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Matheson Opens New Joplin Store- 6/6/2012
Matheson officially opened its new facility in Joplin, MO, on June 6. The new building replaces the structure lost in a devastating tornado last year.
Matheson has supplied customers from its facility in Joplin since 2002. On Sunday, May 22, 2011, a tornado estimated to be 1.5 miles wide cut a swath through part of the city. The store was "A total loss, except for our liquid vessels," according to Jeff Lackore, Matheson area retail manager.
Remarkably, apart from the Monday after the storm when most of Joplin was closed under a state of emergency, Matheson never needed to close the Joplin business, not even temporarily. Matheson’s other locations in the region supplied product to customers and lent delivery trucks to the Joplin operation. The debris was cleaned up, and a fence was erected to secure the site. Local operations were restored quickly; initially from the remaining concrete slab, and later from inside a 98 foot tent.
Matheson, just like many business operations in Joplin, quickly committed to an ambitious rebuilding plan. The new Joplin store opened just two weeks after the one year anniversary of the deadly tornado. Matheson’s South Central Zone Vice President Daniel Lambert cut the ribbon to officially open the new store and commented, "The fact that we have a brand new structure up and operating in a year's time is a tribute not only to the Matheson team in the region, but to all the hard-working people of Joplin. The recovery of this city is amazing."
The new store includes a state-of-the-art retail front end, with 1,400 square feet of sales display and demo space. "That is almost double what we had before, with a better layout," says Lackore. "It’s been a pleasure to set up, and we expect that customers will find the new front end easy to navigate, with shelf stock easy to find."
The new front end features a customer convenience center, with vending and some complimentary refreshments. Product displays are colorful and well-lit, with separate spaces set aside for key equipment suppliers. "It's not a typical welding supply store," said Bob Klopnieski, Matheson region general manager.
The new building includes a conference room that Matheson plans to use for internal meetings, customer meetings and as a training room.
The Company also took the opportunity to modernize and expand the gas cylinder depot and product inventory stockroom. "The work areas are more spacious and generally a better environment for productivity and safety," says Klopnieski. The filling and cylinder depot areas are scalable, to accommodate future expansion.
Loading docks are covered to allow for weather-protected loading and unloading. The customer loading dock features a hydraulic lift to accommodate virtually any vehicle size and loading height.
Inside the building, a storm shelter will protect employees, customers, and other visitors in the event of a future tornado.
Jeff Lackore noted, "Fortunately, no one from Matheson was injured in the May 2011 tornado, and as Joplin is a home town community, everyone here knows somebody whose life changed that day. Today, we are celebrating the opening of a new store. However, we'll never forget those for whom this time of year will forever have tragic memories."