Ukrop’s spinoff fits parks’ needs
Kings Dominion employees are now decked out in uniforms made by a firm whose name is best-known in the grocery business.
Richmond-based Ukrop’s Dress Express last fall won a contract to provide uniforms to about 40,000 employees of Hanover County-based Kings Dominion and the other amusement and water parks owned by Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. The announcement of the contract corresponded with the start of the 2013 season at Kings Dominion.
Kings Dominion General Manager Pat Jones worked with Ukrop’s Dress Express CEO John Carrico on taking the idea to Cedar Fair’s corporate office.
“It’s exciting to say that Kings Dominion has partnered with a well-known and established Richmond-based company,” said park spokesman Gene Petriello.
Petriello’s remarks notwithstanding, Ukrop’s is probably still better known as a grocer than a clothing manufacturer, even though it’s now been more than three years since Ukrop’s Super Markets Inc. was sold to Giant–Carlisle.
Ukrop’s Dress Express was in fact first started as an entity of the Richmond-based grocery chain, which formerly had a store off State Route 3 in Spotsylvania County.
The Ukrop family started the division in 1993 to make uniforms for its grocery store employees after being dissatisfied by the products the company was receiving, Carrico said. The Ukrop family later saw a business opportunity to supply uniforms for other companies.
Ukrop’s Dress Express was spun off as a separate entity in 1998.
The Ukrop’s grocery business is now a thing of the past, but Ukrop’s Dress Express remains in growth mode.
The company now supplies uniforms to more than 1 million people with a client list that includes Kroger, Harris Teeter, CarMax and HCA Health System. Many of its customers are in the grocery, convenience store, restaurant and healthcare businesses.
About 50 people work for Ukrop’s Dress Express, whose headquarters are off Interstate 95 just south of the Philip Morris operation in the Richmond area. The company designs, tests and distributes its products, which are primarily manufactured in China and India.
Ukrop’s Dress Express isn’t the only business venture that brothers Jim and Bobby Ukrop own in the post-grocery store era.
Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods, which was founded in 2010 following the grocery chain sale, makes products including White House Rolls, baked goods, sandwiches and more that are sold in 30 states including at Kroger and Martin’s stores. That company employs about 400 people in the Richmond area.
Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405