FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Electric Works has its anchor tenant.
Do it Best Corp. has signed a letter of intent to move its headquarters into the Electric Works development. Company CEO Dan Starr, alongside representatives from developers RTM Ventures, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry, made the announcement Thursday on the Electric Works campus.
Do it Best will occupy nearly 200,000 square feet in Building 26, on the west side of the sprawling 21-acre campus. It will be the largest tenant at Electric Works, by far.
“Being at Electric Works will help us be an employer of first choice, retaining and attracting top multi-generational talent not only from here in Fort Wayne, but also on a broader scale,” said Starr. “It enables us to keep our roots in the community we’ve called home for 75 years, while at the same time positioning us for a bright future.”
Do it Best Corp. is based in New Haven, at 6502 Nelson Road. It is the largest privately held company in Indiana and the only U.S.-based, member-owned hardware, lumber and building materials cooperative in the industry. Do it Best Corp. has locations around the world.
Josh Parker with RTM Ventures said the development group was looking for a company like Do it Best to anchor Electric Works.
“Cultivating entrepreneurship, innovation and job creation is critical to Fort Wayne and Indiana’s future,” said Parker. “Successful public-private partnerships can create the right place to help employers to attract and retain talent, which is the currency of economic development. Electric Works presents a compelling home for growing and established technology-driven companies like Do it Best. Their presence at Electric Works will help provide the foundation for bringing the community’s vision of a district of energy, innovation and culture to life.”
Do it Best will leave its New Haven facility once construction is complete. The current building is office space, with some storage. Starr says it will be transformed into a warehouse for another company to use. He added there hasn’t been a Do it Best Corp warehouse in Fort Wayne for years, and it will continue to be that way.
New Haven Mayor Steve McMichael told WANE 15 said he was confident that a new tenant could be secured for the property, when Do it Best leaves.
“I’m not necessarily thrilled that somebody is leaving is leaving New Haven to be that anchor,” said McMichael. “I think overall it’s a win for the greater Fort Wayne community, though. It’s great to see Electric Works off and running.”
The nearly $300 million Electric Works redevelopment will transform the once-bustling but since-deserted former General Electric campus into a district that will include commercial, retail and market, residential, hotel, institutional and community space. Parkview Health, Fort Wayne Metals and Indiana University have signed on as tenants along with Conjure Coffee, Joseph Decuis and Sport Wayne, which will build a climbing gym and adventure park.
Construction at Electric Works is expected to begin this summer.
History of Do it Best Corp.
Hardware Wholesalers, Inc. (HWI) was founded by Arnold Gerberding in 1945. The co-op based in Fort Wayne, Indiana serving locally-owned hardware and lumber stores in the tri-state area. Gerberding believed dealer-owned cooperatives were essential for keeping hardware stores competitive and independent.
In August of 1947 HWI gathered employees from 13 of their stores on Nelson Road to hold a groundbreaking of the new home of HWI. One year later the headquarters opened. The company pre-dates the city of New Haven which did not become a city until 1963.
Private truck delivery began in 1955. This provided members with lower-cost freight and scheduled deliveries.
Don Wolf took over for Arnold Gerberding as President and CEO in 1967. Wolf strengthen and expanded HWI by making the regional company to a multinational corporation with over $1 billion in sales.
HWI expanded into a global operation in 1979 and joined co-op Panama Do it Center.
In 1982 HWI changed the look of its stores with the Do it Center design, which used bright colors and signage to make finding products easier.
Mike McClelland succeeded Don Wolf as President and CEO in 1992.
HWI combined with Our Own Hardware, a Minnesota based regional co-op in 1998. As a result of the merger, HWI changed its name to Do it Best Corp.
In 2002, Bob Taylor took over for Mike McClelland as Do it Best Corp. President and CEO.
Dan Starr succeeded Bob Taylor as President and CEO of Do it Best Corp. Starr helped
To learn more about the history of Do it Best Corp. click here.