BPI to open Watertown warehouse

December 2, 2017 GMT

Midwestern building materials distributor Building Products Inc. announced this week it will be opening its newest location in Watertown in the coming months.

Tanner Bernhard, marketing specialist for BPI, said the company will set up shop in an existing 72,000 square foot warehouse at 426 S. Montgomery St.

The company estimates the initial creation of about 10 jobs, a number that will eventually rise into the dozens.

“We just officially signed a lease a couple of weeks ago,” Bernhard said. “So we’re already starting to move in some racking and get everything ready.”

BPI is a wholesale distributor of building materials, windows, exterior doors and millwork products.

Bernhard said BPI primarily does business with lumberyards, of which there are several in the area. He added that the company already has customers in Wisconsin and the new plant will reduce existing transportation costs, extending BPI’s reach in the region.

″(Watertown) is in a strategically placed location between Madison and Milwaukee, so as far as distribution goes it just made sense to put a location there,” Bernhard said.

Bernhard said BPI was also considering Waterloo as the site of the plant, but ultimately decided on Watertown after conversations with city leaders.

Mayor John David said he thinks BPI is a quality business with a good reputation, calling the company’s move to the city “a pretty big deal.”

“They think they have a bright future here and that’s a really great thing for us,” David said.

Coincidentally, BPI’s origins can be traced back to Watertown, South Dakota, which still serves as the corporate headquarters today. The family owned company dates back to 1957 and has since expanded into North Dakota, Iowa and now Wisconsin.

David said the company eventually plans to build a permanent site in Watertown, but a location has not yet been chosen.

Until then it will operate in the warehouse on Montgomery Street, a site with a storied history in Watertown.

The location was originally home to G.B. Lewis, a company that manufactured wooden boxes, Venetian blind slats, wooden airplane propellers and bee hives. In the 1970′s, G.B. Lewis sold the company to the Menasha Corporation. The company was split into two divisions in 1983, LEWISystems which occupied what is now the WRMC Women’s Health Center and Molded Products which changed hands in 1997 but remained at the Montgomery Street address until the facility eventually closed its doors in 2001.

In the mid-2000s the property was considered as potential site for a new public works facility, but the idea was abandoned after estimated costs proved to be to high.

After more than a decade, the building will finally be reactivated at the beginning of the year, once BPI begins business operations.

“We’re very excited to start moving into the market and getting to know our new customers,” Bernhard said. “We look forward to a long lasting relationship with Wisconsin.”