Specialized Warehouse & Service Center Tour
En route to the 2013 Specialized product launch (coverage coming throughout the week), our bus stopped at the Salt Lake City Specialized warehouse and service center. For the 2013 launch, they had up to 20 people building 540 bikes in two weeks. All for our riding pleasure!
Our tour guide was Jose Galavis, warehouse manager, who said 85% of their domestic dealers can recieve product in 1-2 days thanks to the two US warehouses. Customer service team, warranty and returns, operational support and service center are all here in Salt Lake City. The other is in Columbus, OH, and their warehouse is taller than these. Why not put the warehouse in California? Earthquakes.
Imagine these next three pics as a panorama:
The space is 225,000 square feet now, but they’ll knock out a wall and add another 50,000 later this year.
Bike wash, gym and plenty of bike parking greet employees as they come to work.
Behind that is the warranty inventory for the US, which is considerable. Galavis says often times it’s quicker to just send out a new frame while inspecting a damaged one.
They try to turn a bike container around in 24 hours to get them into inventory and on the shelves, and equipment in 48 hours because there are so many more pieces per truck. About 50% of the floor space is just bikes and frames. The rest is components, wheels, tires, parts, clothing, gear and point of sale display materials.
Heavy items like tires are, thankfully for the pickers, located close to the packing area.
At the back is the shipping area. Boxes are palletized based on the shops order. Each item is pulled by a picker, placed on a rolling cart, then verified by someone else to maintain their 99%-plus accuracy rate in order fulfillment.
Andrew Love heads brand security, which helps stop counterfeits as well as theft at all levels (shops, supply chain, etc.). Love says the more successful they are, the more people want to make money off them illegally.
Love says he helped shut down $3.89 million in fake resellers and websites in the past 12 months. Some items are fake goods imported and sold as authentic, others are stolen goods.
Love also works with police to catch people that steal from shops, recently catching a guy who had created a complete false identity to test ride expensive bikes and never return them. That dude’s spending nine years in jail now.
It’s not just about maintaining the brand. It’s also about rider safety. They’ve found counterfeit frames (above) on eBay and other online retailers and tested them, and they fail in a number of places. The other aspect of safety? You’re pretty likely to get your identity and credit card stolen from these fake online retailers, too. Love says the easy way to protect yourself is to only buy Specialized stuff from your local authorized dealer.
To the side of the warehouse is the inspection center. They open a random sample for each bike model (and wheel, etc) and check it. If they find an issue, they pull 15-50 more from that run. If they find a persistent problem, the entire lot is quarantined. The same check is done overseas before the products are ever shipped from the factory.
They also do repairs here. Specialized offers a lifetime warranty on their frames, and if they can fix it, they do, which keeps it out of a landfill.
Lastly, they do testing of the products under different test riders. Feedback is compiled online and made available to their product managers, which makes its way to the designers so that the bikes and parts rode the way they want them to.
Through another set of doors is the wheel and suspension service center where they perform factory service on the BRAIN forks and shocks. Blow a seal or damper and they try to turn the repair around two days, and within a week at the longest if there’s a particularly high volume.
Outside their lab is the Customer Support cubicle farm. They have dedicated teams for both consumers and dealers, helping answer questions like “what bike should I buy” to back end sales queries from bike shops.
All in all, the entire place was very clean for a warehouse, and everyone seemed pretty jazzed on their jobs. Being in Salt Lake City certainly doesn’t hurt either.