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Why Is Public Warehousing Different In What It Does For The Customer?

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Sales are mostly local. The unique thing about public warehousing is that it is sort of a passive thing. It's hard to go out and knock on doors. With a trucking company, it's a little different; all you have to do is get in your car and drive into an industrial area. Anybody who has a loading dock is a potential customer. Still, we have customers in this warehouse located from coast to coast. These are people who have determined that they need a distribution center in this city. There's no way for us to determine who might need a warehouse here. We just have to sit back and wait until people come to us. We have to make sure that our name appears before them. They're going to look in certain places, like the Yellow Pages or the American Warehousemen's Association Directory. The best means of getting new business is by word of mouth. When someone wants warehousing in this city, a distribution manager is sent here. The distribution manager calls the manager of XYZ Corporation, because they're acquainted, and asks who is warehousing in this city. Then the distribution manager calls us based on that recommendation.

Often people who are solely in private warehousing have money and can afford very sophisticated equipment. Some companies are into automated warehousing. They can afford to automate their system because they're working with their own product, they can control their inventory, and they can control the speed at which they distribute their product. They have full and total control over one commodity. Public warehousing can't do that. Our accounts continually change from one year to another. Perhaps 5 to 10 percent of the accounts change each year. Public warehousing can only limit itself to big general categories. Maybe you don't handle food products, for example.

We'll ship anything, even one toaster. Our smallest unit is a half pound. We can even do the transportation ourselves. But if a customer came to me and said, "I want to ship one-pound toasters," I would reply that I'm the most expensive person to do it. We could set up a United Parcel account, assemble several small orders, and ship them that way. We feel an obligation to our customers to find the best way to get their product shipped at the best cost.

We assume an advisory function. Customers depend on us to be their distribution center in this city. In public warehousing we don't own a single product in our warehouse. Customers say, "You're the people who know the distribution area and you know who is going to give the best service at a reasonable cost, so do it for us." We do it.

Question - How do you spend an average day?

Answer - Observations, problem solving, counseling, coaching, and advising take 20 percent of my day. Another 20 percent is spent at meetings, and 20 percent administrating. The remaining 40 percent is spent interfacing with other groups to determine their present and future needs, investigating, and problem solving.

A lot of my time is spent planning. We think a lot about the future, and we have several projects going to improve things. Right now I am spending time in the warehouse. We are temporarily transferring some of my people to another operation because of a certain need, so I am able to go out there and actually do their job. I do that certain times of the year. On an average normal day, I probably spend about 20 percent of my time on the floor.

Question - How much time do you spend at your job?

Answer - I spend sixty to eighty hours per week. I get in here at 7:00 A.M. and leave at 7:00 P.M. I'm here on Saturdays a lot too. Saturday is a quiet day, no one else is working, and we won't answer the phone. It's a day I can catch up on letter writing and reading.

It is not only planning that consumes a considerable amount of time, but monitoring activities, reviewing projects, and allotting resources. I don't know how to add up travel time. I am in the office by 7:15, and I leave anywhere between 6:00 and 6:30 at night, so I spend around fifty hours a week.

Question - How much time do you spend traveling?

Answer - Maybe 25 to 30 percent of my time. But it is funny, it seems that if you average it out, it is about 25 percent, but in any given year it could be 50 percent or 10 percent, depending on the business.

Question - What groups or individuals in the organization do you deal with on a day-to-day basis?

Answer - Everyone with an interest in our product. Sales representatives; regional sales managers; and personnel in traffic, quality control, contract manufacturing, inventory control, and order entry.

Everybody from the person out there who's pushing the broom, all the way up to corporate head-knockers. This is one of the things that I like about warehousing. You do see and get to know a lot of people.

Question - What do you like about your job?

Answer - The key thing that I tell people about my line of work is that it's never dull. It is competitive, but that means that in a day there's never enough time to do what you want to do. If you're a competitive person, it gives you a chance to use your head, no matter where you got your education, if you have any at all.

I have been in several different areas of manufacturing, and I really enjoy warehousing the most. There is a wide variety of problems in warehousing and distribution. No one day seems to be the same. I like warehousing people. They are the most industrious group of people in any area I have seen.

I work for good people. My manager and my boss above me are both very interested in what I am doing. I enjoy the challenge of identifying what appears to be a problem and solving it. I get satisfaction from preventing everyday problems and from coming up with different ways to prevent them in the future.

It can be stressful, but working as a logistics manager for me is less stressful than having 100 people under me and having an office on the thirteenth floor. I have a lot of outlets for stress here, and I get immediate feedback from my actions. I'm fortunate that I have the job I do. If I knew of another job I'd like to have, I'd apply for it.
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