Grainger, a business-to-business distributor of facilities maintenance products, has announced plans to expand and enhance its operations throughout the Gulf region to better serve customers. As part of this expansion, the company will revamp its distribution network by opening four new facilities, relocating one other, and expanding and enhancing three existing facilities throughout the Gulf area.

The announcement was made during the grand opening celebration of Grainger's new branch in Gonzales, located on Hwy 30 near one the state's largest petrochemical corridors.

"We're doing exactly what our customers asked us to do," said Shaun Holladay, district branch services manager, Grainger. "Our customers told us they wanted more of the products they need to maintain, repair and operate their facilities, positioned closer to them, and we listened. For our business customers, including contractors and petrochemical workers, time is money and it's our job to ensure they get the products they need, when and where they need them, so they can get back on the job."

With its expansion, the company plans to increase its local workforce by approximately 35 percent and will increase the size of its distribution network in the area by about 80 percent to meet the needs of local customers.

Additionally, the amount of locally tailored inventory will increase by approximately 56 percent.

Gulf area businesses have relied on Grainger for nearly 70 years to provide quick and easy access to a broad array of supplies needed to keep their facilities up and running. These products include things like heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical, material handling, plumbing, safety and cleaning supplies, as well as hand and power tools and other essential equipment.

Grainger's local investments are part of the company's market expansion initiative, a multi-year program designed to enhance Grainger's presence in the top metropolitan markets across the United States. As part of this effort, changes are either underway or have been completed in 25 markets across the country including New York/New Jersey/Connecticut, Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Cincinnati/Dayton, Tampa, South Florida, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia. Grainger plans to invest between $50 million to $60 million in 2008 to expand and enhance its operations across the country. This includes the investments the company is making in the Gulf area.

In addition to expanding its operations, the company recently expanded its product offering as well to position more of the products' businesses need to maintain their facilities closer to them. Earlier this year, Grainger launched its enhanced product catalog featuring more than 183,000 facilities maintenance products, an increase of more than 44,000 items over last year's record offering. The newly added items include more than 4,000 power transmission products such as bearings, couplings and belts; 9,000 raw materials products such as metal, plastic and rubber; 4,200 fleet maintenance products such as lift equipment, battery chargers and accessories as well as 30,000 additional products across all major product categories including plumbing, electrical, tools and material handling.

Grainger's new Gonzales location features a 2,500 sq. ft. showroom with thousands of products on display so customers can easily find the supplies and equipment they're looking for and get on their way. As part of the company's commitment to the local community, Grainger presented a $500 donation to support the welding program at Louisiana Technical College Ascension Campus. Grainger supports technical education programs across the country to help stem a pending shortage of skilled labor predicted by many industry experts.

Grainger's Gulf area team will continue to provide customers with product selection assistance, access to repair and replacement parts, technical support for product application and installation and hassle-free returns.