The Grand Rapids Business Journal featured VARGO® and its expansion in Grand Rapids in its July issue.
Material handling company enters market
By Charlsie Dewey
A material handling company from Ohio will be expanding later this year into Michigan with an office in Grand Rapids.
Vargo Material Handling, which has its headquarters in Hilliard, a suburb of Columbus, said it will open its Grand Rapids office in Walker, at 550 Three Mile Rd. NW, at the beginning of August.
Vargo has provided material handling system integration, software and equipment solutions for major fulfillment and distribution operations for four decades.
Ripe talent pool
Gordon Hellberg, VP of marketing and business development at Vargo, will manage the Grand Rapids office.
Hellberg grew up in West Michigan and currently lives in Spring Lake.
He said the new office will house systems and controls engineers and that Grand Rapids was specifically chosen because of the available talent pool.
“There are so many people who are working in this industry in this area. It’s a great source for hiring,” he said.
He said the West Michigan region is home to several leading material handling and logistics companies.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to find people who want to relocate to Columbus,” he added, pointing to the lakeshore as a big reason people don’t want to leave West Michigan.
Vargo plans to initially hire three to four employees, with plans to eventually grow the Grand Rapids staff to up to 10 associates.
Vargo has been growing consistently since 1971, according to J. Michael Vargo, president and CEO of the company.
Its recent growth can be attributed to a rise in e-commerce, which has created a greater demand for moving goods from the warehouse to the customer’s mailbox, requiring strong relationships with material handling equipment providers.
“Grand Rapids is a ‘hotbed’ of some of the major equipment providers in the country,” said Bart Cera, Vargo chief operating officer and chief financial officer.
Cera said the Michigan location will put the company in closer contact with those partners.
The company has developed a warehouse execution system that it said “is pioneering the way that companies such as American Eagle Outfitters Inc., L.L. Bean and other retailers, e-commerce providers and wholesalers in other industries move goods through their distribution centers.”
“While our list of clients continues to grow, we also have set our sights on cementing our reputation as the best systems integrator in our industry,” Vargo said. “We believe we are revolutionizing the way companies move goods in their fulfillment centers.”
In addition, to its growth into Michigan, Vargo also plans to expand its Hilliard office by nearly 25 percent in mid July, adding space to allow for local staffing growth.