Sunday, November 30, 2008


Time to give Kudos where it's due.

Our night warehouse manager Malcolm has been with me over 6 years, and he and his team are amazing. They come in to work at 9:30pm and work all night assembling orders, doing quality control, loading trucks and cleaning up. It's like we have a magical team that comes and goes in the night so when we arrive at 7am to start the day - all is done.

His team is never sick and rarely makes a mistake. This is the real KUDOS of my story. We track all errors and Malcolm's team is made aware when they are to fault. It could be an item picked wrong, or packaged so there is damage before reaching our customer.

This month Malcolm and his team processed 78,462 pieces and made an amazingly low error count of ... drum roll ... 8! Yes, EIGHT errors! Past months have averaged 25-30 with a personal worst of 56, so eight is truly a feat worth spotlighting.

Wendy (whom I wrote about on October 13th) tracks every error, and she was the so excited as she read the numbers each Friday in our operations meetings. She knew they were on track for a record-breaking low errors month.



Monday, November 17, 2008

G&T For Sale?

Is Grand & Toy for sale?Hot off the presses, is Grand and Toy to be sold?

Did you know Staples (USA) owns Corporate Express, Office Max (USA) owns Grand and Toy, Lyreco is European and Office Depot (USA) stock is down over 90% since last year on allegations of overcharging customers millions. Thanks for supporting Costless - your local Canadian office products supplier!

Here is the news posted today on our industry news wire.
According to sources within the Canadian OP industry, OfficeMax subsidiary Grand & Toy could be preparing itself to be sold off.
Sources close to the company have said that a complete and unscheduled inventory of fixed assets has been taking place and this, along with recent cost reduction activity, would suggest a period of due diligence.
Early betting had Lyreco established as the firm favourite, with other potential buyers either lame (Office Depot) or not even at the races (Staples).
Any deal would also ease OfficeMax’s own cash worries as it struggles to cope with falling sales and margins.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Gospel of Green

Here is a great Fifth Estate episode that aired tonight. Very informative, but about 41 minutes long. At least they took out the commercials.

The Gospel of Green
As the world confronts the reality of global warming and the inevitable end of oil, the questions of what to do and how to sustain energy without oil or fossil fuels becomes more urgent. Bob McKeown and a fifth estate team travel to Germany to meet Hermannn Scheer, called "Europe's Al Gore," a parliamentarian who is leading the way to increase Germany's reliance on renewable energy sources such as wind power and solar power. To date, 15% of Germany's energy comes from renewable sources. Scheer estimates that if Germany continues on this course, by 2030 that will be 100%. So, if one of the world major industrialized nations can achieve this, why can't a country like Canada? The answer may lie in the fifth estate's investigation of the influence, in this country, of conventional energy industry on politicians.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Field Trip Day!

What a day! We just had 17 kids from Greybrook Academy Private School come to Costless for a tour!

Greybrook is a customer, so when the grade 9 teacher approached me to host a field trip, it was my pleasure. Since I told Alisha our warehouse manager about the special guests a few weeks ago, she has been so excited (and nervous, she admitted) for them to come.

The kids came at 12:30 on the school's bus, and they sprinted across the receiving parking area in the pouring rain. Once inside, we had a quick meet and greet, then broke them into 3 groups.

GROUP 1 - Hosted by Alisha.
In her group they learned about pick tickets, warehouse flow, bin locations and safety. They were given a pick ticket and sent off in the warehouse to find the bin locations and pick the product. It turned into quite a race with lots of running, screaming and laughter. The highlight for GROUP 1 was getting a chance to strap into the full body harness and stand on the Cherry Picker Forklift.

GROUP 2 - Hosted by Nader
In his group they learned about receiving, shelf stocking and date rotation. They also picked some orders in our Repack Mezzanine Section. Since it was full of cookies, candy and other treats, the kids were loving being able to pick or "shop" as they liked to call it, all their favourites. The highlight was definitely the motorized conveyor system that moves the plastic totes with orders from upstairs to down by pressing the up/down buttons on the controller.

GROUP 3 - Hosted by yours truly.
In my group I had our boardroom set up as a sample tasting center. I conducted a live focus group with the kids and had them sample items we were contemplating selling to our school customers. I had them sample everything from juices and spritzers to kettle corn, fruit bars, cookies and snacks. All the items met the health guidelines for schools, but I wanted to see if kids would actually like the product.

After testing, a few items I felt would do well the kids shot down, while others I felt were not worth listing, the kids loved. For example, we have a new line of cookies from Dare called Bear Paws. There are three flavours - Chocolate Chip, Honey, and Molasses. Well, what flavour did they like best in blind taste testing? ...Molasses! Who knew! What is funny about that story is the kids called the flavour Gingerbread, and it does smell like gingerbread. I think Dare needs to call in a focus group of kids and change their packaging.

The field trip was the best the teachers had ever been on, they told me at the end. It really did mean a lot to all of us to hear that. I'm sure the goodie bags full of drinks and snacks helped.

Later that afternoon, I went to make a delivery to Greybrook and the Grade 9 class saw me in the hallway. Several kids ran up and were thanking me and high fiveing me.

What a great day.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Out With The Old, In With The New!

At Costless Express, November is our "Spring Cleaning" month: Time to make room for all the new 2008 items that are starting to arrive!

Over the next 2 months, we mark down prices on items we will not carry in our 2008 catalogue. That's great news for customers, since all the products are still relevant, but at huge savings!

Most items we discontinue are replaced by new pack sizes or flavours, or sometimes the manufacturer discontinues the item.

Bye-bye to Ocean Spray Cranberry Cocktail 300ml bottles!One item discontinued this year that was a surprise was Ocean Spray Cranberry Cocktail in 300ml plastic bottles. It was a huge seller for us, and customers loved it. The reason the product was discontinued was that Coke bought Ocean Spray, and delisted the item for some unknown reason. In the end, we switched our customers to our 300ml Everfresh Cranberry Cocktail, another hot seller for us.

Keep a look out for our "Clean Sweep" deals on our updated hot sheet!