LEWISTON — About 100 Walmart employees and invited guests were on hand Thursday as the company officially unveiled its newest amenity for workers attached to the transportation office at the massive distribution center at 31 Alfred Plourde Parkway.

For the 174 Walmart truck drivers based at the center who spend five or even six days on the road, it is a welcome respite from the daily road grind.

The 8,600-square-foot facility was more than two years in the making. Inside the modern building is a business office, a conference room and workspace, a big kitchen and breakroom area complete with refrigerator, freezer, stove and dishwasher where drivers and other associates can grab a cup of coffee or make a complete meal.

The building also houses a large uniform storage room — serving both women and men — showers and restroom facilities that are brightly lit with tile floors, a workout room with a variety of equipment, an outdoor, smoke-free picnic area and personal storage. Walmart said its aim was to make the environment feel like the convenience of home.

Walmart truck drivers’ clean clothes hang Thursday in the new facility at the distribution center on Alfred Plourde Parkway in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

The distribution center, focused on groceries, opened in 2005 and at the time used third-party drivers. A year later, Walmart started using its own drivers, with an initial group of 20, some of whom still drive for the company out of the same location.

Jenny Lovering, transportation manager for the Lewiston center, said they are always looking to hire good drivers. “We have the capacity here to house 240 drivers,” she said, explaining that drivers for the past few years have shared space with  technicians and other workers in the maintenance garage.

Nationally, Walmart has some 13,000 drivers in its private fleet. They can make up to $110,000 in their first year, in addition to the suite of benefits the company offers. Drivers with tenure and in certain locations can earn more. The company has a 12-week training course offered at seven locations, including Delaware and California, to prepare would-be drivers before they take the commercial driver’s license exam and step into the cab of an 18-wheeler.

In Maine, Walmart has nine retail units and employs 7,754 people. The company said it has spent $61.3 million with Maine suppliers in fiscal year 2022. Walmart did not reveal the cost of the new transportation office.

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