MAKING CHRISTMAS MERRY
The Hard Workers of DC55
In the age of online shopping and express shipping, it's easy to take for granted the work behind an order arriving on our front porch. We simply click a button on our phone, and then, like magic, we find the item we'd selected sitting at our doorstep just days later.
While we believe in the magic of Christmas, we know all too well that it's not always the elves in Santa's workshop nor his fleet of reindeer getting gifts delivered to us on time. Rather, it's hardworking individuals in warehouses and distribution centers all over the country pulling gifts from their shelves and packaging them to be shipped, plus logistics workers and delivery drivers navigating all conditions to transport packages to their final destinations.
This holiday season,
we're celebrating them
all; the real makers of
At Wolverine's Distribution Center in Howard
City, Michigan, also known as DC55, over 5,000
orders come through on average every day.
That number multiplies in the week after
Thanksgiving as shoppers all over America take
advantage of the season's best deals to secure
gifts for the people they love. The facility holds
over 5 million units of footwear and apparel and
employs about 200 people, with each individual
playing an instrumental part in fulfilling orders
and making Christmases merry.
At Wolverine's Distribution Center in Howard City, Michigan, also known as DC55, over 5,000 orders come through on average every day. That number multiplies in the week after Thanksgiving as shoppers all over America take advantage of the season's best deals to secure gifts for the people they love. The facility holds over 5 million units of footwear and apparel and employs about 200 people, with each individual playing an instrumental part in fulfilling orders and making Christmases merry.
Like a well-oiled machine, each worker moves swiftly and purposefully about their own task,
whether it’s scanning, driving, lifting, packaging, or loading at one of the operation’s
dozens of stations between its receiving docks at the back of the warehouse
and shipping conveyors on the opposite end.
“When I first got here, I didn’t think it’d be that quick,” says Martin Degrate, an order
selector at DC55. “...how quickly they get [products] off receiving trucks; how quickly they
get them into the spot for the repleners to replen. It’s surprising how quick
the process is actually.”
This fast-moving process all starts with those in the receiving department. As product arrives into the warehouse from suppliers and manufacturers all over the world, it’s met by distribution administrative workers like Ivet Morgan.
“I take in any truck driver that comes through the door, pull weight checks, and make sure
dimensions are good so [products] make it to the proper box,” says Ivet of her role in the
While her job is independent in nature, Ivet relies on her colleagues to stay afloat when the workload is especially heavy, tag-teaming the processing of check-in paperwork from truck drivers and checking the containers that arrive to keep up with the constant flow of inventory.
Once trucks are checked in by Ivet and her counterparts in the administration office, the shipping containers are backed into loading docks and unpacked with haste to avoid any back-ups in the receiving yard.
Walkie drivers are responsible for unloading the shipping containers. Whizzing around for hours until each truck is emptied, walkie driver John Broughton estimates he personally moves 30-40 pallets – or 200-300 boxes of product – each day. From there, forklift pickers move these loads onto the vast warehouse shelves, elevating the product up several stories, then scanning each box and its corresponding rack to digitally map its location.
“It takes fluidity,” says forklift picker Jared Wieczorek of the teamwork and hustle involved in the daily operations of the warehouse and its workforce. “Basically, everybody just gets in sync. And once you’re here long enough, communication doesn’t even rely on words anymore. We just all know. Everyone gets in sync with what’s going on so they know if something gets backed up, everybody knows what to do.”
Far across the warehouse, beyond the towering stacks of inventory, replenishers ensure that sufficient stock of product is accessible to the team of selectors.
Breanna Covey has worked as a selector for the past 4 years. She describes the role as the “middle person of the whole warehouse,” smackdab in between product arriving into the facility and being shipped out. From a handheld scanner, Breanna knows exactly what footwear or apparel to grab and where to find each item.
“We pick [the products] off shelves,” she says. “Then we put them in specific shipping boxes on our cart, and from there they go to finishing,” It’s in the finishing phase where orders are finally packaged, sealed, labeled, and sent out into the world. In a typical day on the warehouse floor, Breanna walks over 15 miles.
What makes the chaos and physical toll worth it, though, is the knowledge that she’s doing it for others; the knowledge that she’s playing a part in someone’s Christmas present, and contributing towards making someone else’s Christmas merry.
“Especially after Thanksgiving and Black Friday, when all those orders start happening, as I'm picking shoes, I think, I bet someone is opening these on Christmas day. And that’s pretty cool."
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