve around 12,000 customers in 10 Midwest states.

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