To keep up with innovations in retail that get products into customers’ hands faster than ever, Menards newest warehouse will be run by machines.
The Eau Claire-based home improvement retailer filed plans to build a 121,700-square-foot warehouse with a 60-foot-tall automated system that will organize merchandise and process orders.
“To be more competitive, we are adding a huge machine enclosed in a steel skin that will help us get products to our customers much faster,” Jeff Abbott, spokesman for Menards, said in an emailed statement.
Retail has become an increasingly competitive business, he wrote, calling it a “fight for survival.”
“Online companies like Amazon and others would love nothing more than to run Menards out of business,” Abbott stated.
The robotic warehouse allows the company not only to speed delivery time but also cut costs and keep prices low, he added.
The company hasn’t yet announced a schedule for construction as the plans are still seeking approvals.
Plans show that the robotic warehouse would be built along Kane Road, next to a large existing building at the company’s distribution center off the North Crossing.
One of the first approvals sought for the building project will be to Eau Claire County’s Board of Land Use Appeals. That group has a 5:30 p.m. meeting scheduled on Dec. 11 at the courthouse to consider a variance for the building’s height.
Zoning laws for the industrial district where Menards is located in the town of Union sets a height limit for buildings close to property lines. In the case of the robotic warehouse, it’s about 23 feet taller than the limit.
However, county code does include a procedure for a variance to exceed those height limits.
Menards has gotten a letter of support for the project from Eau Claire Cooperative, the owner of land directly north of the proposed warehouse.
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