James (Jim) F.
This month’s Employee Spotlight features Jim F., Sr. Director of Logistics at BDS. As our go-to facilities and warehouse extraordinaire, he manages BDS’ offices, warehouses, and shipments. He also was awarded Corporate Employee of the Year in 2020 for his hard work and dedication to making all our offices safe – not only from COVID-19 but also from a wildfire right up the street – and ensuring our move to our brand-new headquarters was flawless. He is passionate about connecting the dots and has led his team through uncharted waters while focusing on their health and wellbeing. He is a family man and an avid traveler who is looking forward to things opening up again – going back to normal – so he can take his first long trip to a specific island. Read on below to find out where he wants to go!
Q. You were awarded Corporate Employee of the Year, what an honor! How does it feel?
A. It feels great, it’s very nice to be recognized by your peers and after being here so long – it’s a good thing. I am very humbled by it. I can’t remember every Employee of the Year in my 20 years, but I don’t remember a time when someone didn’t deserve it. I think, it’s an award that definitely follows the pulse of that year for that employee. Sean Ludick [President of BDS], said it best when he announced it– unfortunately, a lot of those things I didn’t want to remember – like the fires that enraged around the Irvine building and the logistics it took to make sure everyone evacuated safely.
Q. How has the transition been moving from one location to another during a challenging year?
A. The transition – not to give COVID-19 any form of props – it would have been a lot more difficult managing people moving at the same time. Being able to do the move on our own while everyone was working from home – not a blessing in disguise – definitely made it a lot easier in hindsight. But I did have a plan, we were actually going use a contracted company to move us. When COVID-19 happened a lot of things happened, 1) we didn’t know where the business was going, 2) is there money for this? and 3) everyone is at home, how are we going to do this? I have to give my team a lot of credit for assisting with the transition, for keeping logistics moving, and for packing up the building which we did ourselves to save some costs of bringing in an outside company.
Q. How has it been working with your team during COVID-19, how did you manage to keep everyone safe?
A. I give a lot of credit to Rachelle B. on my team, she has really spearheaded a lot of that. We were forced to set up our own process in a sense. We are talking about 10 people on my team at most, and we had to set up our own process – here is how we are going to handle COVID-19 and here is how we are going to work with each other along with guidelines on cleaning up after each other – we had our own little thing and it worked well. People followed the safety measures we put in place and each one relied on the other coworker to keep each other safe. Wearing a mask has just become second nature here at the office. We have had brushes with COVID-19, indeed it’s scary, but the way that we work together and the trust we share for one another has helped us get through it. Most importantly, at the time no one wanted to lose their job. Everyone’s sentiments were the same – I don’t want COVID-19 but I also don’t want to lose my job – and it’s hard to manage that. Again, I give a lot of credit to my team for working through that. You can’t force someone to have those behavior patterns, they have to be willing to do it. Trust is how we got through it. Trust your coworker to be responsible enough to keep you and everyone around you safe.
Q. How do you define your role and what you do on a day-to-day basis?
A. My job title has become Sr. Director of Logistics now. I have never been one for titles as others may be, though it makes a lot more sense in some departments where there are a lot more layers. The way I look at, if there is anything physical going on inside the corporate office or inside our logistics department, it’s coming through me in one form or another – that’s how I look at my job. If it has to do with being here, getting stuff done, the moving parts and pieces of the office, and the warehouse – they all fall under me one way or another, whether it’s directly or not. That amounts to a lot of things. It’s an ever-changing list of responsibilities that can never truly be defined to one thing. If you had to call it two things, I am in charge of facilities and logistics.
Q. Are you a big family guy?
A. Absolutely, big on family. Family Guy the cartoon, I love that too!
Q. Do you have a mantra for the year 2021, or goals you would love to accomplish this year?
A. Upward and onward I guess, I would love to see us try to integrate – we are going to try to work on that this year with other divisions where we have other warehouses across the country. I would love to see us try and streamline the process of what we do, how it works with other divisions, and places we are doing logistics. When it comes to our facilities, like how many offices do we need, and where do we need them? As the scope of that changes there may be a need to pivot and see where that takes us even if Orange County goes back into the red tier in a week or so, are people really going to come back to the office or has the landscape of the office life changed – I think the answer is “yes” it has completely changed and we don’t know 100% what that is going to look like yet, but we have to be ready to make that change.
Q. As other departments have transitioned to a virtual landscape, what steps have you taken to incorporate the virtual world into logistics and/or has it been possible to do so?
A. We transitioned into a new warehouse management system which saved us. We did that back in 2019. It went online in September of 2019, so come 2020 when COVID-19 hit, we had to be pretty hands off from a perspective of employees being able to be anywhere and place a request. It was pivotal for us to be able to ship and handle their logistical needs without them being on site. Prior to that we had a process, but it was more subjective, you know, people would come out to the warehouse and express what they would need from us. The implementation of the warehouse management system – which luckily, we did in time – streamlined the process and saved us all time and money.
Q. Time for a hard question – do you have a dream travel destination?
A. I do for next year. I will be turning 50, and I want to take a trip to Tahiti/Bora Bora. This year, I haven’t had the urge to travel or make any big plans because they can get cancelled fairly easily, but for next year, that is what I hope to do.
Q. Do you see any trends happening in your field that may be coming up in the near future?
A. I will put it into two different buckets. For facilities and office space, we are seeing everyone trying to figure out what they are going to do next, but I haven’t seen a trend yet of what a clear path looks like on how one is to manage their real estate moving past COVID-19. As for logistics, the trend is just more, more, and more with everyone ordering items online. Amazon is building a giant distribution center right behind our HQ – freight has gone out of control and I believe that it’s due to online shopping – not based on any data I have but based on seeing the uptick in logistics. We are talking 100% + growth for some companies in logistics since last year specifically related to online shopping.
Q. During the 2020 holiday season, the postal service had a bit of a conflict where they were backed up and weren’t able to process their regular load of postage, how did that affect your department and how did you manage it?
A. I tried to manage it through multiple carriers, but every carrier was having issues, so basically there was stuff stacked up in line in the warehouse. We had wrapped pallets of packages waiting to get out. FedEx started to offer weekend pickups because their network would start to slow down on a Saturday and Sunday, but they couldn’t pick up more than a palette at a time. The other way was just being upfront and honest with the client, they were having similar logistical problems with their supply chains, so it never got to a point where it was a big surprise that things weren’t going anywhere.
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