Merchants Distributors (MDI) is a privately-owned wholesale grocery store distributor headquartered in Hickory, NC. MDI supplies over 700 retail food stores with food and non-food items in NC, SC, GA, TN, VA, AL, WV, OH, FL, PA and KY. The organization is a progressive and profitable company that is always improving results and is recognized by its employees for providing opportunities to grow, both personally and professionally. MDI is valued by its customers and suppliers for providing quality products and services as efficiently as possible.
MDI remains poised for tremendous growth but its mission of providing exceptional value and unmatched customer service MDI began operations in 1931 as Merchant’s Produce Company when immigrant Moses George and his sons, Alex and Lee George, purchased a produce wholesaler for $17,000 serving local grocery retailers out of a 5,000 square-foot warehouse in North Carolina. Now, more than 80 years later, the Company’s rich history, strong corporate values and track record for growth continue to influence its culture and operations. MDI currently serves all of its 700+ retailers out of a 1 million square-foot distribution center and is in the process of expanding its facilities further.
In 1984, MDI acquired Lowes Foods, expanding into the grocery retail business. In 1992, the integrated company was re-named Alex Lee, Incorporated in honor of its founders. Alex Lee stands in stark contrast to many other companies because of the way it has been run during the past eighty years and the way it will likely be operated in the future. It prides itself on steady growth and careful expansion. Alex Lee is a company operated for the benefit of its employees, its customers, its suppliers, and its shareholders. The George family continues to lead Alex Lee, Inc., and the organization’s vision, mission and values still reflect the founders’ core beliefs.
Merchants Distributors is a great American success story, but it is a company that has never forgotten its roots. This success has been achieved by its values, programs, cost of goods, and innovations. MDI’s owners have created a leadership style that supports the organization as one family working together for one common goal and a culture in our people that is impossible to duplicate. MDI’s true greatness lies within the people it serves and employs. They want to win people’s hearts and minds, not just their hands.
Today, the holding company, Alex Lee, Inc., works as a unifying force, guiding and supporting its two operating companies – Merchants Distributors, LLC (MDI), a wholesale grocery distributor operating in 12 different states; and Lowes Foods, LLC, a grocery retailer with over 100 stores. Together they sell over $2 Billion in annual revenue.
MDI has multiple service offerings that are central to their success as an organization, to consist of:
RETAIL OPERATIONS & SUPPORT - MDI supplies over 650 stores in the US and overseas with over 50,000 items across ambient, refrigerated, and frozen climate zones, with deep assortments in all product categories.
LOGISTICS, STORAGE, & CONSOLIDATION - MDI has a fleet of truckload & LTL services within a 500-mile radius of Hickory, North Carolina. They also offer transportation brokerage and full logistics support to their customers. MDI services encompasses of Product Storage of Food, Beverage, and CPG Products. Consolidation Services is a third-party logistics and service provider within the Alex Lee, Inc family of companies. A division of MDI, Consolidation Services supplies a vast array of warehousing and distribution services specializing in assisting manufacturers with the shipment of products to retail efficiently. We have worked with all levels of customers from large retail operations such as Wal-Mart, Sam’s, K-Mart, and Kohl’s, to small e-commerce customers just starting out.
MARKETING, ADVERTISING, & PRINTING – MDI has a proprietary service called MDI EVOLVE, which is a comprehensive marketing agency serving CPG brands as well as small and medium-sized businesses with the tools they need to succeed. This includes: retailer website and online shopping; rewards and personalized marketing; email and text message marketing; digital banner advertising; store signage and décor; and weekly print and direct mail.
CONSULTING & INNOVATION – MDI offers consulting and innovation services to its customers which include: retail accelerator (a full-service assessment of a retailer); marketing and advertising; and logistics.
ABOUT HICKORY, NC
Established in 1863, Hickory is a city located primarily in Catawba County, North Carolina and has been named an "All-America City" three times. National Geographic recognizes Hickory as one of this year's Best Small Cities in America and it is recognized as a Top 10 “Best place to live and raise a family in” by Reader's Digest. From farm to table restaurants, breweries, small shops or big box retail shopping, 24 parks, Lake Hickory, Hickory truly offers the perfect balance of large city amenities with small town charm.
The area offers an ideal year-round climate that is unexcelled anywhere, free from the rigors of the northern winters and extreme heat of summers farther south. The summer nights are cooled by mountain breezes. The city has an exceptionally large number of recreational facilities for an area its size. Water skiing is a popular activity on two of the county’s large lakes, and snow skiing in the mountains is only a 45-minute drive away.
Hickory is home to a, “Life. Well Crafted.”