Mom of the Warehouse

This month marks Jennifer Monachello’s 18th year with XPO. A single mom of three boys, she’s used a parent’s wisdom to make staggering improvements to her warehouse. After all, every mom knows that success usually takes a little structure.

Jennifer Monachello worked her way up. “I started here as a file girl,” she remembers. “I was coming off maternity leave from my third child and went to an agency, hoping they’d find me something temp-to-perm.”

On her first day at our chemicals warehouse in Levittown, Pennsylvania, Jenn walked into a conference room with an eight-foot table, piled from one edge to the other with papers stacked three feet high. “No exaggeration! They put me in that room and said, ‘Sort away.’”

It was an unglamorous job, but Jenn tackled it with fervor. Within two weeks, the table was clear and the office’s new file room was in order. Two weeks after that, we bought out Jenn’s contract from her temp agency, bringing her on as a full-time CSR.

Buying out a temp’s contract is a rare move at most companies. So was allowing Jenn’s three boys to study in the conference room after school so their mom could keep an eye on them. But those moves paid off: Jenn has utterly transformed the Levittown site.

Surprise Vacancy

XPO stores agricultural chemicals for different companies in Levittown, sometimes serving 20 or 30 customers at once. Early last year, though, the site was in rough shape: an independent auditor had given it a 50% rating.

General Manager Bill Bruce and Director Eric Heilman took over the facility, ready to pull things back together. But the moment they walked through the door, the operations manager put in his two weeks’ notice. It was a “What now?” moment.

At the time, Jenn was office lead among the CSRs. She processed orders, tracked inventories, and generally helped facilitate the constant flow of pallets in and out of the building. She’d been with the company for close to 17 years by then, a star player with intimate knowledge of every aspect of the facility. For Bill, she seemed an obvious candidate to run day-to-day operations. Eric agreed: “Let’s bring her in.”

The pair asked Jennifer one question during their meeting: “If you were in charge of this warehouse, what would you do?” Jenn was so full of ideas that she couldn’t get them out fast enough. She knew her warehouse. She knew what was wrong and what could be done to fix it – and her bosses could tell. “How would you feel about us moving you to Assistant Operations Manager and putting you through management training?” they asked. There was only one answer to that.

The Lessons of Boys

“The whole operation had to be reorganized,” Jenn remembers. “When the team brought in a truckload of materials, they’d drop each pallet wherever they could find an empty spot. It was taking forever to find orders.”

With Bill and Eric’s blessing, Jennifer got to work at one end of the building. It was a repeat of that first filing job she’d had, only 17 years later and with pallets instead of paper. “I took every customer, aligned them to aisles, put all their product together – it was a big change, but it used to take an hour to pick orders. Once we were done, it took three minutes.”

Jenn knew the value of keeping her young boys in line with organization and cleanliness, and she saw the perfect opportunity to apply those same lessons to her XPO family. She implemented better training routines and cleaning schedules. “These guys needed structure. I raised three boys; I could lay down some structure.”

Even the customers noticed the difference. “Nobody wants to see pieces of pallet on the floor. Customers that have come in since we started reworking things, customers I’ve been with since I started 18 years ago, they love it.”

Just six months after Jenn started her trial period as Assistant Operations Manager, Bill and Eric called the auditing company and asked them to send their auditor back out – the same one that had slammed the Levittown site with a 50% score. They wanted him to see the difference six months and one dedicated single mom could make.

She scored a 99%.