PENNSYLVANIA'S #1 WEEKLY NEWSPAPER • locally owned since 1854

Distribution company to buy 275 acres of Jednota property, build facility

By Laura Hayes

Posted 10/17/18

D&H Distributing, a technology distributor based in Harrisburg, intends to purchase 275 acres of the Jednota property in Lower Swatara Township to build a distribution facility.

D&H …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Distribution company to buy 275 acres of Jednota property, build facility


D&H Distributing, a technology distributor based in Harrisburg, intends to purchase 275 acres of the Jednota property in Lower Swatara Township to build a distribution facility.

D&H Co-President Michael Schwab said the sale is conditional on successfully rezoning the property to meet the company’s needs. The purchase price is subject to a non-disclosure agreement until it is finalized, recorded and made public record, Schwab said.

The project to build the 655,000-square foot distribution facility could take two or three years. He anticipates adding around 150 new jobs — a combination of management and hourly positions.

The entire Jednota property is just less than 300 acres, although D&H is interested in only 275.87 acres. Most of the land is west of the Airport Connector, and north and south of both the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Rosedale Avenue.

The First Catholic Slovak Union, which owns the land, plans to retain 21.39 acres to the east of Airport Connector Road that borders Route 441; and a memorial along Rosedale Avenue dedicated to all deceased union members, particularly those who were veterans.

As part of the agreement, Schwab said they would provide an easement to maintain the memorial.

The First Catholic Slovak Union, a fraternal insurance company, is based in Ohio and has 50,000 members. It has branches across the country and in Canada.

Union President Andrew Rajec said the land has been unused other than an office building and former commercial printery. A school for orphans was demolished in the 1990s.

Schwab said they have not decided what to do with the office building or the printery if the deal goes through. The office building is on the south side of Rosedale Avenue and is occupied by offices for American Airlines, Piedmont Airlines, PSA Airlines and Oneworld airline alliance, as well as Conduent, a business process services company.

Rajec said they didn’t have future plans to develop the retained 21.39 acres.

It makes sense to develop the Jednota property, Rajec said, and the union likes D&H because it has a common interest.

“We care about people, and the impression we got is they have a deep interest in their employees,” Rajec said.

At 6 p.m. Nov. 1, D&H will hold a public meeting at the Lower Swatara Fire Department. The meeting is open to residents to learn about the company and their plans for the site and rezoning.

What is D&H Distributing?

Schwab gave the Press & Journal a tour of the company’s Mid-Atlantic Distribution Hub on Katie Court in Harrisburg on Monday.

As a distributor, D&H sells electronics — the Harrisburg hub had towering aisles filled with products ranging from vacuums to televisions — to retailers, college bookstores and “e-tailers,” or online retailers.

D&H’s current hub has a 280,000-square-foot footprint, with an 80,000-square foot mezzanine to give them even more space.

“We know that based on the growth of our company and our sales out of this distribution center, in the foreseeable future we are going to need a larger facility,” Schwab said.

D&H Distributing was founded in Williamsport in 1918 by Schwab’s grandfather. At first the company retreaded tires, but by 1930, the company began distributing radios.

For years, Schwab’s father, Izzy, ran the company. Schwab and his brother and fellow co-president, Dan, had to work elsewhere before they could work at D&H.

“Which I think is a good mantra, that we treat family members equally to how we would treat other employees,” Schwab said.

D&H has hubs across the country and in Canada. Employees own 36 percent of the company. In total, they have about 1,300 employees, including about 850 in the Harrisburg area.

D&H’s plan

D&H’s Harrisburg hub would be consolidated into the new hub in Lower Swatara, Schwab said, and the Katie Court location would close.

When choosing land for a new hub, Schwab said he took into consideration two factors: one, be near to their current location so that employees would not be displaced, and two, be close to FedEx and UPS, which would allow for pickup times later in the day.   

Schwab said they’re building a facility to meet their needs for at least the next two decades.

Currently, zoning is mixed throughout the property.

About 73 acres is located north of the turnpike, bordered by Airport Connector Road on the east and Stoner Drive on the west. The land is zoned residential urban, and Schwab said they plan to leave that land zoned as-is.

South of the turnpike and north of Rosedale Avenue sit two parcels that make up a combined 100.51 acres, including the old commercial printery, and is zoned residential urban. This is where D&H intends to build its distribution facility, and Schwab said there is room for future expansion.

D&H attorney Charles Courtney told the Lower Swatara Board of Commissioners during an Oct. 3 meeting that a wooded part of this tract would remain zoned residential urban and act as a buffer.

South of Rosedale Avenue sits 102.19 acres, including the office building. The land is zoned a mixture of office park and industrial park-limited zoning.

Courtney said D&H would like to rezone the land to an industrial classification — possibly industrial park — to accommodate the facility.

He said they planned to submit an application for a zoning map amendment.

Truck limits

The number of trucks coming in and out of the distribution hub would be lower than at similar facilities. Where some distribution hubs turn out their inventories daily, Schwab said D&H’s stock stays in the hub for 45 days.

D&H, he said, does not want to have the truck traffic disrupt normal traffic flow, particularly for residents.

“That is key and critical to make sure that the trucks are turning appropriately with signage and making sure they are following the route that we would agree upon with the local community. I think that’s critical to what makes us a good neighbor,” Schwab said.

When asked about upgrading Rosedale Avenue, he said the current infrastructure would support D&H, but there might be opportunities for upgrades.

He said they also hope to address runoff water issues.