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Jim Thivierge: ‘With Shipping Accuracy, We’re Practically Perfect’

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Word on the Wire - Jim Thivierge Jim Thivierge, vice president of Operations, who joined Allied Wire & Cable in 2006, is interviewed for Word on the Wire, a series celebrating Allied Wire & Cable’s 30ish anniversary. I started at Allied in November 2006 at the warehouse in Merrimack, New Hampshire. I was the warehouse manager there, and I had just come over from Anixter, where I had worked for many years. I was at this location for about three years. The company gave me the offer to come down and serve as vice president of operations, and I’ve been down here at headquarters since June 2009. When I came to Collegeville, 80 percent of this warehouse was just racking. There were big, huge aisles. They were 12- to 15-foot-wide aisles. It wasn’t the best use of space. At the time, there was no addition in the back of the original building, no building across the street and no space next door. My first order of business here was to look at the space and how we were using it. I was to look at what our productivity was and what our manpower was and focus on what was going to be the next evolution in laying it out. Up until 2016, every year or two, we’d reconfigure the space for growth. It’s been a constant evolution in the warehouse to continue to get more space to expand production. It’s hard for a lot of people to be able to conceptualize what a space needs to look like from what it is. Spatial acuity is something I’ve always been good at. I’ve always enjoyed puzzles. Tetris is one of my all-time favorite video games. When I look at spaces, they just make sense to me. All of Allied’s satellite locations are my responsibility. I’m responsible for all facilities and all assets and inventory at all the company’s locations. I try to get out to each location yearly and also touch base with local managers during weekly Monday meetings and throughout the week as well. I helped with layouts for the buildings, but they’ve evolved. As far as layouts, efficiency and productivity, it’s up to the local managers to make sure these areas are covered. With our Wisconsin location, we started making significant changes when we bought the building last year.
Allied Wire and Cable warehouse in 2010 The Allied Wire and Cable warehouse at the company's headquarters in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, in 2010, seen in this photograph, wasn't maximized to its space potential. The facility has undergone several transformations so the Operations team can best meet the needs of the company's customers. Allied Wire and Cable has achieved a "practically perfect" shipping accuracy with Jim Thivierge, vice president of Operations, at the helm.
With shipping accuracy, we’re practically perfect in every way. That’s a Mary Poppins reference. When I was at one wire and cable company, if your shipping accuracy was down to within 3 to 4 percent, you were exceptional as a facility. My job was to stay under that. I see that 2 to 3 percent returns seems to be a common theme that crosses many industries. We don’t believe that here at all. We’re at 99.9 percent shipping accuracy. Mondays are probably my most consistent days. I spend most of my day in my office going over beginning-of-the-week reports and looking at our logs and sales increases. As the week progresses, I spend less and less time in my office and more time out on the floor, working with the managers and leads on rolling tickets. On Fridays, I’m mostly out on the floor, interacting with team members. I’m a big fan of MBWA, or Management by Wandering Around. I wander. I look at tickets and peripherally watch what people are doing and whether they’re following our processes. One of the things I do is look for, not right or wrong, but for something that doesn’t make sense in the picture. I’ll be walking along and just stop and know that something that doesn’t make sense registered with me. I’ll have a conversation about it. I make it a point to know everyone’s first and last names and their spouse’s and kids’ names, if possible. I try to say hi to everybody every single day during first and second shifts. I manage 105 employees here in Collegeville and about 15 at our other locations. To me, it’s always about doing whatever it takes. A lot of people aren’t able to put themselves into customers’ shoes, but it’s key. We have to make sacrifices and reprioritize every hour every day. We’re open 16-and-a-half hours, and for all this time, we have to continually reprioritize and restructure what our day is going to look like. A lot of orders may come through, machines may break, employees may call out sick, and you’ve got to do whatever it takes to be successful in getting products out the door and maintain our efficiencies and mitigate the deficiencies. Running Operations is a constant juggling act and occasional miracle. It’s a good challenge.

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