Feature Story


 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Heidelberg Associates have pitched in, worked together and have gotten the job done, each and every day. The Heidelberg Wheel is constantly spinning, and it takes all of 1,600 Associates to make it turn. Without every group in the company doing its share, we don’t move forward.

Every day in Ohio and Kentucky, the night crew loads up the trucks with product and our drivers continue to make deliveries to retail partners. The work that these operations Associates and drivers continue to do has been nothing short of amazing. “Initially we thought the increase in beverage alcohol sales was ‘pantry loading,’ says Chief Sales Officer Pat O’Sullivan. “But, consumption has not slowed down at all. The operations team has met this demand head on and is delivering excellence by taking care of the needs of our customers and ultimately the consumer!”

Work during the pandemic hasn’t been without challenges. Like the rest of world, the warehouses have not been immune to COVID-19 or its effects. What has moved to the forefront during this time has been teamwork. “With the heavier workload Wine GSM Ron Utterback and three DM’s Kevin Fare, Scott Thurman, and Richard Kaiser have come in multiple times to help pull orders to help the night crew,” said Cleveland Operations Manager Eric Flatt. “With on premise shutdown we are doing more volume with 30% less customer base.”

LORAIN OPERATIONS ASSOCIATE JUSTIN KARL SPRAYING OUT RETURNED KEGS.

Columbus has seen an uptick in their workload as well. Compared to the previous year, March through June 2020 has seen an increase of 217,000 cases with the same number of trucks and fewer accounts than 2019. Executive VP & General Manager Greg Maurer is also a big believer in the Heidelberg core value of teamwork. “I’d like to recognize two groups specifically. The on-premise sales professionals and our team of merchandisers, who have been heroic in their willingness to assist with the needs in the high volume accounts, mostly chain stores. As a team they are merchandising the stores, working orders, assisting with drivers checking in orders and are willing to go where needed.”  

The smallest of Heidelberg’s operations, Youngstown, has gotten help from every department in their office. Director’s, DM’s and merchandisers all help in the warehouse during the day. The admin staff has helped out in the morning to make sure the trucks are going out on time. Drivers are going out of their way to assist other drivers to make sure everyone finishes up at the same time. “Our night crew has been short staffed since COVID-19 started,” says Youngstown Operations Manager Steven Krohn. “But, they have all been Rockstar’s! They feed off each other’s energy and continue to do great things!”

First with the closure and then the reopening of on-premise, business as usual has changed. While the warehouses were increasing the number of cases delivered, they have been doing so to a smaller number of accounts, which at times has meant a change in routing for the delivery trucks. “We have had to cut routes completely when a majority of the stops were closed and shift those people to help in other areas,” said Cincinnati Operations Manager Mike Gleason. “Other routes that saw significant growth we had to take stops off and in effect build new routes in order to make sure we continue have prompt and reliable delivery.”

Despite the decrease in the number of accounts delivered to with the on-premise shutdown, there never seemed to be down time for any of the operations staffs. “With the increase in sales, it has taken everyone to step up and make things happen,” said Toledo Operations Manager Jon Loucks. “In addition to all our ops Associates, we have also relied on sales managers and sales pros to help check in orders. The admin team to process all of the work that goes on behind the scenes. Purchasing getting product to our buildings to allow us to get it to market. It is truly a team effort to make all of this happen!”

From delivering spirits out of the warehouse to getting product to the entire state from one location, everything is always a bit different in Kentucky. “It’s hard for sales or non-warehouse Associates to come to the building to help out,” said Kentucky Operations Manager Jerry Borzie. “But, our team has managed to pull it off. We moved some day warehouse personnel to night shift; day shift manager Jeff Liggett came in early to load trucks and audit skids and I came in many nights to pick orders and do the same. It is a total team effort.”

KENTUCKY DRIVER STEVEN CLARKSON DELIVERING PRODUCT TO A RETAIL ACCOUNT.

Dayton Operations Manager Terry Neece thinks the “new normal” has been a blessing in disguise. “To start with, we have had an unpresented boost in morale and teamwork between all divisions. Due to our business being labeled as essential, the reduction in non-essential traffic helped us get in and out of our accounts more efficiently. We found huge efficiencies in operating in four days which kicked our re-route process for our sales team and operations team into high gear.”

While teamwork makes the dreamwork, the “new normal” is not what most people would consider to be a “dream” situation. However, the true test of a great team is how they react when there are less than ideal circumstances. Teamwork has helped to keep the Heidelberg Wheel turning and developed increased comradery during a difficult time. Way to Be the Roar!

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