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KCS central warehouse saves money, time; provides convenience
Warehouse workers Gary Jett, Scott Whiting, and Bobby Russell load a pallet of printing paper onto the delivery truck in preparation for the day's deliveries.

Scott Whiting, Gary Jett, Bobby Russell, Bruce Sherrod, and Paul Jenkins may not be familiar names with many classroom teachers, but this quintet of KCS employees quietly plays a major role in the smooth operation of the system. They are the KCS Warehouse Operations team.

A proven savings
Prior to the beginning of fiscal year 2011-12, KCS requested Knox County Purchasing to pursue an invitation for bid seeking qualified vendors to drop ship on demand the supplies currently purchased, stored, and delivered by the KCS warehouse staff and crew. The primary intent was to determine the feasibility and cost for vendors to provide and deliver art, office, instructional, custodial and medical supplies to individual school locations.

Of the twenty bids received, only three were able to deliver all the items on the warehouse list. The evaluation team recommended that the bid be canceled because it would be more expensive to ship supplies to individual school locations direct from the vendor rather than maintain the current warehouse operation.

For the fiscal year 2011, the analysis estimated a net savings after cost of operations  between $190,000 and $278,000 depending on vendor pricing.  Some estimates have been even higher.

Paul Jenkins, Warehouse Operations, negotiates prices, purchase to keep the warehouse stocked with the best product at the best prices.

Paul Jenkins heads the warehouse operations from his office in the A.J. Building where he makes sure that supplies are ordered at the best prices available. He splits his time between warehouse operations duties and Accounts Receivable duties. Jenkins negotiates purchases with various vendors. “We try to purchase good quality supplies at the best prices,” he said. Individual schools, KCS offices, and some Knox County Government departments purchase from the warehouse.

He buys some items from existing bids available through county government but in most cases he calls vendors to get the most current and best price that he can.  Pricing is important, but maintaining quality is just as important.

Judy Lewis who also works in the Accounting Department at the A.J. handles the day-to-day  purchases and payments made by the schools and offices. She also maintains the delivery calendar on the web.

Daily Warehouse Operation

Warehouse Manager Bruce Sherrod makes sure that there is a three month supply of items on hand. The warehouse stocks art, general office supplies, custodial supplies, medical supplies and instructional supplies.

Bruce Sherrod oversees the daily operation of the warehouse located in the Knox Central Building (formerly the Sears retail store). Currently, the warehouse stocks over 600 different items.  “ I try to keep a three months supply in stock,” said Sherrod who inventories the warehouse and sends requisitions for new supplies to Jenkins.

Drivers/Warehousemen Scott Whiting, Gary Jett, and Bobby Russell alternate with two on the truck making deliveries while the third remains in the warehouse to replenish stock and pull orders for the following day. It’s hard work involving lots of heavy lifting. Five boxes of printer paper weigh nearly 250 pounds and constitutes a large portion of their deliveries. The drivers typically deliver to 4-8 schools per day on a regular schedule, returning at noon to the warehouse to reload and start out again. “However, if a school needs something right now, they can come to the warehouse and pick it up,” said Sherrod.

Importance to the Art Program
Art supplies make up a large portion of the stock and savings.

“Our art teachers purchase from the Warehouse using some of their classroom funds,” said Dr. Fred Patterson who oversees the art program for Knox County Schools. “We couldn’t survive without it,” he said. “Being able to purchase in bulk allows art teachers to purchase basic supplies for less than retail. With such a small budget for art, it stretches their budget further than anything else we could do.”

Art Supplies bought in bulk allow art teachers to get the most for their limited classroom budgets.

Patterson recounted that the art teachers were in a virtual panic when the district was considering direct vendor drop shipping and doing away with the warehouse. Art teachers drafted a list of essentials that the warehouse supplied and signed a letter begging not to close it.

Deliveries, service, frees up maintenance foreman
Diane Ball in the maintenance department reinforces the importance of the warehouse and the warehouse delivery system. “The warehousemen/drivers deliver custodial supplies every three weeks,” she said. “If they didn’t, then our custodial foreman would have their time tied up making these deliveries. They also not only deliver our dust mops, they also pick up the used mops and clean them for us,” added Ball.

Praise from Health Services
Rita Giles, Administrative Assistant to Health Services supervisor Lisa Wagoner also had nothing but praise for the warehouse operations crew. “They are SO important to us because when the school nurse faxes medical supplies they need, Bruce and the guys deliver them in a timely fashion,” said Giles. If a school nurse needs supplies in between regular delivery route dates, the nurse can come to the warehouse and pick up the supplies. “The guys are so kind and helpful,” she reiterated.

Copier and printer paper and other general office supplies are bought in bulk and stored over a period of time. This creates a major savings by eliminating the need to order smaller amounts from vendors and have the orders drop shipped to individual schools.

Real bottom line: Doing a service for the kids
But Sherrod, who has managed the warehouse since 1997, brings the whole operation into a meaningful focus. “I feel like we are doing a service for the kids and for the system by being able to supply them,” he said. “It saves money and I feel like that is helping the kids.”

Art supplies purchased at less than retail stretch limited budgets for classroom teachers so that students have more opportunities.






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