Carroll facility to unify operations Random House plans to distribute all its titles from Westminster


November 07, 1998|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

The expanded Random House Inc. facility on the edge of Westminster is poised to become the sole national distribution center for all of its titles by mid-2000.

"We really want to create a state-of-the-art facility that is able to provide world-class fulfillment and services for all of our book-distribution customers around the country," said Stuart Applebaum, a spokesman at the corporate headquarters in New York.

At the Westminster distribution center, he said, "we are unifying by mid-2000 all the books and audios published." Applebaum couldn't say yet how many jobs that might mean for


The move resulted from the acquisition of Random House by German media conglomerate Bertelsmann AG this year.

The Westminster facility now handles books published by Random House, Knopf and Crown, and some children's and audio titles.

But when the distribution work is centralized, Applebaum said, the Westminster facility will be distributing Ballantine, Bantam, Doubleday, Dell and Broadway Books as well.

As part of its planned consolidation, he said, Random House will close its two facilities in Des Plaines, Ill., in June 2000. Those two facilities now distribute Bantam, Doubleday, Dell and Broadway Books.

A Jackson, Tenn., center that distributes titles from the Ballantine Books division will soon become a center for distributing books for outside publisher clients, such as Houghton Mifflin and National Geographic, Applebaum said. Ballantine books' distribution will be moved to Westminster by next year.

In Westminster, Random House recently completed a 70-foot-high, 95,700-square-foot annex and has plans for further

expansion at its facility north of Westminster.

"The state of Maryland's happy; we're happy," Applebaum said. "It's a terrific facility with terrific people."

"Random House Inc. ships something like three-quarters of a million books a day to booksellers and distributors throughout the United States," he said, "of about 20,000 different titles."

Thomas B. Beyard, Westminster's director of planning and public works, said the $8 million plans for the plant's physical expansion were approved by the county and reviewed by the city in 1996.

The project was put on a fast track for permit approvals and a necessary height variance, and is often cited by town and county officials as the type of industrial development they seek.

Phase one included the addition to the facility on Route 27 north of Westminster, he said, along with other improvements such as a parking lot.

That addition was big enough to more than double the number of vertical storage racks the existing buildings held, according to local officials.

"On the same approval was Phase two: a high-bay addition, a continuation of the same building to the rear, of another 47,575 square feet," Beyard said.

In May, U.S. antitrust regulators approved the acquisition of Random House Inc. by Bertelsmann AG -- combining its Bantam Doubleday Dell unit with Random House books to create the largest publisher of English-language books in the world.

Applebaum also noted the retirement this January of John F. "Jack" Gambatese, senior vice president of distribution, after 32 years with the company -- the last 23 as head of the Westminster facility. Gambatese began his career working with publishing names such as Bennett Cerf, Donald Klopfer and Alfred A. Knopf, he said.

The new vice president for distribution will be Phyllis Mandel, a 30-year veteran administrator.

Pub Date: 11/07/98

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