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NYSID News Blog

June 8, 2017

NYSID Warehouse Program – “We Deliver!” – Hits It Out of the Park

Category: General — NYSID @ 7:57 pm

More than a decade since its debut shipment, NYSID’s warehousing center has proven to be a successful example of member agency cooperation and customer satisfaction.

NYSID's distribution center occupies 50,000 square feet, with $26.2 million in sales and 763,441 cases shipped in 2016

“Establishing a warehouse and distribution center over a decade ago is one of the best things that NYSID ever did in support of its commodity-producing members and customers,” said Ron Romano, NYSID’s president & CEO. “It shows our level of commitment to the employment of individuals with significant challenges.”

As NYSID explored different ways to improve its operation and increase its bottom line, the “We Deliver” warehouse initiative took flight. Liberty ARC in Amsterdam was the original warehouse site, and staff initially were employed by Liberty before transitioning to NYSID employment.

Four member agencies producing 100 different commodities initially were involved, according to Tim Mott, NYSID’s vice president of operations. In NYSID’s first three decades of operation, an order would come into NYSID’s customer service department, and it may have had five different line items involving five different member agencies and generating five different purchase orders.

Sharon Alleyne, NYSID’s eCommerce product information coordinator, was a customer service representative at the time and recalls the frustration felt by both customers and NYSID. “There were times when days would pass before we could respond to a status update on an order,” she said. “We would need to call multiple member agencies and wait to hear back from them before responding to the customer. Non-standardized packing slips often resulted in confusion as to whether an item was missing, on back order, or if it was coming from another member agency.”

Mary Crowley, NYSID’s senior accounts receivable specialist, also was a customer service representative at the time and knows what a cumbersome process it was. “I remember customers looking for rush orders on items like diapers, which the members weren’t always able to accommodate right away,” she said. “Having commodities stocked at our warehouse helps customers receive what they need in a more efficient and timely manner.”

How Times Have Changed

Today, NYSID’s distribution center occupies 50,000 square feet in Johnstown. Nearly 40 member agencies provide products on more than 700 commodities. In calendar year 2016, distribution center products sales totaled $26.2 million and 763,441 cases, with 15.7 million pounds of products shipped.

One manager and five material handlers work at the distribution center, while one supervisor and five customer service representatives work at NYSID’s headquarters in Albany. With the distribution center in place, NYSID oversees product sales from start to finish. “By taking control of inventory, we have virtually everything under one roof and we’ve consolidated shipping,” Mott said. “Now an order comes into our customer service department, the order goes to the warehouse and ships that day.”

In this 2009 file photo, Doug Chamberlain, John Lee and Sharon Alleyne pose inside NYSID's distribution center in Johnstown

While certain products, including apparel, drug test kits and food, are shipped by member agencies, the majority of products ship directly from NYSID’s distribution center.

NYSID member agencies, customers and NYSID itself have reaped the benefits of the distribution center, according to Mott. “For the members, it’s streamlined and simplified their internal processes,” he said. “They were dealing with everything on a transactional basis and generating a lot of paperwork. Now, the member agency only deals with one purchase order, they fill it, we pay them and it’s done. It’s also helped members from a production standpoint because they can coordinate work schedules and anticipate fluctuations in work flow.”

Thanks to the distribution center, orders are consolidated in one shipment and shipped more quickly, which streamlines customers’ operations and ultimately benefits NYSID, in the long run. Visit NYSID’s e-commerce website to view or order products.

The Arc Otsego works closely with NYSID’s warehouse program to maintain a continuous supply of quality incontinence products for shipment, according to Kevin Scott, The Arc Otsego’s business development and sales coordinator.

“This is what drives our workers and creates the jobs that produce these products every day,” he said. “Understanding customers’ requirements to readily have access to products and being responsive to that need is fundamental to NYSID’s core business philosophy.”

The distribution center crew includes (front row, l-r): Mike Pepper, Terry Pedrick, Mike Ficili; and (back row, l-r): Ryan Bellows, Doug Chamberlain and Tom Lalla, manager

Mott praised NYSID’s distribution center crew and customer service team for their diligence and professionalism. “Our folks do a great job, in terms of productivity and timeliness,” Mott said. “We ship 97 percent of all orders that day, and our accuracy rate has been excellent. We’ve only had two warehouse managers, John Lee and Tom Lalla, ensuring the operation flows smoothly.”

Doug Chamberlain, material handler at NYSID’s distribution center, has friends and family who live on the autism spectrum or have other developmental disabilities, and he knows the importance of the “psychic wage” that comes from meaningful employment. “I’m grateful that my job at the warehouse has a positive impact on someone’s daily life,” he said.

Mott is proud of NYSID’s distribution center crew and customer service department for its focus on advancing employment and other opportunities for individuals with disabilities. “When I talk to my staff about sales, it’s about maintaining or growing business to create more opportunities for people with disabilities,” he said. “That’s why it’s important for us to do a good job, be responsive, and meet the needs of our customers. For us, everything we do is about creating those opportunities.”

 

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