New Blaine distribution facility adds 72 jobs, has room to grow

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 10, 2013 

CoastalContacts

Omer Hillal, a qualitity assurance leader, inspects a pair of glasses at Coastal Contacts' distribution warehouse Thursday afternoon, May 9, 2013 in Blaine. The warehouse opened in November 2012 and employs 72 people.

COLIN DILTZ — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

BLAINE - This border city can be a convenient launching point for British Columbia firms interested in getting a foothold in the U.S market.

Last fall Coastal Contacts Inc. opened a 13,000-square-foot production and distribution facility at 1499 Odell St., near the Pacific Highway border crossing. The company, commonly known as Coastal.com, is one of the largest online retailers of vision care products, which includes glasses and contact lenses.

The company, based in Vancouver, B.C., opened in Blaine to keep up with demand in the U.S. market. The Blaine facility has hired 72 full-time employees and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Coastal may hire more workers in the coming year, depending on further growth in the U.S. market, said Kendyll Messina, a spokeswoman for the company.

The opening of the Blaine facility allows the company to ship U.S. orders within 24 hours of being placed at the coastal.com website. The 13-year-old company offers a variety of vision products and accessories, including designer glasses, sunglasses and contact lenses. Many of the Blaine employees work in the lab, putting together the products, as well as in the warehouse doing packing and shipping, Messina said.

Along with access to the U.S. market, Blaine was convenient because it is close to the company's headquarters.

"The United States is our fastest-growing market, as evidenced by an increasing number of new and returning customers purchasing glasses from us every day," said Roger Hardy, Coastal.com's founder and CEO, in a news release. "With our new U.S. production and distribution facility, we will be able to accelerate this growth by offering the same great quality and even faster service to our expanding U.S. customer base."

The company had global sales totaling $196.1 million in 2012, making it a record year for the firm.

Customers can customize the frames and input the prescription details for the lenses online.

The operation manager at the Blaine facility is David Baily.

Reach Business Editor Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Read his business blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/business or follow him on Twitter at @bhamheraldbiz.

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