NorthShore Care Supply expands into new Green Oaks headquarters
A newly installed illuminated sign visible to drivers along I-94 at Route 176 is among the finishing touches at NorthShore Care Supply's new facility in Green Oaks.
But it is a relatively small detail, all things considered, for the "Diaper King of Chicago." The company in recent months has dealt with its move to a new headquarters while also facing a surge in demand for its products and a state stay-at-home order that forced many of its employees to work remotely.
NorthShore, which specializes in high absorbency adult diapers and incontinence supplies, had outgrown its location in Buffalo Grove and was looking for a new home. The company chose the Green Oaks Business Park across from Lambs Farm due to its visibility, as well as its proximity to the Tri-State Tollway and markets in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.
The new 173,000-square-foot facility, completed in January, is double the size of its old location. It houses the company headquarters, testing lab, warehouse/distribution operations and call center, and features heavy investments in automation and robotics.
Relocation began in March but was interrupted by the stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"Since we moved to Green Oaks in mid-March, business has been full of disruptions due to COVID as we moved all office staff to work-from-home while the warehouse operations (moved) into the new building," said Adam Greenberg, company founder and president.
Meanwhile, orders surged as nervous customers wanted to stock up in case supplies were depleted or shipments suspended.
"There was a run on our disposable diapers and wipes in March and April as emergency orders were announced," according to Greenberg.
NorthShore began stockpiling necessary products and supplies in early January after experts warned about the likelihood of the virus spreading to the U.S.
"Many of our suppliers around the world experienced the same surges and, therefore, it has been a great challenge to keep items in stock the past few months," Greenberg said.
Inside, the company has been tweaking its new automation and conveyor system for picking and packing orders.
That includes six autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) programmed with a map of the warehouse and use GPS and laser technology to move about. Workers are directed via headsets to meet the robots at stops where bar coding and scanning provides accurate order picking.
This also removes touchpoints with carts and maintains social distancing, said company spokeswoman Vicki Wolpoff.
Greenberg founded the company in 2002 after family members struggled with conditions requiring use of retail adult diapers. NorthShore has since become a leader in high-absorbency products shipped directly to customers with moderate to severe incontinence.
The business is a win for the tiny Lake County village, which for years has been waiting for its prime tollway corner to be developed.
"We're anticipating solid and consistent sales tax. It will do a lot for the village," said Village Administrator Denise Kafkis.
NorthShore staff has been encouraged to voluntarily return to the office while cases in Illinois are low, Greenberg said, but few have done so because of concern about COVID-19 and vulnerable family members.