Seven months ago, I was attending the annual Holy Angels charity golf outing when I received a phone call from a colleague. At the time, I was six months into my new role, Inventory Control Manager. I was still learning all the requirements of the job and developing relationships with everyone on the Inventory Team. But that was all about to change.
My colleague told me about an opening for Logistics Project Manager and encouraged me to go through the interview process. Right before I was about to tee off, he said to me: “It’s time to come up to the big leagues”. I had so many thoughts running through my head – which clearly explains my dismal golf performance that afternoon.
I spent the following couple of days thinking about the opportunity: to launch a modern joint distribution center for MANN+HUMMEL in Queretaro, Mexico. As part of the post-merger activities, management made the strategic decision to combine the centers after reviewing both distribution operations in the country. The MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology distribution center was running out of space, while the MANN+HUMMEL Mexico distribution center was looking to upgrade their operations.
Well, to cut a long story short, three weeks later I was on a flight to Mexico to visit the two sites. I knew the project was going to be a challenge and I wondered on the flight whether I would be successful. I had been working on the project plan and it now had over 500 items on it including;
- Moving over 1.5 million filters
- Securing large, modern warehousing and office space
- Ensuring 30+ employees were transferred with minimal disruption
There was a lot to do! I was excited about the trip but felt a little trepidation. I had never visited the facilities before, never been to Mexico – and my Spanish was non-existent! However, I approached the challenge with an open mind.
After meeting with the project teams at both sites, my worries were laid to rest. Of course, there were some initial doubts, but the logic of the decision could not be denied. Everyone was quickly on board and willing to help. One of the keys to great collaboration was the way team members embraced the idea of being one team – a MANN+HUMMEL team – and not two separate divisions.
This attitude quickly changed the way I viewed the project. It was now: how are we going to be successful?
We are operational!
After several months of planning and preparation, I can say that we have now successfully launched the first phase of operations out of the new, state-of-the-art distribution center. In the months leading up to the launch, we had to – amongst other things – finalize the lease for the new site, develop the layout and flow of the new operations, install racking, and setup the network infrastructure for two systems. We encountered many challenges along the way that I thought would delay the launch, but the team showed great dedication and perseverance to make this a success story.
There are five subsequent phases of the project. The next phase is transferring the MANN+HUMMEL Mexico business to the new site in late June. Then the different MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology brands will be moved one by one. Finally, the MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology distribution center in Saltillo will decommissioned, scheduled for October this year.
I’ve learned a lot
Personally, the project has allowed me to gain valuable insight into the operations side of the business. By launching a distribution center, I have broadened my experience and learned some valuable skills – from installing electrical and network infrastructure to shipping product. I would like to thank my team in Mexico for their support so far – and for teaching me a bit of Spanish! I look forward to the next few months and completing the project on time!