JONESVILLE — A growing company is always a busy one but even more so during its peak season and that’s why the Belk Fulfillment Center hired more than 600 new workers over the past month and is looking to hire 800 more.
Belk is a department store chain founded in 1888 by William Henry Belk in Monroe, North Carolina. In 1909, the company moved its corporate headquarters to Charlotte, North Carolina. The company has 300 locations in 16 states and through its Belk Stores and Belk.com website offers customers apparel, shoes, and accessories; cosmetics; home furnishings such as bedding, small kitchen appliances, crystal, dinnerware, and china; and wedding registry. While it has a physical presence in 16 states, Belk’s merchandise is available to customers in all 50 states through its Belk.com website.
Since June 2012, an increasing amount of that merchandise has been shipped from the Belk Fulfillment Center on US 176 in the Jonesville area of Union County. The facility is located in what had previously been the Disney Distribution Center which, at the time Belk opened its fulfillment center, was 500,000 square feet in size. Since then, the fulfillment center has grown, expanding to 1.6 million square feet in 2015. The enlarged facility now includes section with three levels and one with four levels, each section stacked high with the merchandise constantly being packed and shipped from the facility. It has 8.5 miles of conveyor system with nearly 270 packing stations and 487,330 bin locations.
The physical expansion of the facility was designed to accommodate the growth in production which continues to this day. During its first peak season in 2012, the fulfillment center shipped out 30,000 units of merchandise a day. For this year’s peak season it is projected to ship 215,000 units per day.
Such a huge volume requires a large workforce, and that’s why over the past month the fulfillment center has hired more than 600 new employees, more than doubling its workforce from 400 to more than 1,000. That’s still not enough, however, and the fulfillment center is looking to almost double its workforce again by hiring another 800 employees.
“Over the last four weeks we’ve added over 600 employees bringing our workforce to over 1,000,” Ed Corpus, Director of Fulfillment at the Belk Fulfillment Center, said last Thursday. “We still have 800 positions to fill, both full- and part-time.”
Tyler Hampton, Public Relations Manager for Belk, said the increase in the fulfillment center’s workforce is due to a combination of factors, the first being that “now through Christmas” is the peak season for the center. Hampton said another factor in the need for a larger workforce is that while Belk has a physical presence in only 16 states, the Jonesville fulfillment center ships to customers in all 50 states. He said this was because, unlike distribution centers which ship merchandise to stores, the fulfillment center deals directly with individual customers. Hampton said this was both a cause and a result of the growth of Belk’s online sales.
“Ten percent of our sales are online,” Hampton said, adding that this is expected to grow in the future. “Belk.com is available anywhere.”
Hampton said that another factor in the growth of the fulfillment center is that Belk is the exclusive distributor of The Limited and fulfills national Limited.com orders through the fulfillment center.
The growth in the volume of the merchandise it handles has not slowed down the fulfillment center, however, as Hampton pointed out that 96 percent of all orders are shipped from the facility within 48 hours.
The combination of peak season and the growth of the company’s online sales nationwide is fueling the need for more employees at the fulfillment center.
“We’re now hiring for our first, second, and third shifts, both full-time and part-time,” Corpus said. “The work week is Sunday through Thursday or Tuesday through Saturday for all shifts. We’re looking for warehouse associates, inventory control, supervisors, and we’re looking for mobile equipment operators.”
Corpus said that the fulfillment center pays $11.50 per hour for temps and part-time employees and $13 per hour for full-time employees. He said there is also a shift differential with employees who work on the second and third shifts paid $1 more per hour than those on the first shift. There is also a differential of an additional $1 per hour paid employees who operate mobile equipment at the facility meaning that those employees, if they work on the second or third shift, are paid $2 an hour more than than their counterparts on the first shift.
In addition, Corpus said full-time employees enjoy such benefits as 401K, health insurance, and discounts on Belk merchandise.
Another benefit employees enjoy is provided by the fulfillment center through its INSPIRE peer-to-peer recognition program recently launched by Belk. Corpus and Hampton said that under the program an employee can complete and submit a recognition card when they’re inspired by the work of another. They said that those employees who inspire their fellow employees accumulate points each time a card is submitted about them and can exchange those points for products such as NFL licensed apparel, outdoor equipment, and Belk gear.
To work at the fulfillment center, Corpus said a person must be:
• 18 years of age or older.
• Eligible to work in the United States of America.
• Able to lift up to 49 pounds.
• Able to to walk long distances and stand long periods of time.
Persons interested in working at the Belk Fulfillment Center full-time can apply online at belkcareers.com/jobs/SearchSupplyChainJobs. Temporary positions are available via drop-ins and online at https://goo.gl/nC76yi or https://goo.gl/cgGX9L.
Applications are also accepted in person at the Staffmark and Kelly Services offices at the fulfillment center as well as at offsite locations operated by the staffing agencies.
While the peak season is a major reason for the need for more workers, Corpus and Hampton said that its possible that at least some of those workers will remain employed. They said that Belk is looking to continue the growth of both its online business and at its stores and that as that growth occurs, the fulfillment center will need the staff to meet increased customer demand.
“We’re looking to continue growing into the future,” Hampton said. “We will need the workforce base to meet those needs.”
In another sign the company’s commitment to the Jonesville Community, Corpus and Hampton said that Belk will be announcing a new social impact program at the Belk Bowl on Dec. 29. They said the program will involve fulfillment center employees supporting local causes in Union County.