Streetsboro is now home to the headquarters of Gebhardt USA Inc., which designs the software and hardware companies use to move products within large warehouses and distribution centers.
“We signed the contract on July 19,” said Klaus-Dieter Wurm, president and chief executive officer of Gebhardt USA, which is a part of Gebhardt International. “We took possession on Dec. 13, so it’s not even four weeks. So we got a lot already done in those four weeks.”
Wurm said the company moved to Streetsboro from Brunswick, which was its prior North American headquarters.
“After outgrowing our leased office and warehouse space in Brunswick, where we operated for the last 20 years, we started a search process,” he said. “We weren’t actually able to find a suitable building in the Brunswick geographic area, so we increased the search radius to Northeast Ohio and ultimately decided to purchase our new headquarters building in Streetsboro.”
The 70,000-square-foot building, located at 10040 Aurora-Hudson Road, was used most recently by Ferguson HVAC, and Wurm said he hopes to expand that by another 30,000 square feet.
Wurm said there are about 20 employees at the Streetsboro facility and an additional 10 employees who work in the field. With the expansion, he said he expects to hire about 50 to 60 more “by the end of next year.”
Streetsboro Economic Development Director Patrick O’Malia said Streetsboro’s highway network and transportation system were key selling points in bringing Gebhardt to Streetsboro.
“One of his concerns was, he was going to lose a lot of people from Brunswick,” said O’Malia, but, taking the turnpike from Interstate 71, the drive is about 35 minutes.
O’Malia said any drive under 45 minutes is usually OK for most workers.
Gebhardt International has benefited from the acceleration toward online commerce brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Wurm said.
“We, of course, highly benefited from COVID because any company that didn’t have any e-commerce strategy, they had to shut down,” he said.
Unautomated warehouses are one part of the supply chain issues the country is facing, he explained, and Gebhardt provides a solution to the problem. Automated systems are more efficient because they can work three shifts without light, don’t get sick and don’t commit errors as often as humans picking orders.
“The more you can automate in your entire supply chain, whether it’s food, apparel, or electronics, the better for the consumer,” he said, adding it’s up to companies whether they pass efficiency savings on to consumers.
Among the company’s clients are Walmart and Amazon, two of the biggest retailers of any kind, as well as clients from any other industries that needed to automate its warehouses.
Amazon, he added, has scaled back its plans to add distribution centers and warehouses due to supply chain issues.
“So Amazon abandoned about four or five distribution center projects this year because of the supply chain,” said Wurm. “So for us, we’re still doing five or six very large distribution centers with Amazon this year. But it would have been at least five or six more had it not been for supply chain issues.”
Wurm said Gebhardt anticipated supply chain hiccoughs and ordered components well ahead of time so it would not contribute to supply chain-related problems.
“We have anticipated — not that we have a crystal ball — but we anticipated what was about to come down the pipeline,” he said.
The company has so much business in the pipeline over the next two years that Wurm said he doesn’t plan to have a sales force.
“The good news is we’re not pursuing sales,” he said. “We are booked out for the entire year in ’22 and we’re at least 78% already booked out for ’23. Because of the technology that we have, we’re fortunate enough that our customers come to us.”
Do you have a business or healthcare story you’d like to share? Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440, [email protected] and @bobgaetjens_rc.