Students visit Starbucks Distrubution Center

Field trips give students the opportunity to see the realities of a profession or industry and the connections between learning and the real world. Idaisha B., Carey R., and Jared A., students from Hillsboro High School’s Academy of International Business and Communications,  participated in a field trip this September of the Starbucks Distribution Center in LaVergne, Tenn. In this post, Carey writes about their experience.

On Wednesday Sept. 26, two classmates and I took a tour of the Starbucks distribution center in Lavergne, Tenn. All three of us are currently enrolled in the logistics class in the Business and Communications Academy at Hillsboro High School, so we knew before the visit how significant an opportunity this was. Minutes after stepping in the facility, we were engaged in conversation with different distribution professionals throughout Tennessee. Luckily, because of my logistics class, I was able to hold my end of the conversation about their core business activities. With each conversation I took part in, one asset I noticed about each employee was the passion he or she had for logistics and the business in general. Each person jumped at the chance to answer any questions I had and constantly encouraged me for my interest in this area of business.

Finally after about 45 minutes of networking, we sat down to hear presentations. Three men stood up to talk about the distribution center; the Vice President of the Council for Supply Chain Management, the Vice President of Logistics at Asurion, and the President of OHL. The final presenter and OHL president, explained significant statistics used for operational improvement based on present data and future industry projections. One thing I noticed through each graph in his PowerPoint was the rise in success from 2001 to 2008, then a drop in 2009, and finally a steady incline up to 2011. Anybody who was an American citizen in 2009 should be familiar with the recession that occurred. I read and heard a lot of stories about the recession and its impact on America. So as each slide passed and each graph showed that big drop, it was a constant reminder of the impact the recession had on American companies and businesses, even one as big as Starbucks.

After the presentations were over, we took a tour of the distribution center. You talk about humungous! You could barely see the wall at the other side of the building. Even at 7:30 p.m. workers were still busy moving around, riding lift carts with boxes, and it was just busy, busy, busy! As we walked through out the center, our guide said that one distribution center provides over 350 jobs. At first it seemed like a lot of workers, but as the tour continued and we saw the entire inventory, 350 did not seem to be enough. One more thing I noticed was the technology and how they incorporated it with their workers. Each worker had a scanning device on their wrist used to record every item dropped off and picked up. As the tour went on, it seemed that with every step I took there was a beep that went along with it. That was a great example of how companies are using technology to their advantage, working faster and more efficient.

When the tour ended, we all met back in the same room where the presentations were held, and after more small talk and thanks, we headed back home. The tour of Starbucks distribution center in Laverne, Tenn. was definitely an eye opener. It gave me great insight of how important logistics and supply chain management is for an organization. Logistics are especially important for a large business that is trying to globally expand. It also showed how many jobs one distribution center can provide, and how many can be lost due to either bad business practices or even worse a recession. I will never forget this experience, and I would love to share it with anyone who is willing to listen.

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