Press Release

Merchants Distributors Announces Perishables Expansion

Expansion to create 125 jobs

HICKORY, N.C., July 12, 2022 Merchants Distributors, LLC, a wholesale grocery distributor founded in Hickory in 1931, will invest $35 million to expand its services and operations.  The company anticipates adding approximately 250,000 square feet to its perishables capacity at its Caldwell County facilities.

“We are very excited about MDI’s latest new investment in Caldwell County.  We are proud to have partnered with the City of Hickory assisting MDI with local incentives that help further increase employment, wages and economic development in our region,” said Randy Church, Caldwell County Commission Chairman. 

Merchants Distributors (MDI) and its parent company, Alex Lee, Inc., were founded in Hickory and maintain headquarters here, distributing both food and non-food grocery items to more than 600 retail stores across the United States and other locations.  The company also provides additional retail support to its customers, including marketing and other services.  The company’s new project in Caldwell County will add perishable capacity to the company’s existing facility in Hickory, with the conversion of ambient space into space that can be chilled and maintained at a temperature of 34 degrees.

“Hickory, North Carolina has been our home for over ninety years, and we are excited to support our continued growth with another expansion at our Caldwell County facilities in the city of Hickory,” said Brian George, Chairman and CEO of Merchants Distributors. “As our business continues to grow, demand for perishable products has increased the need for chilled warehouse space to service our customers and communities. North Carolina continues to support business growth and invest in workforce development which makes expanding at this location possible.”

We are pleased to see MDI continue to thrive and choose to invest in expanding its operations within the City of Hickory and Caldwell County. This significant investment and expansion benefit the region by preserving and creating high-quality jobs that provide security and stability for families in the Hickory metro,” said Hickory Mayor Hank Guess. 

Deborah Murray, Caldwell County EDC Executive Director commented, “Congratulations to MDI.  Their success is so important to our region.  They are not only our largest employer, but they are also a critical food distributor to grocers across North Carolina and throughout the eastern United States from Pennsylvania to Florida.”

Although wages for the new jobs will vary depending on position, the average salary will be $59,092, above the current average wage in Caldwell County of $43,905.  The state and local area will see an additional impact of more than $7 million each year from the new payroll.

MDI’s project in North Carolina will be facilitated, in part, by the City of Hickory, by Caldwell County, and by a Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) approved by the state’s Economic Investment Committee earlier today. Over the course of 12 years, the project is estimated to grow the state’s economy by $323.4 million.

In addition to the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of N.C., other key partners on this project were the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Community College System, Caldwell County, the City of Hickory, and the Caldwell County EDC.


About Merchants Distributors LLC

Founded in 1931, Merchants Distributors (MDI) is a privately-owned wholesale grocery store distributor headquartered in Hickory, NC. MDI supplies over 600 retail food stores with food and non-food items in NC, SC, GA, TN, VA, AL, WV, OH, FL, PA, MD and KY.  MDI also exports to over 30 countries.  Merchants Distributors, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Alex Lee, Inc. The company has a strong customer focus and offers a variety of services to help their customers succeed.

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