Pleasant Prairie-based Uline made three major expansion announcements this year that will create a total of 1,000 jobs in Kenosha County. In recognition of that growth, Uline is the BizTimes Best in Business Family Business of the Year for 2014.

The company started in 1980 when Dick and Liz Uihlein started a shipping supply distribution business in their basement. It has grown dramatically since those humble beginnings and now claims to be North America’s leading distributor of shipping, packaging and industrial supplies. The company has 4,000 employees, with several distribution centers in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Several members of the Uihlein family are involved with running Uline. From left to right: Steve Uihlein, vice president; Duke Uihlein, Minnesota branch manager; Freddy Goldenberg, corporate planning manager; Brian Uihlein, vice president of merchandising; Liz Uihlein, president; and Dick Uihlein, CEO.

In 2010, Uline moved its headquarters from Waukegan, Ill. to a new 275,000-square-foot office building and a 1 million-square-foot distribution center in Pleasant Prairie. The company currently has about 1,100 employees in Pleasant Prairie at the headquarters and other facilities.

Now, Uline has plans to nearly double the size of its Kenosha County workforce. The company made three major expansion announcements this year:

  • Uline announced plans to double the size of its headquarters campus with a second 275,000-square-foot office building and another 1 million-square-foot distribution center. The company plans to add 500 jobs at those facilities. Construction of the distribution center is already underway and will be complete by next fall. Construction of the office buildings is expected to begin in the spring.
  • Uline also announced this year that it will move its Midwest customer fulfillment distribution center operations from Waukegan to a new facility that will be built on a 200-acre site at Highway 142 and I-94 in the City of Kenosha. The company plans to build a 60,000-square-foot office building and a 1 million-square-foot warehouse on the site. The office building will house the company’s largest call center and some sales staff. Uline plans to have 475 employees at the Kenosha facilities, which should begin construction next spring or summer.
  • Uline also announced that it will occupy a 521,052-square-foot industrial building that Centerpoint Wispark Land Company II LLC is building at 8495 116th St. in Pleasant Prairie. The facility will have 30 employees, operating in two shifts 24 hours a day. Operations at two distribution centers, one in Illinois and one in Wisconsin, will be consolidated at the facility, which will be complete in June.

Uline is growing as it continues to expand its product line, said executive vice president Phil Hunt. The company takes pride in quickly taking and delivering orders to its customers. Products are never on back order.

“It’s about always doing what we say we are going to do and having the stomach to do it no matter how the economy is going,” Hunt said.

Today, Liz Uihlein is the president of the company, and Dick Uihlein is the CEO. Additional family members in the business include Brian Uihlein, vice president of merchandising; Freddy Goldenberg, corporate planning manager; Steve Uihlein, vice president; and Duke Uihlein, Minnesota branch manager.

“(The company) is still run by the family and the family is very involved,” Hunt said. “The family is the driving force behind it. The family’s passion is shown every day. Liz Uihlein works harder than all of us.”

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