Spotlight on the Warehouse
I’ll never forget my first visit to our warehouse in Oakland. The sight of a 68,000 square foot warehouse stacked high with coffee is overwhelming to take in. I found myself staring in awe of the sheer volume, and then it dawned on me that the Royal Warehouse team, just 13 people, is responsible for handling all of the coffee that comes through those doors. As I watched them work they almost made it look easy, but their job is fast paced and intensely physical.
The current group has been working together for more than 15 years, and most of them have known each other even longer, or are actually family. The warehouse management team is comprised of some of the longest tenured Royal employees. Rocky Archuleta started in 1982, followed by Jesse Herrera and Tim Cagle in 1987. This crew’s experience and camaraderie is what helps them do their job so effectively.
The warehouse team’s day starts at 6:00am when two of them arrive to unload containers. On an average day these two guys will unload 5 containers by hand, each of which holds 250 to 320 bags of coffee. That’s about 190,000 pounds of coffee! All the bags of coffee have to be unloaded and skillfully palletized in order to be stacked safely inside the warehouse. ‘Throwing containers,’ as they call it, requires considerable strength alone, but you also have to work in perfect sync with your partner in order to do it efficiently. The rule in place for the team tasked with this job is that after the 5 containers are finished – no matter how early they’re finished – the team that threw them gets to go home for the day.
By the way, the record number of containers unloaded in a single day by a Royal team of two people was 11!
The rest of the warehouse team arrives shortly after the crew working on containers. Each day, they process 80 delivery orders on average, each of which ranges from 1 to 300+ bags of coffee. Each order has to be pulled item by item with a forklift. The bags then have to be palletized precisely and firmly strapped to secure them for transit. Their record number of orders filled in one day is about 200. Keeping this process running smoothly so that all orders are pulled safely and without error is a major priority, which is why we have a two-business-day policy for shipping any orders.
This team is a major point of quality control for your coffee as well. Each container that arrives at the warehouse is thoroughly screened for broken seals, mold, water damage, insects, and other issues. They have to recondition, restitch, and sometimes re-bag coffee as part of their daily routine. Plus they step inside the trailer of each and every truck that comes to pick up your shipments to ensure odors and contaminants are not present. They will turn trucks away to preserve your orders.
Each new hurdle that is thrown their way is something they figure out how to conquer together. Like the increasing use of Grainpro and Ecotact bags, which doesn’t allow for the use of hooks when throwing containers and makes the job significantly harder. Also, containers of micro-lots that have to be carefully sorted and separated as opposed to having just one type of coffee inside, or the unique requirements for overseas shipments.
This team works swiftly, safely, and efficiently to make sure our coffees and shipments are sound, and they deserve recognition for the incredibly hard work they do, and do so well! Check out this clip of them unloading a container to get a closer look inside the warehouse. Music kindly provided by Slow Planes.