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Wholesale florist returning to South Jersey after abandoning state for Philly

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After selling its last distribution center in New Jersey to consolidate operations into Philadelphia in 2005, wholesale florist Pennock struggled to retain customers in the state, particularly along the Atlantic and Cape May county shorelines.

To get their business back and improve service to South Jersey, as well as parts of Philadelphia, the company will open a 24,000-square-foot warehouse in Pennsauken — just blocks from the site of its previous one — on the first business day of the new year.

"As we're seeing some good growth potential up past Trenton to North Jersey, it just makes sense for us to be back in Jersey," said Tom Logue, vice president of Pennock. "We just feel we've been losing touch with customers in that market, and part of it was they don't want to pay tolls to pick things up from us."

Though Pennock declined state and local grants to relocate to Pennsauken, citing higher costs in wages under their stipulations, Logue said he "still thought it was good idea to move back" to New Jersey even if no incentives had been offered. But Logue said the company accepted an energy grant from the state to renovate the facility and make it more sustainable and environmentally friendly than the building it opened in the mid-1980s, which was located in the same industrial park.

Although Pennock originally planned to operate the Pennsauken distribution center by Sept. 1, Logue said the company was delayed in obtaining permits for building improvements from the municipal government, so it has decided to "stick it out until after the Christmas holidays, when we do a lot of business out of our existing locations."

But Logue said the delay has a silver lining, as the company has more time to advertise job openings throughout the southern part of the state and hire 40 employees at the Pennsauken site by March 31 — as well as seek out opportunities for more growth. For instance, the company had a Newark location, but closed it in the early '90s "because we were in a really, really bad part of town. But now there's such tremendous opportunity up there that we're certainly considering moving back," Logue said. "We already have the opportunity to reach customers in North Jersey from our Long Island facility, but to be able to service Manhattan from a North Jersey location like Newark would be even better for us."

Aside from Pennsauken and Philadelphia, the company has seven wholesale locations in Pittsburgh; Baltimore; Jacksonville, Fla.; Orlando, Fla.; Newington, Va.; West Springfield, Mass.; and Plainview, N.Y.

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