By Bryan Corliss
JanSport has moved into a new 200,500-square-foot national distribution center off Seaway Boulevard in Everett. The new building will give the company about 30 percent more capacity for processing orders, the company said, in part because of new technology, including a radio locator system to help warehouse workers find what they're looking for. The new center is more than twice the size of JanSport's former warehouse along Airport Road. The center handles distribution for Jansport and EastPak products across North America, manager Chuck Balsley said. It's also home to Jansport's repair center, where the company repairs packs sold with a lifetime guarantee. JanSport decided to keep its distribution operation here because of "the strong local work ethic as well as the location's proximity to the Port of Seattle," company officials said. The packs are shipped to Everett from Asian manufacturers, Balsley said. His group does quality control checks on them, then repackages them to fill orders from retailers. An explosion in backpack sales prompted the company to build the new center. JanSport is the No. 1 seller of daypacks for teens in the United States. It also sells a line of more-technical outdoor packs and equipment, and it has bought out EastPak, its leading competitor. "With the continuing growth in our backpack business, we're always preparing for the future," JanSport president Mike Cisler said in a prepared statement. "This move allows us to take advantage of new technology in order to serve our retail customers even more efficiently." Along with the radio locator system, JanSport has installed new warehouse management software and a new barcode system in the building. JanSport has about 110 full-time distribution workers in Everett. It will add about 60 more during its peak season, which is April through August, Balsley said. About 60 percent of Jansport's annual sales come during that period, which is linked to back-to-school sales, he said. JanSports' headquarters now are in Appleton, Wis. The company was launched in Seattle in 1967 and moved to Everett in 1971. Following a number of corporate ownership changes, it now is owned by VF Corp., the world's largest publicly held clothing company, which also owns such brands as Lee, Wrangler, Vanity Fair and The North Face. JanSport used to have a sewing center in Everett. That closed in 1998 when the work was sent to plants in Mexico and Honduras. You can call Herald Writer Bryan Corliss at 425-339-3454
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