To Philip Dana, it's more than a number. It's become a mission and a mantra.
Dana's title is "talent acquisition manager" of Amazon.com's North American operations. In his role, he oversees hiring for the company's 34 fulfillment centers on the continent.
Right now, he is looking to fill about 5,000 slots.
Amazon's booth was a beehive of activity at the trade show held in conjunction with the Warehousing Education and Research Council's (WERC) annual meeting this week in Atlanta. When approached by a reporter and asked what was new at the company, Dana replied almost breathlessly, "We're hiring."
When asked what kind of people he was seeking, Dana rattled off multiple skill sets of both the white- and blue-collar varieties. The assortment was too numerous for the reporter to keep up with basic notepad and pen.
Seattle-based Amazon, riding the e-commerce wave that shows little sign of cresting, is hiring for managerial positions in operations, facilities, safety, human resources, IT, and what the company calls "learning," according to representative Michele Glisson. It is also looking to staff hourly associate positions, she said. The e-commerce giant currently has 15,000 full-time people working in fulfillment alone.
The frenetic pace of hiring is expected to continue for the next one to two years across the company's network, Glisson said.
Amazon is also aggressively pursuing veterans to join its fulfillment operations, Glisson said. "We offer military veterans several programs that help them transition more easily into the civilian workforce and connect them with our significant internal network of veterans to provide mentoring and support," she said in an e-mail to DC Velocity.
Amazon is not the only organization that's recruiting veterans. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has created a program to train vets for truck driving careers, Boyd Stephenson, ATA's manager for safety and security operations, said at an international trade conference last week in Norfolk, Va. At the WERC conference this week, Patrick L. Reed, executive vice president and chief operating officer of FedEx Freight, the less-than-truckload arm of FedEx Corp., said the company is making an aggressive push to bring vets into the labor and management folds.
On March 19, Amazon said it planned to buy Kiva Systems Inc., the North Reading, Mass.-based maker of robotic order fulfillment technology, in an all-cash deal valued at $775 million. The transaction is believed to be part of Amazon's strategy to have its own fulfillment software and systems to keep up with its order demand, especially if it decides to expand beyond its traditional business-to-consumer model and deeper into the industrial, business-to-business fulfillment category.