When Pat Schaecher came in to Kraemer’s Nursery in Mt. Angel, Ore., less than two years ago, he took a good, hard look at the company’s entire shipping process for a season. Then he made changes, and the result was going from dropping three to four orders a day, down to just three orders a season.
The company has 850 acres and ships to big-box stores nationwide, including Alaska. With plenty of material going out, it needed a better shipping process, so Schaecher was hired as the logistics operations manager.
“We started out that whole process by analyzing how long it took us to do every process,” Schaecher says.
He used stopwatches to see how long everything took to get done, from processing an order, to printing labels, to putting the material on a rack, and so on.
“Once we did that, we had a pretty good system in place to start putting people into positions that were meaningful,” he says. “The next thing we did was we built a team based on a lot of open communication and willingness to serve within the company.”
One of the first things he did was add another dispatcher from in-house, whom Schaecher has nicknamed “the quarterback.”
“He really is where it all starts,” he says. “He takes a few steps back and looks at how this whole process is going to go.”
The dispatcher maximizes each truck load so there are no dropped orders and gets those orders out to the rest of the distribution team in a timely manner.
Schaecher also created daily loading rounds to use labor more efficiently, changed the dock to increase flow, switched to a color-coding system for orders so drivers wouldn’t have mix-ups, and conducted mid-season and end-of-season reviews with the trucking companies.
He says those changes were possible because of bringing someone with an outside perspective into the organization.
“It’s always best to have a set of fresh eyes. Maybe it’s somebody from another part of the company that has nothing to do with distribution. Maybe a team in the company can go around and say, ‘You know, if we did this, it would really improve things a lot,’” he says.
“Be willing to change and accept the changes as something that’s going to make your job easier.”
Want to know more?
Learn more about Kraemer’s Nursery by calling (877) 845-2283 or visiting www.kraemersnursery.com.