|Exel specializes in warehousing operations|
by Kurt Johnson
Handling freshly made pet food has become a business within a business at the Procter & Gamble plant west of Aurora.
It’s become such a specialized function, in fact, that P&G hired Exel, Inc. five years ago to run its warehouse operations. Third-party logistics is Exel’s bread and butter, and General Manager David Floyd said his company is a model of efficiency in that regard.
"One of the things Exel brings to the table is a better solution to a company’s logistics needs," Floyd explained. "We’ve been doing this for a long time and we know a lot about the business."
Exel engineers spend a great deal of time planning warehouse layouts to improve efficiency, then do time studies to figure out how long it takes to move a pallet from point A to point B. The faster product can be stacked, loaded and delivered to its destination the better the bottom line for both Exel and P&G.
"Once we get to know a company’s business, we can save them some cost in the long-run," Floyd said. "What we strive for and what our customers expect out of us is flawless delivery, innovative customized solutions and superior service."
Exel has a staff of 65 hourly employees and nine managers who keep product moving 24/7 with a four-shift rotation. About 85 percent of their time is spent on forklifts, with the remaining effort focused on building customized pallets made to order for companies wanting a unique mix of pet food products.
"Right now we’re doing a little more customization for the holidays, but after Christmas that will drop off some," Floyd said. "We’ll take three or four pallets of different items and break it down, rebrand it and ship it off however the customer wants it."
In some other warehousing operations, Exel takes product from multiple customers and puts it together in a package for Walmart, for example. The company handles three of Walmart’s five return centers across the country, another core piece of a growing business.
Though Exel has its own transportation division, P&G contracts those services here to a separate entity.
Fifth year at Aurora plant
For years, P&G handled its own warehouse operations at the local plant until the decision was made five years ago to bring in a company that specializes in the field. Plant manager Kathy Brown said P&G chose to outsource the distribution center for two reasons.
"First, it allows us to hire companies whose core business is distribution, bringing us added technical understanding and depth," she explained. "Second, it allows us to focus our manufacturing resources on our core business, which is making and packing premium products. It gives us very clear focus on the skills we look for when we hire employees, and allows us to tailor our training and reward systems to match our core business."