The 135,000 square foot Carole Hochman Designs warehousing and distribution center, 2925 West Fourth St., is Williamsport's best kept secret, according to John Hauck, director of world warehousing and distribution.
The center sends out women's intimate apparel to areas all over the country.
The 76-year-old company's main offices and showrooms started in and are located on Madison Ave. in New York City, headed by Neal and Carole Hochman and their daughter, Sara Allard.
Emma Berkley, seen above, works in finishing at Hochman Designs.
"It's very hectic," laughed Paul Shreck, chief financial officer, on the daily operation of the facility.
Shreck said the company distributed about 150 million in volume in apparel last year, which equals about 10 million garments.
"Most of it stays in North America," Shreck said, "but we do some exporting."
Shreck added that, even as a distribution center, the economy still has its impact on them in that they are challenged because of its connection to retailers.
"We'll have lower volume in 2009 (than in 2008) because of stores pulling back in a time like this," Shreck said. "But you make it work. You work harder."
The clothing items are manufactured overseas, according to Shreck and Hochman. The main part of production is handled in China, although several other countries are involved in the manufacturing of the merchandise.
"The garments have to be physically cut and constructed overseas to be successful (in this business)," Shreck said. "The price per hour there is better than here."
Shreck added that many stores have gone under because of the wages paid here to produce the material domestically. Carole Hochman saw a change in the stores it normally distributes its products to, according to Hauck. He said the company expanded its customer base from high end department stores, like Sax Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's, to big box and mid-sized stores, like Sam's Club and JC Penney.
"We had to diversify because big department stores would've lost market sales," Hauck said. "We're much more diverse now in terms of store and customer base."
Hauck added that the biggest store the company has right now in terms of sales is Sam's Club.
There are two types of warehousing done in Williamsport for the company, according to Hauck. Ninety-five percent of the hanging garments are handled and distributed from the company's West Fourth Street location, while 95 percent of bulk packaging, or individual items placed in display cases in stores like Sam's Club, are handled at the Lycoming Creek Road location. Hauck said the distribution center sees its busiest time around holidays, just like the retail stores it sends product to.
"Even though we're not retailers," he said, "we sell to retailers."
The facility begins seeing the build for the fall in June, according to Hauck, and holiday bids come as early as October.
"Everything is based around the holidays," Hauck said.
For more information on Carole Hochman Designs, visit www.carolehochman.com.