By Doug Smith, The Charlotte Observer, N.C. Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Dec. 23--Co-founder Chuck Morrison remembers the first big order his NASCAR merchandising company filled three years ago from its birthplace in a Concord garage.
A tractor-trailer rig arrived to pick up 47,000 computer mice shaped and painted like race cars.
"We had to bring in forklifts and build ramps," he said. "The garage, of course, didn't have anything close to a loading dock."
Today HiREV LLC has a loading dock and more: racking systems nearly 12 feet high and 28,540 square feet of space amid Charlotte's largest concentration of distribution buildings.
Its growth is one relatively small example of how the need to move goods, even in slow times, has consistently fed one of the Charlotte region's most reliable investment and job generators.
Over the past decade, Charlotte has become the nation's sixth-largest distribution center with a wholesale trade volume of more than $30 …