John Lindberg, founder and President of eFulfillment Service (eFS) knew that there was going to be a huge opportunity in shipping online orders from internet retailers directly to consumers, 20 years ago. Sharie Weber and Jennifer Robinson were by his side in those early days of order fulfillment. After two decades of growth and change within the ecommerce company, including a fulfillment warehouse move from Grawn, Michigan to Traverse City, Michigan, both Sharie and Jennifer are still along for the ride.
Sharie Weber’s current role at eFS is an Inventory Associate. Over her first 20 years Sharie has had many responsibilities at the fulfillment center including: bin management, online order returns, receiving, picking orders, packing orders, unloading and loading trucks.
“Back in the beginning we did it all! Jennifer and I even used to mow the lawn,” Sharie recalled. “We thought we were under pressure with 17 online orders a day! Little did we know it was only going to go way up from there.”
When asked what brought her to that new online order fulfillment business 20 years ago Sharie remembers, “I saw a hiring ad in the paper and thought I lived close enough that I could make it work. Turns out I made it work for 20 years and counting!”
Jennifer Robinson currently works as the Customer Service Manager at eFS and has done every role in the third-party logistics (3PL) company except for IT. “My favorite role was Operations Manager which the company needed once we started hiring more people,” shares Jennifer. “Little did I know I would be doing it for the next 15 years! I loved watching the company grow and working with the employees, watching them grow into their roles.”
When looking back on the early days of order fulfillment at eFS with Sharie and John, Jennifer remembers, “We didn’t yet have the resources for shelving and stock boxes so we picked online orders from pallets and went dizzy weaving through them all day.” Jennifer describes working on a team of three in the up and coming ecommerce industry as, “So fun! We were very inventive. We would recycle boxes by turning them inside out to ship internet orders. Look how far we’ve come since then.”
A Creative Celebration of 2 Decades in Ecommerce
Out of all of the things they could’ve predicted would be a reality 20 years from when they started at eFS, it’s safe to assume neither Sharie nor Jennifer would’ve imagined the internet retail fulfillment industry would be in the midst of a global pandemic. The rest of the eFS team had to get creative, realizing that a normal gathering to celebrate these career milestones wouldn’t be possible.
The result was a concept fondly named “Ceremony-in-a-box” that contained nearly everything that would be present at a regular in-person gathering: a cake, a decorative vase with an engraved commemorative base, a Visa gift card, flowers and a custom travel mug. Having all of these goodies portable meant that the order fulfillment company’s celebration could happen either remotely or while social distancing at the warehouse.
Because Sharie is part of the fulfillment center’s essential operations team working in-person and following CDC COVID-19 guidelines, her celebration was held in-person with a small, socially distanced group of those who continue to work onsite. Other team members working from home were able to attend the event remotely. The team shared kind remarks and those onsite enjoyed the cake. Though the busiest time of year for online retail orders means little time off of the warehouse floor, it was special to have this moment of celebration for Sharie.
Jennifer Robinson has been working from home as the majority of eFS customer service can be handled remotely. eFS HR Manager, Merry Hawley brought her Ceremony-in-a-box to her door. It was a lovely surprise when Jennifer opened the door to many goodies of appreciation followed shortly after by a totally virtual celebration with many of her co-workers. Though gatherings at the warehouse looks very different this year, those close to Jennifer still shared laughs and stories in celebration of her career milestone.
As for the next 20 years of ecommerce at eFS, both Jennifer and Sharie agree that expanding the fulfillment company is the next big step. “It’s funny now because John always said he wanted to keep our online order processing business small; no more than 50 people,” says Sharie. “Now with more than 120 people and hundreds of ecommerce clients from all over the world, it’s safe to say that didn’t happen!”
When asked what she would tell someone who just started their career at eFulfillment Service Jennifer says, “Your role and your job is so important. Our clients depend on us for their living which is why we strive to do it well and why it truly matters.”