FSI Named a Multichannel Merchant Top 3PL for 2016

FSI – Fulfillment Strategies International Named

a Multichannel Merchant Top 3PL for 2016


Atlanta, GA - FSI has been named a Multichannel Merchant Top 3PL for 2016, a list of leading third-party logistics providers selected by the editors of Multichannel Merchant. 

During our 20 years in business, FSI has established itself as a leading provider of third party logistics/fulfillment services, helping companies to deliver merchandise to consumers, retail stores and businesses around the corner and around the globe.  FSI offers a full suite of 3PL fulfillment services including storage, inventory management, pick/pack/ship of orders, International shipping expertise, promotional support and custom kit assembly.  FSI offers a unique approach to fulfillment support.  By layering technology solutions and system/web site integrations with proven logistics best practices, clients gain a solid partner on their team.  FSI’s clients maintain a wide variety of sales channels requiring all types of support.  Our diverse service offering gives clients the peace of mind to focus on their business development and growth while giving them a true competitive advantage in the marketplace.  

With the growth of ecommerce and the number of 3PLs growing, MCM felt it was important to designate 3PLs that were ecommerce qualified and experienced. This online resource is a searchable database for merchants looking for expert third-party ecommerce fulfillment and logistics services providers. Merchants can review each service provider’s featured capabilities, ideal client types, equipment and systems, contact information and more. 

When asked about being selected as part of the Multichannel Merchant Top 3PL list, FSI’s Vice President & General Manager, Forrest Marbutt stated, “The very core of FSI has always been quality, it is in our company’s DNA.  Our team works hard every day to provide excellence in service and customer experience, so we are very grateful to receive this recognition from our industry peers.”



MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT reaches key decision makers responsible for ecommerce, management, marketing and operations at companies that sell merchandise through multiple channels — including ecommerce, mobile, social, and catalog. Multichannel Merchant delivers original research, as well as in-depth analysis of trends and best practices, news, tactical/how-to, executive summaries, technology and supplier comparisons, tip sheets and resource information to help companies sell & deliver products wherever and whenever the customer wants them – at home, work, store or other locations.

FSI Hosts GMA Plant Tour

FSI was proud to be included in one of the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance's (GMA) latest plant tours.  FSI recently took a tour of the Port of Savannah (see our blog post) through the GMA, and we were very pleased to be included among such important tours within the supply chain industry.  

The event proved to be a great day of networking and education.  In most of our tour situations, FSI is speaking to prospects about what makes FSI the best choice for outsourcing their fulfillment.  In those cases, our visitors are at least somewhat familiar with what a fulfillment company does.  In today’s tour, while some attendees had experience with fulfillment companies, for the rest it was a complete learning experience.  Our discussion topic was “8 Reasons to Outsource to a Fulfillment Company”.  In our tour, FSI was able to demonstrate kit packing, pick/pack/ship, shrink wrapping, receiving, and many other tasks.  Attendees were very interested in learning more about our company background and the top reasons for our growth and success.    

The most common response from those in attendance was the surprise at just how involved the order fulfillment process can be.  It certainly challenged some preconceived notions that fulfillment mostly involves putting something in a box.  If only it were that simple!  While such a tour is of course a condensed view of all that we do, the savvy attendees quickly gained respect for the enormous amount of resources, diverse skillsets, and technology that must all come together to keep everyone from small startups to Fortune 500 companies confident that their order fulfillment is running smoothly throughout the year.

If you missed the tour but would be interested in learning more about what a fulfillment company can do for you, please contact us at 800-944-8108 or email us at sales@fsifulfillment.com.     

FSI Celebrates 20 Years of Business!

What a nice contrast in celebrating 1 year of business on the left and 20 years on the right.  See if you can spot the same 4 people.

Wow, 20 years old!  FSI just celebrated being in business for 20 years!  Back in 1996, the Olympics were coming to town here in Atlanta and the Internet as we know it today w­as just getting off the ground.  Brothers Ken and Hoyt Marbutt founded FSI on April 1st that year with just 13,000 ft² of space.  After a few moves, we’re now using about 180,000 ft².  We opened our doors with our 2 founders and 1 temp, and today we average around 60 total employees.  By the way, that temp from 20 years ago was soon hired full-time and is still with FSI today.  While things change dramatically over the course of 20 years and we have made innumerable adjustments to keep up with those changes, kit packing and pick/pack/ship have always been at the heart of FSI’s core business offerings.  It’s what we do and it’s the reason we have been recognized so often at the local and national levels for providing truly world-class fulfillment services.      

For such a momentous occasion, FSI celebrated our anniversary in style at the nearby Riverside EpiCenter.  Employees got to enjoy their game room, rock climbing wall and bowling alley for a few hours before sitting down for a catered dinner and the fun and camaraderie that always characterize our gatherings.  We ate plenty of cake, gave away lots of prizes (Yeti Coolers are quite popular, you know), reminisced about our favorite memories over the years, and just flat out had a great time together. 

We thank our employees, clients, vendors, partners, and families who have helped make this enormous milestone possible.  It’s a total team effort.  99.95% order accuracy doesn’t happen by itself.  A continually growing business doesn’t happen by chance.  So with all that growth in warehouse space, employees, and clients while improving order accuracy, I hope that means that we’re doing a few things right.  We’ve been growing from the beginning, and we have no plans to stop.  Who knows what FSI will look like in another 20 years, but I do know that we will be around to celebrate it.         


7 YEARS IN A ROW - FSI among 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies

Inc. Magazine Unveils 34th Annual List of America's Fastest-Growing Private Companies: The Inc. 5000

For the 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7thyear in a row, Inc. magazine ranked FSI among the top 5000 fastest growing private companies in America in its exclusive annual Inc. 5000 list.  The list represents the most comprehensive look at the most important segment of the economy—America’s independent-minded entrepreneurs. Companies such as Intuit, Zappos, Under Armour, Microsoft, GoPro, Timberland, and many other well-known names gained early exposure as members of the Inc. 500|5000.  The 2015 list added such powerhouses as Fitbit, Smashburger, Planet Fitness and Radio Flyer.

The 2015 Inc. 5000 was unveiled online at www.Inc.com and with the top 500 companies featured in the September issue of Inc.  The median growth rate was 151.7% with a total revenue of $ 211.2 billion. They’ve collectively created 533,770 jobs.  Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at www.inc.com/inc5000.

Georgia came in at # 6 of the most companies on the list, and Atlanta came in as the # 5 metro area.  Out of the 5000 companies who made the list, only 385 have made the list 7 times or more, and FSI is proud to be one of them.  Check out a closer look at the numbers below:


While it may appear that we are running out of wall space, we say just like we tell our clients who might have the impression that it’s possible to run out of warehouse space:  You send the award, and we’ll make room for it. 

Employee Interview with Robyn Waters, Business Development Consultant

Once again we have an opportunity to conduct an employee interview, so today we talk with a member of our sales team.  These are the guys who are on the front lines showing current and prospect clients just what a world-class fulfillment provider can offer them.  Let’s see what Robyn has to say. 


How long have you worked at FSI?

I have been at FSI for a little over one year.


What is your role at FSI?

My title is Business Development Consultant and as a member of the sales team my primary focus is on growing business by identifying new prospects, while maintaining and growing our existing business relationships.


What did you do before FSI and how in the world did you get roped in with these guys?

I spent the last 9 years with the 3PL industry working in business development for warehousing, transportation and fulfillment. This is a very exciting industry to be in as there is always something different and challenging happening.  The company I worked for decided to do away with all outside sales personnel and go with telemarketers.  Thus, I was the last sales person to have my job eliminated.  I sent a resume to FSI, interviewed with Linda Williamson, and the rest is history.


What do you enjoy about the fulfillment business?

I enjoy meeting people and learning about the many different businesses they are involved in.  Learning about the challenges they face often presents opportunities for FSI to demonstrate capabilities that clients just can’t get elsewhere. I find it fascinating how some of the start-ups got started and how they grew and continue to grow their business.  On the corporate side, I enjoy getting in the door, making that connection, and building strong relationships.  It is simply great fun to be honest and up front, really listen to my customers, and in turn develop long-term business partnerships built on trust.


What do you enjoy about sales?

I am outgoing, optimistic and a true people person.  Therefore sales is as natural as breathing to me. It allows me to daily interact with people and develop relationships. Many of those relationship will lead to successful long-term business partnerships.  I love that sales requires many different activities, so it keeps things interesting.  It allows you to be creative and the job varies so much from day to day.  On one day you’re a researcher, the next day you’re a negotiator, and the next day you’re attending various industry events, all the while contributing to the FSI’s continued growth.


What have been some of your memorable moments from your time at FSI?

FSI is family owned and hands on.  They provide a warm environment for employees.  They have pot luck lunches, Thanksgiving Lunches, Christmas Lunches and tail gate lunches. It seems we really like to eat around here.  J Even special little treats like an ice cream cart in the summer.  They have incentive programs for employees which reward them for ideas that improve workflows and that make FSI a better place. I think I was most impressed with my first Christmas at FSI.  Christmas is really festive here!  Ken and Forrest are like Santa making sure everyone has something in their stocking, a warm meal in their stomach and plenty of good cheer for all.


What do you think separates FSI from other fulfillment companies? What makes FSI different?

It is the people at FSI that make the difference.  From management to warehouse worker, everyone will go the extra mile.  FSI works hard to determine the most accurate, reliable fulfillment plan for its customers. FSI also has an implementation specialist which will handhold each new customer and work with them on getting their account up and running.  FSI has an in house technology team that will work endlessly to help customers achieve their desired result from an IT prospective. 


FSI has enjoyed some growth (13,000 ft² - 180,000 ft²), longevity (20 years) and won some awards along the way since the business began in 1996. What would you attribute FSI's success to?

I have noticed FSI looks ahead to where technology is trending and how it impacts our industry.  They determine what FSI needs to do to stay ahead of the game.  So when potential customers or existing customers find that their business needs are evolving, FSI is either prepared with a solution or willing to work with the customer to build one. This is not just on the IT side but in every department.  FSI truly strives to be best in class.  


Robyn, what do you enjoy doing with your spare time outside of FSI?

I am the original home body.  I enjoy spending time with friends. I love to cook, therefore I love to host parties, from sit-down dinner parties to come as you are and sit by the fire pit. I have two pets and while I love them both equally, my dog Leo demands a lot of attention and takes a good bit of my spare time.  He is still young and highly energetic. I also enjoy occasional weekend getaways to nearby locations.  I love my church and attending different functions they have as well as participating in some of the many outreaches they do each year.


My babies Leo (the dog) and Miller Lite (the cat)

Employee Interview - Shawanda Hotchkiss

It has been a while since we have posted an employee interview so let’s see what Shawanda has to say about life at FSI.  We couldn’t possibly do without our order selector team and are grateful for all the work they do as we continue our steady growth. 


Shawanda, how long have you worked at FSI, and what is your role?

I have worked at FSI for about 5 years.  I am an order selector – we represent the “pick” in the pick/pack/ship process of FSI’s core business.


What did you do before FSI, and how in the world did you get roped in with these guys?

I was a teacher before coming to FSI.  I came to FSI after moving to Georgia from California to help my mom who is visually impaired.  I went to a temp agency who placed me at FSI, and have been here ever since.     


What do you enjoy about the fulfillment business?

I like the fast pace of the fulfillment business.  I also enjoy reading the names of the people who place orders.  You never know whose name you’ll come across, including famous ones.  Peyton Manning for example.


What have been some of your memorable moments from your time at FSI?

I have several memorable moments at FSI, but two in particular come to mind.  The first was completing the Tough Mudder event with my FSI co-workers – I loved it!  We came together as a team and completed the course together.  It was such an awesome feeling, and I’ll never forget it (pics below).


I also remember the passing of my beloved brother.  When he passed, I realized that my co-workers were more than just my co-workers, there are also my family.  Their love and support helped me so much.  It’s hard to put into words how they came together for me, but they did, and for that I am eternally grateful.  I tell people that I genuinely love and respect all of my FSI family.  They were there for me at my lowest point in life, and I thank God for them, because they helped me rise back up.


What do you think separates FSI from other fulfillment companies?  What makes FSI different?

I think what separates FSI from the others is that we work together as a team, because we know we are family.  We care about how each member of our team does their job, and we help each other get the job done.  I feel that our teamwork separates us from the others.


FSI has enjoyed some growth (13,000 ft² - 180,000+ ft²), longevity (19+ years), and won some awards along the way since the business began in 1996.  What would you attribute FSI’s success to?

I attribute FSI’s success to the care that all the employees put into their jobs.  From top to bottom all employees know what it takes to help make FSI successful, and we all work hard to make things happen.


What do you enjoy doing with your spare time outside of FSI?

In my spare time, I enjoy watching all sports.  (Editor’s Note:  Shawanda is our go-to expert for all sports related topics.  She has an opinion on every team - college and pro.  We have a few guys in a Fantasy Football league, and one of our other order selectors was doing surprisingly well in the league considering it was his first time playing.  We kept asking him for his secret, how in the world was he doing so well for someone who wasn’t particularly known for his football acumen.  Finally we got the truth that Shawanda was his source telling him all the moves to make.)

FSI Sponsors Caring For Others, The Art of Nature Gala

FSI was proud to support the charitable organization Caring For Others, Inc. (www.caring4others.org) in their Art of Nature Gala event held at the Georgia Aquarium.
Caring For Others, Inc. is a human services organization established to facilitate personal dignity and provide basic necessities to economically-disadvantaged individuals, senior citizens, the disabled, the unemployed, and families with children.  They offer an advanced model for human services that strives to prevent the familiar cycle of poverty many people face today.  Caring For Others helps stabilize lives by meeting immediate basic needs of food and clothing, and then provide support to help clients become more self-sufficient.

It was a great night for a great cause, and the atmosphere at a Georgia Aquarium event is hard to beat.  I suppose we can rest from our day jobs of order picking, inventory management, kit packing and shipping to have a little fun out on the town.  Back to the grind soon though to get those orders out.     

Forrest and Susannah Marbutt with former Atlanta Mayor, Congressman, and United States Ambassador Andrew Young

Part of the FSI family enjoying a good meal for a great cause

FSI's 2015 Tough Mudder: Bigger, Muddier, Longer

For the past 3 years, FSI has completed the Tough Mudder as both a group team building event and as a charitable fundraiser.  Proceeds from Tough Mudder events go towards The Wounded Warrior Project.  For those who may not recall, let’s review what exactly the Tough Mudder is.  Here is what their website has to say:

We trained together for several months leading up to the event.  Many of us joined a nearby gym and would work out together in the mornings.  We also worked out together after work with combinations of workouts using our client’s fitness program, DDP Yoga, boot camp style exercises, running laps around FSI, we put in a chin up bar in the office, and endured trail running in the rain at nearby Sweetwater Creek State Park.  The team building on the training alone was more than we could have ever asked for.  And it didn’t hurt that we were promoting a healthier lifestyle together along the way.

Our team just keeps getting bigger.  Last year we thought we had outdone ourselves by having 35 participants.  But then this year we went and topped that by having 45!  Check us out in our before/after pics:  (Yes, I know there are not 45 people in the picture, but do you know how hard it is to corral 45 people for something like this?)  

It may sound like I’m stating the obvious that the Tough Mudder was muddy, but believe it or not, this year’s event was one of the muddiest we’ve ever encountered.  And more mud makes the obstacles tougher.  There was one particular obstacle called the Mud Mile where you had to drop into these mud pits and climb out one after the other until you had completed all 6 or so of them.  Each pit was deeper than the one before, and on the last couple of pits, you could not get out of them alone.  It took complete teamwork to get our crew out.  Even worse was the fact that we were one of the last waves of the day, which means that the course was all but destroyed by the time we got to the obstacles.  Check out how the mud pits looked when I went through them in the earlier wave (more on that in the Longer section) when I could get out by myself compared to how they looked when our group went through them:

Even the Arctic Enema obstacle was extra muddy.  What in the world is an Arctic Enema?  Oh, just where you jump into an industrial-sized Dumpster full of ice water, that’s all.  Check out a picture from last year’s Arctic Enema compared to a couple from this year.

The event is advertised as 10 to 12 miles, so you don’t know what exactly it’s going to be until you get there.  Plus the course changes each year.  As best we can tell last year, our GPS watches showed it to be about 10.5 miles.  This year’s event looked closer to a little over 11 miles.  Okay, hardly much to brag about on it being longer at 10.5 miles to 11.  But here is what I will brag about, and yes, it is about myself.  I ran the course 3 times!  Yes, you read that correctly.  I was in the first wave of the morning, ran it as fast as I could by myself, ran it immediately again fast by myself, then met up with the group for the 3rd time.  It was all I could do to make it to meet up with the group on time.  In total, my GPS watch showed that I had run over 34 miles.  Our group was near the back of the pack, and they were shutting the course down behind us.  I was on the course for just about the entire day for 8.5 hours.  By the way, a marathon is 26.2 miles, and that’s without obstacles.  

So you may be asking yourself, why?!  Why would anyone do that?  Aren’t you just bragging?  Okay, maybe I am bragging a little.  But the point that I’m trying to make about why is that I love challenges, and I will do whatever it takes to meet those challenges.  I love being able to do what some say cannot be done.  Some guys in our group that ran the event last year first came up with the idea to do it twice this year.  So all during our months of training, that has been the goal for a small group of us.  The plan was to do our first loop earlier in the day by ourselves, then meet up with the rest of the group for the 2nd loop.  It was all dependent on when they told us our group start time was, which you don’t know until near the event.  People kept telling us we were crazy.  Some said we couldn’t do it.  We can’t do it?!  Oh yeah, we’ll show them.  However, as the event date got closer, our group of overachievers got smaller and smaller.  So small that the group just ended up being me.  Well, I figured I had been training for this, and I’ve been telling everyone I was going to do it, so I had to back up my bold talk with action and prove all the naysayers wrong.  When we learned that our group start time was one of the last start times of the day, I realized that not only did I have plenty of time to run the event before our group start time, but I also had time to run it twice!  

How does that apply to FSI?  That “I can do anything” “meet any challenge” “do what they say can’t be done” attitude carries through our entire culture here at FSI.  We will do whatever it takes to accomplish our goals.  We WILL do what other fulfillment companies say can’t be done and we never back down from a challenge.  You’ve got an impossible order volume?  FSI will make it possible.  You’ve got a project that requires more space than most other companies are willing to tackle?  FSI has the space resources to make that happen.  Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, any day of the year order volume maxing you out?  Bring it on!  FSI will make it happen.  FSI is tough enough to handle your fulfillment challenges!

FSI Becomes Official Toys For Tots Drop-Off Site In 2015

The busy Holiday season is now winding down at FSI.  We successfully picked orders, packed and shipped to customers all over the US and the world to make our clients look good!  FSI shipped orders of merchandise into large retail stores for many clients to make sure the shelves were stocked for Holiday shoppers.  Through all of this, our team members enjoyed their Christmas activities with families and friends.  We even said a special goodbye to two associates retiring from the FSI family after many years of service.  

The season was busy and the schedule was hectic, but the Holidays would not be complete at FSI without a “Giving Back” service project.  This year we took our Toys for Tots project from last year one step further.  FSI became an official Toys for Tots drop-off site for 2015.  We were registered on-line, received the signage and donation boxes from Toys for Tots headquarters and were listed in the Atlanta registry so that other companies in the area could drop off their donations at our facility.  It was great for FSI to use our expertise in package handling to collect toys for children in need and deliver them to the regional distribution center before Christmas week.  One company that began their business in our office complex, years ago when it was first developed, recognized the address on the Toys for Tots site and knew they had a local donation site close by.  Their employees arrived with several vehicles full of donations just in time for us to take the final delivery to Toys for Tots.  It was great to be an extension of the wonderful Toys for Tots organization this season!

We at FSI trust that all our clients, their customers, our vendors, friends and families had a blessed Christmas season.  We look forward with hope to a new beginning in 2016 that FSI, our clients, local communities and Nation will remain strong.   

Wishing you and yours a very healthy, happy and prosperous New Year from FSI!

It's So Hard to Say Goodbye

FSI is fast approaching our 20 year anniversary.  So when 2 of our team members who have been here 14 and 9 years retire, it’s tough to say goodbye.  FSI’s annual Christmas Party was also a retirement party for Fred Nichols and Bobby Bounds.  Don’t worry, the kit packing and daily pick/pack/ship orders will still go on. Thanks to thorough succession planning, we’ve got great people trained and ready to take over with confidence.

Fred and Bobby have worked hard all their lives to earn the right to retire, and we wish them the very best. It’s just going to be hard not seeing them around on a daily basis. At times like this, we realize anew just how much of a family we are at FSI.  Contratulations to Fred and Bobby! 

Let the Holidays Begin!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!  FSI's busy Holiday season is now reaching high gear.  Our shelves are packed with the latest client inventory and the order processing and pick/pack/ship of orders for all our terrific clients is well underway.  There are packages from FSI that will be delivered all over the world this Holiday season.  But some of our most important work happens right here at home.

The day before Thanksgiving is a time to step back a bit and contribute towards the Holidays in another very special way.  For the past 13 years, FSI's Director of Business Development, Linda Williamson, has led the delivery teams for Dallas First United Methodist Church's Community Thanksgiving Meal.  With over 100 volunteers working together to prepare, serve, and deliver Thanksgiving meals into our community, this event is a great way to kick off the Holidays in the right spirit.  On Wednesday, November 23rd,  there were 1,122 meals served to those in the community that needed them.  Whether they came to the church to eat or whether one of our 30 delivery teams took the meals directly to homes and shut-ins, we were blessed to be able to serve our community for Thanksgiving again this year.

We at FSI hope all our clients, vendors, families and friends will have a wonderful Holiday season.  Try to find some time to give to, care for and serve others.   After all, isn't that really what the Holiday season is all about?

FSI Enjoys Annual Tailgate Party... And More

Everyone knows how hard the team at FSI works, and there is little we haven’t done to get a job out on time.  But today we had a chance to take a little time out to enjoy our annual tailgate party.  This is simply a chance to wear our favorite team colors, have a great meal of chili, fried chicken, and good desserts as a company, and take care of a few lighter items of business such as distributing the most recent prizes for our employee incentive program.  It was a good time and we’ll look forward to the next one.

But later on this afternoon we had a little more fun.  Most IT managers teach their employees to aspire to new career heights and tackle increasingly difficult technical challenges.  But why stop there?  I am a firm believer of leading by example, particularly when it comes to perpetrating a good, old-fashioned prank.

So what went down?  Well, when afternoon break time rolled around we announced there would be plenty of pizza in the break room.  Sure enough, there was a stack of pizza boxes on a new table and covered with a nice table cloth.  Now a slice of pepperoni pizza is good.  But better?  Watching our friends pick up a paper plate, open the pizza box, and scream when a terrible clown face pops up.  Our technical support analyst Markie Petrie was hiding under the table, just waiting for the next victim.

We took the first one by surprise.  After she got over the scare, she stuck around to see who we would nail next.  Eventually we had a respectable crowd of people in there, talking about how good the pizza was and surreptitiously hanging around to watch the reaction of whoever entered the break room next.

All in all it was good, clean fun, and I understand FSI will be reimbursing employees for any uh, dry cleaning needs the event may have caused them.

Then it was time to head back to work and resume the glorious task of getting out our all-important kit-packing and pick-pack-ship orders for some of the best darn clients around.


Linda and Hope enjoy the candid camera

Mike and Tammy consider what to do with the trail of candy

Kenny rocks the FSI jacket

FSI Warehouse Team Meets Order Accuracy Incentive for Entire Year

When it comes to outsourcing your fulfillment, there are several key criteria that are important.  Will this outside company take care of my orders as well as I would?  Will my orders go out on time?  Will the orders be right?  FSI takes care of your fulfillment business as if it were our own, and we have the expertise, personnel and processes in place to do it better. 

One of the most important functions of a fulfillment company is to get your orders out correctly the first time.  There are many steps in fulfilling orders where a mistake can be made:  receiving, order entry, ship method, SKU, size, color, quantity, and even after all that, if it’s not packed well, then getting an order correct that arrives broken is still a mistake to us.  FSI prides ourselves on getting these orders right 99.9% of the time.  One of the reasons for that success is having an employee incentive program that rewards our employees for meeting their order accuracy goals. 

We were pleased to celebrate our warehouse team reaching their monthly incentives for an entire year.  In fact, they beat our average of 99.9% by having it at 99.95%.  That may not sound like a big difference, but consider how many errors that can mean for say 500,000 orders.  99.9% order accuracy would be just 500 errors out of 500,000.  Awesome by most any period of time, of course.  But at 99.95%, that’s half as many errors at 250.  So our warehouse team improved our company average by cutting it in HALF!  That is worthy for celebration so we had t-shirts made up for the team, as well as having a banner go up in the warehouse for their achievement.  Just like a championship banner in your favorite sporting stadium or school, FSI has done the same in our warehouse.

While we were celebrating, FSI took this time to award Shanda Butler with the Idea of the Year.  One of the things that makes FSI great is our continual forward thinking by way of constant process improvement.  One of the ways we achieve that is by having another incentive program where employees submit ideas for various process improvements.  Winners receive cash, days off, trophies and plaques.  Even our “losers” (okay, not really losers, just the ideas that didn’t win) are still eligible for drawings of other prizes.  


All of these incentives and order accuracy celebrations help make FSI as successful as we are.  They help us provide world class order fulfillment services that makes us stand above the rest.  Come check FSI out and see what we can do for your pick/pack/ship, kit packing, handwork and warehousing projects.  We can guarantee you that your orders stand a pretty good almost certain chance of being right the first time.


FSI is proud to announce that it has been named one of Cobb’s Top 25 Small Businesses of the Year by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for the 8th consecutive year in a row. Businesses were nominated earlier this year, and after a review by an independent panel of judges, FSI was selected as one of the Top 25 companies.  Candidates were evaluated based on the criteria published by the U.S. Small Business Administration.  Those criteria include staying power, growth in number of employees, increase in sales or unit volume, current and past financial standing, innovative products and services, response to adversity, evidence of contributions to aid community projects and overall management philosophy.  

FSI’s Vice President & General Manager, Forrest Marbutt, noted:  “We are truly blessed to have both the employees and the clients that make this honor possible.  We focus on providing our clients with the best service possible for a fair price, and the success will naturally follow.  That has been our guiding principle for 19 years and we keep growing in revenue, clients and employees, so we must be doing something right.”  

The Top 25 were recognized at the Cobb Chamber’s First Monday Breakfast on June 2nd.  The Cobb Chamber of Commerce represents Cobb County’s diverse, dynamic business community. The Cobb Chamber is a member-supported business organization working to maintain a healthy economy by bringing business and industry to the area, helping established firms grow and building the community through outreach and service.

VP/GM – Forrest Marbutt, together with Director of Business Development – Linda Williamson, 
accepting the award at the Cobb Chamber awards ceremony.

FSI receives Business Community Service Award

FSI is a definite believer in giving back to our community, and it was quite an honor to be recognized by the Cobb Chamber of Business for our ongoing efforts.  Whether we’re donating our time or money, and even our blood, every little bit makes a difference in the lives of others.    

One of our most recent projects involved donating in our area of expertise.  Carter’s Clothing gives ready-to-go bags of children’s clothing for disaster relief efforts.  These bags are donated by gender and size so that people in the affected areas can quickly get a bag for their child that comes with pants, shirts, pajamas, and so on.  In this case, FSI had the pleasure of donating our handwork/kit packing time and space in our warehouse.  Donated clothes had to be separated and grouped together by gender and type for packing.  The project took several weeks and required about 15,000 ft² of space.    

So whether FSI is donating our kit packing fulfillment expertise, blood to the Red Cross at routine blood drives, money to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society or entries into charitable races that benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, FSI is always going to keep giving back to our community.  Even when FSI can’t participate corporately, we encourage our employees to stay involved with charitable activities that are important to them, and FSI does everything we can to accommodate their time to do so.   It’s just the right thing to do, and we enjoy doing it.     

Thank you Cobb County Chamber of Commerce for the Sam Olens Business Community Service Award.  It is an honor, and we appreciate the recognition for doing what we love.

Port of Savannah Tour

As an order fulfillment company and part of the supply chain, we’re always interested in learning more about other parts of the supply chain that help make the world of delivering goods go around.  FSI’s role in this supply chain is to warehouse products for other companies, and then to pick/pack/ship their orders when they are sold.  FSI eventually hands these fulfilled orders over to the next step in the supply chain (small parcel carriers, such as UPS, FedEx, USPS, DHL or LTL/Truckload companies) who deliver the goods to the final destination whether that be your home or your business.  In the past, FSI has had the pleasure of touring both UPS’ Worldport and FedEx’s World Hub to experience how small parcels and LTL/Truckload packages flow through the system.  Now we’re going backwards a little bit in the supply chain to learn more about how products arrive from overseas through the Port of Savannah.

Many of FSI’s clients have products produced overseas that have to make their way to FSI by trucking a container that first goes through a port.  Our clients can use whatever port that they feel is best suited for their needs, but the usual choice and closest port to FSI is the Port of Savannah.  Through a partnership with the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance, FSI was able to take a tour of the Port of Savannah at their Garden City Terminal. 

Truck turnaround averages here are less than 1 hour.  After seeing ships loaded/unloaded in person, I can see why they are as efficient as they are.  It was amazing to see these cranes loading/unloading one container after the other as fast as they were and with such ease.  Trucks were lined up to receive their container and would drive underneath the cranes as they were moving to the next one.  As soon as a container was dropped onto the trailer, the truck moved off and the next one would arrive immediately behind it.  

The Port of Savannah is the 4th largest container port in the US (1. Los Angeles, 2. Long Beach, 3. New York/New Jersey), with the Garden City terminal being the largest single-terminal container in the US.  In fact, the port of Savannah is the fastest growing port in the US and has been growing and breaking records for years.  It has become the go-to port on the East Coast and may soon be the preferred port in the entire US once the Panama Canal expansion is completed.  Check out of some of these recent articles outlining their growth:

Here’s a video from the Georgia Port Authority and probably explains their capabilities better than I can:

Watching the crane go up and down reminded me of this joke on The Intermodals.  Enjoy!

One last thing:  Speaking of containers, have you seen this guy?

Employee Appreciation Cool-Off with the King of Pops

It sure has been a hot summer here at FSI.  What better way to cool off and show our appreciation to our employees for their hard work than with some awesome popsicles from King of Pops.  Don’t worry, while we did take a break from our normal pick/pack/ship, kit packing, handwork, shrink wrapping, etc. for just a moment, orders and kits still went out on time.  Looks like orange cream was the favorite pop of choice having run out the fastest.  Other than that, hibiscus margarita received high praises as well as a crowd favorite.
Order accuracy is up to 99.97% YTD, and kits keep going out on time, so we couldn’t ask for anything more.  Keep up the great work!  To have your own King of Pops special delivery, place your order today at http://atlanta.kingofpops.net.

FSI Sales Manager, Bobby Stephenson, Rides off into the Sunset

Prior to coming on board with FSI 4 years ago, Bobby Stephenson retired from UPS after 25 years of service in sales management.  FSI had a relationship with Bobby during his time with UPS, so when Bobby became a “free agent”, we remained good friends even after his retirement.  After a while we both realized that FSI could benefit from Bobby’s experience.  We were happy to have Bobby join the team, and we have certainly enjoyed what Bobby has brought to the table during his time here.  

After 4 years, Bobby has re-retired.  He rides off into the sunset once again having helped make FSI a better place.  Pick/pack/ship volume is up and kit packing activity is going strong, so we can only hope to continue growing in Bobby’s absence.  We appreciate his time here, and we wish nothing but the best for Bobby for whatever life has in store for him.

Seth Gilland Wins the 2015 FSI Cup in Record Fashion

FSI hosts an annual fishing outing with clients, vendors and employees at West Point Lake in LaGrange, Georgia.  We spend the night in cabins at the Highland Marina Resort, grill out, watch the NFL draft, and divide up into teams complete with captains and prizes such as for the most fish, biggest fish, and so on.  The winning team has the pleasure of passing around the FSI Cup for the next year.  This was our 14th year putting on the event, and this year we shattered our quantity records.  

I’m going to be honest with you, I thought my team had this thing wrapped up.  There were three boats competing against each other.  Two of our boats spent a good portion of the day fishing close enough to where we could see what the other boat was catching (my boat and Founder/President of FSI, Ken Marbutt).  My boat reeled in fish after fish, while Ken’s boat mostly watched us catch fish.  They still caught fish, just not as many.  Usually 30 fish or so guarantees a win in the "most fish" category.  The old record by a boat was 76 fish, and we had that beat within the first couple of hours.  At the official weigh-in and check-in, my boat came in with a count of 136 fish.  That’s almost twice as many as the old record.  I was already preparing my victory speech.
But then my team’s hearts were crushed when Seth Gilland’s boat came in with a whopping 142 fish.  FSI Operations Manager, Chuck Slappey, also shattered the record for most fish by an individual. When we started fishing that morning, that record stood at 18, and Chuck stepped into the history books by catching 42.  Oh well, if you’re going to get beat, you might as well have fun doing it, and we all had a blast.  Wow, Seth is very knowledgeable about fulfillment, and he knows a thing or two about leading a fishing team to victory. Back to the daily grind of getting your pick/pack/ship orders out on time. Until next year...

Happy 19th Anniversary FSI!

On April 1st, 1996, Kentucky beat Syracuse for the NCAA men’s basketball championship.  The Howard Stern Radio Show premiered in Boston.  And Taco Bell pulled one of the best April Fool’s pranks ever when they announced they had bought the Liberty Bell to help solve the nation’s debt crisis (don’t believe me? click here).  But what is not a hoax is that FSI was born on that same day, and we are happy to celebrate 19 years in business.    

We thank our amazing clients for the privilege of being given the responsibility of handling their fulfillment – order processing, pick/pack/ship, kit packing, shrink wrapping, warehousing, sweepstakes management, etc.  We couldn’t do what we do without you entrusting to us what you could have given someone else or handled yourself.  Handling your fulfillment is a privilege we always take seriously, understanding that our clients had a choice and that you chose FSI.  Your trust has enabled us to go from 13,000 ft² of space and 3 employees 19 years ago to 180,000 ft² and 40 employees today.  Can’t wait to see what will happen in the next 19 years.

For some reason, every time I hear the word "anniversary", I think of this song.  Does that happen to anyone else?

FSI is Still Hiring!

Yes, you read that correctly – FSI is still hiring!  In a down economy, FSI is still growing which has resulted in the continued need to hire to accommodate that growth.   Meet FSI’s latest individuals to join the FSI team.  We’re up to 40 employees now.  Our average tenure is now 7.5 years, which is pretty good considering we’re 19 years old.    

Thank you to all of our clients for the additional business you have sent our way that allowed us to hire these talented individuals.  The more orders there are to fulfill, the more order pickers we need.  The more kit packing jobs there are, the more project leaders we need.  The more fulfillment needs there are to be met, the more sales, IT, accounting, customer service, shipping, receiving, etc. are needed in all departments to handle it.  You keep sending FSI the fulfillment work, and we’ll keep providing the space and labor to make it happen.

Press Release - Southern Hospitality Expert Lara Lyn Carter

southern hospitality expert LARA LYN CARTER LAUNCHES New sauce Line wicker & wHisk

Wicker & Whisk Will Bring Bold New Flavors to Classic Southern Dishes

(Atlanta, GA) May 13, 2015 Georgia’s go-to authority on Southern entertaining, Lara Lyn Carter, is thrilled to announce the launch of her new sauce line Wicker & Whisk. The line, available June 2015, will be carried on the shelves of select grocery stores and specialty food stores. 

The initial launch will include three classic sauces: Merlot Steak Sauce; a rich, tangy sauce made with real red wine, Port Wine Mustard; a sweet and savory sauce with a bold taste and Homegrown Herb Dressing; a creamy dressing with floral and herbaceous flavor. The line of marinades and sauces puts a bold new spin on American family favorites, taking classic tried-and-true flavors and elevating them to the next level. Lara Lyn has also created a group of recipes to accompany the sauce line so that consumers can use the products in various ways.   

Lara Lyn adds, “I wanted to offer a line of ready-to-use sauces so that more time would not be spent in the kitchen, but with family and friends around the table. I also wanted my products to be more than condiments. I wanted them to bring ideas and inspiration to elevate family favorites and offer new recipe ideas for people to try.” 

Wicker & Whisk will debut alongside Lara Lyn’s new show Thyme for Sharing, set to air as a part of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s summer lineup, premiering on Saturday, June 13 at 3 p.m. EST. The show follows Lara Lyn as she goes on a culinary journey around the south, visiting quintessential destinations such as Nashville, Jekyll Island, Monticello and Gray Moss Plantation. At each stop, Lara Lyn will draw inspiration from a classic local dish before recreating it in her own kitchen.


For more information please visit www.wickerandwhisk.com


About Lara Lyn Carter:

Born and raised in Georgia, Lara Lyn Carter is no stranger to Southern hospitality. Her strong Southern roots, and affinity for cooking, inspired her to create and host Savor the Good Life, a television program dedicated to showcasing the history of South Georgia, travel and cuisine. The show, airing on the NBC and ABC affiliate for southwest Georgia, was a glowing success and was honored with an award from the National Association of Broadcasters.  In 2014, Lara Lyn published her first cookbook Southern Thymes Shared, a complete guide to entertaining. Her new show Thyme for Sharing with Lara Lyn Carter will premiere alongside the launch of her sauce line, Wicker and Whisk, in June 2015. For more information please visit www.laralyncarter.com


About Wicker & Whisk:

Wicker and Whisk was created on a breezy Sunday evening, with Lara Lyn Carter’s family around the table and dinner in the oven. The idea?  To bring bold new flavors to classic dishes. The line, set to launch in June 2015, will be available in grocery stores and specialty food stores, and will include staples such as Merlot Steak Sauce, Port Wine Mustard and Homegrown Herb Dressing. For more information regarding the sauce line, please visit www.wickerandwhisk.com. 




Sarah Jacober                                                    Natasha Powell

512.382.7295                                                     512.852.9430

Sarahj@breadandbutterpr.com                          Natasha@breadandbutterpr.com


Lara Lyn Carter Biography

Born and raised in Georgia, Lara Lyn Carter is no stranger to Southern hospitality. Her strong Southern roots, and affinity for cooking, inspired her to pursue a career that would allow her to share her passion of southern entertaining with others in a way not yet seen on TV or bookshelves.

With extensive experience, and a wealth of classic Southern recipes with a twist under her belt, Lara Lyn went on to create and host Savor the Good Life, a television program dedicated to showcasing the history of Southern entertaining and cuisine. The show, airing on WALB, the NBC and ABC affiliate for southwest Georgia, was a glowing success and was honored with an award from the National Association of Broadcasters.

In 2014, Lara Lyn published her first cookbook Southern Thymes Shared, a guide to entertaining, complete with themed menus ranging from Easter dinner to football kick-off parties. The book, co-written with wine expert Doc Lawrence, also features handpicked wine pairings to complement each menu, ensuring a flawless entertaining experience.

With a large following, and established reputation in Georgia as the go-to authority on Southern entertaining, Lara Lyn’s new show Thyme for Sharing with Lara Lyn Carter will premiere with the launch of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s summer lineup on June 13, 2015. Lara Lyn will also launch a line of her very own sauces, Wicker and Whisk, in June 2015.

Whenever Lara Lyn gets a break from her busy schedule, she enjoys spending as much time as possible with her husband and three sons or indulging in a great book.


Southern Hospitality Expert Lara Lyn Carter Selects FSI

When it comes to Pick/Pack/Ship for our amazing order fulfillment clients, FSI has handled just about everything that can be warehoused and distributed.  Apparel, books, POP displays, DVDs, games, toys, literature, electronics, bedding, household goods, pharmaceuticals, tools, etc.  These are just a few examples of the many types of items that FSI fulfills.  One of those types also includes food products.  FSI is an FDA-approved warehouse for handling food products.  So in addition to providing world class customer service, an unheard of order accuracy rate, and longevity of clients and employees, some clients have yet another reason to select FSI for their order fulfillment needs. 

FSI is proud to announce that out newest client, chef Lara Lyn Carter, is launching a line of new sauces called Wicker & Whisk.  We’re excited to be a part of her success, and FSI will do what we do best to free up her time so that she can focus on growing her business.  We hope you'll check out the links below for the press release and bio on Lara Lyn Carter and Wicker & Whisk.

http://www.fsifulfillment.com/blog/post/2015/07/10/lara-lyn-carter-biography.aspx http://www.fsifulfillment.com/blog/post/2015/07/10/press-release-southern-hospitality-expert-lara-lyn-carter.aspx

7 Reasons for Small Companies to Choose a Fulfillment Provider


Conventional wisdom says, “I’m a small company, but I will find a fulfillment partner when I get bigger.”  But what if the quickest way to get bigger is to have a fulfillment partner so you can focus on growth rather than getting orders out the door?

Now if you’re just starting out and have only one or two orders per day, maybe you don’t yet need a fulfillment partner.  But whereas the tipping point certainly varies based on the type of product and the complexity of fulfillment, that tipping point may be much lower than previously thought.  There are many reasons companies select a fulfillment partner, and most of these reasons pertain even more so to smaller companies.  Let’s take a look at a few.


Economies of scale. It is rare for a client to be able to demonstrate they can provide in-house fulfillment as cost-effectively as FSI.  A surface comparison often appears otherwise and prospective clients occasionally insist they handle fulfillment in-house for “$x per order”.  But that’s just the immediate cost of labor for that particular order.  What is the cost of having that worker standing around part of the day waiting for the next orders to arrive?  What is the true loaded cost of that employee, factoring in vacation days, health benefits, training, and other employee benefits?  What is the cost of maintaining adequate warehouse space, office space, and the utilities?  What is the cost to acquire and maintain a variety of fulfillment and shipping related systems?  And what is the opportunity cost of having to maintain all those systems and employees rather than spending time focusing on what you do best?  Because we operate on a larger scale, a true apples-to-apples comparison usually shows that a quality fulfillment provider offers the best long-term benefit to your bottom line.

Access to shipping and packing expertise.  Almost 19 years of managing FSI’s diverse, global client base gives us detailed insights into what works and what doesn’t, and we apply this experience every day to improve the effectiveness of our clients through world-class fulfillment services.  New clients come on board and are often surprised at the steps we take to ensure quality.  Some don’t even have distinct product numbers, let alone bar codes, and others are amazed at the level of organization FSI maintains.  They are similarly surprised when measurable metrics such as product returns and customer service calls favorably improve as a result of their fulfillment being handled consistently for the first time.  Let us put this expertise to work for you.

Access to specialized systems.  The US Postal Service likes to talk about how easy it is to ship with them.  But the reality is that shipping on a large scale is incredibly complex.  True, shipping a handful of packages in a flat rate Priority Mail box is so simple a caveman could do it, but what if you have 2,000 orders to ship through UPS, USPS, FedEx, DHL, and various LTL carriers?  FSI has shipped to almost 200 different countries, and their Customs requirements are all over the board.  Some support “paperless” shipping documents that let us automate, and other countries require detailed international paperwork that must be produced manually and with little margin for error unless we want the package returned to us.  FSI has access not only to shipping systems provided by the major carriers, we also have our own integrated shipping software built from scratch and specifically engineered to handle the diverse and evolving needs of our client base.  So more than anyone, we understand that it doesn’t do much good to have a lot of orders if they can’t be shipped correctly and on time.

Warehouse space.  Do you have room to handle a 20% increase in business?  A 50% increase?  But doesn’t your business plan call for a 200% increase in sales over the next 5 years?  Hmmm.  FSI is no stranger to the storage wars.  We started in 1996 with only a few thousand square feet, which we quickly filled.  We expanded, expanded, and expanded again.  Our main warehouse now comprises well over 150,000 square feet, with more space a block away and plenty of additional short- and long-term capacity little more than a phone call away.  You certainly can rent space, but acquiring sufficient warehousing is often a massive capital investment that ties up funds that could be far better spent on growing the business.

Value-added services.  A great fulfillment partner knows how to add services that are natural complements to the core fulfillment process.  Do you need a customer service line?  FSI does that.  Do you need shopping cart for your B2B customers?  We can have you in business within a few days.  Need a B2C shopping cart?  We have proven, integrated partners who can handle complex B2C projects with ease, with an eye toward search engine optimization and marketing improvements that can turn your proven concept into a selling machine on a much larger scale.  Do you need specialized equipment such as shrink wrappers for your products?   We’ve already made the investment for you.  The list goes on and on, and it brings to mind one of our favorite quotes from a long-time client, “FSI takes on our headaches.”  What would have been a huge headache for this small, international client was just one step we perform every single day for many clients.  It’s simply what we do.

IT know-how.  FSI has always placed a premium on using information technology to drive better, more efficient fulfillment, and we were among the first to implement mass package-tracking systems such as FSITrack.  Yes, we offer real-time, web-based reporting as a standard feature, but more importantly we offer the ability to develop customized processes for our clients.  These range from simple data entry and sweepstakes management programs to proven technologies to get your orders to us in real-time without human intervention.  Don’t spend resources re-inventing the wheel when we may already have just what you’re looking for.

The ability to handle The Big Sale.  So you’re shipping 50 to 100 packages a day and things are going well.  But then, you receive the call of your dreams.  Wal-Mart calls.  A prominent magazine runs a feature story on your product, and all of a sudden your business is not so little anymore.  Are your systems prepared to handle a sudden, unpredictable increase in sales?  Without the proper back-end systems to support it, countless companies have missed the chance of a lifetime to jump into the major leagues because they couldn’t keep up with demand on the logistical side when opportunity knocked. 

These are just a few of the reasons why smaller companies should take a critical look at adding a fulfillment partner to their dream team, and we’re not just talking theoretically here.  Sara Blakely, inventor of Spanx and now a self-made billionaire started out small in Atlanta.  Long before her products appeared on Oprah, guess who her fulfillment company was?  FSI.  And while we would never take credit for such an amazing success story, if FSI had not been there to back her up when business skyrocketed, would her story have still been the same?  We’ve helped other rising stars, too, and are always looking for the next big thing.  Could it be you?  Give FSI’s team a call today and find out if it’s time for you to step up.

FSI Supports Local Charity - MUST Ministries

In addition to providing world-class fulfillment services, FSI is a strong advocate of supporting charitable organizations and our local community.  We strongly believe in giving back, paying it forward, (insert your own cliché phrase here), etc.  This support is provided in a variety of ways.  In some cases it is a direct monetary donation.  In others, it’s a donation of FSI’s time by way of our fulfillment services or our space resources.  FSI even donates by way of supporting our employees' involvement in various charities on company time.  Even if it’s not a direct involvement from FSI on company time, we encourage all of our employees to support charitable activities even on their own time.  Our latest example of this comes from one of FSI’s Business Development Consultants, Robyn Waters, as she serves MUST Ministries (mustministries.org) on a monthly basis on FSI time.  We asked Robyn to share some of the details of her involvement, and here is what she had to say:

“MUST supports their local community in many ways, including housing, clothing, toys for children and employment services, but one of the areas in which they serve the most is by providing meals for those in need.  Once a month my church and I are involved with feeding between 50 and 80 people.  A group of us buys the food, prepares it, sets up the dining room, and serves those who are able to attend.  The food is a hot meal, usually some combination of fried chicken, potatoes with gravy, collard greens, baked beans, fish sticks, biscuits, green beans, corn casserole, and sometimes even cheeseburgers from McDonalds.  Sometimes on special occasions we also have ham or turkey.  Dessert is also provided, and we place it on a cart and go table to table asking them which dessert they want.  For some, this is their favorite part of the meal.”

“We also place blank note cards and pencils on the table, so that if any of the folks have a prayer request, we have them write it down and pray for them for a month until the next monthly meal event rolls around, then it starts over again. These 50 - 80 people consist of all genders and ages - men, women, teens, children and babies.  MUST also has limited sleeping accommodations for those in need. The people who are lucky enough to have a place to sleep there are required to participate in a program (including no drugs, no alcohol, etc. if they have an addiction) while they are trying to find work and get back on their feet. They are all shown respect, love, and encouragement, and it is an honor to help.”

Way to go, Robyn!  And as always, FSI is honored to be a part of this.

FSI gets a Personal Workout Session from client, DDP Yoga

Being in the order fulfillment business, you get to meet a lot of unique and interesting people who also have unique and interesting products that require FSI’s order fulfillment services.  Some of them go on to become big celebrities because of their products that we fulfill (including Sara Blakely of Spanx).  But in this particular case, FSI has the pleasure of handling pick/pack/ship for someone who was a true celebrity even before his product line came out.  Diamond Dallas Page, aka DDP has a product line called DDP Yoga (ddpyoga.com) that is setting the fitness world on fire.  Of course, you know who DDP is, right?  The 3-time WCW World Champion Professional Wrestler with moves like this?


Anyway, DDP has been developing his amazing workout system for years, and FSI is proud to be a partner in his success. More than just a series of workouts, it is a total system of inspiration and positivity that is changing lives.  Don’t take our word for it though, check these out: 

DDP was kind enough to put on a personal workout session at FSI.  It was hard to get any work done at FSI that day with all the excitement from the employees, but we still made sure the orders went out on time.  Thank you, Dallas, for entrusting us with your business and for donating your time to give us a personalized workout that we’ll never forget.  Thank you also for your time for autographs, pictures, and especially for the workout DVD’s.  It was great to hear your story in person, and we look forward to assisting you in changing more lives of those who use your program.  Here are a few shots from our workout, and be sure to order your DDP Yoga program today!

FSI Sponsors Little Pink Book’s 10th Annual Fall Empowerment Event

FSI is proud to sponsor Little Pink Book’s 10th Annual Fall Empowerment Event (www.littlepinkbook.com).  PINK is a digital magazine that helps to empower and inspire career women.  This year’s event was held in Buckhead’s InterContinental Hotel with a record attendance of nearly 600 powerful women featuring speakers from Popeye’s, SVP Worldwide, SPANX, Emory University, US Bancorp and The Home Depot.

FSI supplied and packed the gift bags for all the attendees.

Wow, is that FSI’s own Robyn Waters gracing the cover of PINK magazine?

FSI Supporting the Community with Holiday Meals

Order fulfillment, pick/pack/ship, kit packing, handwork, etc., all in a day's work, right?  Most of the time, yes, but not always.  FSI is thankful to our clients who entrust us with these types of fulfillment needs on a daily basis.  One of the ways that FSI says thanks to our local community for their fulfillment business is to donate back part of our time and resources in charitable activities.  Today's article highlights recent work from FSI's Director of Business Development, Linda Williamson. 

Dallas First United Methodist Church's 12th Annual Community Thanksgiving Meal was held the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Nov. 26th.  100+ volunteers got together to prepare, serve and even deliver 1079 meals to those in need for Thanksgiving.   On the heels of the Thanksgiving event, DFUMC expanded the program this year by hosting the 1st Annual Paulding Community Christmas Meal, December 23rd.   Over 972 meals were served, making 150+ deliveries and 89 volunteers working to cook, serve, package, schedule, deliver, and clean up.  Linda plays a key part in planning and executing this mass undertaking.  FSI gladly allows Linda the time off each year that these acts of service require.

Toys for Tots 2014

It goes without saying that the Holidays are our busiest time of year at FSI.  FSI associates busy themselves picking and packing orders of our client’s awesome merchandise to ship to their customers.  With multiple teams building kits and shipping Holiday gifts or promotions for customers, it looks like Santa’s workshop around here, all leading up to the big day!   As busy as the season gets with our hectic fulfillment activities, we always like to slow down just long enough and find a way to give back.  FSI is a big believer in giving back, it's part of our culture; it is who we are as a company.

As our project this year, FSI employees collected toys for the Marines Toys for Tots campaign.  We had large decorated boxes in the front lobby and in the Warehouse to accept donations of new unwrapped toys and gifts for children ages infant-12 years old.   We engaged vendors, customers and all of our associates, providing them a way to open their hearts,  give back and let children in need know how much they are loved this Holiday Season.

If you would like to work with a company that not only provides world class fulfillment services but has a culture of giving and community support, we hope you will consider FSI in the coming year. 

Wishing you and your families a joyful Christmas season!

UPS Worldport Tour

I recently had the pleasure of being treated to a personal tour of the UPS Worldport facility in Louisville, Kentucky.  We featured Worldport earlier from National Geographic’s Ultimate Factories (See post) and then again in CNBC’s Inside the Package Wars (See post).  But this time, I received the royal treatment with a tour of my own.  If you ever get the chance to take that tour, I would highly recommend it. 

Worldport is the largest fully automated package handling facility in the world.  It handles 130 aircraft daily, for an average of 1.6 million packages per day.  The busiest day on record was in 2012 with a stunning 4.2 million packages processed.  Worldport measures 5.2 million square feet with a perimeter of 7.2 miles.  What an awesome site to see where the packages that FSI ships pass through.  It’s amazing to see the conveyor belts running in all different directions (155 miles worth) making scans along the way and directing packages to the correct destinations automatically.  What a site to see with all the UPS airplanes flying in and out of there.  The best time to take this tour is after midnight, since that is when the heaviest volume of activity takes place.  It made for a long day, but it was well worth it.    

Speaking of planes, one of the highlights of the tour was getting to use the flight simulator with UPS’ flight instructor.  This is where they train their pilots.  It’s like a real life video game.  They show you how to take off, maneuver and land.  You get to see what the pilots see in different weather conditions, such as, rain, snow and fog.  You even get to pick out different airports to fly in and out of.  I don’t recall crashing too often.  If you are ever on a plane with me and heaven forbid something should happen to both the pilot and co-pilot, don’t fear – I am now an Honorary Captain.  See, my certificate says so.

Rather than have me tell you more about Worldport, check out these videos from UPS:

This is Worldport

That’s UPS

Freight Facility

Package Cam

Happy Thanksgiving from FSI – Black Friday Edition 2014

It has become a tradition at FSI this time of year.  Not only do we like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, but we also like to remind everyone to please stay safe on Black Friday.  The best way to do that is to shop from the comforts of your own home or mobile device and let FSI handle the hustle and bustle of getting your holiday shopping shipped to you.  Put our expert pick/pack/ship, order fulfillment, warehousing, etc. skills to work.  Enjoy your time with friends and family – safely at home.  Need a visual reminder of why it can be dangerous out there in the retail stores?  Well, here you go:

FSI Chili Cook-Off

In FSI’s recent annual Chili Cook-Off, we had a new winner.  I know it’s been a little while since the event took place.  It seems we have been pick/pack/shipping so many orders and doing so many kit packing jobs that we haven’t had time to report on everything right away.  What can we say, we’ve been busy preparing for one of our busiest times of the year.  Soon it will be Black Friday, then Cyber Monday and don’t forget Green Monday…  

So with that, here are our results:  Shanda Butler – 3rd place, Karen Cross – 2nd Place, Chuck and Connie Slappey – 1st Place.  Congratulations to all who won, participated, judged or just ate a lot of chili.  Can’t wait until the next FSI event.

FSI Takes the Ice Bucket Challenge

We didn’t want to pour cold water on what had been a great day at FSI, but we did.   Literally.   So taking a momentary break from a record-breaking flood of pick/pack/ship activities, we stood in front of half a dozen cameras and publicly accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a neurodegenerative disease that has claimed the life of at least one friend of FSI.  And since the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral, citizens and celebrities around the globe have combined for more than three million donors as of the end of August.

We couldn’t pass up the chance to join the excitement, so Vice President & General Manager Forrest Marbutt got the ball rolling by accepting the challenge and naming 3 others from FSI to also accept the challenge, as the custom is.  Then those 3 also each named 3 others to continue the challenge, and so on.  In short order, Bobby Bounds, Chuck Slappey, Markie Petrie, and I had each enjoyed a refreshing bucket of ice water as our fellow associates cheered.  Our colleagues, friends, and family soon joined in, with Zach Butler, Mike Slappey, Katie Gramling, and Wesley Gramling each taking their turn under the bucket of honor. 

If you ask me what it’s like to be doused with a 5-gallon bucket of ice water, I would respond icily.  (But with a smile).  The ALS Association’s President is also smiling, saying “The word gratitude doesn’t do enough to express what we are feeling right now.”  And no wonder!  Donations as of that point had exceeded $100 million, over 35 times donations from that same time period last year.   So this may very well be the push that finally paves the way for a cure. 

All you need is a bucket of ice water and a visit to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge page to donate, and we hope you’ll share your videos with us.  Here is a collection of our own, which includes FSI employees as well as some of our friends and family who have accepted our challenge:

Playback issues? View the video directly here.



FSI is proud to announce that it has been named one of Cobb’s Top 25 Small Businesses of the Year by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for the 7th consecutive year in a row. Businesses were nominated earlier this year, and after a review by an independent panel of judges, FSI was selected as one of the Top 25 companies.  Candidates were evaluated based on the criteria published by the U.S. Small Business Administration.  Those criteria include staying power, growth in number of employees, increase in sales or unit volume, current and past financial standing, innovative products and services, response to adversity, evidence of generous contributions to community projects and overall management philosophy. 

As FSI’s Sales Manager Bobby Stephenson noted, “Our success derives from a committed, dedicated, and knowledgeable staff with an average length of service of nearly 10 years.  We have the ability to establish and maintain excellent business relationships with vendors and customers which leads to successful long-term partnerships.” 

The Top 25 were recognized at the Cobb Chamber’s First Monday Breakfast on June 2ndThe Cobb Chamber of Commerce represents Cobb County’s diverse, dynamic business community. The Cobb Chamber is a member-supported business organization working to maintain a healthy economy by bringing business and industry to the area, helping established firms grow and building the community through outreach and service.

Pictured above: Sales Manager Bobby Stephenson (2nd from left), with Director of Business
Development Linda Williamson, accepting the award at the Cobb Chamber awards ceremony.

It was also great to see John Loud of Loud Security take the top award of Small Business of the Year (pictured below with glass award in center).  We have relied upon Loud Security for years at FSI as well as in our homes.  His company is very deserving, and we were honored to be among the top 25 with him.  



I have been asked why I haven’t been in the awards picture for the last 2 years.  Isn’t this important enough for me to be there in person?  The answer is that of course it’s important, and I would love to be there.  One of the things that is also important to FSI is our strong commitment to charitable organizations and the community.  For the last 2 years, and most likely every year going forward, I have been involved in a church building construction program.  It lasts a full week, and it will apparently happen on the same week as the Top 25 awards each year.  This year, we went to West Memphis, Arkansas and built a church for a mobile home park.  Why yes, that is yours truly nailing trusses from the top of the lift.  Somebody’s got to do it! 

FSI Sponsors Caring For Others

FSI is proud to support the charitable organization Caring For Others, Inc. (www.caring4others.org) in their upcoming The Art of Nature Gala that is to be held September 12th, 6:00 – 9:00 PM at TEW Galleries.  Won’t you join us? 

Caring For Others, Inc. is a human services organization established to facilitate personal dignity and provide basic necessities to economically-disadvantaged individuals, senior citizens, the disabled, the unemployed, and families with children.  They offer an advanced model for human services that strives to prevent the familiar cycle of poverty many people face today.  Caring For Others helps stabilize lives by meeting immediate basic needs of food and clothing, and then providing support to help clients become more self-sufficient.    

FSI Co-Founder, Hoyt Marbutt, Wins back the FSI Cup

FSI hosts an annual fishing outing with clients, vendors and employees at West Point Lake in LaGrange, GA.  We spend the night in the lake cabins at Highland Marina Resort, grill out, and divide up into teams complete with captains and prizes.  The winning team has the pleasure of passing around the FSI Cup for the next year. 

This was our 13th year putting on the event, and this year we caught some record sized fish.  Operations Manager Chuck Slappey caught the biggest bass we’ve had in our 13 years with a 15.5 lb striper.  But in the end, it was FSI’s co-founder, Hoyt Marbutt, who led his team to victory by catching the most fish.  I suppose since he’s retired from all this fun of pick/pack/ship, kit packing, inventory management, shrink wrapping, handwork, etc. he must have the time to fish all day while the rest of us continue to get the orders out on time.  Until next year…

FSI Turns 18!

Life changes a lot when we turn 18.  We become legal adults.  We’re allowed to vote.  In most states, we’re allowed to buy cigarettes, lottery tickets, get a credit card and even certain guns (just not in that particular order – and I didn’t say you should buy each of those, just that you could).  Anyway, I’m sure that there are many other changes that come with turning 18, but for FSI, it was another milestone to celebrate being in business. 

We thank our clients for the privilege of being given the enormous responsibility of handling their mission-critical fulfillment – order processing, pick/pack/ship, kit packing, shrink wrapping, warehousing, sweepstakes management, etc.  We couldn’t do what we do without you entrusting to us what you could have given someone else or handled yourself.  Handling your fulfillment is a privilege that that we take very seriously, understanding that our clients had a choice and that you chose FSI.  From 13,000 ft² of space and 3 employees 18 years ago to 180,000 ft² and 35 employees today.  It’s been a fun ride, and we look forward to the next 18 years together with you.    

Here we Grow Again

Throughout FSI’s 18 year history we have grown accustomed to expanding our walls to accommodate our clients’ fulfillment needs.  FSI moved from a 55,000 ft² building to our current 155,000 ft² building in 2006.  Then we purchased the building in 2007, and we had 2 tenants renting from us.  FSI was in Suite C, an office supply company was in Suite B and a church was in Suite A.  A few years later as our space needs continued to grow, FSI took over Suite B from the office supply company.  Then this year we took over Suite A from the church as our business continued to expand.  We had to cut new entrances into the walls, then we had all of the existing office space ripped out and converted into warehouse space.  That included tearing up carpet, knocking down drywalls, tearing out a drop ceiling, raising ductwork and sprinkler systems, etc.  

There’s still room to grow.  Just keep sending your fulfillment business FSI’s way, and we’ll keep making room for you.  We’ll always make sure that FSI has the capacity to handle your pick/pack/ship and kit packing needs.

Pause for Celebration

I scream, you scream, we all scream for fulfillment.  Well, maybe it’s ice cream.  We get confused about things like that around here when our lives revolve around providing the best pick/pack/ship and kit packing services that there can be.  But even companies who work hard have to take a break every now and then.  FSI started the year pretty well, so as we pause to reward those who make it possible, we reflect on just how good things are.  FSI is having a record year when it comes to pick/pack/ship volume.  In fact, our pick/pack/ship volume is up 95% over this time last year.  You read that correctly, order volume is almost double!  AND at the same time, order accuracy is up.  We’re at 99.95% order accuracy while last year we finished at 99.93% and over our history we typically average 99.9%. 

So it’s time to pause for celebration, and so we had the ice cream man show up at FSI where every employee got to pick out whatever they wanted.  I made sure he circled the parking lots a few times so the employees knew he was here.  We even blew ice cream truck music over the company intercom.  It was fun watching adults get excited like little kids again.

Speaking of ice cream, we also recently had a client express their thanks to us with an ice cream party from Carvel.  Yes, you read that correctly, our client sent us their vendor the thank you gift for taking such good care of their fulfillment needs.  All in a day’s work!     


That also reminds me that we had another client send us a thank you gift for the exact same thing – great fulfillment service!  This client had a box of Nu-Way Wieners hot dogs sent in (http://www.nu-wayweiners.com/).  They were awesome! 


While we’re talking about employee thank you’s, we also had a client send their CSR flowers, and yet another client sent cookies for taking such great care of their accounts.  It is good to be loved.  Thank you to our clients and employees who make all of this fun possible.    


Race for the Cure 2014

I started working at FSI 6 years ago.  After being there only 6 months, I asked FSI’s Vice President & General Manager, Forrest Marbutt, if he would be willing to help sponsor me and a group of 13 others to walk in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Breast Cancer Walk.  Since FSI has a strong commitment to giving back to the community, he wholeheartedly agreed and has generously continued support for the annual event. 

Each year this event raises money to fund research for a cure and also helps breast cancer survivors with funding and treatments.  As is the case for so many, this cause is very dear to me because my mom is a breast cancer survivor.  And since the time that I first asked for his support for those 13 participants, our group has grown continually.  In fact, for this year's walk we had 60 participants! 

We are a great team at FSI, and the Race for the Cure is by no means the only event that has caught FSI's interest.  As a team we have fed the homeless, finished the Tough Mudder to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, and been involved with so many other amazing charities.  Thank you so much Forrest for all your support and efforts to help us help others.  I couldn’t work for a better company than FSI.

Why Outsource to a Fulfillment Company?

Some of you may be wondering why fulfillment companies exist in the first place.  Why would a company want to outsource this type of service?  

The answer is the same as why companies might outsource any kind of service.  Each business has core competencies, and it is rarely economical for a business to do everything themselves.  From landscaping to tax preparation, businesses find it much easier to let the pros handle certain things that aren't central to their core competencies.  But if a business can produce and market a product, why not fulfill it in house? 

To see why fulfillment companies bring so much value to the table, let's look behind the scenes to see what exactly fulfillment is.  Basically, a fulfillment company stores and distributes other companies’ products for them.  On the B2C side, this can be just about anything that can be ordered online, from apparel to books to DVDs to electronics.   On the B2B side, it might range from marketing materials to any number of promotional products.  It boils down to putting something in a box and slapping a shipping label on it, right?  Right? 


Let's look deeper. 


Storage Space – Pick/Pack/Ship:

When you outsource your fulfillment, you only pay for the space you use.  Space requirements tend to fluctuate, so maybe this month you need 50 pallets worth of storage.  Next month you may need 300, then the following month 250.  By outsourcing fulfillment, you pay only for what you need.   On the other hand, maintaining your own space means there are fixed costs regardless of how much space is used at a given point.  With a building capacity of 250 pallets, the space would be fully utilized only during certain months, but you’re paying for the full capacity every month.  Even if the fixed costs seem acceptable, what happens when you need to store 300 pallets?  Those extra 50 pallets have to go somewhere, and the labor to move product temporarily to an alternate location adds up quickly. 

Additionally, lease agreements usually entail a fairly lengthy time commitment.  Since it isn't always easy to forecast what you'll need that far down the road, the tendency may be to overestimate capacity needs, negatively impacting the bottom line.  When you outsource fulfillment, you’re not locked in for any length of time.  You pay for what you need when you need it.  Outsourcing moves the storage risk from you to the fulfillment provider. 


Storage Space – Kit Packing:

Kit packing or "kitting" jobs come with their own unique storage needs, which can vary widely from job to job.  When there are no kit packing jobs, can you afford to have a fixed amount of staging space unused?  As with pick/pack/ship orders, outsourcing kit packing jobs means you pay only for the use of that space with a fulfillment company who has it readily available at any time.


Labor – Pick/Pack/Ship:

Fulfillment companies usually operate on a fixed per-transaction model when it comes to pick/pack/ship orders, so if you have 1,000 orders a day, multiplying the transaction fee by 1,000 gives you an accurate fulfillment cost.  It gives you the freedom to pay only for what you use.  Sound familiar? 

Now compare that to maintaining an in house fulfillment workforce, or even if YOU personally are doing the work.  What is your fulfillment cost to handle 1,000 orders?  If volumes are steady at 1,000 orders per day it may still be possible to come up with a close estimate, but you'll have to add in the loaded employee cost, including salary, benefits, and all manner of fixed overhead costs.  If volume drops, those salary and overhead costs remain constant, translating into a significantly higher fulfillment cost.  And if volume spikes, the additional overtime costs to get those orders out the same day can quickly diminish profit margins.

Of course, you could wait until the next day to catch up, but that only makes the phones ring with customers disappointed that their rush order didn't ship on time.  Either way it causes your fulfillment costs to eat into the bottom line, and can result in negative online reviews that harm your reputation.  But with a solid fulfillment partner behind you, these same order fluctuations are expected and your service levels remain constant. 

Maybe you’re thinking you’ll just ship the orders personally.  That's a great way to begin, and if you're doing that right now you are in great company.  One of our most famous clients, now-billionaire Sara Blakely of Spanx, did just that.  But like Sara, growing a business eventually means it makes financial sense to outsource the fulfillment component.  It translates into a decision either to get into the fulfillment business, or to focus on core competencies.  In Sara's case, she was actively trying to market her product and sell it to retail stores.  How could she be out selling if she was always having to ship what she had already sold? 

A great fulfillment company will have employees who specialize in specific aspects of the fulfillment process.  Different teams are trained to receive inventory, pull orders, etc. so that you have experts guiding your order throughout the process.  Companies that handle fulfillment in house find it difficult to be experts on all of it, leading to inefficiencies and higher error rates.  Going back to the example of having to get  1,000 orders out in a day when your capacity is 1,000, can your workforce still spend time to accurately receive and put away the new inventory needed to fulfill those orders?  Better yet, what if it’s a live container that is floor loaded and has to be unloaded within a certain timeframe?  Add in a fluctuating number of product returns and all of a sudden the true labor cost for pick/pack/ship orders just went up another notch. 

We once had a major client who had a defective electronic part in their gaming system, and the defect wasn't known until right before Christmas.  Immediately following the Christmas rush, a huge number of these products were returned.  FSI handled thousands of returns and exchanges in a timely manner which saved our client from what would have been a PR nightmare.  Going it alone makes it difficult to manage these special situations, but with outsourcing, you don’t have to juggle these challenges. 


Labor – Kit Packing:

Now let’s talk about the labor for kit packing projects.  These jobs differ from ongoing pick/pack/ship fulfillment in the sense that kit packing is usually short term and with a definite beginning and ending date.  If you handle this yourself, is there a steady flow of kit packing jobs to keep a crew busy all the time?  Again, going back to the order volume scenario with pick/pack/ship, if you have 500 kits that need to ship and your onsite staff can handle a max of 500, then great.  But what do you when you have 5,000 kits to get out in the same time period?  Do you quickly hire and train temps?  If so, do you have regular crews who are accustomed to the unique dynamics that come from working with temps?  A fulfillment company is used to working with temp agencies and dealing with the fluctuating requirements.  By outsourcing your labor needs, there’s less risk involved for you. 



Tasks related to both pick/pack/ship and kit packing jobs can be accomplished far more efficiently with specialized equipment such as forklifts, pallet jacks, tape machines, stretch wrap machines, shrink wrap machines, bar code scanners, shipping stations, and so on.  There’s also racking that helps you store more inventory with more density which allows you to increase your storage capacity, as well as reduce the travel time for the pickers.  All of this equipment costs lots of money, and a fulfillment company can spread the cost over all fulfillment clients.  Going it alone often means a difficult decision between justifying significant capital outlays or accepting ongoing costs due to process inefficiencies.  And don’t forget that you’re probably paying more for your internal labor already, especially if there is not enough volume to justify having someone pick/pack/ship orders all day. 



Managing inventory requires a good warehouse management system (WMS).  This software helps us to be as efficient as possible in managing inventory and orders.  Unfortunately, this type of complex software is expensive, requiring a large up-front investment as well as ongoing fees for support and upgrades.   Fulfillment companies can spread this cost over all of their clients, whereas a business using a WMS to fulfill their own orders would bear the full cost alone. 

Once again businesses find themselves at a crossroads.  Do they handle the fulfillment without a WMS and deal with the inefficiencies and errors, or do they select a solid fulfillment partner and let someone else handle it?  And as volume grows, so do the stakes.  With that much sales revenue riding on 1,000 orders a day, any significant systems downtime is unacceptable.   So the cost of redundant servers, backups, disaster recovery plans, and technical teams to make it all work also must be factored in.  The systems challenges alone convince many companies that outsourcing their fulfillment makes excellent business sense. 


These are just some of the reasons why savvy companies choose to outsource their fulfillment.  So in summary, partnering with a world-class fulfillment provider lowers your risk and opens up systems, equipment and personnel that are fine-tuned to handle your fulfillment needs.  And it affords you the time to grow your business while maintaining full control and visibility of your products through a convenient, web-based reporting portal.  

So is it possible for you to do all this yourself?  Absolutely.  But in the immortal words of one of our longtime clients, FSI “takes on the headaches of fulfillment for them” with what we do best, so that they can focus on doing what they do best.  We couldn't have said it better, and we hope you'll give us the opportunity to prove it.

Team FSI Rocks the Tough Mudder 2014 – Part 2 with Video

Team FSI Rocks the Tough Mudder 2014 – Part 2 with Video

By Forrest Marbutt


FSI completed a Tough Mudder together a couple of weeks ago, and FSI’s resident author, Daryl Gramling, was the first to pen an article about the experience .  Today, I would like to submit my thoughts on the event which now includes our video summary.

I first wrote an article about Tough Mudder in 2012 when I did my first one, but today’s article comes after having done my third one with a team this time.  The last 2 years I’ve paired up with a couple of capable individuals, but this year I did “a little” more recruiting.  FSI periodically does charitable events together as a company where FSI sponsors the participants.  They’re usually 5K’s, and they are great team building events that we all enjoy doing together.  This year’s “charitable event / team building exercise” was the Tough Mudder.  Our team consisted of a total of 35 participants!

Let’s review real quick what exactly the Tough Mudder is.  Here is what Tough Mudder’s website has to say:

And here’s how I was able to recruit 35 participants.  I went around asking people if they would help me out with a charitable event for the Wounded Warrior Project.  It’s been a while since FSI’s last charitable event, which was our bowling outing for The American Cancer Society, so it’s about time we did another event.  Most everyone was on board with an enthusiastic “Yes, what can I do to help?”  I sure do love their willingness to help.  So then I would go around showing everyone one of the many Tough Mudder promo videos, and to my surprise, I still ended up with 20 participants and 15 spectators.  These guys were totally up for the challenge.  Actually, these ladies were up for the challenge as most of our 35 consisted of women. 

What an awesome team building event this turned out to be.  Out of all the events FSI has done together, this was my favorite.  Leading up to the race, we trained together doing running, boot camp style workouts in FSI’s grass, rock climbing at the nearby EpiCenter and trail running at Sweetwater Creek State Park. 

We would watch motivational videos together, discuss nutrition and the event was all we could talk about around the company for the last few weeks.  We had various ranges of skill levels of participants, but we vowed to do the entire event together helping each other out along the way.  Our spectators even proved to be part of the team handing us gloves to wear at important obstacles along the way or food that they were holding for us.  They did lots of cheering, filming and picture taking.  They even carried around an FSI sign.

We had some employees complete this event who would never have signed up to do this on their own.  I knew they could do it.  I told them to take their “never quit / do whatever it takes attitude” that they have every day at FSI and apply that tenacity to this event.  Most of the obstacles we encountered took a total team effort.  I would highly recommend it to anyone.  I’ve already got 20 employees signed up to do it next year, and some of this year's spectators even want to come back as participants for 2015.  Here’s what some of them had to say about their experience:         

I enjoyed the camaraderie of our team.  We got to know and learn more about each other.  The sportsmanship that every single one of us showed was amazing and an awesome feeling to be a part of.  – Shanda Butler, Pick/Pack/Ship Supervisor  

I enjoyed getting closer to my coworkers and learning new things about them.  I am prepared to catch pneumonia! (when asked if the event is held next year when it is colder, would she participate again).  – Stephanie Stallings, Returns Specialist

I enjoyed the entire experience.  I really loved the team atmosphere and I loved how we came together as a team to push each other to get it done.  – Shawanda Hotchkiss, Pick/Pack/Ship Specialist  

It was clear everyone was coming together more as a team as the weeks progressed, and “surviving it” together helped make some new friendships with folks in other departments I don’t normally get a chance to see as often.  – Daryl Gramling, Director of IT

I enjoyed the bonding experience with my peers during this event.  We encouraged and helped each other get through the obstacles, and that was awesome.  – Tora Ross, Customer Service Representative / Project Coordinator


Check out our summary video of the event. Playback issues? Visit the link directly.

Team FSI Rocks the Tough Mudder 2014


What do you get when you take a group of serious, dedicated people willing to go to utterly insane lengths to accomplish something really great?  The answer is that you have a fairly typical day at FSI.  But take that same group and throw them whooping and hollering onto a 10-mile obstacle course, and things really get interesting. 

This year, Forrest Marbutt, FSI’s VP and General Manager, decided to sponsor as many of FSI’s employees as possible in this extreme test of endurance.  It is not yet clear if his primary goal was to kill us all and thus return FSI’s crazy growth rate to something resembling normalcy, or if he figured this is one of the best ways imaginable to build teamwork.  But writing this a day after the event, I think I can speak for all the participants that it was the latter one.

The Tough Mudder event was designed not as a race or individualistic pursuit, but as a way to test your endurance as part of a team.  Designed in part by the British Special Forces, the course was constructed in a way to make it almost impossible to complete on your own.  Oh, we’re sure there were some gung ho types who didn’t need any help scaling the 9- to 14-foot high walls and whose chief complaint was that the frequent mud pits weren’t filled with live rattlesnakes.  But for the rest of us, it taught us several lessons about teamwork that will not be forgotten when we return on Monday to a long list of challenging projects. 

As the course progressed it became obvious that each of us had different strengths, and yes, different weaknesses.  Some might have had a fear of heights they had to overcome before taking a leap of faith off the “Walk the Plank” obstacle into the water 12 feet below.  Others, such as myself, had to bypass the “Electroshock Therapy” obstacle for medical reasons, since getting zapped with 7,500 volts of raw electricity isn’t recommended for those with metal in their bodies.  But it was clear we all had steel in our bodies as we jumped into a large Dumpster filled with ice water, being forced to completely submerge to pass an obstacle in the middle before jumping up on the other side, gasping for air with every single square inch of exposed skin hurting from the extreme cold.  Not even jumping into a tank filled with sharks a couple of years ago dimly compared to the intensity of that particular obstacle, dubbed the “Arctic Enema”, and I’m sure most of the others would agree.  Maybe a few exceptions for some of the women who have given childbirth, but this still had to be at the top of their extreme list! 

One of the lessons we learned was the value of being surrounded with a sizable and energetic group of supporters.  In fact, the 16 spectators in our group was almost as many as the participants.  Every single department at FSI participated in the event, and as the course took us back through the main areas where the spectators waited, it was a lot more fun to go through there with the other members of our team clapping, waving, and holding a familiar FSI sign high in the air.  You just cannot emphasize enough the value of that kind of encouragement, and the event would not have been complete without them.   

Another great lesson we all learned is that through teamwork we can go much further than we imagined, which is another lesson we’ll keep in mind during the next marathon kit-packing project.  The Tough Mudder event has donated millions of dollars to the Wounded Warrior Project, and in honor of our nation’s truest warriors, there was a 100-yard long obstacle called the “Warrior Carry” where you carry one of your teammates 50 yards, then switch.  I figured that at 200 pounds, no one in their right mind would want to carry me so I was looking around for the lightest member of our team when Forrest said, “hop on.”  Incredulous, I tentatively got on his back and he carried me the full 50 yards before we switched, falling only once.  That’s amazing since I weigh far more than he does.  But it reminded me of what he told the team earlier on: “you can do more than you think you can”.  And he was right.

Signs were posted reminding us that this is not a race, so no one was in a hurry and on occasion there were lines of people waiting to tackle the next obstacle.  So during those times, Team FSI would pick, pack, and ship a few orders to stay loose.  Then we would run up “Everest” (situated at the top of a very steep hill, of course); crawl through a dark, cramped tunnel in “Trench Warfare” (claustrophobia, anyone?); or traverse over 20 uphill and downhill monkey bars in the “Funky Monkey.”  It didn’t matter how quickly we finished, only that we finished. 

And when all 20 of us crossed the finish line together, bruised, scraped, and battered 5 hours after we started, we felt like a million bucks.  It was a truly memorable experience, and one we’ll talk about for years to come.

Several FSI team members (green shirts) rock the Funky Monkey.

One of many, many running pictures.

And back at work on Monday, we were all business. Well, mostly.

FSI Team Member Bobby Stephenson Featured in Magazine

For those of you reading your In Play golf magazine, why yes, that is FSI’s own Bobby Stephenson with a full page feature.  For those who might not know, Bobby is a very good golfer.  Or more accurately, he is an EXTREMELY great golfer who has won multiple club championships and has even played professionally.  While a career in golf didn’t end up being in Bobby’s future, he has had a pretty good career in sales, and FSI is glad to count him as part of the team.

His previous experience at UPS has proved to be a tremendous asset due to his depths of logistics industry knowledge.  So when Bobby isn't making a recommendation to you about your next kit packing job or how best to ship your pick/pack/ship orders, you might just find him out on the golf course with his grandsons. 

I’m also glad to have my own autographed copy of the article complete with the grandsons’ signatures.

Employee Interview – Seth Gilland, Business Development Consultant

How long have you worked at FSI?

I have been with FSI almost 2 years now.


What is your role at FSI?

My title is Business Development Consultant, so I primarily focus on growing the business by identifying new prospects and targets, as well as working to increase our partnerships with existing clients.  


What did you do before FSI and how in the world did you get roped in with these guys?

I spent thirteen years with UPS, starting in operations while I completed my degree at the University of West Georgia.  I completed my career with UPS as a Senior Account Executive, with responsibilities in Northwest Atlanta.  Bobby Stephenson, now an FSI Business Development Consultant as well, was my sales manager at UPS prior to his first attempt at retiring.  (Apparently FSI convinced him his work was not yet complete!)  He introduced me to Ken Marbutt after I decided it was time for a change, and the timing could not have been better.  Ken’s business was growing and he was looking to expand his Business Development team.  He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse and I’ve never looked back.  Bobby always told me how impressed he was with FSI, how they handle business, how their processes are set up, and how organized their facility is; and boy was he right.  I’m proud to say that I am working for the best fulfillment company in Atlanta.


What do you enjoy about the fulfillment business?

I really enjoy learning about and being exposed to so many different ideas and businesses.  Entrepreneurs and marketing executives are full of energy and always so eager to get their ideas and products to market.  It is always exciting to see that energy, guide them through the logistics process, and help them become successful by integrating their products into a world-class fulfillment process.  It is very satisfying to see them grow! 


What do you enjoy about sales?

It allows me to be around people and develop relationships that lead to successful business partnerships.  I’ve always considered myself personable and I really enjoy meeting new people and finding out more about them and their businesses.   


What have been some of your memorable moments from your time at FSI?

Without a doubt, being able to back up my trash talking on my first FSI fishing trip.  I was named captain of the Strategic Fishing Partners Team during my rookie year, and as fate would have it I guided my team to victory. 

Seth Gilland - FSI Fishing Trip


What do you think separates FSI from other fulfillment companies? What makes FSI different?

Our people!  Our leadership, our customer service team, and our operations team all go the extra mile in making sure we satisfy our customers’ needs.  We are second to none and are determined to remain the most accurate, reliable, and flexible fulfillment company around.


FSI has enjoyed some growth ( 13,000 ft - 155,000 ft ), longevity ( 17 years ) and won some awards along the way since the business began in 1996. What would you attribute FSI's success to?

Being adaptable to such a diverse client base and building a team that is focused on improving the business.    


What do you enjoy doing with your spare time outside of FSI.

Since my wife and I do not have kids, we enjoy traveling, spending time with our nephews, and hanging out with friends.  I am an avid duck hunter in the winter.  I’ve actually built a lodge in Arkansas and spend many of my weekends between Thanksgiving and February in a duck hole freezing my tail off.

Seth Gilland - Duck Hunting


Employee Interview - Beth Williams, Customer Service Representative

Beth Williams


How long have you worked at FSI, and what is your role?

I have been at FSI for six years as a Customer Service Representative.  My job is to meet and exceed the expectations of our clients and their customers.


What did you do before FSI, and how in the world did you get roped in with these guys?

I worked for another 3rd party logistics company that was similar in some ways to FSI, so I already knew the business.  Since it wasn’t as challenging as I would have liked, I was looking for a company that offered a more challenging environment that put more of my skills to good use.  I started with FSI on a temporary basis, filling in for another CSR who was taking some time off work after the arrival of twin girls.  I was not only rewarded with a wonderful new friendship, but when she later decided to become a full-time stay-at-home mom, our friendship grew outside the company, and I was given a fulltime position with FSI.    (Editor’s note:  even if that team member had decided to return to FSI, we still would have found a full-time role for Beth!)


What do you enjoy about the fulfillment business?

I love the day to day new skills that I learn as we serve a wonderfully diversified client base.  All of our clients are unique, and we are able to give them the type of service they need.  So over the years I have learned how to handle many different challenges, and have developed a much broader perspective of the industries we serve.


What do you enjoy about customer service?

I enjoy the ongoing satisfaction of seeing our clients grow and prosper.  We of course don’t take credit for their success, but we do know part of it is due to the commitment and dedication FSI gives to each and every client.  We love seeing their businesses take off!


What have been some of your memorable moments from your time at FSI?

Some of my favorites have been the team-building exercises at FSI, and I have always enjoyed the warm, family atmosphere.  And on FSI’s 15-year anniversary some of the managers dressed in wet suits and allowed employees to dunk them in an icy tank in the parking lot.  I was impressed by the number of employees that hit the target!


What do you think separates FSI from other fulfillment companies?  What makes FSI different?

We are a team, an FSI family where every employee does what it takes daily to serve our clients and customers.  We all have the same goal for our clients.  We find ways to reach out to the community and give our time and support for others that are in need.  FSI employees are grateful to work for a company that allows us to provide for our families, and we in turn find it important to give back to our community by actively participating in many charitable organizations.


FSI has enjoyed some growth (13,000 ft² - 150,000+ ft²), longevity (17+ years), and won some awards along the way since the business began in 1996.  What do you think FSI must do in order to continue being successful?

I think we have to continue building on our past successes.  If we stick with our mantra of "Whatever it Takes!" we will continue building relationships and proving to clients that having a world-class fulfillment company behind them is best for their bottom line.


What do you enjoy doing with your spare time outside of FSI when you’re not receiving inventory, picking/packing/shipping orders, kitting, etc.?

I have had many roles over the years.  As the mother of 4 beautiful daughters I am a full-time working mom, cheerleading mom, and soccer mom.  In my spare time I love to read, and my Kindle Fire has been my new best friend.  When I can sneak away, the beach is my all-time favorite vacation spot.



Happy Thanksgiving from FSI


FSI wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!  We know we have much to be thankful for, and we just want to say thank you very much to our clients who allow us the privilege of handling your order fulfillment, kit packing and other warehousing needs.   And thank you to our growing number of employees for making what we do here at FSI so enjoyable year after year. 

But speaking of enjoyable, we posted a video last year that we'd like to re-post.   Check out the video below as a sage reminder to consider staying home this holiday shopping season and place your orders online instead.  Let a professional like FSI ship your order to you while you shop from the comfort of your own home.  As you can see from the video, you could be much safer that way.  Enjoy!



5 YEARS IN A ROW! - FSI among 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies

FSI / Inc 5000 2013


Inc. Magazine Unveils Exclusive List of America's Fastest-Growing Private Companies: The Inc. 5000


For the 2nd 3rd 4th 5th year in a row, Inc. magazine ranked FSI among the top 5000 fastest growing private companies in America in its exclusive annual Inc. 5000 list.  The list represents the most comprehensive look at the most important segment of the economy—America’s independent-minded entrepreneurs. FSI joins LivingSocial, Bojangles and OtterBox among other prominent brands featured on this year’s list.

The median company on the list increased sales more than 140% since the start of 2010, while the average honoree grew an amazing 468%.  Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, can be found at www.inc.com/inc5000.  ”Make no mistake:  The Inc. 5000 was harder to get into this year than ever in its history,” says Inc. Editor Eric Schurenberg. 

FSI, founded in 1996 by Ken Marbutt, has continued to grow and expand every year in its 17-year history.  "I am pleasantly surprised and amazed that we continue to make this list.  It is one thing to land a large client and have a sales spike for a year or two, but to make it continuously for 5 years in a row when they measure it from where you were 3 years ago is what I’m most proud of" states Forrest Marbutt, FSI’s Vice President & General Manager.  "I hope that means that we’re doing a few things right.  We stick with our core competencies of order fulfillment, kit packing, pick/pack/ship, online reporting solutions, and constant attention to internal process improvements, and our customers have rewarded us for this focus.  We're thankful that the strategy has been paying off these past 17 years.  I wouldn’t say that making the list has been simple, but our approach has.  We treat our clients and employees the way that they would want to be treated.  We meet their fulfillment needs making ourselves important to their success.  Our clients’ success has translated into our success, so we thank all of our clients for their continued partnership." 



The 2013 Inc. 500|5000 is ranked according to percentage revenue growth when comparing 2009 to 2012. To qualify, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2009. They had to be U.S.-based, privately held, for profit, and independent—not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies—as of December 31, 2012. (Since then, a number of companies on the list have gone public or been acquired.) The minimum revenue required for 2009 is $100,000; the minimum for 2012 is $2 million. As always, Inc. reserves the right to decline applicants for subjective reasons. Companies on the Inc. 500 are featured in Inc.’s September issue. They represent the top tier of the Inc. 5000, which can be found at www.inc.com/inc5000.


About FSI

Founded in 1996, FSI delivers a winning combination of logistical fulfillment, inventory management, pick/pack/ship and custom kit packing assembly for major corporations and agencies. FSI distinguishes our fulfillment services by combining proven logistical fulfillment with advanced technology. The FSI reporting system delivers data on orders, projects and inventory via the web, 24/7 on a user-friendly dashboard.  We help make your job easy!  When You Need Experience, FSI Delivers.


About Inc. Magazine

Founded in 1979 and acquired in 2005 by Mansueto Ventures, Inc. is the only major brand dedicated exclusively to owners and managers of growing private companies, with the aim to deliver real solutions for today’s innovative company builders.  Total monthly audience reach for the brand has grown significantly from 2,000,000 in 2010 to over 6,000,000 today.  For more information, visit www.inc.com.



FSI Awards Wall - 2013

While it may appear that we are running out of wall space, we say just like we tell our clients who might have the impression that it’s possible to run out of warehouse space:  You send the award, and we’ll make room for it!



Top 25 Logo 2013

FSI is proud to announce that it has been named one of Cobb’s Top 25 Small Businesses of the Year by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for the 6th consecutive year in a row. 

Businesses were nominated earlier this year, and after a review by an independent panel of judges, FSI was selected as one of the Top 25 companies.  Candidates were evaluated based on the criteria published by the U.S. Small Business Administration.  Those criteria include staying power, growth in number of employees, increase in sales or unit volume, current and past financial standing, innovative products and services, response to adversity, evidence of contributions to aid community projects and overall management philosophy. 

Founder and president, Ken Marbutt, had this to say:  “We were asked by one of our top clients the other day who is a hot up and coming entrepreneurial start up doing quite well at getting their product off the ground: “when do you reach the point that you can rest like you guys?  When can we relax from all this hard work and start living the easy life?”  The answer was, of course, “We never stop.  We never relax.  We’ve always worked as hard as we could from day 1.  We work just as hard now 17 years in as we did when we were trying to get the business off the ground.  And we’ve always demanded that of our employees and vendors.  If we were to relax, that would be our downfall.  That’s been one of the keys to our success.” 

The Top 25 were recognized at the Cobb Chamber’s First Monday Breakfast on June 3rd.  The Cobb Chamber of Commerce represents Cobb County’s diverse, dynamic business community. The Cobb Chamber is a member-supported business organization working to maintain a healthy economy by bringing business and industry to the area, helping established firms grow and building the community through outreach and service.

Cobb Top 25 Award Presentation

Cobb Top 25 Award Presentation 2