Gardener’s Supply Company, a national distributor of home and garden goods, relocated its shipping warehouse to Milton. The new facility, formerly housed in Essex, is 138,000 square feet and employs 60 core staff. Last Thursday, employees were hard at work as repairmen put finishing touches on a freight lift to bring material to the building’s mezzanine. (Photo by Courtney Lamdin)

It may not be open to the public, but the new Gardener’s Supply warehouse is now open for business. The employee-owned purveyor of home and garden supplies started shipping from its brand new Milton location on August 15, Distribution Director Peter Gaylord said.

Landlord Bill Miller’s construction company built Gardener’s its new 138,000-square-foot facility ground-up when its former Essex location was assumed by neighboring Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.

The move cost one-and-a-half days business days and only a few lost items, Gaylord said. Employees and a hired hauling company transported 126,000 square feet of material. That’s like moving the contents of 63 homes, each 2,000 square feet. It took more than 300 truckloads, Gaylord said.

“It was a stressful time, but it was amazing what the staff did,” he said.

The Milton location is now shipping 98 percent of Gardener’s goods, some of which are made right up Route 7 in Georgia. The rest come directly from manufacturers around the world, Gaylord said.

The new facility can store about 2,500 more pallets than the Essex one. The building is expansive, with shelves of cardboard boxes waiting to be loaded on a conveyor belt that eventually lands at a 13-bay loading dock.

Most everything is up and running, Gaylord said, except a freight lift that brings boxes to and from the mezzanine level. Up there, several of the 60 core employees process returns and manage spare parts.

Gaylord said the staff is adjusting well to their new workspace. That includes Spike, a portly office cat who was born on a tractor-trailer at the company’s former Winooski location. The receiving crew adopted him, and Spike, 12, has been with them ever since.

Gardener’s Supply has a sort of mascot in its longtime warehouse pet, Spike. The 12-year-old cat lived at the company’s facilities in Winooski, Essex and now, Milton. (Photo by Courtney Lamdin)

Spike’s not allowed outside yet – there’s a sign on the door to remind employees – but soon he’ll be able to roam the lot. Gaylord’s not too concerned about busy Route 7 nearby: “When it gets winter, he won’t go very far anyway,” he said.
Human employees are settling in, too. The Milton office is only eight miles from the Essex one, where Gardener’s was for six years.

“We’re really excited how this is going to enhance our business,” Gaylord said. “We’ve got a little growing pains to go through.”

Closeness to Interstate 89 is a major plus for commuting employees and for shipping companies. Besides that, “it’s just a beautiful location,” Gaylord said.

The company plans to begin its holiday-hiring season soon, with two job fairs scheduled next month for temporary positions. Gardener’s also holds one in the spring.

There will also be an open house so the public can see how the Vermont company operates. It was not schedule at press time.