Ware­houses in Cen­ten­nial, Col­orado Springs needed to keep or­ders mov­ing

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Aldo Svaldi

Ama­zon is rapidly adding de­liv­ery sta­tions across the coun­try to bet­ter han­dle the ris­ing num­ber of or­ders it re­ceives, and a big one landed on Cen­ten­nial’s porch last month.

“We are bring­ing in pack­ages from all over the United States,” Kerry Per­son, vice pres­i­dent of Ama­zon Lo­gis­tics, said Thurs­day dur­ing a tour of the fa­cil­ity, which spans 80,000 square feet and em­ploys more than 300 peo­ple, not count­ing driv­ers.

Ama­zon set up a sort­ing cen­ter in Au­rora in 2016 to speed de­liv­ery times, fol­lowed by a large-item ful­fill­ment cen­ter, also in Au­rora, in 2017. This past sum­mer, Ama­zon opened a robotics ful­fill­ment cen­ter in Thorn­ton with 1,500 work­ers.

Af­ter or­ders are filled at a ful­fill­ment cen­ter, many still go to car­ri­ers such as the U.S. Postal Ser­vice, UPS and FedEx. But Ama­zon has built more than 75 of its own de­liv­ery cen­ters in North Amer­ica, and more and more pack­ages are headed there.

Cen­ten­nial now has a de­liv­ery cen­ter, as does Col­orado Springs, and there could be more land­ing in the metro area, Per­son hinted.

The cav­ernous ware­house with 30-footh­igh ceil­ings wasn’t bustling dur­ing a me­dia tour Thurs­day just be­fore noon. That’s be­cause the bulk of pack­ages come in dur­ing the night and were sorted in the wee hours. De­liv­ery vans were loaded and went out in the early morn­ing hours.

Semi-trucks from the two metro ful­fill-

ment cen­ters, as well as from oth­ers across the coun­try, come in at night and un­load. Work­ers scan pack­ages and soft­ware groups them so they can be de­liv­ered in the most ef­fi­cient way. Work­ers place the pack­ages in bins on racks that are then rolled onto de­liv­ery vans.

Ever see a bright­ly­col­ored lit­tle sticker on a box? That is a sign it has gone through an Ama­zon de­liv­ery cen­ter.

Ama­zon gains some things through its cen­ters that it can’t get with third­party car­ri­ers, such as pho­tos sent to prove a pack­age was left on the porch, the abil­ity to leave pack­ages in­side a house or car trunk for cus­tomers who sign up for that and Sun­day de­liv­ery.

Ama­zon has con­tracted with small busi­nesses and de­liv­ery part­ners, who hire driv­ers and lease Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans to make the de­liv­er­ies. Ama­zon re­cently put in an or­der for 20,000 of the vans, which are pro­duced in South Carolina.

Todd Creger, owner of Mile High Prime De­liv­ery, and Richard Led­don, owner of Rhino Lo­gis­tics, are two of the de­liv­ery part­ners Ama­zon has re­cruited lo­cally.

“It’s an ex­cit­ing time,” said Creger, a mil­i­tary vet­eran who started last month with half a dozen em­ploy­ees and now has up to 30.

Rhino em­ploys 20 peo­ple and al­ready has 10 vans just one month af­ter start­ing the busi­ness, Led­don said. Given the growth ex­pected at the de­liv­ery cen­ter, driv­ers are the bot­tle­neck.

“We are look­ing to hire driv­ers,” he said.

Ama­zon also has its Ama­zon Flex pro­gram that hires in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tors with their own ve­hi­cles to make de­liv­er­ies. Those driv­ers can make $18 to $25 an hour, said Tan­ner Morley, man­ager of the South Den­ver De­liv­ery Sta­tion.

None of the vans are self­driv­ing, Per­son said. And drones — they weren’t any­where to be seen, not even a drone land­ing pad. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t part of Ama­zon’s fu­ture.

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