Polaris celebrates decade in Vermillion with open house

Polaris celebrates decade in Vermillion with open house
The Polaris Sales Inc. center in Vermillion had good reason to celebrate Saturday.

The company wasn't only marking its 10th anniversary in the community. It also, in a time when some of their counterparts are being rocked by huge economic losses, is planning to expand its facility in Vermillion.

The structure doesn't house a manufacturing center. It's a storage and shipping headquarters for the company's Parts/Garments/Accessories Division, with high, long shelves stocked with every part imaginable that may be needed in any of the company's products, ranging from snowmobiles to all-terrain vehicles.

Remarkably, the company is running out of room.

Its huge building is stuffed full with boxes, shelves and conveyors.

"This building is not big enough to hold everything," said Paul Eickhoff, operations manager of Polaris, who took Mayor Dan Christopherson and a group of local citizens on a tour of the structure Saturday. "We're renting two other buildings in Vermillion, and we're working with a Sioux City (IA) company and a Le Mars (IA) company on storage, so we have four other spots that we store inventory."

The architects who designed Polaris' building in Vermillion knew that despite its massive size, there likely would come a time when the structure would actually be too small.

"We're hoping to build on this year, and if we would do that, we actually would build on right to the south," Eickhoff said. "We'd build another 130,000 square feet or an additional three acres to our present building, and the addition would contain rack storage (of inventory)."

The Polaris building is designed so that its south wall can be removed. "Some of this wall we would keep, but we would pull several sections of it out," he said, when the expansion of the building takes place.

The building's total area is 256,000 square feet. It houses an inventory of parts with a total value of $50 million.

Despite the vast size of the inventory, workers are able to quickly retrieve any part quickly for shipping, thanks to an electronic logging system.

All items are measured by length, width and height, and are also weighed. They are moved about throughout the building on a fully automated conveyor.

Polaris employs up to 150 people at peak times of the years, who work in two shifts.

Those employees are kept busy. Polaris' Vermillion division ships parts, garments and accessories to 1,800 dealers in the United States.

Products are also shipped to 125 countries. The local business averages usually sees, on average, seven semi trailers roll in with inbound freight.

It averages 2,500 outbound packages per day, with a 99 percent order response.

Customers who make an order at the Vermillion facility by 3 p.m. have it shipped on its way to them the same day.

"There is no other distribution center like this in the world," Eickhoff said.

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