NFI Industries

North America’s Top Distribution Hubs

As speed and demand to market continue to play a role in distribution decisions, many shippers are evaluating which distribution locations would be ideal. Each distribution hub in North America is unique in more than their location, but also the logistics opportunities that lie in each area. They all have one thing in common, they help countless products move through their supply chains. The following are the top distribution hubs in North America.

Southern California is a top distribution area for numerous industries including electronics and apparel. Its proximity to harbors and ports like the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach, give many shippers access to easily import and export to Asian countries and beyond. Unlike some of the other hubs, California’s moderate climate contributes to its increased productivity all year round where other areas have to handle weather-related challenges. Aside from access to ocean transportation, Southern California locations like Chino, have close proximity to rail, interstates, and numerous airports. Some distribution facilities are located within a campus warehouse setting. In these instances, shippers can share resources and improve efficiencies.

The Lehigh Valley in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, located just minutes from one another, make this area a distribution hub for many shippers looking to focus on reaching dense populations in minimal time. This area is particularly popular for food manufacturers, CPG shippers, and ecommerce facilities. Shippers can reach customers and ports in New York, Philadelphia, and Wilmington in a maximum of three hours. Aside from interstate highways and East Coast Ports, this hub also consists of numerous airports and easy access to rail yards. In fact, this area offers overnight shipping access to more than one-third of the total United States population and a portion of Canada as well1.

Dallas, Texas is centrally located and connects many major roadways and destination points throughout North America. Many industrial and automotive shippers distribute out of the area. In 48 hours, truck shipments from Dallas can reach over 35% of the U.S. population and over 98% of the population can be reached by rail2. Its centric location means that a majority of North America can be reached in a three-hour flight. Compared to the other hubs, Dallas is unique in its proximity to Mexico, making it ideal for companies that practice near-shoring within their operations. Texas is connected to Mexico by 27 international vehicular bridges, 17 of which accommodate import and export traffic3. Since the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Dallas has grown to provide key capabilities for supply chain success.

Toronto is known as Canada’s financial and business capital, and is considered the largest distribution hub in Canada. Its proximity to U.S. and Canadian markets makes it an ideal location with access to over 135 million people within a 500-mile radius4. Like other major distribution hubs, Toronto has the infrastructure available to support modes like road, rail, and air. With a growing economy, Toronto will continue to provide distribution opportunities in the area for a variety of industries.

Chicago has become a distribution hotspot and is considered the central distribution hub of North America. The area moves around $3 trillion worth of goods annually5. What sets Chicago apart is that it is the third largest intermodal port in the world6. Aside from a large intermodal port, Chicago also has three major airports. Many Midwest farmers utilize Chicago and the distribution solutions in the area to reach markets across North America.

Savannah, Georgia has the largest concentration of import distribution centers on the East Coast. With numerous specialized services, the Port of Savannah brings many shippers to the area. The port is also working to improve infrastructure to support post-Panamax ships and the added cargo volumes that are to be expected. Aside from a busy ocean port, Savannah has two Class I railroads that run through the area as well as many major roadways. There continues to be investment in the area to grow logistic opportunities and bring new businesses into the area.

Consumers will continue to demand products and expect fast shipping. It’ll be important to evaluate possible distribution locations and the capabilities they offer. These North American distribution hubs all offer unique opportunities for shippers to receive, store, and ship their products all over the world.