By MJ Plaster
When you click “Buy Now” on the Internet, you trust the retailer to deliver your package on time and in perfect condition—and that usually happens. But did you know that a third-party fulfillment company is often the invisible partner that handles all the pesky details to make it happen?
AMS Fulfillment (AMS), a privately owned business based in Valencia, California, provides a seamless end-to-end delivery system to retail partners who choose not to run their own warehouses. The company accepts delivery from the manufacturer, unpacks and inspects the merchandise to ensure quality control, repackages it for the end consumer, ships and tracks the delivery, allowing clients to share the HR resources at AMS.
The AMS Client-Centric Business Model
CEO and Co-owner Ken Wiseman was quick to point out, “We put customers ahead of profitability. We can take a longer view on success,” unlike publicly traded companies, which increasingly focus on quarterly performance. There are several factors that contribute to the company’s success.
- “You give the client your thought, energy and effort as if it were your own business, because when the client succeeds, we succeed,” said Jay Catlin, AMS President and Co-Owner.
- Wiseman emphasized AMS’ lack of the cookie-cutter approach because, “Each company has a unique way they approach distribution.” AMS works with each client to create and document a step-by-step plan, ensuring that both parties craft and agree to the rules. Then, a team dedicated to the individual client takes over the operational details of fulfillment.
- Catlin added: “AMS continually looks for ways to cut costs—for the client—through our InSync Operations Analysis™, which utilizes financial tools to alert the team to changing costs. By finding cost fluctuations as they occur, the team can quickly look for ways to bring the client’s costs back in line.”
Reversal of Fortunes
In November 2012, the California Association of Enterprise Zones (CAEZ) selected AMS as the recipient of its “Business of the Year” award due to its growth and achievements over the years and its commitment to hiring from within the community. AMS was operating nearly 1 million square feet of warehouse space and employing over 500 individuals. Just a few short months later, it suffered an 80 percent loss of business in one year. One client accounted for 70 percent of the loss. No one could have faulted a business for closing its doors under such dire circumstances, but the company responded by making drastic and painful cuts in workforce and facility space, and the owners kept key employees in place for the company’s rebound.
The rebound wasn’t long in coming; it came the following year. Catlin attributes the phenomenal rebound to, “…aggressive sales efforts and good luck. We were blessed to almost double the sales we projected.”
Traditional wisdom dictates that you shouldn’t count on a majority of your revenue from one source. AMS kept that option open by developing a plan that would allow it to serve another very large client while limiting its exposure and risk.
Paying It Forward
In keeping with its “family” approach to business, AMS supports the local community in two important ways that directly benefit the community:
- Lending a Hand, not a Handout – AMS has partnered with several different programs to hire at-risk/underprivileged youth and developmentally disabled adults (one such individual started his first job at AMS at 56 years old), and has embraced the federal GAIN program recruiting from within aging workforce, unemployed, veterans groups and those on state assistance programs. “For some, it’s their first job. Youths from underprivileged communities often receive their first opportunity to earn a paycheck at AMS.” Wiseman continued, “It gives you a lot of opportunity to help them grow. We give them a chance to get a job, and it helps with their self-esteem.” Catlin added, “At AMS Fulfillment, we experience the true satisfaction that comes from our shared mission each time we walk through our operations and sense the value of embracing our community.”