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N.H. liquor chief: New Bow warehouse should be ready in three weeks

The new warehouse in Bow that will store liquor and wine bound for New Hampshire’s network of state-run liquor stores is about three weeks from completion, according to the head of the New Hampshire Liquor Commission.

Chairman Joseph Mollica told the Executive Council yesterday that Ohio-based Exel Inc.’s 244,000-square-foot facility is finished on the outside and about 80 percent complete inside.

“We took our first tour of the warehouse yesterday.
. . . They said if we needed to move product in tomorrow, we could move product in tomorrow and be about 75 percent ready to work,” Mollica said.

The plan, Mollica told the council, is to ship from the new building starting Nov. 1, supplanting facilities
run by Nashua-based Law Warehouses.

“The hope is for a seamless transition,” he said.

The commission last November picked Exel over Law and several other bidders for a 20-year warehousing contract that begins Nov. 1. Law holds the current warehousing contract and has gone to court to fight the commission’s selection of Exel.

Yesterday, the Executive Council voted, 5-0, to approve a separate contract, also with Exel, to transport liquor and wine from the Concord and Bow warehouses to the commission’s 77 retail stores across the state.

The five-year deal is worth an estimated $10.6 million and begins Nov. 1. Law Motor Freight, an affiliate of Law Warehouses, holds the current transportation contract.

“In addition to modernizing and introducing cost savings and efficiencies in the delivery of product to state-run liquor stores, we look forward to offering driver and other transportation services jobs that pay well and offer benefits, and will benefit the local community and state,” said Greg Foreman, Exel’s vice president of operations, in a statement.

Executive Councilor Chris Sununu, a Newfields Republican, asked yesterday how the commission plans to secure the liquor inventory during the transition to the Bow facility.

“When we move product from A to B, when we make the big transition out of this warehouse and into the new warehouse, the big concern I have is, certain boxes don’t show up, which unfortunately has historically always been a little bit of a problem,” Sununu said.

Craig Bulkley, director of the liquor commission’s administrative services division, noted that most of the liquor technically belongs to brokers, not the state, until it’s on a truck headed for a retail store.

The commission, he said, is working with Law and the brokers to ensure the move goes smoothly.

“We are working hand-in-glove with all of the suppliers, to work with them to make sure that they have adequate supplies in the new warehouse to cover the transition period, and then eventually all of the product will be removed from Law and will either be in the Bow warehouse or in the Concord warehouse,” Bulkley said.

The move to a new warehouse and transportation service comes as the three-member commission, which was created in 1934, prepares to take a new form. Starting Sept. 22, Mollica will be sole commissioner of the semiautonomous state agency.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or
bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

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