The pack department has come a long way since KUIU’s inception in 2011, with multiple moves and expansions as popularity and volume have increased. Up until Q2 of 2014, packs were assembled in a small dedicated back room at the Dixon office. Every day a truck load of bags and suspension would be picked up from the warehouse and brought to the office to fill the days orders. In the mornings an Excel spreadsheet would be printed, containing information for each pack order- customer name, order number, order time/date, and pack style/size/color; which would then be written out manually onto a separate form for each order before the building would proceed. Once assembled, each finished pack and form would be loaded up and brought back to the warehouse the next day for shipping.
I still remember the 2013 Black Friday sale like it was yesterday: The spreadsheet was at least fifteen pages long and took over 2 hours to hand write onto individual sheets. Ben Britton and I assembled packs in the back room until the wee hours of the morning for days on end to catch up. The only thing that kept us going was our goal of lining each hall in the office with a solid wall of packs on each side- which we ended up doing more than once. One morning Jason walked in and said “Okay, enough is enough- what do we have to do to get this operation moved over to the warehouse?”
The photo below depicts the gauntlet of packs that would pile up in the hall on an average afternoon in the weeks leading up to the department move.
Just in time for the arrival of the ULTRA line in 2014, I got the pack department moved to our spacious warehouse in Vacaville, CA. The assembly team has grown from one full-time employee when I arrived in early-2013 to four full-time assembly employees today.
As a company we spend a lot of time focusing on product transparency, but what’s rarely highlighted is the day-to-day, behind the scenes operation that makes KUIU run. I came up the idea for this article on January 20th, at which point I emailed the Customer Service team asking for a customer willing to have their name and order tracked as a sample. Ricky, one of the newer members to the KUIU team, replied the next morning with a name: D.R. Horrocks of Vernal, Utah.
D.R. Horrocks ordered a Clearance Icon 5200 in Phantom over the phone with Ricky at 11:51am on January 21, 2015. (Notice the brand new Customer Service building).
New orders are loaded twice per day at our warehouse in Vacaville, CA- 11 miles down the highway from our Dixon headquarters. During this process, the warehouse account manager Laura syncs her warehouse management software to KUIU’s order management software, and copies a large file containing each new order that’s been placed since the previous batch. Laura’s software then splits this large file up into individual orders before proceeding to print a “pick ticket” for each order to be packed and shipped. Once the batch of orders has finished printing, Laura manually sorts out any pack orders which are then delivered to Cody, our pack assembly and quality control supervisor.
D.R. Horrocks’ order ticket was loaded and printed at 12:10pm on January 21st, just 19 minutes after his order was placed. Once the new batch of pack order tickets reach the assembly area, Cody, Abel, and George begin work to assemble each pack. Below we see D.R.’s order ticket next to the parts for his new Icon 5200, which Cody is beginning to build.
Each KUIU Full Kit pack requires roughly 17 minutes worth of assembly before it’s ready to ship. Frames, which are received in weekly batches from the frame maker in Sacramento, CA, require sanding and an acetone cleaning before the specialized 3M Velcro is applied. A strip of edge trim is also applied to the bottom of the frame. Next the guys install the necessary webbing and hardware, used to attach the bag to the frame. The final steps include installation of the shoulder straps, waist belt, and bag. The photo below displays each step from start to finish for an Icon Pro Full Kit.
Once a pack has been assembled and bagged with a manual, it’s then taken down to the packing area to be boxed and set in line for shipping. This is also the stage where any additional non-pack items are pulled from the warehouse shelves to be added to the outgoing order. Below Cody is boxing D.R.’s pack for shipment, still within two hours of the order being placed.
After boxing, the pack moves to one of the four shipping stations where it gets weighed and ready for exit. Unique address and product-specific bar codes on the order ticket are scanned into the shipping software, where a number of actions are initiated: 1) The customer’s address and shipping preference pops up in a shipping document, 2) A packing slip with all items on the order is generated and printed, and 3) a shipping label is made. Additionally, this is the point at which a return form and any special offer coupons go into the package as well.
Once the documents and shipping label have been inserted and attached, the package is securely sealed with KUIU packing tape and set on the day’s outgoing order pallet to be picked up by day’s end. FedEx and USPS back up to a bay door roughly 75 feet from the shipping station. Below you see D.R. Horrock’s pack boxed and ready to be shipped via FedEx, just three hours after placing his order.
D.R. was nice enough to send us photos of himself opening the package at his home two days later on Friday, January 23rd.
Having efficiently shipped over 8,000 pack orders in 2014, we feel we have a great program in place- with room to grow as needed. The key to the pack department’s efficiency is having great employees in place who care about the quality of both the product and the customer experience. Even as volume picks up this Spring and Summer, it is our goal for 2015 to get all packs assembled and shipped within 3 business days of the order being placed.
If there’s a another portion of KUIU that you would like to see highlighted in the future, email me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.