Asked to name cities in Florida where a billion-dollar company doing business in four states and across international borders would likely site a distribution center, most people would probably not think of Punta Gorda. But Cheney Brothers Inc. did.
Tucked against Florida’s southwest coast just north of Fort Myers, the town of Punta Gorda had exactly what the nation’s 11th largest food distributor needed: the right location, available land and interstate access.
“This is exciting for everybody,” says Cheney Brothers president Bill Foley. “We were looking at sites that would be able to service our customers up and down the coastline, and this is right in the middle.”
So Cheney Brothers is preparing to construct a distribution center on land it purchased in late 2011 from Charlotte County. Plans for the 35-acre site near Punta Gorda Airport and I-75 call for a two-story administration building, 150,000-sq.-ft. of dry storage and 75,000-sq.-ft. of cooler and freezer space; another 75,000 sq. ft. is being drawn into the blueprint for future expansion.
Cheney Brothers began in 1925 as a single-family enterprise in West Palm Beach with one truck delivering milk and eggs to local hotels and restaurants. The firm remains family-owned/operated, but its reach is considerably wider. From its headquarters in Riviera Beach and food distribution centers in Ocala and Orlando, Cheney Brothers serves customers in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, and exports products worldwide. Its truck fleet has grown to 400, and in 2012, Cheney Brothers reached $1 billion in annual sales. Next up: opening the distribution center at Punta Gorda by late 2014.
“I am excited at the prospect of a new location in Charlotte County,” says Foley.” We look forward to a long and prosperous partnership there.”
The people who live in and around Punta Gorda are no doubt hoping for the same. With the expectation of creating 380 jobs upon opening and the potential for up to 700 within a few years, this newest Cheney Brothers site is predicted to be the largest single job creator in Charlotte County history.