Shell Lubricants moves easily into Starpointe

Rick Shrum
Observer Reporter

It was not an introductory seminar on real estate, but location, location, location was the theme inside Starpointe’s newest warehouse Friday morning.

Carlos Maurer punctuated that with an exclamation point.

“We put a lot of effort into our operations,” said the president of Shell Lubricants Americas. “But ultimately, our No. 1 objective is to deliver to customers. It’s so important to be close to them.”

Operating out of the Hanover Township business park will afford Shell that opportunity. The lubricants firm, one of Shell Oil’s many companies, cut the ceremonial ribbon on a 455,000-square-foot distribution center. Shell shared the scissors with Kenco Logistics, a third-party operator that, according to Shell spokeswoman Pam Rosen, will “make sure products move properly.”

She said customer deliveries will begin by the end of the first quarter and Shell “expects to be fully online with customer deliveries by mid-year.”

Shell Lubricants, by the way, is not connected to the $6 billion petrochemical cracker plant being built 30 miles to the north, in Beaver County.

The antiseptic new building, in the continually developing park, will be called Kenco/Shell Pennsylvania Regional Distribution Center. Both occupants have gaudy reputations. Shell, according to Maurer, is the top lubricants company in the world. Kenco, based in Chattanooga, Tenn., says on its website it is “the largest woman-owned third party logistics company” in the United States.

Speaking before an audience of employees, public officials and kegs of lubricants, Maurer explained why northwestern Washington County is a fortuitous location for Shell Lubricants. His firm has a plant near Newell, W.Va. – about 20 miles west – where it blends lubricants. (Pennzoil, Quaker State and Shell kegs sat scattered on the mostly unoccupied floor space.)

But until now, Shell Lubricants’ nearest distribution center to this region was in Ohio. By adding a location at Starpointe – which is owned by the Washington County Council on Economic Development – the company will increase the number of customers it can serve within one delivery day by 11 percent, while eliminating 1 million miles in truck deliveries.

“We not only will be quickly accessible to more customers,” Maurer said, “we will greatly reduce our CO2 (carbon dioxide) footprint.”

Richard Jory echoed that sentiment. “We keep things moving,” said the vice president of Shell International Lubricants’ supply chain. “We produce 12,000 products across the globe at about 50 plants. Reaching customers quickly and taking 1 million miles of traffic off the roads are great reasons to be here.”

State Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Carroll Township, arrived late, delayed – ironically – by truck traffic. She likewise lauded the Shell-Kenco connection.

“We want to see jobs come into the region. We hope a project like this can have a ripple effect,” she said. “Getting products to customers within 24 hours, while reducing highway miles, is a game changer.”

The center got a ringing endorsement from Dennis Davin, secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development. He said it is part of a more welcoming business environment in Pennsylvania, where he wants “to have more shovel-ready sites” available for companies and reductions in business taxes.

“With all we have happening in and around Pittsburgh and with the cracker plant,” he said, “we’re seeing unprecedented momentum. And with activities like this, it’s going to get better.”