ALBANY, GA (WALB) - One of the largest industries in Albany and Dougherty County is celebrating. Coats & Clark sent out its first shipment at the distribution center Tuesday morning.
Inside you could hear the beeping sounds of equipment in the Coats & Clark's North American distribution center. Those sounds have been absent from the facility for more than a year.
"It's been a long year," sighed Scott Rohaley, the supply chain logistics vice president at Coats & Clark.
Nearly 15 months after an EF-3 tornado left the distribution center in shambles, the facility is operating again.
"The roof of all of the buildings was completely destroyed and about one third of the building on the back end was completely flattened," explained Rohaley.
At the time, company management had to decide where to rebuild.
"You have to go through a due diligence of seeing how the market has changed, seeing if this was still the right location," said Rohaley.
After searching around the southeast, Coats & Clark decided to rebuild in the place they've called home for more than 60 years.
"They've been a good neighbor to us for a long time," said Rohaley as he spoke about the city of Albany.
He said city government, as well as the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Authority have been great to the company.
Employees are happy the company is back in Albany too. During the rebuilding, some moved to a small facility down the road. Others hauled their work to a temporary facility more than an hour away.
"We've actually had 40 full-time hourly employees living in a hotel in Valdosta, Georgia for the past year," said Rohaley.
There is still work to be done before the distribution center is up to full speed, but sending out a full shipment of items this morning, and moving employees back in is the bright light at the end of a long tunnel.
"You could just see it on the faces of people," smiled Rohaley when he spoke about employees coming into the building. "They were just so happy to be home."
This distribution center is about half full.
In about six to eight weeks, Rohaley said the facility should be back to where it was early last January.
The Albany Coats & Clark location is the largest in the entire network.
Coats & Clark has both the distribution center and a manufacturing plant in Albany.
Coats & Clark is a global company based out of London. The company has sales and other offices in over 70 countries and manufacturing facilities in 50 countries.