Partner Warehouse & Distribution helps e-tailers and other clients focus on core business
Story and photos by Marjorie Rice
E-commerce is still in its infancy, and businesses are looking for ways to better serve customers while keeping a lid on costs. A company with deep roots in the Scottsdale Airpark is helping them reach those goals.
Since the 1970s, founders of Partner Warehouse & Distribution have been innovators in the “nutraceutical” industry, selling and distributing vitamins and other health supplements from their Scottsdale location. For that business, they developed considerable expertise in supply chain logistics, tracking and shipping services.
“We had a heavy investment in the back end of our business,” says Partner Warehouse General Manager Kelvie Harp, who has been with the company for 25 years. “It was clear we did it well and could share our expertise and add value for business customers by providing end-to-end order fulfillment.”
Those customers include e-tailers large and small who want to focus on growing their core business and leave the fulfillment and shipping to experts who can provide those services efficiently and cost-effectively.
When their online customers click on the “Shopping Cart” button, the order is transferred automatically to Partner Warehouse, where it’s picked, packed and shipped. The order can be as small as a single pair of earrings or a bottle of vitamin pills ordered by an individual consumer, and as large as a truckload of fertilizer or parts for nuclear plants.
Partner Warehouse serves businesses in industries including nutraceutical, high-tech, apparel, chemical, jewelry, electronics, liquor and spirits, personal care and gifts. About two-thirds of the company’s activity is centered on fulfillment of individual consumer orders; the rest is business-to-business.
The founders began Partner Warehouse in 2005 in the Scottsdale Airpark. Operations quickly outgrew the original Airpark location and in 2011 moved to a Phoenix facility with high docks that allow tractor-trailers to back up to them and offload shipping containers and pallets.
Administration offices remain in the Airpark, while warehousing, fulfillment and shipping are carried out in the cavernous Phoenix facility packed to the rafters with products as diverse as metal detectors, beer-making kits, bullet-proof sunglasses for the military, fine wine and consumer electronics.
Partner Warehouse’s efficient processes allow it to stay lean—with just 15 full-time employees including Harp, Warehouse Operations Manager James Webber and Account Services reps Amanda Forjan and Charese McCombs. Everyone pitches in, and when a customer needs quick turnaround on an especially large or labor-intensive order, such as assembling complex kits or merchandise packages, part-time workers may be brought in to help.
Growth & Teamwork
Since 2010, the company has grown its revenues by 300 percent. That’s thanks to its technological expertise, focus on customer service and a company culture that stresses teamwork among employees.
Partner Warehouse provides technologies that allow it to integrate seamlessly with an e-tailer’s existing shopping carts, providing reporting tools and inventory and order management. Partner Warehouse can plug directly into the shopping carts to pull data and develop a pick list, increasing efficiency and lowering costs.
Customer service also has been key to the company’s growth. “When our customers call, a person answers the phone, not a machine,” Forjan says. “We look for ways to say ‘Yes’ to each request. We never tell a customer we can’t make it happen.
“What we are is in our name—we want to be partners with our customers. Their success is our success.”
A strong company culture of mutual support has helped Partner Warehouse increase productivity while minimizing employee turnover. “When we hire, we look for people who will be comfortable with our culture,” Harp says. “We’re a small business, and we foster a family atmosphere. Our employees appreciate that.”
Partner Warehouse is looking to expand its kitting and assembly services and grow its small business and international customer bases.
Small business owners—including those who are working from home with a garage overflowing with inventory—benefit from using a fulfillment center so they can build their businesses instead of packing boxes, McCombs says. The center also helps them track customer orders and manage inventory. “We’re their eyes and ears—helping them provide fast, accurate customer service while managing costs and increasing efficiency.”
Partner Warehouse has international customers throughout the world. Its biggest foreign customer is Canada, and the company is looking to grow its operations serving Asia, where economies are becoming increasingly consumer-driven and e-tail is increasing rapidly.
“Our goal is to be as big as we can be and to expand strategically with operations beyond Arizona,” Harp says.
More: 1-877-345-5669; PartnerWarehouse.com