Distribution

Technology, Happiness and the “Lingua Franca” of Warehousing

Thom Campbell gets it.

He’s the chief strategy officer at Capacity LLC, a 3PL leader in order fulfillment, e-commerce and electronic data interchange (EDI). He takes a special interest in attracting and retaining the people who make up Capacity’s extraordinarily passionate culture.

When he sat down with my The Great Supply Chain Podcast co-host, Bill Denbigh, to chat about technology and culture in the warehouse, it was clear that Thom has been able to tap into his multi-generational and heterogeneous team in a way that engaged his workforce and promoted employee satisfaction. As a result, this translated into tenure and professional growth in Capacity’s workforce. Threaded through his discussion is this notion of decreasing the psychological distance between management and employees.

“Always be willing to roll up your sleeves and go down into the warehouse. I just remember so many stories where this advice has served me well. I once showed up at my California facility in a suit with another sales guy in a suit; I was just helping him with a sale. The warehouse team had been working flat out and the place looked it, and so we took off the jackets, rolled up the sleeves. The security guard’s jaw bounced off the floor as we proceeded to clean up the warehouse. But that’s key. Do it. Go down to the floor, see what’s going on and work with your people hip to hip,” he advised.

“Everybody in the company has shown a willingness to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty; and that’s pretty key in a business like mine,” continued Thom.

For me, it elicits this oldie-but-goodie illustration of what it means to lead:

This approach has served Thom and Capacity LLC extremely well. It has provided Thom with the wealth of insights he applies to decisions like technology adoption, labor management and how to evolve his 3PL for a shifting order profile spurred by e-commerce and digital commerce. It has allowed him to transcend cultural, lingual and generational differences and find common ground through technology.

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In this podcast, join Thom, Bill and I where we consider the people-side of the warehouse business. You’ll hear a frank conversation about the challenges and opportunities that emerge from diversity in the workforce. Plus, we’ll give you a glimpse at how technology has been applied to strengthen employee engagement and efficiency. As Thom puts it, “The contemporary generations are just faster and faster to pick up on technology and to deploy it with less hesitation… it’s part of our pathway to greater success.”

3 Key Takeaways

1. Encourage and Facilitate Internal Growth

There is misconception that millennials and gen Z don’t last long at a company. In fact, what they need is to feel like there are opportunities to grow for them to see a future in staying at the company.

2. Roll Up Your Sleeves

“As a leader don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and help out in the warehouse,” said Thom Campbell. Demonstrating this will help build the company culture and showcase to your warehouse employees that this is a team effort no matter your title.

3. Embrace Your Diverse Workforce

Understand the benefits that a diverse workforce can bring to your organization – whether it be age, race, language, gender you identify as, experience, etc. When your company embraces this diversity and creates a strong company culture you will be rewarded with innovation, new perspectives and an enterprise that will thrive.

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