We are overwhelmed by the support you all have shown us in this very busy time. While we struggle with protocols and government programs, you have sent us suggestions, you have supported us in order prioritization, you have even offered us some of the insights you have learned in your own situations. You have shared letters from customers who were concerned that they would no longer get the food that they need to stay on top of their health and customers who are just happy to get food. These things keep us going.
The team has been doing everything they can to keep things light and fun while in this uncomfortable time. One employee suggested that we put out a snack and water station for the drivers because they are having a difficult time finding places to stop, we did this and everyone had such a good time getting it all pulled together and it happened in a second. When we decided that we needed to make it mandatory to wear masks, instead of employees resisting, we found that in some warehouses we had 100% implementation the next day. This is something – since they had to either make or find a mask that night and we had given them a few days to become compliant. We had family in more than one location start sewing, so that we could have fun face coverings for the teams, these were cranked out in what seemed like overnight.
Our local distillery Bellewood Acres (Lynden, WA), stopped making vodka and started making hand sanitizer. We received a supply of this and sent it out to all of the warehouses because the stocks they had were dwindling, we than got some tiny bottles so that we could send the crew home with sanitizer for any trips to the grocery store that they might need to have. It is so great to see businesses changing what they do to support this effort.
I guess what I am trying to say is that it is a tough time, it is a complicated time, but it is also a rewarding time. We have never felt so supported, so in sync with our clients and so proud of our employees as we have these past weeks. We have seen so many great things come out of this, our planet is getting a little rest, our people are getting a chance to be a little more creative and we are learning why we need one another, just at a safe distance.
We are beginning to catch up, we are completely caught up in three warehouses, pretty close in the fourth and the last one Richmond, where we have the most volume, we are still struggling with. The onslaught of orders has put great pressure on that warehouse and we are working tirelessly to rebuild ourselves into a high volume workplace, overnight.
President and General Manager
Starting in the month of March, Crystal Creek Logistics has launched a Sustainable Inspirations weekly internal newsletter. Each newsletter centers around a topic with a theme that helps promote a sustainable lifestyle. These have included:
a how-to guide on reducing your paper foot-print
information explaining how Crystal Creek maintains its B Corp certification
tips and tricks on planning an indoor garden
how to make your own natural cleaning solutions
A message from Brittany M. who has spearheaded this program:
“Crystal Creek has been a B Corp since 2015 and has always considered social and environmental responsibility to be of its core values. The B Corp certification has helped Crystal Creek gain prestige and recognition within our industry, but the impact of sustainability can often go unnoticed on an individual employee level. The development of Sustainable Inspirations is an effort to bridge that gap and create a greater sense of community and purpose among our facilities, especially as CCL grows.
Sustainable Inspirations has started as a weekly newsletter featuring fun ideas, recipes, stories, and events. Eventually the program will lead to the development of a “green team”, who will then help organize monthly workshops and volunteering events at each of our facilities. The intent is to provide CCL employees with access to information and opportunities to feel more involved, connected, and to live a more sustainable life both at work and at home.”
As of February 2020, UPS has mitigated 1088.91 metric tons of CO2e on behalf of our company. In participation with the UPS carbon neutral program, CCL commits to an additional fee per package in effort to fund projects around the world that focus on reducing the impact of greenhouse gases.
To put this into perspective, a typical passenger vehicle emits 4.6 metric tons of CO2e annually according to epa.gov. This means UPS has helped us reduce the annual emissions impact of roughly 236 passenger vehicles in 2019.
We just recently sent our Hastings, NE and Reno, NV facility managers out on a trip to visit our other locations. We asked them write a blurb about their travels and tell us what these kinds of trips do to benefit our collaborative efforts, as well as what it means to experience the atmosphere and culture that grows in each facility. Mike C. from Nevada took a moment to share his thoughts with us below.
Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to two of our sister facilities: Hastings, Nebraska and Memphis, Tennessee. While I am hoping that I brought something to those sites in terms of experience, fresh eyes and team building, I know for certain that I took a lot of those same things home with me. Traveling to other facilities is highly beneficial because it allows us to really see the teams, buildings and layouts in “real life” instead of through email and pictures.
It also allows more direct face to face time with my co-managers to really collaborate in-depth and pick up new and better ways of doing things. For example, while I was in Hastings, the team decided to try a new method of picking orders for one of our clients. The process was tried, peer reviewed and accepted as much more efficient and now we are following that procedure in Reno.
On that same turn, an earlier site visit to Memphis by Cathy our General Manager/President and her husband Jeff Hayward-Hughes, resulted in the two “veteran” facilities adapting the “pick and stick” layout and process of our newest facility and team! In Memphis, I was able to make some suggestions about tweaking some labeling processes that I feel will be beneficial to increasing pack/ship numbers easily. Sarah stressed to our newest team that she is there to support them, no matter what, and to be in the habit of reaching out to her with issues, observation and suggestions.
Ben and Sarah have instituted an atmosphere of friendly competition within their facility that I cannot adapt to quickly enough here in Reno. Jose and his team are implementing measurements of production in picking, labeling and packing that do not come off as overbearing or micromanaging in a distribution world where metrics sometimes overrule humanity.
The Crystal Creek culture is alive and well in the facilities that I visited. I am a firm believer in the special family feel of our company and made it a point to stress that as often as I could, especially to the younger folks who may not have had a lot of experiences elsewhere. I can honestly say that my co-managers, Ben, Sarah and Jose feel it and appreciate it as well, and it is reflected within their teams.
To me, Crystal Creek is about family, team cohesion, collaboration and excellence. While there is always room to improve in all our spaces, I felt and saw these things in both facilities.
Thank you, CCL, for this opportunity to learn and grow!
From all of us at Crystal Creek Logistics!
Notable accomplishments from 2019:
The team as Crystal Creek is extremely pleased to announce the opening of our 5th location; CCL Memphis! Memphis was chosen principally because of its ability to reach almost 100% into both Texas and Florida (and all points in between) in just 2 days or less via ground shipping, thus adding to our already strategically well-placed locations.
Many of these southern states are often hit with very high temperatures, our clients will realize great value from this location, benefiting from a ‘time in transit’ perspective – meaning less dry ice and shorter distances traveled to reach the customer. Our newest facility consists of 45,000 square feet, containing both freezer and cooler space and is attached to an additional 300,000 square foot cold storage that will act as overflow storage. Additionally, there will be freezer space set at -20 degrees F. which makes for great ice cream and ultra-sensitive product storage.
In typical Crystal Creek fashion, we were able to open our facility on time albeit, minus a few components not fully functional at the time of launch. Thankfully, we had a plan B. We were able to make use of space in our adjoining overflow storage facility and ensure that all orders were shipped as planned. It took some quick wits and creative thinking, but we did indeed pull off a smooth and successful launch!
We are currently entering our 4th week of shipping and have been hitting our planned daily package schedule even though we had a somewhat less than ideal, make-shift working environment. Friday will be a very exciting day for our team when we finally get to move everything into our new warehouse and start up in earnest. We are certain that our team is eagerly looking forward to their new digs as well!
About the Team
Our manager is Jose Devine, he came to us from 1-800 ProFlowers and has a great deal of relevant experience. For the last 10 years, Jose was responsible for shipping tens of thousands of bundles of flowers over the holiday weekends. Along with Jose, came four of his team members; Monica, Delia, Sadie and Oscar. Their focus and collective experience allowed us to get underway minus the mayhem and confusion that is all too often associated with a new launch. To this seasoned team, we’ve added a stronger admin team – led by Stacie and Keidra, both with strong HR and business management skills. In conjunction with these two, we plan to add additional admin support staff to assist us in the early hours of the day since Memphis is two hours ahead of the Ferndale facility. This will be a huge help in allowing us to get an even earlier jump on all that goes on relative to the east coast.
If you have interest in our Memphis facility, be sure to let Mike know. We will not be adding new clients until early Q3 of 2020 as it stands presently, but now is the time to initiate discussions for those interested.
On Saturday October 19th, team members from CCL Ferndale, WA planted trees to aid in salmon habitat restoration along the Nooksack, River. Salmon are an essential food source for the critically endangered Puget Sound Southern Resident Orcas.
Planting native trees alongside waterways provides shade and macro-invertebrates that help salmon fry thrive. The roots of trees help to reduce the erosion alongside salmon runs.
Earlier this year, Crystal Creek supplied funds to be used toward the purchase and installation of 5,000 native plants along streams in Whatcom County.
Brittany Maben, organizer of the CCL work party:
“I have participated in many environmental restoration work parties, but this event was by far the most inspiring. The forecast showed 100% chance of rain so I was astounded by the number of people who showed up to help improve the habitat of our local wildlife. To have colleagues from CCL by my side in the mud and the mulch was just the cherry on top. In a few hours, each person was only able to plant a handful of trees, but if you multiply that by over 100 people participating in each of the 70 similar events throughout the region, you start to realize the difference that one day of hard work can bring.”
Following an article by Multichannel Merchant
Crystal Creek does its best to stay up to date on Fulfillment and Ecommerce News to share with clients and other subscribers to this newsletter. This month we’ve delved into an article written by Mike O’Brien for Multichannel Merchant titled The Customer Expectation Chase Continues. In this article it outlines that there’s no doubt that the increased demand for fulfillment has been affecting merchants and businesses small and large. With an average increase of 15% annually, the growth of ecommerce is stretching operations and fulfillment resources to the max. Topics related to this dilemma regarding fulfillment bandwidth include scarce and more expensive labor, tight markets for facilities, ever-rising shipping costs, and the growing need to invest in new innovative technology and systems to push more orders out.
Attracting and retaining employees can be a challenge when currently it is a matter of hours instead of days and weeks for warehouse workers to trade up and find a position elsewhere in the industry. The article lists suggestions from experts on how to bring more employees into the business: referring a friend, performance bonuses, local temp agencies, job fairs, recruiting websites, identifying turnover rates and capturing the reasons for employee departure. Here at CCL, we’ve found that cultivating an all-inclusive culture and driving unique programs keep our employees engaged at the workplace. This yields us moderately low turnover rates and high order accuracy. We host programs where we offer free food, employee safety loans, open calendars and schedules, team time off requests, and the option of working from home for our admin team.
Productivity demands and labor issues have merchant companies turning to robotics and automation. We want to work faster, with flawless accuracy all while lowering costs and this new technology and help us get there. CCL is looking into certain technologies to streamline pick and pack operations that will free more personnel for more complex tasks on the warehouse floor. In the article, it states that “based on different industry measures, companies can realize productivity gains up to 46% from warehouse automation”.
MCM created an Outlook survey and OMS (order management systems) were highest on the priority list for technological investments next to automation for 2019. These systems are used to manage a depth of inventory across the country. Having multiple facilities and consistently expanding, CCL currently uses an OMS and WMS (warehouse management system) for inventory. At this time, we are interested in the possibility of developing our own custom OMS/WMS software with new capabilities to fit all our clients’ needs. This could be seen in the form of more visibility, custom reporting, and better integration for inbound and received inventory.
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