- Associated Press - Saturday, May 14, 2016

MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) - Workers in Mitchell are preparing the land for a new $2.7 million Coca-Cola distribution plant, less than a year after the previous facility suffered heavy damage in an August fire.

Chesterman Co. is planning to open the 53,000-square-foot plant on Commerce Street near the Highway 37 bypass by the fall, the Mitchell Daily Republic reported (https://bit.ly/1Nu7Z4A ).

Matt Morgan, Chesterman’s general manager, said that since the fire, employees have been working out of temporary space on South Langdon Street. The temporary facility has no docks, forcing workers to unload trucks by hand instead of by forklift. And working out of a 15,000-square-foot facility has forced the company to cut back on some products, including energy drinks and teas, he said.

“It’s suiting our needs, but it’s much too small,” Morgan said.

The local Coca-Cola distributor services a large area in central South Dakota from Winner to Freeman to Miller.

Chesterman, of Sioux City, Iowa, intends to keep the same 36 employees on staff, but having twice as many docks as the recently demolished plant will allow for improved receiving capabilities.

“Once we were able to get business back to running as normal as possible, then the focus was trying to find land for the new facility and designing the building,” Morgan said. “There really were no facilities that fit the bill, and the facility right now was really our best choice, but it doesn’t fit the bill.”

Morgan credited his employees for their ability to work through the turmoil. The company halted distribution for just one day.

“I could not ask for a better crew,” he said. “They’ve just been fantastic. Everyone’s been stepping forward and doing the things that need to be done to keep business running as normal as we can.”

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Information from: The Daily Republic, https://www.mitchellrepublic.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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