Packaging supplier plans Fairfield 'megacenter'

FAIRFIELD -- A major Pennsylvania-based alcoholic-beverage packaging distributor plans to consolidate its Bay Area operations, which have grown rapidly in recent years through several acquisitions and increasing demand from breweries, into a planned Fairfield "megacenter" set to have nearly 11 acres under roof when completed, anticipated for the end of this year.

Horsham, Penn.-based Saxco International (215-443-8100, came into the Bay Area with the acquisitions of California Glass in Oakland and Demptos Glass in Fairfield in recent years and of Synergy Glass & Packaging in Benicia in November. The company has become a dominant player in the West and has more than 2,000 customers.

Now the seven-decade-old company wants to consolidate two warehouses in Fairfield, one in Oakland and overflow space in Benicia into a 473,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center to be built at the 52-acre Solano Logistics Center project, located at the southeast corner of Cordelia and Hale Ranch roads in Fairfield. Saxco would end up with 25 percent more space in the process, according to Matthew Malenfant, chief executive officer.

"The building will be our flagship warehouse for bottles and packaging for wine and beer in the Northwest," Mr. Malenfant said. The company employs more than 200 in the Bay Area, and that isn't expected to change in the new facility, he said.

Saxco's lease of the forthcoming building, signed in the last few days of 2013 with an entity managed by Sacramento-based Buzz Oates Group of Companies, gives the company the option to expand next year into a planned 177,000-square-foot adjacent warehouse.

While wine remains the biggest part of Saxco's business, the fastest-growing part of the business are sales to breweries, particularly producers of craft beer, according to Mr. Malenfant.

A key driver for the planned expansion is success with a custom packaging center started at a Fairfield warehouse in June mainly to serve beer clients, he said. The center allows bulk purchases of bottles for packaging according to customer requirements. In the first six months, the center packed 2 million cases.

Saxco seeks to provide the gamut of packaging for wine, beer, spirits and, increasingly, food. Glass suppliers are mainly O-I and Ardagh Glass Group, as well as Saverglass, Vitro Packaging and Vetri Speciali. Capsules largely come from Maverick Enterprises of Ukiah. Amcor Flexibles, which has an American Canyon plant, is a major supplier of aluminum screw caps, but tends to ship wine-related caps directly to customers.

The lease to Saxco caps nearly 1 million square feet of preleasing -- all the available space -- at the Solano Logistics Center project in less than a year, and the project has progressed from land acquisition to completion of the first building in about that length of time, according to Phil Garrett, who with Jon Quick also of the Fairfield office of Colliers International brokered the leases.

The developer purchased 43 acres from the city of Fairfield near the end of 2012 and the following April started construction on the first building. That one, with 318,000 square feet, is for wine-focused Encore Glass, which is expanding from Benicia. Nine acres to the north of the property was added to the project last year for a 177,000-square-foot building.

The Sachs family started Saxco in 1938. The company started an acquisition growth spurt a dozen years ago, picking up Wine Bottle in Toronto and Pacific Coast Container in Vancouver, Wash., in addition to the Bay Area suppliers. That growth and dominance of alcoholic-beverage packaging distribution attracted The Sterling Group, a Houston-based private equity investment firm, to acquire Saxco in December 2010.

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