(Jun '22) Digi-Key's New 2.2 Million Square Foot Building

Digi-Key Electronics is set to open what will likely be Minnesota’s largest industrial building later this summer.

The 2.2-million-square foot building is located at the company’s headquarters in Thief River Falls, in the northwest corner of the state. It will house distribution operations, storage, processing and product packaging for Digi-Key's electronic components that ship internationally.

Digi-Key is the 10th largest company private company in the state, according to Business Journal research. It designs and produces electronic components like batteries, cables, connectors, semiconductors and more.

The footprint of Digi-Key's new building reaches 1.1 million square feet – roughly the size of 22 football fields. Because the building is four-stories tall, it has 2.2 million square feet of total usable space.

Rosemont, Ill.-based McShane Construction Co. was the development’s general contractor. Crews broke ground in the spring of 2018 on the project.

“The building is so big, … (McShane) had to hire a helicopter out of Chicago … to put all our HVAC up on the roof,” said Chris Lauer, Digi-Key's vice president of order fulfillment. The building’s large size meant cranes couldn’t reach the center of the building, requiring the use of helicopters.

“Our challenge was not just the building being kind of a sizable challenge, but we also had our material … coming in on a on a very tight schedule,” Lauer said. Still, he added, supply chain woes weren’t a major concern since much of the facility was constructed pre-pandemic.

Construction on another major industrial building is underway in the state: The real estate development arm of Clayco, CRG, is building a 1 million-square-foot industrial building in Dayton. This will likely be the state’s largest speculative building. A speculative building is one that doesn't have a clear user prior to construction.

Digi-Key's facility gives the company the space it needs for its next 10 years of operations. It should also improve company accuracy and increase its operations capacity.

“This new system really allows us a greater percent of accuracy. Our customers are very time-driven,” Lauer said. “This new system will really just give us that insurance, additional capacity, additional space to build to meet the customer's needs to a greater degree.”

The $400 million investment is expected to contribute $500 million in economic output, Minne Inno reported.

The company received a $40 million grant from the state for job expansion.

Since work began on the project, Digi-Key added a net total of almost 680 employees. But the new facility “may not require the same demand for labor,” since it makes operations more efficient, Lauer said.

Work already finished on the building, but the company is currently conducting test runs to ramp it up for a complete opening. This includes tests of its order-fulfillment operations and fine tuning hardware and software. Lauer said he expects the building to officially open in August or September.

The new facility adds to the company's existing 700,000 square feet of space in two buildings. The larger of these two buildings is connected to the new facility via skyway.