Miles Kimball on Making Do With Less

There’s been no shortage of industry layoffs news, but what about the employees that remain at the company—how do they get things done with fewer people? Tim Little, vice president of operations for Oshkosh, WI-based Miles Kimball, spoke with MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT’s senior writer Jim Tierney about how the gifts and housewares merchant’s back-end is faring.

Q: How has the operations and fulfillment department at Miles Kimball been affected by the economy?

A: The obvious answer is we simply have less work—fewer orders to fulfill so we needed to make adjustments to our manning levels and our hours of operation. We also have been using some low work volume layoff scenarios.

The economy has also driven up all of our supply costs over the last year – however, we are beginning to see relief as fuel, other petroleum based products, paper and corrugate have all been decreasing over the last few months.

Q: Is your staff smaller now than it was a year ago?

A: We adjusted staffing levels and reduced approximately 20%.

Q: What adjustments to the daily work schedule have been made?

A: We moved to a four-day, 10-hour-a-day workweek. Due to order flow, we shut down the distribution center on Wednesdays. We have also pared back our customer service hours in our call center.

Q: Has seasonal help been affected?

A: Our seasonal staffing levels were adjusted to reflect a lower than anticipated amount of orders in the fall. We adjusted them down about 10%.

On the bright side, with higher unemployment rates, we actually saw an increase in the availability and qualifications of our seasonal staff during interviewing and hiring season.