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Catching Up With Patrick Randolph
The last year has seen considerable growth at Lynx Fulfillment. During that time the operation grew to include expansion to the West Coast. We were able to catch up with Patrick Randolph recently. Below is a transcript from our Question and Answer session.
Moderator: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me. I know that you have been very busy professionally and personally. Can you provide a quick overview on what you’ve been doing the last couple of weeks before we delve into the previous twelve months?
Patrick: Not a problem. It’s a pleasure to have a chance to catch up. The last few weeks have been a very busy time. I’ve been at our Olean, New York facility working on a project for a client that is using our facility as a staging point for a solar panel installation. We’ve also advanced a level on our House In Order initiative. And in my spare time, I have been renovating the nursery for child number two. She’s due to arrive sometime around October 7th.
Moderator: Congratulations on child number two! You mentioned House In Order. Can you explain what that is?
Patrick: Sure! It’s an initiative that we began a few years ago whereby all items within our facility are located in the most efficient and effective location based on velocity. We’ve taken it a step further in that we now account for the volume of receiving along with the volume of orders.
Moderator: That sounds like quite a bit of work? What is the goal of such an initiative?
Patrick: Initially it was, but now that we have been doing this for a few years it is fairly routine. The goal of this is to maximize space while lowering labor costs.
Moderator: Labor costs are a big factor for many small businesses particularly with the push to increase minimum wage at federal and state levels. Have you seen an impact to your business?
Patrick: There’s always an impact when wages rise. It’s not just unique to one industry or isolated to one business, but ripples throughout the entire business process. For example, we’ve seen increases from vendors such as corrugated packaging suppliers, trucking companies and even our payroll processor. The increases are seen throughout the economy.
Moderator: Does the increase in wages help or harm a fulfillment center?
Patrick: I cannot speak for other fulfillment centers, but I can for Lynx Fulfillment. In our case, our wages were above minimum wage so we were not impacted directly from the wage increase in terms of labor cost. However, we have been impacted by supplier price increases and insurance costs. From a client acquisition perspective, the wage increase has brought more interest from prospective clients. Small businesses are impacted to a greater extent than large corporations by a wage increase. They are looking to control their labor costs on a per order basis. We’re able to scale with them and shoulder the burden that Human Resources tend to create.
Moderator: You opened a facility in Carson, California. How does your labor compare between the California location and the New York location?
Patrick: We are very fortunate to have found some great staff members at the California location. I’m thrilled that they were able to quickly get up to speed. I’m confident that as our West Coast operation grows the staff there will be able to handle everything that comes their way.
Moderator: You spent quite a bit of time there during the launch. How was that experience?
Patrick: It is one that I will never forget. I lived in Los Angeles for the first three months of the facility opening. It is so different from our Olean, New York location. It was a blank canvas where I was able to take the years of experiences that we had in Olean and transfer it to the Carson facility. It was quite amazing on a professional level.
Moderator: You lived there for three months. That had to be tough on your family?
Patrick: My wife and son were amazing during those three months. She was newly pregnant yet allowed me to focus on something that was important to Lynx Fulfillment’s future. She was so selfless during the process. At the same time, I learned so much about myself. How often do you get to leave home for three months to follow a dream? I did come home to quite a list of chores though.
Moderator: You mentioned earlier that you were working on a solar panel installation project. Can you tell me more about that?
Patrick: It’s a first for us. We were approached by a company that handles large solar panel installations throughout the United States. They needed approximately 12,000 square feet to temporarily store nearly 1,000 oversized pallets that weigh roughly 1,900 lbs each. The pallets would arrive on trailers and we’d have less than an hour to unload a trailer. There would be up to five trailers arriving at a time. Then once all were received, we would begin a slow trickle of pallets into the job site. We had to arrange the transportation as well. It has been a cool experience.
Moderator: How involved are you in these types of projects?
Patrick: Heavily. In this case, I spent several nights on a forklift offloading those pallets. It was a thrill that brought me back to the early days of Lynx when I was involved in the pick and pack of orders.
Moderator: The last year has seen quite a bit of growth. Is there something that you are most proud of?
Patrick: Our staff. I am blessed to have an incredible team. The three months that I was in California meant that I was out of the NY operation almost entirely. During that time we had several promotions. Danielle took on the role of Director of Client Relations and Alysa took on the role of Director of Operations. They really held the business together and pushed it forward. The rest of our team focused on their roles and were exceptional.
Moderator: Now that you have two locations. Is there a third in the works?
Patrick: *laughing* I think my wife might have a say in that. *more laughing* Seriously though. I was told by someone that I consider a mentor to take an opportunity when it presents itself. As of today, there are no immediate plans for a third location. Long term though we have our eyes set on another location.
Moderator: Would you like to tell the readers where that will be?
Patrick: No. Not yet. I tend to believe that once the words are spoken then there’s a push to make it happen. For now, we need to focus on what we have in front of us.
Moderator: Aside from a third location, what can we expect from Lynx Fulfillment in the coming year?
Patrick: More of what we’ve been doing for the last seven years. A focus on helping small businesses grow. The same focus on fast and accurate order fulfillment. A refocusing within our call center to wrap more solutions around the needs of our clients. A heavier focus on Amazon.com inventory preparation and inventory staging. And hopefully a little bit of fun along the way.
Moderator: You just mentioned Amazon.com. They seem to be branching into the entire product cycle. Where do you fit in?
Patrick: Our focus is not to compete or to even be like Amazon. We want to continue offering our clients the ability to sell their inventory on multiple platforms. That means that we want to be able to provide FBA inventory preparation, but also to provide our clients with the ability to sell their inventory at higher margins on their own websites. We can do the fulfillment for their web orders, Amazon Seller Central orders and also ship to Amazon warehouses on their behalf. Ultimately, we want to give them the most flexibility possible for their inventory at the lowest cost.
Moderator: For my final question, I’d like to ask you about the future. Where do you see Lynx Fulfillment in the next five years as it relates to the industry?
Patrick: The industry is going through quite a bit of compression. The Amazon effect is being felt by many of the smallest fulfillment centers. They are being driven out of business. The larger centers are trying to compete with Amazon either as a marketplace or as an alternative. Their focus is on the largest of companies. The reality is that Amazon is setting the market and trying to compete is risky. Lynx is positioned to continue focusing on small businesses and startups. Our two locations now mean that we can cut ship times for clients and lower shipping costs. We’ll never be Amazon nor do we want to be. So where will be in five years? I’d be happy to look back in five years and see that we are very similar to what we are today – focused on small businesses and offering wrap around solutions to those businesses.
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