Hardware Retailing

FEB 2019

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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DISTRIBUTOR PROFILE SERIES EXECUTIVE Q&A HARDWARE RETAILING 42 Hardware Retailing (HR): What growth has each of you seen in your respective distribution centers over the past few years? Vic Price (VP): I oversaw building our first few distribution centers. Our center in Kilgore, Texas, opened 11 years ago, and I've been there ever since. We've more than doubled in size in 11 years due to the growth our company has experienced. Bryce Abbott (BA): The Tifton, Georgia, distribution center was home to the first building expansion in 1995, and we've seen growth ever since. We're in a good location, close in proximity to a number of our customers. And we've set up a number of systems internally to provide our customers with what they need. For example, we can shuttle trucks to meet drivers part of the way into the route, which means those drivers can head out and start delivering more quickly. HR: How do the distribution center managers work together and learn from each other? VP: We meet frequently, and we look at a lot of different metrics. If one location has found a more effective way to do something, I want to learn more about it so my location can improve, too. For example, I wanted to do some additional training with my inventory control team, so a number of them went to Tifton for a week. It's a bit of a friendly competition. We all have the same end goal, but at the same time, we all want to see what we're doing the best. BA: Sometimes you get in a rut if you only see what you've been doing, so it's good to go elsewhere. When Orgill implements a new process or program, it's usually done at one distribution center that serves as the pilot location for that program. Then, when everything is in order, we can roll it out to other facilities. Employees from the pilot location will visit the other distribution centers to train employees there. HR: When a natural disaster occurs, what plans go into effect to make sure customers are provided with everything they need in a timely manner? BA: The key is great transportation managers. Our team works closely with our sales team. When something happens, they're working at all hours to provide our customers with any assistance that they can. Our drivers are also an integral part of the process. Our other warehouses will step in and fill some of our regular routes so we can dedicate more drivers to those customers affected by the hurricane. That's in addition to them providing product for us. The sales team also has a buddy system so if one sales rep is dealing with a natural disaster, his buddy can help him and his customers. Corporate is a huge help for us. Rebecca Rainer Partee, our director of North American sales support, and her team provide whatever we need during times we're dealing with natural disasters. The whole warehouse is involved, too. VP: It's especially important to make sure you have enough product in stock when a hurricane comes through. Orgill has a whole system in place. We let customers know what items we'll have in stock, and we tell them what we consider the must-haves. We're also lucky to have a good group of employees in the warehouse. In our business, it's hard to say what a set end time will be. Whatever the customer ordered the night before is what we're filling today. Our employees have to be willing to stay and work those longer days. It's important to get the right people in and train them right. When there's a hurricane or other natural disaster, we've come in early on Saturdays and Sundays, and we've asked our teams to stay past midnight before. We always have people who are willing to stay and help. Vice Presidents Discuss Growth, Collaboration Between Locations Learning From Others Vic Price Vice President of Distribution—Southwest Vic Price serves as vice president for Orgill's southwest distribution center in Kilgore, Texas. He joined Orgill in 2000 and oversees all operations at that warehouse, which will expand to nearly 1 million square feet in 2019. Bryce Abbott Vice President of Distribution—Southeast Bryce Abbott joined Orgill in 1995 and is vice president of the company's southeast distribution center in Tifton, Georgia. Abbott manages the day-to-day operations of the warehouse and its employees.

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