PRH’s three national distribution centers had to quickly pivot their operations when the pandemic hit. Read on to learn how our distribution teams safely and successfully kept books shipping throughout 2020.
2020 began as a new year often does for our three national distribution centers in Maryland, Indianapolis, and Nevada—with several huge projects in varied stages and with our continued commitment to ship your books quickly and efficiently. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, we quickly understood we’d need to shift gears in order to keep books flowing and keep our employees safe and healthy.
We instituted and frequently updated numerous safety protocols, strictly and unwaveringly following CDC and local health department guidelines. All employees are required to wear face masks while working and to complete a daily health questionnaire, which includes a temperature reading. We created ways to maintain social distancing by marking off six-foot spaces in the warehouses and widely installing Plexiglas barriers. Personal protective equipment was purchased and distributed to employees at all three centers.
Thanks to our colleagues’ resilience, cooperation, and fortitude, we continue to ship frontlist and backlist orders—seven days a week, without interruption—to our accounts, even as they frequently need to shift business priorities affected by the pandemic.
Just ahead of the COVID-19 outbreak, in January 2020, we were fortunate to be able to open our third distribution center in Reno, Nevada. This facility was previously owned by Baker & Taylor and houses both children’s and adult titles. It allows us to expand services to West Coast retailers and provides capacity for new services and projects.
To further meaningfully support booksellers nationwide, Penguin Random House accelerated the start of its annual 2-Day Transit Program to July 1. Originally established to help accounts increase profitability during the year-end holiday season, the program began earlier in 2020 to support accounts in providing books to consumers while navigating various marketplace challenges, including COVID guidelines, new consumer buying patterns, and store reopenings.
Amid the pandemic, we forged ahead with many of our planned growth initiatives for the warehouses, such as shipping-staging enhancements, implementation of incoming system upgrades, and the purchase of a large new building space near the Westminster, Maryland, center as an additional location to develop and implement forward-looking supply chain innovations.
Because of the dedication and skill sets of our Maryland, Indiana, and Nevada staff, we are shipping your books quickly, efficiently, and safely into the hands of booksellers and readers. We are grateful that your creativity provides us with the opportunities to do so.
Annette Danek-Akey is EVP, Supply Chain at Penguin Random House. Erin DiNello is Executive Assistance and Community Affairs Coordinator at Penguin Random House.