Opening a new 3PL distribution center requires thorough planning and project management. Add complexities of a global pandemic, and gearing up for start-up is no easy task. Critical to the success of any operation is finding the right people to create an effective and dedicated team.
In March, The Shippers Group opened its first distribution center in Florida. The Orlando center is a dedicated facility serving Orlando and mid-Florida delivering to large format stores such as Publix and Walmart. The seven day a week operation employs 36 associates who are focused on serving the customer’s hub-and-spoke distribution network in the region.
As the country was placed on lock-down and the outbreak of Coronavirus became especially bad in Florida at the time, this created new challenges to hiring and retaining associates. Shipping volume surged created by pandemic buying, and the customer’s volume was erratic with huge spikes. Then there was a COVID outbreak at the facility. With all these factors working against the new Orlando team, a successful start-up of the operation seemed an improbable outcome.
Three Ts led to success amidst many challenges of the Orlando start-up:
Transparency. Melissa Sotomayor, General Manager of the Orlando operation, said, “It was important to put the vision out there daily to your team and be transparent sharing the good and the bad.” Melissa also shared that open communication with the diverse, yet mostly female team of associates, was one of the keys to overcoming many of the initial challenges that they faced.
Teamwork. Communication leads to relationship building. Associates were trained to the SOPs and held accountable to the standards, while simultaneously listening to team members suggestions for improving processes, testing their ideas, and implementing those that worked. They celebrated wins, large and small and recognized associates for their contributions.
Tenacity. Through grit and determination the team in Orlando persevered. Goals are set and followed through.
The result has been praise from the customer and from other DCs within the customer’s network. The Orlando team consistently meets metrics goals. Inventory accuracy is a big deal and the Orlando team leads the network when measured against the other DCs.
Melissa’s pride and enthusiasm for her team are energizing. She is passionate about having open communication with team members and coaching that actions have consequences good and bad.
“Listening is critical. Everyone is valuable and appreciated. We are a family.” - Melissa Sotomayor, Orlando GM
The Shippers Group was founded in 1901 and today employs over 1400 associates nationwide. For more information on The Shippers Group, visit our services page.