After nearly four decades on Exchange Avenue, last week Douglas Companies announced a $1.8 million property transaction with plans for a new distribution center off Dave Ward Drive.

On May 19, Diamond State, LLC, a sister company to Douglas Companies, closed on 17.5 acres of property formerly belonging to school bus manufacturing giant, IC Bus, LLC for $1.8 million.

"This will be a substantial expansion for [Douglas Companies]," said Conway Development Corporation President and CEO Brad Lacy. "They have quietly grown their Conway operations over the last few decades. This is great news for our community."

Douglas Companies, a convenience store product distribution network, has operated out of Conway since 1978.

Over the years, business has been good, said Steve Douglas, President of Douglas Companies Inc., so good that Douglas Companies has outgrown its 60,000-SF facility on Exchange Avenue.

The former IC Bus property consists of 17.5 acres, and includes a 60,000-SF industrial building at the corner of South German Lane and Dave Ward Drive.

"We’ve really been needing to do something for several years," he said, "but with the economy it’s hard to pull the trigger."

When IC Bus ceased bus production operations at its Conway plant in 2009, the company maintained a small manufacturing presence fabricating school bus parts.

"The very commonly held belief is that the entire operation shut down when they stopped manufacturing buses," Lacy said. "That was not the case. They have continued to manufacture various component parts at the site."

Lacy said the land sale to Douglas Companies will not impact those operations.

"The main manufacturing facility is not and has never been for sale," he said.

Although, the existing 60,000-SF former IC Bus warehouse will most likely get torn down to make way for commercial redevelopment.

Douglas has plans to commercially redevelop the corner piece of the property where South German lane meets Dave Ward Drive.

It will be something similar to what’s across the street, Douglas said, speaking of the Taco Bueno and Hardee’s.

Douglas said there’s a possibility the company will need to use the former IC Bus warehouse to store materials for the distribution center, but if it isn’t needed it will be torn down.

Although the company is not ready to release details on jobs or capital investment at this time, Lacy said, any type of expansion of an existing business or industry is great news for the city.

The future site for the proposed distribution center is back toward the east of the 17 acre property, Douglas said.

Douglas Companies is in the planning stages for the distribution center, meeting with contractors and architects.

"We plan to get started sometime this year," Douglas said.

(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at or by phone at 505-1215. Send us your news at