The long road to Dallas

By Joe Limbaugh, Motion Industries

At the beginning of March something truly wonderful happened. But to say that it happened in March discredits the amount of time that it took for it to happen. (No, I did not have a grandchild; that happens next month!) So I think the best way to explain this is to start at the beginning.

After several false starts over the years, in the last quarter of 2015, the stars aligned and the decision was made to relocate our Dallas distribution center. The facility on Mockingbird Drive opened sometime around the invention of the wheel, and it looked exhausted. The ceilings were low; the aisles were narrow; and no amount of scrubbing could make it tour-ready. We no longer loved this building, and it no longer loved us back.

After some extensive studies, a parcel of land was selected in Grand Prairie, and the gears were set in motion. The building was designed; material handling equipment (MHE) was engineered; and relocation plans were developed. All of this was captured in a playbook, which we borrowed from one of our subsidiaries. Standing meetings were created, and a team of people ate, drank, and breathed the new DC over the course of about 14 months. In all, more than 225 meetings were conducted.

My favorite of these meetings were what we called “full meetings.” Representative from all departments here at corporate in Birmingham participated. We did this to make sure that all were apprised of evolving plans and, of more importance, to gain valuable feedback for our planning. At the beginning of these meetings, we showed a slide that revealed a countdown to moving day. As the days decreased, the gravity of what was heading our way became more real. Having a lot of people seeing this number at the same time gave me comfort…misery really does love company.

At long last, the time had come. On March 1, more than 150 Motion Industries teammates began making their way to Dallas. DC superstars from Chicago, Baltimore, Birmingham, and California facilities joined other Motion volunteers from all over the United States. All functional departments at corporate had representatives participate, and field leadership joined in the fun. A comprehensive plan for training and safety was reviewed upon arrival, and then we all dug in. I have always believed that a “volunteer” was someone who misunderstood the question. But that was not the case here. Everyone, and I mean everyone, worked toward the common goal.

The planning and teamwork paid off. It became obvious after the first night that we would be running ahead of schedule. By Saturday the few remaining temporary employees that we had hired were released. By Sunday all product had been moved and was where it should be (we tested 1,000 locations, with 100% accuracy.) The MHE was exercised and operated smoothly. The new building was tidied up for Monday’s opening, and then like a receding wave, the Motion employees began returning to from whence they came.

So what did we accomplish over a long weekend? Here are some stats:

  •  20,354 SKUs (or 827,797 pieces) were moved.
  • 2,626 pallets traveled a total of 1,860 miles in 62 truckloads.
  • It took a total of 21 hours to move all product from shelf to shelf.

And…

  • There were no reportable injuries.
  • Business was not interrupted.
  • We have room for even more SKUs and manufacturers.
  • The participants had an opportunity to network, mentor, and make new friends.

Sure, we had a few wrinkles. One person arrived incredibly ill and had to remain in his hotel room until well enough to travel home. And a small group must have been so excited to get working that they left home without the necessary beauty supplies – requiring a quick last-minute drive to a beauty supply store. But all in all, things went smoothly.

Now, I don’t want anyone to take this the wrong way. What our team accomplished is truly world-class. To select, design, and move into a 154,000 square-foot warehouse as planned and under budget is incredibly impressive. But when I say that something truly wonderful happened, I'm not thinking about that. I'm reflecting upon the 150-plus people who came together from different places and joined local employees for one long weekend to become this incredible (formidable) team of dedicated superstars. They worked long, hard hours and never stopped until the job was done.

When I returned the following week, I was admittedly a bit tired, but I was propelled by what I can only describe as a glow. I was and remain extremely proud to be a part of this project and team.

It really is true that people make the difference. Here at Motion Industries, I can personally vouch for that.