Should I choose Distribution or Production

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Marty here with Warehouse and Operations as a Career.  Hope you’re having a great week and I want to thank you for checking in with us today. I was asked last week, by a young gentleman named Brad with a background in the Restaurant Industry, what kind of a Warehouse job was the easiest to get into.  He was looking to make more money and be able to get more hours.  He’d been working in the same restaurant, for a major chain, for about 3 years.  He had started with them right out of High School working in the back of the restaurant, really enjoyed it for his first year, then was moved to the front.  He is presently a lead waiter & feels his bring home pay is about right for the work he’s doing but he’d like a bit more, more in the form of compensation, more hours and more Opportunity.  He reminded me of our example employee, remember Joe Character from our first episodes, he too wanted more & was kind of introduced to distribution by the foodservice delivery drivers that delivered to the restaurant he was employed with.  Brad’s done a bit of research regarding the positions available in his area and was introduced to us here at WAOC by a friend who listens to our shows.  His friend works for a Distribution Warehouse, been there about 5 months & is really enjoying the work, he’s on the dock, unloading containers.  He’s enjoying the physical aspect of the job, the hours fit his schedule & he’s excited about everything he’s learning.  Brads been looking at the job postings, several facilities are hiring in his area, both Distribution Warehouses and Production Facilities.  Although Brad has a friend at one of the distribution facilities, with so many openings around town he’d like to know our thoughts, and did we have a preference or believe one type of facility was better, or offer more opportunities than the other.

First I’d like to thank Brad for listening in with WAOC, and applaud him for doing his homework or researching the different facilities and positions being offered.  You know going out and getting a paycheck is usually pretty easy, we can usually find something, but here at WAOC we really believe it’s important that we will enjoy our job, and the work we’ll be doing & that there’s advancement and raises in our future, preferably our short term future, and with just a bit of planning, research and initiative we can all but insure we land at the right company and for the right reasons.

To answer the question “Do we have a preference or is there one type of facility or industry better than the other I’d answer, absolutely not, in my experiences, both Distribution & Production, and all the task involved with each can offer great jobs & long term Careers.  It’s always nice to have a friend working with you of course but I think we each have to settle in with something we enjoy and fits our needs.  After all we’re going to make new friends where ever we’re at, it’s more important we do something we enjoy instead of possibly doing what our friends find interesting.

Distribution is great, and will typically offer us tasks such as Warehouse Sanitation, Unloading, Loading, Pallet Running, and it may expose us to different types of Powered Industrial Equipment like electric pallet jacks, Floor Scrubbers, sit down forklifts or stand-up lifts like the reach trucks, slip-sheet or clamp trucks.  Order Selecting may be one of our goals in a distribution facility or a transportation position, being a driver helper is a great entry level position into the delivery world in distribution.  And there’s several warehouse positions that can lead us into the office, accounting or admin areas like Inventory Control, Salvage or loss recovery, Returns Departments, Routing, or assigning stops for delivery etc.  And of course a host of Lower, Mid and Upper management opportunities are waiting on us.  That’s one of the great things about any warehousing function, there’s plenty of directions to go and advancement is honestly up to us.  As we’ve discussed, practically everything we’ll use today, almost everything material thing that we see has been through a Distribution Center and was delivered on a Truck by a Driver.

Production Facilities offer just as many tasks or positions and opportunities.  We’ll be creating components of or pieces to products or units themselves.  Something I enjoy about Production is the organization skills learned, the team work that’s involved in some production areas.  Wither were producing units or in the service sector of production it’s always nice to see an end accomplished.  Typically there may be fewer Powered Industrial Equipment opportunities like electric pallet jacks and forklifts to learn but there may very well be many other machines, mixers, very niche or specific motored mechanical opportunities to master.  I’ve had the opportunity to see a large portioner machine, it had several different compartments for spices, flour and meals and an employee would load them from 25 & 50 pound bags, the machine would be set or configured to volume control ounces of the products into a mix which was moved onto another station for packaging.  Another really neat machine, and it was huge was a dried bean packager, where the beans were packaged in 50lb bags, the bags stacked on a pallet and a runner would take the full pallets to the shipping department. Oh, and a Carper cleaner, where large rolls of carpet are threaded through a washer, its cleaned, dried and fluffed, re-rolled and ready to go back out!  Let’s not forget, we’re still in warehousing so the tasks of Quality Control, Inventory Control, Loss Prevention, Damages etc are on the table as well.  And it still takes Leads, Supervisors and Managers to oversee and plan operations, Production can offer us great advancement and management opportunities as well.

And Building Maintenance, It takes a strong Facilities Department to keep any type of Warehouse up and running.  As we’ve learned, someone has to keep all that Powered Equipment and conveyers and machines running as well as the electrical pieces, lights, air and heat right?

So how do we decide what to do, what job to apply for?  I know when I was looking for that first job, I looked for a paycheck, any job was fine.  Today I feel we have to have a bit more targeted plan, companies are looking for experience, experience in the particular task we’re applying for. Productivity is a driving force in the decisions being made by the hiring agents or recruiters we’ll be meeting with.  And as we’ve heard from a few of our guests it seems more and more Companies are reaching out to Sourcing or Staffing Companies to find that experienced talent.  With the cost of training being so high with some positions it does create a short cut for them.  So I believe we need to know what type of task we’d enjoy and what kind of money we want to make so we can get that experience and skill to get hired on and have that long term job.  Once we’re exposed to all the opportunities we’ll turn that into a long term Career.

By now you’ve probably realized I think Operations is a wonderful job and Career.  For us that are through with our first jobs and ready to move on, college or specialized fields or paths aren’t on our minds just yet warehousing or operations can certainly afford us a very enjoyable, long term, well-paying avenue to a great life and plenty of advancement opportunities.

I’d suggest looking at what we need.  Location will of course be at the forefront of our list I’d have to believe, we don’t want to be spending too much of our time or fuel on getting to work or from work, our pay, the hourly rate or weekly salary, of course that’s a integral part of this equation but as we’ve discussed let’s not get to hung up on an specific amount here.  I mean if our job is across the street from our house we could probably accept a couple of bucks less an hour vs having a 30 mile drive each way, that’s going to eat up much more fuel and time or cost us more hourly.  It’s really all about what we have left at the end of the month or what is left at the end of the year.  Let’s remember our net worth isn’t what we make hourly, it has to be combined with what it cost us to live and what’s left at the end of the week.  And then I feel we need to look a year down the road, what is our plan.  Training is education and we’re getting paid instead of paying for that education.  I think every position we work is providing a free education to our next position, which may very well pay us a bit better.

Before making myself a target list of Companies to apply with I’d do a little research on them.  With the Internet at our fingertips its easy to check out some employee reviews, the competitions reviews, check out the Industry.  It’s so easy to see how many employees they employee, Benefits offered, Insurances being offered.  And it never hurts to call with a few questions, they should be happy to answer them, after all their looking for employees, have an ad out there so they’re going to be interested in us.

Now, as we’ve talked about before, the important thing is to get our foot in the door.  If we’ve identified a strong company we’d like to work for, they offer the positions we want and the benefits are to our liking we have to get hired on before we can go from unemployed to employed.

If we don’t presently possess the skills required for the wage we want with them, let’s use them to learn it.  Be open to accept another position at a lower rate, once we get any position with them we’ll show management how hard we’ll work, what kind of a job we can do for them & we’re going to ask questions, participate with the Team and learn not only our task but the other positions around us & let our manager know we have other positions on our mind and we’re going to earn them and we’re patiently waiting on that next promotion, patiently within reason of course!

One thing I’d like to bring up again, we spoke to it a couple of weeks ago, lets really think through leaving one job for another just for like 25 or 50 cents an hour.  Just this week I spoke with a gentlemen that was commenting how he now was making 42 cents more an hour but was bring home less than the job he left to make more money.  What happened with him was toll roads we’re in the way and he was use to getting about 5 or 6 hours a week overtime and at his new job there’s little to none.  Now he wasn’t at his previous job all that long so he didn’t have a huge investment or relationship ties but I’m not sure the switch has paid off so far.  We certainly have to work at a facility that fits us, and where we fit in with the company as well but I just feel it’s important we really look at the Big Picture when we’re thinking pay rates and that we don’t get hung up on that hourly wage or dollar amount.  I’ve always been big on adding in any benefits offered, my travel time etc and maybe looking at my weekly pay or yearly W-2 wages instead of that weekly rate.  Opportunities for advancement or promotions to other tasks have to play a part in that decision also, what quicker way to experience an increase or get a raise than stepping up to a task with more responsibility or using another piece of equipment or additional machines right?

I again kind of got off the beaten path, but to sum it up, most any warehousing job, in any industry, can serve us well.  If we love the operations and logistics worlds we’ll have some great jobs & we’ll turn them into outstanding Careers.  The key is to do our research, interview the Company as well as give them an interview, work hard, be on-time for our shifts and keep reaching for more.  Op’s will give us what we need to secure a future for our Families and ourselves, a work life we can retire from!

I hope I answered the question today & offered up a bit of value to you, we really appreciate all the questions and comments each week and feel free to reach out as well with any thoughts or experiences you’d like to share with the group, Participation is learning, or always has helped me!

Until next week, Properly Prepare for our Shifts, wear our Personal Protective Equipment & be that Safety Conscience Employee, our work peers, Family and loved ones are counting on us!

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