Skip to content

Episode 70: What’s inside the Warehouse?

Have you ever wondered what it takes to store everything needed to run a district that spans 6 cities, with 64 schools and more than 56,000 students? Where do we safely store food for our kitchens and cafeterias or furniture, paper and cleaning supplies for our classrooms?

On this episode of the Supercast we take you inside the District's Central Warehouse on a fun and fascinating tour with a man who has taken care of business there for 39 years. Find out what Randy Gray has seen come and go throughout the years.


Audio Transcription

Superintendent:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. Have you ever wondered what it takes to store everything needed to run a school district that covers six cities with 64 schools and more than 56,000 students? Where do we safely store food for our kitchens and cafeterias or furniture, paper, and cleaning supplies for our classrooms. On this episode of the Supercast, we take you inside the District Central Warehouse on a fun and fascinating tour with a man who has taken care of business there for 39 years.

We're here at the Jordan School Cistrict warehouse with Randy Gray, the Distribution Coordinator. Good morning, Randy.

Randy:
Good morning.

Superintendent:
We're here at 7:30 AM, which is early for me, but you start your day very early. What time does the warehouse get rolling?

Randy:
I get here about 4:20 AM. My guys show up around 5:00 AM.

Superintendent:
4:20 and 5:00 AM. Why does everyone start at that unearthly hour?

Randy:
Because we have to get all the food to the schools before they are ready to cook. So if they need it for the schools, they need anything for the lunch that day, they have it before they need it.

Superintendent:
So everything starts with you really here in the morning at 4:20 AM. So tell me, you've got a stack of calendars here. How long have you been coming in to work at Jordan School District?

Randy:
In one form or another 39 and a half years.

Superintendent:
39 and a half years. And we're about to lose all that 39 and a half years of experience from what I understand.

Randy:
Right.

Superintendent:
When do you retire?

Randy:
December 22nd.

Superintendent:
And how does that feel after so long?

Randy:
I'm going to miss a lot of guys, but I got a lot of other stuff I want to do, so it'll be fun.

Superintendent:
Well, you're certainly going to be missed. There's no question about that. Your stack of calendars goes back to the nineties.

Randy:
Yeah, 1996. I've got another door that has the other ones on it. That's about how long you and I go back right to one of those calendars. And I saw a long, long time ago.

Superintendent:
We met a long time ago. Tell us a little bit more about the warehouse. What what does that involve?

Randy:
We do all the food supplies go out of here, every day produce.

Superintendent:
So that's the main bulk of the load in the morning?

Randy:
That's my big crew. So that's getting everything to the school programs. Anything that they may run out of, they are short on, we get it to them as soon as we can in the day, as early as we can.

And then I have separate crews when we do the school supplies, custodial supplies and the maintenance supplies. And we picked orders every single day.

And then we do all the receiving for everything that comes in and clean books or any non inventories that come into.

Superintendent:
When you say picking, is that just pulling what the order is from the inventory that you have, what the schools have requested?

Randy:
Yes.

Superintendent:
Okay. So you have regular orders and then when they run out, then you run stuff out as needed as well.

Randy:
Yeah. If we do run out of things, we tried really hard not to. If we do run out, it goes into a back order system and then we pick back ordered tickets as soon as we get them in. And then they go out, as soon as we can get them to out.

Superintendent:
How many employees do you have?

Randy:
We have 14 people in here.

Superintendent:
I know with all the PPE, there's been a big shift to get all of that out to the school. So that's probably been one of the main impacts of the pandemic.

Randy:
Right, right. It has really impacted us. My guys were working overtime, breaking down masks and everything and anything, hand sanitizer. Kurt was out here helping us everyday on that. So they were delivering nonstop.

Superintendent:
Well, I've talked with Kurt, the Director of Purchasing who's with us here today about that.

But I just want to thank you personally for that, because that sure made a big difference when people have that the first day. And I know you guys just pulled out all the stops, so thank you for that.

Randy:
Yeah. The crew really jumped together. It's a good team out here. They work really well together and they just jumped on it and got it done.

Superintendent:
Part of what fascinates me about the warehouse is just the sheer volume of stuff that you guys have moving through here. It makes Costco look like a convenience store.

Randy:
Absolutely.

Superintendent:
Tell me about some of the volume of the items that you just have coming through here in big quantities.

Randy:
For instance, like if you take the white copy paper, we do around 23,000 cases of that a year. And we'll do like 12,000 to 15,000 cases of towels, toilet paper or tissue handy.

So you know, those quantities, they rotate and they never stopped. So because we don't have an unlimited space, we have to gauge how much we can bring in at a time. And hopefully your next order hits you before you run out. And we've been really lucky. We really haven't run out of much of anything. It is a large space, but like you said, it's not unlimited. So you have to gauge when to bring it in. And then the demand hits and in the front is the beginning of the school year. Just the craziest time. You're pulling everything for the startup of next year.

Superintendent:
Okay. So you have massive orders.

Randy:
We have to get them out and into the schools because when food start ups come in a week and a half before school. Then we resupply all the schools, lunch rooms with all their foods that are frozen. And then for the next two weeks, it's all food. It's getting all their produce to them. They're frozen. They're dry. I mean, it's just chaos. But the guys are very organized.

Superintendent:
Stay with us. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, more of our fun and fascinating look at what's in the warehouse.

Break:
If you ever feel like you need just a little extra support in your life, maybe it's time to visit the Jordan Family Education Center. The Center, located inside River's Edge School, provides support services and classes for families and students in Jordan School District. Free of charge classes like Blues Busters for Children who are sad or worry. Take a Preteens Communication Class for parents and teens or Superhero Social Skills, a class that helps children with social skills. The Jordan Family eEducation Center also offers short-term counseling and all services are provided by the district school, psychologist and counselors. For information about classes and counseling, call 801-5657.

Superintendent:
Okay, let's walk through the warehouse. And I definitely want to visit the freezer. The freezer is really something. So let's head out.

We have Kurt Prusse, Director of Purchasing with us here, walking through the warehouse as well. We've got gloves, just sitting here on, what is this, transformers? Why is that warming them up here? This is like a hot potato or something like that, but they put these on gloves.

Randy:
Yeah, the freezer, they're in there for an hour or so each time. And then you get reinforcement. So that's why there's six pair here. He's got another pair on right now and he just rotates. So when those gloves get cold, he can just grab another warm pair off the transformer.

Superintendent:
Let's go check out this freezer. When you come here, people say, well, have you seen the freezer? Because it's really something. How cold does it get in the freezer?

Randy:
Usually around minus 12 to minus 15, I tried to keep it in the 10 to minus 10 range.

Superintendent:
And how many pallets can we fit in the freezer?

Randy:
We're about 900 right now. 900 pallets and 900 talents shopping at Costco. They're 900 pounds.

Superintendent:
Oh my gosh. And you gotta be a real good operator and make this work.

Randy:
Yeah, you do. You're not really happy if you don't know what you're doing.

Superintendent:
I could see that I will never drive a forklift in here. Tell you that. That would not be a good idea.

Randy:
I'm very picky about who brings in forklifts in here. And I have to say we haven't made it here very long. That cold kind of slows your heart down.

Superintendent:
Yeah. So what are we looking at here? What do we have?

Randy:
Oh, this is why a lot of your produce stops right here. This would be government that the Nutrition Services Director has had processed, breaded chicken chicken nuggets, you know, items like that. So it's like a lot of chicken. We tried to keep this together.

Superintendent:
So this is going to be all your process. And then we have to purchase and we have just regular government contracts, like  Kung Pao chicken.

Randy:
They're right here. They taught he's one of my top operators as far as the uprights and reconstruct. And that's why he's in here. I trust him in here.

Superintendent:
So he does me a very good job and he does the right stuff and tips the button. Oh, there we go. Now there's a frozen bag of chicken fajita. All right. Hungry working in here? All you do is work with food all day.

Worker:
Yeah. Once in a while, I gotta say you are ready for the Arctic band, your iron chop. That is a refrigerator where you don't last long, especially when you're grabbing boxes. Even with these six gloves on five, six times, pick your time up. You're out changing. We got two different sets. Your brand of Coke has the word refridge in it. That means that you are set to work in the freezer.

Superintendent:
Yeah. Wow. This is something. Wow.

Randy:
Even in the winter, the guys will go out of here and they'll go outside in the snow to warm up.

Superintendent:
That's a lot of paper. That's probably not a lot of paper to you, but we're walking by pallets and boxes of paper.

Randy:
This is all the colored paper right here. This is really our small volume paper right here.

Superintendent:
That may be more paper than I've seen over the course of my entire life.

Randy:
All the paper that we buy, we buy it on a reverse auction. So I kind of have to gauge how much space I have, what my need is. And then I'll average 840 cases a month.

Superintendent:
You guys have a great reputation for just having things on hand, just making things available because schools do have emergencies and we can't really shut down. We've got kids sitting there waiting for a lesson or a meal.

Randy:
Yeah. And I've been doing the requests.

Superintendent:
You know these warehouses.

Randy:
Pretty much. I started there as a driver. I drove for seven years and then started moving up.

Superintendent:
So have you been in the warehouse Most of the time that you've been at Jordan?

Randy:
The entire time. I started over there under a Superintendent Wittenberg.

Superintendent:
Oh, wow. So, you've been under four superintendents.

Randy:
I have.

Superintendent:
I think you started in the Reagan era.

Randy:
I did. Yeah. A lot of our drivers, we sit and talk and they go, you started at like a Lane one? Oh, us Lane three. And then some of them say, yeah, I wasn't born yet. I said, well, Reagan was not just president. He was a new president. He got voted in, which makes me is really old.

Superintendent:
Now you've mentioned the reverse auction on the paper. That's fascinated me when you've talked about that in Board Meetings before, tell us about the reverse auction for buying tapes.

Kurt:
Right. It's  something that we do as a cooperative purchase with other school districts. We've had the opportunity last two years to do that. What a reverse auction is, is kind of what you think of when you were at an auction, the prices go up and in a reverse auction prices go down. So everyone has the opportunity to outbid the lowest provider until someone says uncle. Basically, he says we can't go any lower. And that's the winner. And typically there's a lot of time. There's some rules with the reverse auction, but it's something we have done in the past. And it's been very successful in that you ensure the lowest price because really the competitors or the vendors really can compete with each other in real time.

Superintendent:
And that's just one of the ways that the Purchasing Department works hard to save money and the Warehouse Department, you know, when you've got the right quantities and they move out at the right time, that saves us a lot of money as well.

Randy:
Right. And when they send it, you know, I'll get a paper. Right now I'm getting them from Brenda, one of our buyers. And it just says, okay, here's three months. How many trucks do you want for this month? And then I just look at what I've used, what I have on hand, and then how much can I bring in? How much can I house? And it's worked out great.

Superintendent:
I can't even do that with my family. I cook way too much or not even close to enough when people are coming over. To do that for 58,000 students is something else.

Randy:
Yeah. If I run out, I'm not very popular. So I try not to run.

Superintendent:
Well, you are very popular and you do a very good job. So are people surprised when they come through here and see just the scope of what you do?

Randy:
You know, they come in and a lot of them say, don't you have time to do this. And I say, well, no. And you know, when they come in and they look and they say, we just didn't understand that. We didn't understand what you guys do. And we will give anybody a tour through here. And they come through and they're just absolutely baffled by how big it is, the amount of products we carry.

Superintendent:
Thank you so much for all your years of service, your decades of service. They just don't have any idea this is back here.

Randy:
Yeah. They just say, we never knew this was behind the building.

Superintendent:
Right. So this is behind the scenes in every way. Thank you so much for all your years of service, your decades of service. And we'll sure miss you, but we wish you the best.

Randy:
Oh, I appreciate Jordan District. They helped me support my family the whole time. It's been great. When I started here, I had one child.  had four kids and now I have six grandkids. So it's offered me a great opportunity. So I appreciate it. And I've always had a job. I've never been laid off. So it's been great.

Superintendent:
Well, congratulations on your retirement and I wish you all the best.

Randy:
Thanks.

(15:48):
Thanks for joining us on the Supercast. Remember, education is the most important thing you'll do today. We'll see you.

Show Audio Transcription
Share the Supercast!