First of all, there is no truth to the recent claim that FSI has developed and tested an indoor jet pack which allows our order pickers to fly around the warehouse at record speed to get your orders out the door even faster than we already do. That was an unfortunate April Fool's prank, and we are pleased to report that no actual employees were harmed, even though one employee did manage to fly into a container of women's wear. Rest assured, he will never live that one down. But what's not a joke is that on April 1st, FSI turned 17 years old.
So to celebrate, it seemed fitting that an Atlanta tradition – The Varsity – should cater our birthday luncheon. So when the truck rolled up, we eagerly headed to the parking lot and lined up for the tastes Atlantans have come to love, including enough hot dogs, chili dogs, hamburgers, fries, and onion rings to sink a ship.
Speaking of traditions, 17 years is a great time to reflect on the growth that has made FSI an Atlanta tradition. We’ve worked with some top companies along the way, won an increasing number of industry awards, and expanded, expanded, and expanded yet again to keep up with it all. We love our clients and we love working with them. Some started out just like FSI with little more than a plan and a dream, and have grown like crazy. Others are just now starting out and haven’t hit the big time (yet). But we know they will, and it’s enormously exciting to be a part of it all.
So Happy Birthday to FSI, and we look forward to what the next 17 years will bring. Thanks again to our amazing employees and the clients who make it all happen!
Tags: FSI, Anniversary, Varsity
Eventually, the US economy will once again be red-hot. Consumer confidence will rise, business will be strong, and the present economic malaise will mercifully fade into history. But until that happens, we’re all thinking about what to do in the meantime. And while conventional wisdom suggests sitting tight when things get rough, the smart money has always been to re-evaluate strategy and get into position for better times. Given the significant role of fulfillment in your business, this is an area that merits serious attention. So if you’re considering a fulfillment partner, here are three reasons why tough times means it’s time to switch to FSI.
Now more than ever, your business needs 110% of your focus.
Whoever said they’re too busy running their business to make money wasn’t kidding. How much time do you spend managing your inventory and storage? Order management? Shopping carts? Customer service? Kit-packing? Shipping systems? Product returns? Chances are, these necessary functions distract you from what you do best, and the opportunity cost can be staggering. What mission-critical projects could you be working on if you had a partner with a proven track record for handling these things in such a way that you retain control without being mired in the daily details?
If you’re current fulfillment provider is hurting you, it’s time to stop the bleeding.
We still marvel at a prospective client who told us many years ago that the error rate on their apparel fulfillment was nearly 20%. We asked, “Don’t your fulfillment guys bar-code everything?” But the astonishing answer was no, and the result was a daily barrage of product returns that cost them countless dollars. That certainly is an extreme example, but what is it costing you to have a fulfillment provider who is more of a liability than an asset?
FSI makes it easy to switch.
With just the right mix of turn-key solutions and customization options, switching to FSI means you’ll have a world-class partner handling your order management, pick-pack-ship, and inventory solutions in record speed. Our Sales and IT teams have done this hundreds of times, and you’ll even have a dedicated Implementation Coordinator tasked with managing every aspect of your new account. We’ve found this ensures the most rapid, smooth transition possible.
So if you haven’t yet given us a call, please do so today. There’s a reason FSI has made the Inc. 5,000 list of fastest-growing companies for the last four years in a row, and we’re confident the timing of our partnership will be perfect for your business.
Sure, we face battles all day long coordinating a dizzying array of project details, changing job requirements, and the like. If nothing else, we battle the clock, since every project has to be completed on time. And FSI has never, ever been late on a kit-pack project. But last weekend, we were treated to a sobering reminder of a different type of battle.
A real one.
As part of a Father-Son outing, a couple of FSI team members had the opportunity to stay aboard the USS Alabama battleship in Mobile, Alabama. The “Big A” is longer than two football fields, weighs over 42,000 tons loaded, with 130,000 horsepower in the power plant. Her 16” guns can hurl the weight of a small car over 20 miles, and her 40mm guns helped take out many hundreds of enemy aircraft, sustaining very little damage in the process. But pictures and stats utterly fail to do this ship justice. We spent hours climbing all over the ship, marveling at its sheer size and the American ingenuity that went into building it. It took thousands of workers over two years of round-the-clock construction before it was ready for battle.
I have to say it was very humbling to climb into the bunk after several hours of exploring. It was little more than a cot suspended on chains hung from the ceiling, with not enough room to even sit up unless you were on the top bunk. And yet over 2,300 officers and servicemen at a time made this ship their home during World War II, where she saw 37 months of active duty and earned nine Battle Stars. I tried to imagine being away from my family for months and years at a time, but truth is, I couldn’t. All I could do was get a postcard from the gift shop and mail it to my favorite veteran to remind him of our appreciation for the years of service he and countless thousands of others endured on our behalf.
Rising early, the next day we toured the USS Drum World War II submarine, then drove to Pensacola, Florida to visit the National Museum of Naval Aviation before heading back home, exhausted but thrilled. It was worth the trip.
Battleship Memorial Park is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to honoring those who served in our armed forces, and dedicated to keeping our history alive. Visit www.ussalabama.com for more details.
Tags: FSI, Giving Back, Battleship Memorial Park
Tags: FSI, Spanx, Billionaire, Forbes
Tags: FSI, Move it, media
Tags: FSI, Feed The Children, Giving Back
It should come as no surprise that the folks at FSI are a
bit competitive. We sneer at the notion
that anyone could top our 99.9% pick/pack/ship accuracy rate, and point to our
steadily growing collection of achievements ranging from the Inc. 5000 List to
the Top 25 Businesses as proof of how hard we like to work. But with the cool weather
sending us an official memo that summer is gone, it seemed like a great idea to
share a terrific fall meal together. And what better way to start off a great
meal than to announce the winners from the 2011 FSI Chili Cook-Off? So that’s exactly what we did today.
No beans about it, these guys can cook! We had 9 entries, and each one was really
good. Ranging from a little on the sweet
side to a bit on the fiery side, it was all good. Forrest Marbutt, Carleen Blakes, Charlie
Hayes, and Daryl Gramling were selected to judge the event, and the hardest
part was figuring out who should claim the first prize.
But someone had to win, and as it turns out, Karen Cross
walked away with the blue ribbon. Not
bad for someone who doesn’t even eat chili!
Second prize went to Drew Yarborough, with Bobby Stephenson right on his
heels in third place. There was tons of
food, and the only thing missing was live music by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. (Sadly, they’re on tour in Ireland.)
We have always enjoyed our company gatherings. Thanks to everyone who participated and
congrats to the winners!
Tags: FSI, Chili Cook-Off
“Is there anything you guys just won’t do?”
I think we answered that question pretty well on May 15th
when Forrest and I arrived in Mountain City, Georgia for the 2011 Warrior
Dash. The Warrior Dash (www.warriordash.com) is a peaceful,
relaxing event combining 3.2 miles of running in the mountains with 11 obstacle
courses. The obstacles ranged from
scaling a 20-foot high wall to crawling through massive mud pits to jumping
through fire to get to the finish line.
And if that weren’t enough, I had a chest-wracking respiratory infection
that week and had been advised to take it easy.
But I was afraid Forrest would give me a wedgie if I chickened out on
him, so I stuck to the plan. We
certainly had a blast though, and my doctor has assured me I will make a full
But when it comes to your packages, this is the kind of
attitude you want your fulfillment partner to have. You want a partner with a
vested interest in seeing every package shipped correctly, on time, and without
hassle. Do we have to stay late? No problem.
Do we have to re-pack the entire job to fix the mistakes the previous
fulfillment company made? Been there, done that. Do we have to design a custom
database around an insane set of business rules? As we speak, we’re in fact working
on the second such project in a month.
Every department at FSI knows we have to jump through the
fire from time to time; it’s just what we do.
So how about you? What can FSI do for your next project?
Tags: FSI, Warrior Dash
Ten provinces, three territories, and over 34 million
inhabitants. It is the world’s second
largest country by total area, and the shared border between our two nations is
the longest in the world. It sure sounds like a great business opportunity to
market to these guys. But professionals
in the fulfillment industry could add a note of caution. The customers are
there and their dollars can provide a much-needed boost in this economy.
Problems can arise however when your product is ready for shipment, and since
the root of the problem lies in a complex array of government regulations,
asking if it’s worth it is good business sense.
Zappos, the shoe and accessory giant, should know. This month it will close its online doors to
Canadian customers due in part to the logistical challenges of getting products
into Canadian hands. (See http://www.internetretailer.com/2011/03/25/zappos-closes-its-canadian-storefront
for the full article).
What makes it so hard? You pack a box, slap a shipping label
on it, and everyone’s happy. Right? But first the package must make it through
Canadian Customs, who can slap the same package with hefty duties and taxes. If that package is among the many that are
opened for close inspection, your package can be seriously delayed and the
result is an unsatisfied customer through no fault of your own. Customs also
routinely disputes the reported value of the products, presumably to increase
the amount of taxes that can be assessed. And if that isn’t enough, a mountain
of complexity and cost can be incurred in the form of finding which of tens of
thousands of harmonized trading codes (HTS) apply to your products. Telling
Customs there’s a t-shirt in the box isn’t enough; they also want to know what
it’s made out of, what kind of style it is, the country of manufacturer, the
size, and more. Each of these pieces of data helps determine the amount of
taxes that must be paid before the product can legally enter the country. Invest in discovering the right codes and
your product may slip through Customs smoothly; but pick the wrong one and the
package is stopped in its tracks. Don’t want the hassle of finding out the HTS
code? Customs is usually happy with that too, they’ll be glad to assess the
product at a higher tax rate.
Then there’s the
question of who pays duties and taxes – is it you or your customer? Will they really pay $15 in duties and $20 on
shipping for a $30 product? You could of course use a cheaper shipping option,
but here at FSI we field constant complaints from customers whose USPS package
was lost and there’s no tracking available. But the USPS provides guaranteed international
tracking, right? Surprisingly the answer is no. A tracking number may be
created, but once it leaves the United States, the visibility of that package
often disappears. Using a major private carrier such as UPS all but eliminates
that problem, but the full tracking capabilities can come at a steep shipping
A great fulfillment provider is an essential component of
your international sales strategies, and indeed FSI has invested in the systems
to make international shipping (especially to Canada), as easy as possible.
From supporting the HTS codes to using technologies that often reduce the
amount of paperwork required for international shipments, we can be an even
greater asset to your business. Even so, shipping-related labor costs to handle
Customs requirements can have a detrimental impact on bottom lines.
Ultimately, each business must weigh the costs and benefits
of offering products to our northerly neighbors. Just be sure to set realistic
expectations when determining your strategy.
FSI is an Atlanta,
Georgia based provider of quality fulfillment services. Founded in 1996, it has
shipped millions of packages to nearly 160 countries worldwide.
Tags: FSI, Canadian Shipments
Superman. Pictured left to right: Daryl
Gramling (Director of IT); Ken Marbutt (President); Forrest Marbutt (Vice
President and General Manager); and Bobby Bounds (Director of Operations)
FSI has done some mighty crazy things since arriving on
Atlanta’s fulfillment scene. Starting
with just two employees, a temp, and some serious caffeine we knocked out our
first job of 200,000 kits in about 6 days.
We’ve run multiple shifts, worked into the ungodly hours of the morning;
and packed just about every type of kit known to man. So on April 1, 2011, it seemed perfectly
natural to don some wetsuits, adjust our capes, and fly gallantly into FSI’s
main warehouse to celebrate our most recent milestone.
Okay we actually walked into the warehouse (mainly to avoid
flying into power lines, which isn't covered by insurance), but celebrate we did. Today is the fifteenth
anniversary of Fulfillment Strategies International, certainly a perfect excuse
to pull out all the stops. Corporate
Events catered the meal and provided outdoor games, including a dunking booth
which would explain the wetsuits.
Wetsuits or not, the water was icy cold but it gave our tremendous team
of employees the chance to dunk the manager of their choice for all the times
they’ve been called upon to pull off some truly heroic feats. (Attention employees: retribution will surely follow
– you know who you are).
But as we dried off the water on this 51-degree April day,
we warmed up to the incredible memories that are still being made. FSI serves an amazing variety of clients, from
small startups to globally-recognized leaders, and just about everything in
between. Some are getting started with
just a few orders per day and others send us thousands of orders per day. But there is one thing our clients have in
common: they know FSI will do everything humanly possible to complete every job
with a level of excellence befitting our favorite superheroes. They tell us all
the time, “we couldn’t have done it without you.”
So on our 15-year anniversary, we’d like to say, “right back
at ya.” We couldn’t be here without a dedicated staff and the clients that make
it all possible.
Tags: FSI, 15th Anniversary
Tags: FSI, Inclement Weather 2011
Tags: FSI, Giving Back, Community Service, Thanksgiving 2010
Tags: FSI, Campus Crusade for Christ, Chilean Miners
Tags: FSI, Cobb Chamber Interview
Tags: FSI, Giving Back, Community Outreach
Tags: FSI, Top 25, Awards, Cobb Chamber of Commerce
Tags: FSI, Community Outreach, Team In Training
Tags: fsi, golf, awards, piag
Tags: fsi, innovation, kit packing
Tags: fsi, community outreach, make a wish