The company has just posted job vacancies at www.lowes.com/careers for leadership positions, which are called coaches, something equivalent to a supervisory position.
“These individuals will be leading individual work teams within our facility responsible for engaging, inspiring and motivating (team members),” said Plant Manager Andy Johnson.
He described the type of person that Lowe’s is looking for to fill a coach position by saying you have to think about some of the characteristics that you think of when you think of the word coach.
“Someone that is engaging, will motivate, will inspire, will teach and really care about people.”
Johnson said Lowe’s has very high expectations for its leadership team, and being an advocate for other team members and taking care of them is extremely important.
“The technical side of distribution we can teach, but you’ve got to care about people and take care of them,” Johnson said.
Next month, perhaps as early as the middle of October, Lowe’s will open the posting for team member positions, which will be the largest percentage of positions within the new facility.
Ken Wright, director of business and industry services at the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce, said Johnson has been outstanding to work with since he arrived in Rome from a prior position with Lowe’s in Lebanon, Ore., several months ago. Wright said he expects Lowe’s to become very involved in the community under Johnson’s leadership as soon as the center gets up and running and all the kinks are worked out.
“I’ve actually been working with Lisa Sauceman just this past week on how to post jobs to the www.romega.com website,” Wright said. “We’re going to have a link that actually ties into their careers Web page so that you can actually look for jobs on our site.”
Construction on the new distribution center began a year ago. The company is making a $125 million investment in the new center, which includes nearly 1.4 million square feet of space under one roof. The distribution center sits on a 133.2-acre site in the new North Floyd Industrial Park at the intersection of Ga. 140 and Ga. 53.
Local construction crews have built an entrance road off Ga. 140 into the distribution center and just this week have completed a widening of 140 at the entrance to the site.
Lowe’s will make a $78,125 payment in lieu of taxes to the community annually from 2014 through 2022, when it will begin paying a full property tax load to Floyd County. The distribution center will begin paying a portion of county school taxes in 2016 and will be paying a full school tax bill by 2018, estimated to be about $900,000.
Johnson could not say precisely when the new distribution center would open.
“We’ve got so many to hire that we have to start pretty early as you can imagine, but we’ll go through the hiring process between October and December, then we’ll have our first new hire orientation Jan. 7, 2013,” Johnson said.
When the doors first open, several hundred employees will have already been brought on line. Once the center opens, it will gently ramp up the numbers of stores across the Southeast that it services.
“Eventually what will happen is that we’ll get so many stores that we will have to open up a second shift,” Johnson said. “Right now that’s slated to start around the October to December (2013) time frame.”
Ultimately, the company has pledged to hire 600 people within the next three years. The Memorandum of Understanding which helped guide the final development of the project calls for a base wage of $10.50 an hour for team members.
Johnson said that the general contractor, Vannoy Construction, has done a phenomenal job at the new facility.
“The building itself is pretty much complete. We’re already working in the office area now, adding the furniture, trying to get that settled so that we can move in and take over at least temporary occupancy of the office area,” Johnson said.
The conveyor system and racking that will maneuver and store the inventory will still have to be put in, but the basic shell of the distribution center is relatively complete.
The logistics of the distribution operation is strategic and designed to maximize speed and efficiency of the movement of goods.
“We have some items that we can anticipate and predict sell points just based on history,” Johnson said. “For those items we have a cross docking process, and literally we will bring in the (product), receive it and ship it out in the same motion so it will be gone in less than 24 hours.”
Other products, particularly seasonal items, can be brought in and held for as long as need be.
All of that movement means that sometime after spring arrives in 2013, Ga. 140 is going to be a busy two-lane road. Johnson estimated that when the distribution center really starts to crank up the movement of inventory, the center will be sending out between 300-350 truckloads of product each week.
“On the in-bound side, it will be about one and a half times that many if not more, on a weekly basis,” Johnson said.
The Georgia DOT is in the latter stages of pre-acquisition of right of way for the State Route 140 project, and right-of-way staking has been completed. “The project is scheduled to be let to contract in July 2014.
If all goes as planned, construction will begin shortly after a contract is awarded,” said Mohamed Arafa, district spokesman for the DOT.
The Rome distribution center will serve between 130 and 150 Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse stores across six Southeastern states.