Innovel Solutions

The Innovel sign has been erected outside of what once was the Sears Logistics center in Manteno.

Sears Logistics in Manteno is no longer.

Don’t panic. The 1.5-million-square-foot freight complex has not closed. However, its delivery division recently changed names. Sears Logistics is now Innovel Solutions.

Innovel held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its Manteno site Tuesday to usher in the change.

“It’s the same house, just a different name,” said George Hamilton, director of strategic business development for Innovel Solutions. “We are still moving Sears and Kmart products. This is still part of Sears Holdings.”

Simply put, Innovel Solutions provides supply chain solutions to retail, manufacturing, commerical and military markets in the United States. Manteno will be one of 13 Innovel warehouse locations across the country. The average size of these warehouses is 1.2-million square feet.

In addition to transporting Sears and Kmart products, Innovel recently came to agreements to transport merchandise for Amazon, Costco and Electrolux, among other retailers.

“E-commerce is growing so rapidly, but brick-and-mortar stores are still relevant,” Hamilton said. “We (Innovel) are finding ourselves to be in wild demand.”

The Manteno Innovel site employs about 180.

Hamilton said Innovel, and in particular the Manteno site, are perfectly situated to become a key player in the supply chain.

Anthony Dattilo, head of Innovel, told the crowd on Tuesday, “I can’t think of any better community to be in. ... We’re very proud of this building.”

He added: “People think we are over, we are finished. We are fighting like heck. We want to be the best supply chain in the world.”

He said significant investment is being made in Manteno.

Innovel offers warehousing, transportation, installation and home delivery. Sears Logistics, a subsidiary of Sears, Roebuck and Co., had been in operation since 1939. Innovel took over Sears Logistics shortly after Eddie Lampert became Sears CEO in 2013. In May 2015, products began moving under the Innovel name.

“I guess you could say we are the world’s oldest startup company,” Hamilton joked.

In its first year, some 20,000 deliveries were made. In 2017, the number climbed to 350,000, Hamilton said. With new clients and expanded sites, the number could climb to more than 4 million this year.

Sears remains Innovel’s largest client. Hamilton said Sears will remain one of the company’s key customers for years to come.

The Sears story certainly is well-known. Once the undisputed king of retail, the company’s business model has fallen on tough times as its market share dwindles.

The Kankakee County region will feel the effects of the country’s changing shopping habits very soon. The 107,000-square-foot Sears in Northfield Square mall is set to close in April.

“We are a solution for a lot of third-party partners,” Hamilton said. “We want their business to grow. If their business grows, we grow.”

A version of this story previously ran in the March 24 edition of the Daily Journal.

Lee Provost, an award-winning reporter, has been writing local news stories for The Daily Journal since 1988. He is a lifelong resident of the region. Provost can be reached at lprovost@daily-journal.com.