Golden State Foods (GSF) hosted a grand opening ceremony for its new 158,000 square-foot Chicago distribution center yesterday, inviting guests to tour and experience the facility's innovative features. The new building now serves more than 460 McDonald's customers in the Chicago and Northwest Indiana market and will be the first center within GSF and the McDonald's distribution community to be LEED Gold Certified.

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"We are so proud to unveil our latest distribution center in Chicago," said Mark Wetterau, CEO of Golden State Foods. "The new building is a milestone in our larger goals toward environmental sustainability and excellent customer service and will serve as a benchmark for future and existing facilities within the GSF distribution community."

The new, state-of-the-art Chicago distribution center replaces its former location in Lemont and provides additional storage space within the facility. The center strives to reduce diesel consumption with electric stand-by power for outbound trailers and is using rainwater for irrigation purposes. In addition, the facility is utilizing hydrogen power, clear panel windows, LED lighting, and a highly efficient Cascade refrigeration system.

The new center is ISO 14001 certified, and has a robust set of standards that focuses on GSF's environmental management systems, sustainability and recycling programs, conservation, compliance and waste diversion. It also has begun operating an automated truck wash that is equipped with an auto-recovery system to minimize water consumption. With the goal of reducing dependence on electricity, the new hydrogen generation plant was completed last month. This system implements hydrogen fuel cells as an alternative energy source for forklift and pallet jack equipment operation, replacing the use of traditional batteries and chargers.

GSF hosted almost 200 guests, including valued McDonald's team members and customers, who toured the new, state-of-the-art facility and participated in a ribbon-cutting and reception. Guests also had the opportunity to experience the new test kitchen, run by GSF Chef Glenn Lewis from Conyers. The large on-site kitchen will serve to engage GSF's customers in the development of new products and ideas proposed by associates.

Speakers at the grand opening included Jeff Tobolski, Mayor of McCook, Mark Wetterau, CEO of Golden State Foods, Wayne Luter, General Manager of the new McCook location and Bob Stewart of the McDonald's U.S. Field and Supply Chain Services. Stewart, speaking on behalf of McDonald's customers, was especially pleased by the advances made in the new facility.

"We are truly impressed by GSF's latest distribution center here in McCook," said Stewart. "The sustainable features truly bring our values of being a good neighbor and partner to the community to reality. We look forward to our partnership with GSF and this facility as we work to achieve our goals and deliver quality food, beverages and packaging."