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Uline packaging plans huge Hudson warehouse

Uline, a family-owned business, is the leading distributor of shipping, industrial and packaging materials to businesses throughout North America.

Uline Inc., a privately-held, Wisconsin-based company that sells packaging equipment and supplies to businesses, plans to construct a 640,000-square-foot building in Hudson's St. Croix Business Park and move about 150 jobs across the border from its Eagan distribution center.

The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reported Friday morning that Uline expects to begin constructing a 610,000-square-foot warehouse and 30,000 square feet of office space in 2012. Its plans include adding 389,000 square feet to the complex within a decade, bringing the total building to 1.03 million square feet.

It would be the biggest new industrial building developed in the Twin Cities in the past 20 years, according to broker broker Raymond Reese, who consulted with Uline on its site selection, according to the Business Journal. The initial building is expected to have 82 loading docks.

On Monday and Tuesday, workers from a survey firm were on the site, performing soil borings and evidence of the pending deal have appeared in public over the past several weeks.

On Thursday evening, the Hudson Planning Commission heard a request by The Riverbank to rezone a 63.8 acre parcel on the southwest corner of State Highway 35 and Hanley Road from B-2, General Business District to I-1, Light Industrial District and to amend the city of Hudson comprehensive plan to change the 2030 Master Plan Map land use designation from General Business to Industrial. The committee recommended approval of the plan. The next step in the process is a public hearing scheduled for July 5. The city council could give final approval for the rezonement after the public hearing.

Last weekend's Hudson HotSheet shopper carried an ad from Uline "Shipping Supply Specialists" soliciting applicants for jobs as customer service representatives, general warehouse workers, manager trainees and sales representatives. The narrative announced "Eagan facility moving to Hudson, Summer, 2013." Top pay for the positions ranged from $17 to $21 per hour.

Uline, based in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., north of Chicago, expects the first phase is open in 2013, employing about 175 people, including about 20 to 25 new jobs. The rest of the jobs will be relocated from Eagan, where Uline now operates two distribution centers that total about 300,000 square feet, Ty Beucler, operations manager for Uline in Eagan told the Business Journal.

Uline is negotiating to purchase the property through The RiverBank, based in Wyoming, Minn., which took ownership of the property from developer C.R. Hackworthy, who had reportedly been trying to attract a Walmart Supercenter to the site.

Greystone Commercial Group, based in Bayport, had listed the property for sale for $5.7 million on

The Business Journal reported that Uline chose Hudson for several reasons.

"We explored everywhere in Minnesota, Eagan, Lakeville, Rogers, Woodbury, Lake Elmo, Cottage Grove and Shakopee," Beucler said,

The Hudson site was inexpensive compared to properties in Minnesota, he said.

Uline is privately held by the Uihlein family. Dick Uihlein, who heads the Twin Cities operation, lives in Edina.

In a video about the company, posted on YouTube, Uihlein and his wife, Liz, appear on-camera along with at least three adult children who are involved in the business.

"I think the universe is our customer base," says the elder Uihlein.

The firm prides itself on having product moving to customers within hours of orders being placed. Orders in by 6 p.m. ship and may arrive at their destination the next day.

Last fall, president and company co-founder Liz Uihlein told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Uline expected revenue of $1.5 billion in 2010, up 25 percent from $1.2 billion in 2009, the Business Journal reported.

Uline has 2,500 employees who work in nine distribution centers around North America, including one that opened this spring in Seattle and another under construction in Monterrey, Mexico.

The Eagan facility, which opened in 1990, distributes to customers in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and part of Wisconsin.

TThe company has more than 22,000 products and has diversified from its base of boxes, tape and stretch wrap into products such as janitorial supplies and material handling products.