At the end of 2001, Publix broke ground on a new corporate office building in Lakeland, Florida, that would create office space for approximately 1,200 associates. The 325,000-square-foot building was completed in 2002. While most corporate departments relocated to this new facility, several still occupy the original building.
If you’ve ever shopped at a Publix Super Market before, it’s likely that you know the grocery chain originated in Winter Haven, Florida. What you may not know is that the Publix headquarters were never in Winter Haven. In 1930, George W. Jenkins, the late founder of Publix Super Markets Inc., opened his first store called Publix Food Store in Winter Haven. In 1935, he opened a second location across town. In 1940, he closed both food stores to open his dream store known as Publix Super Market.
At the time, Publix’s main supplier of goods was the Lakeland Grocery Company. In 1945, the Lakeland Grocery Company was put up for sale. Mr. George knew this would be the perfect opportunity to expand his business, so he negotiated a deal to buy the company. This negotiation included not only the Lakeland Grocery Company’s warehouse, but its 19 small retail stores and all its employees as well. Of course, Mr. George said that the best part of the deal was adding all the wonderful employees who became part of the Publix family.
In 1950, just five short years after the big purchase, Publix outgrew the old Lakeland Grocery Company warehouse and looked for property where a larger facility could be built. After purchasing land in west Lakeland near U.S. 92, the construction of a new warehouse and office complex began. One year later, in February of 1951, construction was completed and the warehouse was ready for business.
The 125,000-square-foot warehouse was cited as the most modern structure of its kind in the United States. It was beautifully designed with the same art deco architecture as the Publix stores of the 1950s. But what was most impressive was the mechanization of the warehouse operation.
Now, most people would think that any successful company with a warehouse as large and efficient as this one would be set for the next 50 years, but Publix is no ordinary successful company. Publix once again outgrew this space and needed to find a way to expand the complex to accommodate its increase in stores.
In 1967, Publix added office space to the front of the building, which expanded the entry and lobby, as well as both ends of the building. The expansion also created more warehouse space. For many years, this building housed all of Publix’s corporate departments, from accounting and payroll to purchasing and advertising. But again, the company’s growth led to the need for more office space. In 2002, a 325,000-square-foot building was completed to accommodate more than 1,200 associates. While most corporate departments relocated to this new facility, several still occupy the original building.