When it comes to hiring hourly workers, most DCs consider themselves lucky if the new hires stick around for 12 months. Not so The Container Store's distribution center in Texas. The Dallas-area DC hires workers with the expectation that they'll settle in for a career. And it's seldom disappointed.
Kip Tindell, CEO and president of the nationwide retailer, described his company's DC hiring and retention policies during his keynote address at the Warehousing Education and Research Council's annual conference last month. The company's acclaimed worker-friendly policies—which have landed it on Fortune magazine's list of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" six times—start with the hiring process, he told his audience. That intensive hiring procedure can involve as many as seven interviews, even for DC employees. Candidates aren't necessarily chosen for their DC experience, Tindell added. "We look for enthusiasm and personality," he said. "We can teach them to drive a forklift." Once hired, new employees receive plenty of attention and support. The company provides an extensive regimen of training—averaging 241 hours in an employee's first year on the job. And when it comes to worker retention, Tindell attributes The Container Store's success to a corporate emphasis on communication. "We have a productive, communications-driven culture in the DC," Tindell told the audience. "Communication is leadership."
It hasn't always been that way. In its early days, the company focused more on keeping its managers and sales associates happy. But that changed in 1995, when Amy Carovillano joined the company as vice president of logistics and distribution. At Carovillano's prompting, Tindell said, managers began asking themselves: "Why not [hire] career minded people in the DC? Why not pay them better? Why not have the same culture as in the office?" And in the end, a worker-friendly DC culture was born.