Upon taking my first step in the front door I was completely awestruck at my surroundings. Simply put, the lobby was big, bright, and beautiful; naturally flowing into the massive atrium hall that stretched the entire length of the building from front to back. The walls became office windows facing the hall as they stretched upwards towards the high ceiling. My eyes didn’t know what to stare at first!
In the lobby we were greeted by our professor, Frederic Chevallier, who introduced us to ALDO’s International Supply Chain Coordinator, Daniel Alvarez. Daniel led us through the atrium towards the warehouse where we would begin our tour. As we walked I was struck by the amount of artwork that covered the walls; featuring the works of everyone from Andy Warhol to Banksy, Janet Werner and Xavier Veilhan. The combination of stunning artwork, a classic Fiat sitting in the corner, and the historic ALDO memorabilia stretching the entire length of the atrium dating back to the early 1970’s, made me feel as though I had stepped into a museum rather than a headquarters.
As if the atrium wasn’t enough of a sensory overload already, one step in the warehouse my jaw hit the floor. Complex rollercoaster-like conveyer belts stretched from wall to wall and from floor to ceiling, covering the majority of ALDO’s 800,000 square foot warehouse. This maze of moving parts was larger than large. After weaving over, under, and around the belts, we arrived at the section of the warehouse called the tilt trays. The tilt trays carry product along the conveyor belts dumping their loads into respective chutes to sort for packaging. These trays were sorting product into 464 chutes at 6 feet per second! 11,000 pairs of shoes can be processed in just one hour. Back before all of the advanced technological upgrades, the same process would have taken at least two days to complete, and the entire warehouse operations as a whole would have required at least 3,000 employees. Talk about upping your efficiency!
What I found most interesting about the entire tour was that out of 1,200 employees at the headquarters, the most recent to be employed was five years ago. Simply put by the Director of Human Resources, “The reason we haven’t hired anyone in five years is because there are no positions to fill”. Not only is it incredibly rare to hear of someone leaving the company, but the majority of employees have been with ALDO for at least 10 years! But who could blame them? When your workspace includes a regulation-size basketball court, a gym with on-site trainers, and an arcade-style break room, who would want to leave? It all comes down to the “employees-first” mentality of ALDO. That’s when I realized the over-powering energy in the air wasn’t coming from epic artwork, breathtaking architecture, or the outstanding amenities: this energy was radiating from the employees that seemed to be fighting to contain their satisfaction in their smiles.