The Distribution Center: Getting cozy with "The Nest" of goodr's Ecosystem
In season 3, episode 2 of CULTURE goodr, Michael and Dwight go to a convention in Philadelphia and run into Jim -- oh, wait, whoops. That’s The Office. Let’s try again.
In season 3, episode 2 of CULTURE goodr, Stephen and Shaun do a deep dive on The Rack Pack, one of our teams, or as we call them, flocks. No, they’re not in charge of stacking $1,000 bills or measuring bra sizes. They’re in charge of the Distribution Center, aka The DC.
THE EPISODE IN A VERY SMALL NUTSHELL:
Sarah, the Flock Leader of the Rack Pack (lame title: Warehouse Manager), joins Stephen and Shaun to talk about her department. The DC exists in the same space as the goodr office and handles everything coming in out of The Lagoon: full container, organized, QCd, Stored, packing the orders and getting them shipped out. Last year, they shipped over 434,000 packages. (That’s more than the population of Iceland!)
The Rack Pack’s Areas of Focus are Shipping and Receiving, Organization (maintaining a clean and safe workspace), Teamwork, Cohesion (communicating back with the other flocks), and DC Culture (fun and safe workspace for the DC flock.) During COVID, the team had to be in the office every day, but stayed together, connected and safe.
At 8:15am every morning, The Rack Pack has a meeting called the Flamingle. They share the daily numbers, talk about issues or changes, review daily roles, and do fun things like decide who orders lunch, or award gold stars, or share icebreakers. Sarah created the Flamingle to find a way to get the same info to everyone as the team grew. Slack isn’t the fastest way for her team to get information. (Shots fired, Slack!!!)
The Rack Pack’s Flock Values are Teamwork and Responsibility. One person can only pack so many boxes a day, and they want customers to get their orders as expected. Running the DC is challenging because it’s infinite. The work never ends, and it gets repetitive, so they do an amazing job of keeping things fresh and fun all day long. They set up a Mario Kart-style tricycle course for races. There are cornhole tournaments. And all day long, they blast sick music playlists to keep up the energy.
Sarah says DC employees have the strongest connections, and energy is important. If you show up in person, with energy, you create more energy for everyone around you. And since her real job title is Dancing Queen of the Lagoon, you know she generates enough energy to power everyone at the Lagoon, plus the City of Los Angeles.
During the lightning round, Sarah shared her opinion on cake or pie (neither, ice cream), revealed her spirit animal (Lioness/Mama Lion), and described her unique journey to goodr. Before joining The Cult of Carl, she was raising kids. And before that, she worked as a data manager for a defense contractor. As part of a military family, she’s moved across the country 7 times, and there might be a few more before they’re done!
It’s been a long path to the warehouse. When goodr first started, in 2015, Stephen and the other co-founders shipped boxes out of an apartment. Then they rented a weird storage in downtown LA. Then in 2017, they got The Cabana in Playa del Rey (800sqft), a rented third party warehouse space. (SDL would put boxes in his car and recycle them at Ralph’s on the way home!) Then they got the hangar (6,000 sqft by LAX), and thought they made it, but nope. Disaster. They needed a space where they had control over everything, which brings us to the 30,000 sqft warehouse at The Lagoon.
It’s important to have that control to stay on top of orders. The Rack Pack keeps track of the age of orders in the system. If orders remain in the system at the end of the day and they are of a certain agee, it triggers a couple actions: 1) a post to the all-company thread about the order status (yellow flag protocol, red flag protocol) and 2) an 8:00 am meeting the next day with some flock leaders to talk about how they got there, what steps are taken to get out of red and anything other flocks can do to help.
For example, the Rack Pack’s biggest fuck-up was Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2019. They massively underestimated the amount of time it would take to pack the special products that year. As a result, they had to cancel TWC (Tuesdays With Carl, the weekly all-company meeting), so that all employees could come to the DC to help pack. It worked to get orders out the door, but things should not have gotten to that point. To make matters worse, one employee accidentally packed himself in a box, and mailed himself to North Dakota. Okay, that didn’t happen, but it could’ve. It could’ve!!!
Stephen says that an “us vs them” mentality builds up if you don’t see people in different departments. That’s why every new employee has to spend 20 hours in DC packing boxes. By doing so, they understand the importance of the DC’s role, and develop empathy. The Rack Pack is in the office every day, while everyone else gets to work from home 3 days a week. After 20 hours of packing boxes, newbies understand how hard the job is, and how important it is.
“People often say having those few hours in the DC is one of their favorite parts of onboarding,” Sarah says. “Come join the party!” She adds that newbies have box-folding competitions. The all-time record holder is Caden, who packed 80 boxes in 2 minutes (!).
In closing, Sarah shared three cheat codes for anyone in distribution center life: You gotta be able to know how to fit the most sunglasses in a box (aka Tetris-ing). You definitely have to know how to fold a box. And you have to pick a good playlist -- they have music going all the time.
Listen to the episode to get ALL the juicy details. See you next week for episode 3!
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