Dietz & Watson Warehouse Rebuild Begins. Creating a New “Food Campus” in Philadelphia.
Over a year and one month from the devastating fire that brought our warehouse to the ground in New Jersey, we are excited to announce the start of construction on our new food campus located right next door to our existing Philadelphia production location.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for our family-owned company to grow in the city and state that has supported us for 75 years,” said Louis Eni, President & CEO of Dietz & Watson and grandson of founder Gottlieb Dietz. “We had our eye on this property nearly 10 years ago, when we first began plans to build a large distribution center, but it wasn’t available at the time. The people of Delanco, New Jersey, welcomed us and for that we will forever be grateful. The fire was a tragedy and the resulting clean up impacted a lot of our neighbors. We thank them for their patience and support. Our family thought long and hard about the decision to leave New Jersey. But in the end, we believe it’s the right decision for our employees, our customers and for the future of our company.
The expansion will add approximately 20 acres to our existing 22 acres along the North Delaware waterfront and has been facilitated through the efforts to orchestrate a 73-acre land assemblage from properties adjacent to the former Frankford Arsenal. The new “Food Campus” will offer 20 acres for our expansion; 23 acres will support the Commonwealth’s boat launch, expanded public riverfront trails and open space; and the remaining 30 acres will be available for future commercial and industrial development.
“We are very excited that Dietz & Watson has chosen to expand and reinvest in Philadelphia,” said Mayor Nutter. “Today’s announcement is just the latest in a string of great wins for Philadelphia as we help companies to start, stay and grow in our city. Thank you to all of the partners involved and to the entire Dietz & Watson family who were a pleasure to work with throughout this process.”
We would like to thank the Governor’s Action Team, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon, and PIDC team members, who have all made this expansion possible.
An Update to the Greater Delanco Community From the CEO of Dietz & Watson
It has been three weeks since a Labor Day weekend fire destroyed our Delanco, NJ distribution center. Firefighters bravely battled the blaze, made more difficult by charged solar panels on the roof. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt and the 100 employees who worked in Delanco are now working in our Philadelphia manufacturing plant.
As our neighbors in Delanco and surrounding communities can attest, the fire was just the beginning of our problems. With power to the cold storage units lost, the millions of pounds of meat and deli products stored inside began to spoil, creating an awful odor that has plagued the area. County health officials tell us the air is safe to breathe. But anyone who lives or works near there will tell you it stinks. We know that it does, and that it has impacted their quality of life. So here’s what we’re doing about it.
On September 19th, we contracted with BioTriad Environmental, Inc. to implement an aggressive odor-control plan to neutralize the foul odor. The experts at BioTriad arrived on Friday, September 20th, and immediately began to treat both the site and the trucks that are rapidly removing the spoiled food with an odor-neutralizing blend of natural, biodegradable plant extracts to form an odor-neutralizing solution. This process has proven effective at other locations, like landfills, that deal with large-scale odor problems. I have asked BioTriad to remain on site for the duration of the cleanup. Hopefully those affected already are noticing improvement in the smell around the site.
As to the cleanup itself, since Sept. 11th, demolition crews have been on site daily and have already loaded up more than 300 trucks – each carrying somewhere between 30,000 to 36,000 pounds of spoiled food and debris – headed to area landfills. You might be asking why we didn’t start the cleanup until Sept. 11th – nearly 10 days after the fire first started? It’s a fair question. In fact, we had demolition crews on site as early as Sept. 2nd – while the fire was still burning – to start removing the food, but it was simply too dangerous to do so. Why? Because the fire was stubborn and because those solar panels take days to de-energize. That’s why our cleanup crews were not given the ‘all clear’ to enter the building to safely begin demolition until Sept. 11th.
The good news is we have made tremendous progress since then. Thanks to the cooperation of Burlington County officials, landfill hours have been extended, additional landfills have agreed to accept our waste and other resources have been made available to jump-start cleanup activities. Now that fire investigators are completely out of the building, we expect the cleanup to accelerate even faster.
People email, call and tweet us, all asking when will the smell be gone. We wish we could give them a definitive answer, but we just can’t. All we can do is promise to work day after day until all the spoiled product is gone. That is the only way to completely eliminate the odor. We hope that the addition of BioTriad’s odor-neutralizing solution will provide some much-needed relief until that job is done. In the meantime, we will continue to provide neighbors with updates through our Delanco Cleanup phone message center, at (215) 668-9749 or through our Twitter updates, which can be seen by following us, at @DelancoCleanup. And anyone with specific questions is always welcome to email us at DelancoCleaup@dietzandwatson.com. We promise a prompt response.
So many of you have reached out to us to voice your support during this difficult time. On behalf of the entire Dietz & Watson family, we cannot thank you enough. My family has lived and worked here for nearly 75 years. We are proud to call Philadelphia and South Jersey our home and won’t rest until this problem is fixed.
Louis J. Eni Jr., CEO and Grandson
of our founder Gottlieb Dietz
To Our Valued Customers
A fire struck one of Dietz & Watson’s distribution facilities in Delanco, NJ, but this fire had no effect on the company’s manufacturing plants in Philadelphia, Baltimore or Corfu, NY, and all other distribution points are still up and running normally.
Thankfully, all Dietz & Watson employees are safe. We are grateful for the support we received from the New Jersey firefighter and emergency officials who were on the scene. We are humbled by their efforts. Our production facilities continue to manufacture our premium meats and cheeses. Other distribution arrangements are being made as we assess the fire’s damage.
The Dietz & Watson Family deeply appreciates the outpouring of support and encouragement we have received from our friends and customers. It means so much that so many have taken time to reach out and wish us well. Thank you.
Louis J. Eni Jr., CEO and Grandson
of our founder Gottlieb Dietz