Adam: 00:00 Today on the Skill Up Buildup podcast we have Kelly Knecht with interstate warehouse. We're going to talk about her growing workforce, their management training program, and how they are building relationships and tearing down barriers within their workforce. Let's go. 

Adam: 00:20 All right, well welcome back to the Skill Up Buildup podcast, powered by the Morales Group. Today We have Kelly Knecht on with interstate warehousing. Kelly, thanks for being with us. 

Kelly: 00:29 Thanks for having me. Excited to be here. 

Adam: 00:30 Yeah. Kelly we wanted to just get a little bit of a feel for your background, how you got to Interstate. 

Kelly: 00:35 So I'm an Indiana native, born and raised. I went to Indiana University and I was recruited right out of college during the great recession to come and work for Interstate. So I was thrilled. Uh, Interstate Warehousing is a supply chain 3rd Party logistics storage. Frozen foods is our name and our game. It's our niche business. So when they very first approached me, I was like, this is not at all what I wanted to do. Um, I had a lot of marketing and everything in the background, but at the time it needed a job. And I'm thrilled. Um, I've been with company for nine years now and I've grown with the company, came in as our, um, operations supervisor, part of our MIT training program, was promoted to a couple of different buildings, eventually became an office manager at a couple of buildings and then last year they created this regional HR manager position for me. And it's been a great fit and I think they would probably agree. I hope that they agree. So, um, it's been, um, very fulfilling. 

Kofi: 01:38 So it's, it's pretty cool how you came in. You were a little wary of the actual company but then found out, wow, this actually does work well even though I was intending to use my marketing more. And you're now at this position, um, are there any training programs that your company has to try and bring people along similar to how you came up? 

Kelly: 01:59 Yeah, absolutely. So our MIT manager program is our main thing that we do for all of our salary individuals. Um, so when people are coming in, we're recruiting them to come in and they start as an MIT. And it may be IT, office, HR operations is huge for us. It's our kind of our bread and our butter since we are a logistics warehousing company. And so when they come in, we give them the basics. They have different sessions that they go through. Um, they have to obviously learn their job and 

extreme detail, um, kind of give them a, another supervisor to work alongside. And then they also have meetings every week with a manager checking in on them doing a mentoring process. Um, as they continue to grow, they not only learn the ins and outs of their particular section, but they also have to go and sit with our other divisions in our company as well. So they come in and operations, you have to go and spend a week with HR and week with office and rotate through all the different sectors that we have. And I think it really creates a lot of synergies in our business because when they come in, they're saying, I need to do this. Why do I have to do this? And instead of saying they just are lazy or they don't understand or this is so much more work there understanding oh, this is how it's impacting their job, and it really helps connect a lot of the "why's" in the company. I's also builds a lot of respect, um, across all of our different departments as well. 

Kofi: 03:28 How does that work out time wise? It sounds like you initially are focusing on the specifics of your job and making sure you're solid there, but then you're going into other departments. How does that type of rotation work? 

Kelly: 03:40 It varies based on the person and also on our business. Sometimes if we have a lot of MIT's that come through at the same time, it's a little bit easier for us to go through. We have supervisors who are running the shifts and if they have to hit the ground running and do the MIT program, and run the shift at the same time, it's a little bit more challenging to get them through the program. We typically say it's six months to a year to go through the program. No pressure. Obviously they can go at their own pace, um, and encouraging them to get through all the different sectors to get them accomplished. 

Adam: 04:11 So I'm, I'm a big fan of these types of programs. Um, I think you hit the nail on the head. It, it creates, it creates respect. It creates a holistic view of the entire organization. Um, six months to a year, are there certain milestones that they have to hit in order to get to like the next phase? So like I wrote down, you went from an operation supervisor to an office manager into the regional HR manager, I might've missed one- 

Kofi: 04:37 You missed one 

Adam: 04:37 I missed one there. Um, but are there certain things you have to hit from, um, from a benchmarking standpoint to get to the next role? Or is it just based on time? 

Kelly: 04:48 So the MIT program is six months to a year and that's just when you graduate that when you graduate as a supervisor. Um, from there we do continued education with them. So they may meet with, they got with our operations managers a couple of times a year and they give them feedback. We're constantly looking at our pipeline and saying, we promote from within. So if we open a new building, which we recently just did an Anderson, were very proud of that. 

Adam: Congrats, that’s awesome! 

Kelly: Thank you! Um, so if we open a new building, we have to think, okay, who is suited to run the building as a GM who is going to become our operations manager, office manager, etcetera. So it's really identifying the needs that if we're going to continue to grow, which we hope that we do with success. How do we fulfill that? So an MIT program is very, um, concentrated at the beginning, but we're really working on now- okay, you graduated, and it's not just a checkpoint where you're just waiting. It's constantly saying, okay, what skills does this person need to continue to grow? What, what are they lacking to become an operations manager, an office manager, um, and it may be internal, such as sitting with our operations or office HR managers and teaching, um, hey, here's things that I do so that you can kind of understand this is why I do it. This is how it impacts the business. Um, it can also be, they send me externally to a lot of conferences and I kind of pick and choose the highlights. Um, a lot of the breakfast series that I attend actually you guys get plucked from a lot. Um so I give presentations to all of our management there as well to kind of help remind them what our core values are, how it fits with us. Emotional intelligence is huge for us. Um, so just kind of constantly keeping that in the forefront because we all have KPIs and goals and deadlines that we have to hit. Sometimes it's hard to remember that the emotional intelligence that connecting with your employees needs to come first. Um, and when you're being pushed to hit, to hit production, obviously that's going to take it back. So, yeah. 

Kofi: 06:49 Yeah. I'm really moved with how you're talking about making sure everyone knows the why and, and then the what in terms of those jobs, but then why they're doing it. I think that does really help people engage, um, and possibly bring about other very positive things when you get to that level. So I'm really impressed that that is at the forefront of you all's thinking how many people. 

Adam: 07:18 How many people come into the program and don't make it through versus actually get to the supervisor level? 

Kelly: 07:18 I would say everyone graduated MIT program. If they didn't, it's because they chose to leave. But that's very rare. Like I said, we're very proud. We're very engaging. Um, yeah, I could do a lot of mentoring and feedback, um, with them. So I think that it helps, um, our little bit of where we may lose some people is if we go stagnant where we don't open a building or, you know, we're blessed and that people have, we don't have a lot of turnover in our management division. But that also means that people who are looking to move up may feel like, okay, well I need to move on then. So it's really working on that. And again, like I said, we're doing the training divisions. If we can't get it internally, we're sending them externally. Um, some, we do some Dale Carnegie classes and things like that to help kind of add tools to their bucket so that when opportunity does become available they’re in the best position out of all of our supervisors, we promote from within. So, they're competing with our other Interstates supervisors. So making sure that there… 

Adam: Everybody knows where they stand right now, almost on the hierarchy. So, you guys have created a culture there that's maybe a little different than other logistics companies. Can you talk a little bit about the type of culture you guys have in your eyes and what that looks like? 

Kelly: So Interstate Warehousing is part of the Tippmann group and Tippmann Group is based out of Fort Wayne, Indiana. We're a family owned company. Last year was our 50th year in operation. We're… 

Adam: 50th? five zero? 

Kelly: Yes. 

Adam: Wow. 

Kelly: Very, very proud of that. Um, and we kind of did a, we had John Tippmann Senior come back, he's since retired, but we had him come back and talk about, you know, where we started out as a company and he never imagined that we would grow to the success that we've had. And we have three new over 3000 employees now as part of the Tippmann group across United States. Um, so it's really kind of, we started out very small. So it's understanding that while we still want that small feel, it's 

difficult because we are so huge now and our Franklin location in Indiana, we have 300 employees. So how do we create that family environment that was started with the company, even though you have 300 employees and making everyone feel like they're part of something, they’re part of everybody, and they’re part of Interstate, they're proud to be an employee of ours. Um, so that's very difficult to do. But something that we're constantly working on. I think it's our main success from that is from the top down, our executives, senior management down are very friendly. And very inclusive. Um, John Tippmann Jr. is our current CEO and he walks by my office and every single time he'll stop, Hey Kelly, how's it going? How are, how's everything doing? You doing okay? You know, correct. Like you could tell that he really cares. Um, and that's across the board. Um, they want you to succeed. Then once you do well and they're glad and grateful that you're there, I occasionally get random emails, you know, hey, thanks for doing this. Or text messages like really appreciate you going out there. It's part of my job. But to them taking the time to send me the text message to say, I really appreciate you doing this. It shows, you know, the kind of culture. And if our senior management is doing it naturally, your local management is going to pick up on that and that's how they're also going to treat our hourly employees are warehouseman that we have. So it's a top down inclusive family feel that we have. 

Adam: So you sit in Anderson? 

Kelly: I sit in Franklin is our, is my hub, but I cover Franklin, Indianapolis, and Anderson. 

Adam: So how much of your time would you say is spent on scaling that type of culture that, that you guys want the, that you just, you just expressed from the top down. How much time is scaling as you guys continue to grow? 

Kelly: Oh Gosh. Um, I would say that's probably 80% is employee engagement. I mean, really that's the subtitle of my position is recruitment and retention. So retention is obviously huge. Obviously, as we all know we are dealing with extremely low employment rates right now and… 

Kofi: The war for talent is real. 

Kelly: And it also had this silver tsunami that's approaching us. Um, that's kind of our big thing is saying, okay, we're dealing with people who are not actively looking for jobs. So how do we get employees who are leaving, you know, to go across the street 

for 50 cents more? How do we say, hey, it's not necessarily, yeah, it's 50 cents more, but you're going to take so many cuts on these benefits and they're not going to work with you and they’re not going to be as nice. So we, the part of my job is to create these retention…. 

Adam: 12:00 Programs? 

Kelly: 12:02 Programs. Correct. Yes. Thank you. So, um, we are hosting events like doing, we have two giant ponds on our property, you know, having them sign a waiver and opening up to allow them to come in and fish on our property. Something that's, it costs $0 million. 

Adam: I was not expecting you to say that (laughter) 

Kofi: In my brain. I was like, what type of water sport are they about to have? 

Adam: I was thinking like jumping, it's sweaty graces. You said fishing. I was like, oh, it was the other one… 

Kofi: I like how you're leveraging some assets here. Like we got ponds outside. Maybe they can play a role in employee engagement. 

Kelly: Absolutely. And they love it. Um, you know, bring, bringing on their kids on site and it's a Saturday that I have to come in, but it's again, making them feel like they can bring their kids on and they can say, hey, this is where I work. You know, we're talking about doing a tour where they can bring in their family and walk through our building and say, this is dad's locker and this is, yeah, it's really cold. And I say, it's cold, this is how cold it is out here. 

Adam: Do you think companies aren't doing that type of stuff? I'm not questioning it, but like those are so, so that's so simple. That's so simple… I mean the fact that it means so much. It's like, man, I don't think, [Kofi: I don’t think so] I don't think they are either. 

Kofi: 13:09 I think a small, small, small percentage of the may be doing it just because, I don't know. But I don't think that many are thinking like that. 

Adam: That's a layup and that's like perfect. 

Speaker 1: 13:20 It's a lot to set up and to manage that. That's the thing is I think that's where companies… So it takes a lot of, for me to sit down 

with all of our GMS and say, Hey, what's a good weekend? We're going to have police, we're a 24/7 building. We're going to have employees who maybe you want to come and take the day off to come in and participate in the event. So how are we going to manage that? Because we still have to have productivity stuff to turn tracks. So it's a lot of light work. Um, 

Adam:` You have kids walking around, you've got forklifts going, 

Kelly: The volunteers are when they come in, um, to follow mom and dad, we shut that portion down and safety is huge for us. Um, but yes, it's, it's a lot of leg work. It's a lot of, it's, you know, taking time away from productivity. And I think that's hard for people who at the end of the day, like I said, are being pushed. It's getting harder and harder to make revenue and to hit your goals, production goals, to remember, hey, I gotta take a back seat and put the employee first. So it's very challenging. 

Kofi: 14:20 Yeah. But to the point, and I would like to dig into emotional intelligence. Now as a company, you are aware if the conditions are such that we can lose someone for 50 cents more an hour. And there are other similar businesses not far from us. We need to get smarter about how we keep them. And I, and I find that oftentimes when a company's trying to get smarter, they don't necessarily channel solutions through emotional intelligence. So can you talk to us when that term started to become more or heavily used at your company and how, how was it that emotional intelligence became important to Interstate? 

Kelly: Yeah, absolutely. So I went to a seminar, um, about a year ago and it talked about the different genres that we have. So, you know, the traditionalists baby boomers, Gen X, and we have, um, sometimes some issues where we have very great flow for our veterans who've been with us for 25, 30 years. And, but we also are hiring people running up the street and they're coming in and they're seeing these kids don't want to work. Right. It's a term we hear over and over again… 

Adam: These millennials. 

Kelly: Exactly. So, and I'm millennials so they can identify with this, but when I attended the seminar, I brought it back and eight meet all of our management teams sit in on it. I'm the one that I gave, but it's talked out at first. You know, traditionalists were part of the war generation. So when they came back, if their boss said, do this with your left hand instead of you're right, they did it because it was how they had to survive. 

Kofi: No question. 

Kelly: Yeah, so it's very different. I’m a millennial. I grew up in a school, we are group projects was all I knew it was no longer, um, you know, you're on it for your own. It was, everyone gets a trophy. Everyone’s working together. So I think that's very difficult when you have not, we have traditionalist, but we have these older generations who were saying, these kids are just handed everything. Well, that's what we grew up with. That was our schooling. That was what we were taught. So I had a situation where I sat down with everyone and I said, okay, who wants to work 365 days a year? Raise your hand. And I looked around the room and no one raised their hand. And I said kay, I would love to run this warehouse with experienced personnel. Know every company would to have veterans. But we are growing and you don't want to come in and work 365 days a year. So we have to understand that yes, they have a different mentality, you know, they, I even know I'm included. Different mentality of work and try to identify with them. So I gave the analogy of, I know this is difficult for you all to remember, but in the first day of school when you, if you ever had to move schools, it's a little bit daunting. You don't know if there's a senior hallway that you're going to get bullied down when you walked down as a freshman or you don't know who to sit with, who's going to be your friend with a nice teachers or whatnot. It's the same when you walk into a new company. So yes, we experience where we bring in new employees every week. And you know, it's the same old, same old for us, but making them feel like they're not just a number. That we want them to stick and we want them to be in Interstate employee who your Facebook friends with and when I, you know, there's selected as employee to month, you're commenting. Yeah. Well deserved. He said, you are all veterans. You have an opportunity here where you can be a mentor, and you're very proficient at what you do. You know, how to operate a forklift, amazingly- way better than I ever could. I will never get on one. I know my strengths. Um, but that really I think was a pivotal moment for us. Um, our senior vice president was also in the room, and he kind of led the discussion. And I think for us it was from the bottom there. We were telling them, I know that you can't relate to them and what they've gone through, but that was emotional intelligence. You know, they're from a different background trying to understand or find a common ground. So that has started a whole presentation for myself where I email all of our supervisors. They had to attend this presentation as well where they have to go out every week and connect with someone there and their shift. So we have our A players that'd be constantly go to, um, I need to turn in this truck, I got to get 

it done within an hour. You know, he's great at it go. But you're investing in them. And you may have someone else who may be a B player who's shown that they're ready to become an A player, but because you're so focused on the production and getting it done, you repeatedly go to the A player and everything in the B player chance. So pushing them to do that. Um, and then also when they come in from break time instead of sitting down with their leads or other supervisors or checking emails, which I know is very easy to do cause we get a lot saying, okay, I'm going to go over here and talk, you know, to Ryan, I haven't talked to him in a long time. I don't really know his background and trying to create some of those questions. You know, what do you do for fun? What do you… were talking about home life. And they open up a little more and it's creating that relationship. You're investing in that relationship. Um, and then they may find out, wow, this person is really in to fishing hey, did you know that, You know, Jeremiah is really into fishing? Maybe you guys can be better. It's, and then creating that inclusive workforce where you walk in the door and it's not you and 40 other people who you know are out driving forklifts. It's your friends who care about you. 

Adam: 19:44 So basically what you've done is you've, you've, you saw the barriers. You had the veterans, you had the new people coming in and like, look, we need, we need to bridge this gap somehow. And when you were talking about the, that the meeting you guys had, we asked everybody if they wanted to work 365 days a year. I mean, you're, you're creating a commonality with them, right? That's, that's awesome. That's awesome. How has that, have you, what have you seen since that meeting and since you instituting some of these, some of these, um, ideas have you, have you seen the barriers go down? Have you seen more collaboration? 

Kelly: 20:18 Yeah, absolutely. Our turnover's down for sure. That's awesome. Obviously the goal, yeah. Um, and production is up instead of focusing on turnover, you have more, you know, employees. It's really, it creates a snowball effect because you're dealing with less training and turnover. Um, you know, you have more free time to connect with the employees, creating more connections with the employees is encouraging them to stay. So it kind of creates this snowball effect. It just kind of getting it started and it was, it's daunting know spreads just when I told them today, hey, you have to email, you know, myself and the GM of the respective buildings who you connected with, you know, brief synopsis. I didn't need to know everything, but I talked to so and so. I learned this about I'm, or, and this was the gist of our conversation. I could tell all of them 

were like, oh, another thing I have to do. You know? And now they're on board and they're, they're thrilled about it and they kind of use that opportunity to say, yeah, like a free, no courteous, great expectation are great connection with them. And um, they told me that they wanted to be a loader, so we're working on that as what I had no idea. So… 

Adam: a whole new level engagement and excitement. I was driving in this morning listening to a podcast and, um, they had a fighter pilot on the show and she was talking about her time and leadership lessons and everything. And um, but they're talking about how everybody talks about- there's just not enough. The, the, these millennials, you can't find good help. Right. You hear that a lot. These millennials, they just don't want to work all this stuff. And she goes, you know what's hilarious is the average age on one of those ships that have like the fighter jets… 

Kofi: Aircraft carriers? 

Adam: Maybe that's it. There you go. 

Kofi: The ones that carry airplanes. 

Adam: Yeah. Aircraft carriers. That'd be it. Yeah. Average ages of 19 and a half. I'm like average age. She was 22 years old and she goes, and I was, I was like the elder states woman. And so she's like, if our, if our government, our navy our… right, that if they can, if they can hand over a $45 million asset to say fly, you know, like logistically figure it out, our companies can figure out to find it, how to find good work. Right. So anyway, um, so it sounds that you, you, you have, you have like different types of people or different types of groups that you're, you're trying to bridge the gap in… 

Kofi: And you're engaging them really well. 

Adam: Yeah. I mean it sounds like, yeah. You're, you're like on this trajectory, right. Keep all pretty new buildings. What are some of the, um, what, what are, what are still some of those roadblocks that you're seeing right now, um, within, within your group and you know, and you, so you have warehouse workers, you will be up office workers, you have all these different types of people that with your MIT program you're bringing until melting pot really. Um, what are you seeing in that aspect? 

Kelly: 23:10 So I think it's a lot of it is between our departments. So one example that I'll probably give is we have receivers, you're out 

in the dock and they have production. And then we have um, clerical who are out at our welcome center. Okay. Checking in the drivers. So the big disconnect there is the dock workers are waiting for lines to be entered and can't receive the truck until, you know, the clerical enters the lines and the clericals dealing with truck drivers. You're trying to do good customer service. 

Adam: Calls are coming in, emails, 

Kelly: Yeah, absolutely. So the big thing for them is when we went through and it became, you know, one day someone have had a, uh, didn't get enough sleep and had a bad attitude and they kind of took a little snip or was a little snippy towards someone and then it becomes this mountain of just going back and forth and jabs at each other. Right. To the point where you're hearing 

Adam: All via email? 

Correct. No, no, not, no, we have radios, so we’re saying okay, I'm nipping this in the bud because no one wants to go to a place where it's not fun. You want to go to a place that you enjoy and everyone's friendly and, and if that's the culture, you're going a lot to go on in there in the radio. You have new people coming in. They're hearing it too. What are they gonna think? So I'm like, we're done with us. So I had the receiver go to that a welcome center for a day and he had to sit and listen, you know, deal with the customer service and the drivers and I'm sending out the emails and he said, wow, I had no, I thought you were just sitting out here and very well on the keyboard. I didn't know that you had to answer phones and you had three people calling because the trailers in the wrond location and the seal needs updated and etcetera. And then the week later he said, all right clerk and you need to go out and the dock. And they said, wow, this is very different. So dealing with forklifts coming at you and safety and understanding that while the clerk can take a half hour to enter, you know the lines and at the computer, if they take forever, the receiver is getting hit on their production and we hand out production awards. So you're essentially taking money from his pocket. So working together to understand, okay, this is why it's so important to him. So maybe now, yeah, this is grading it better. Instead of saying this was always a D level item for me saying, Oh, I'm moving to a B level item because it's a little, it's important to him. It affects his production. And then also on the flip side, the receiver who's calling out and saying, hey, you're having a little extra, please, thank you. 

Adam: Simple stuff right. 

Kelly: So that was one of our biggest things. Um, and then the other thing is obviously connecting with the employees, but I think that goes across the board from management down. We have in our break room, a foosball table and Xbox, Jenga, cornhole is huge at our company for me. And uh, we encourage our supervisors and also our management team to at least -they have two half hour breaks to attend one of the breaks. And I think that that really shows that we have open doors. When you have an operations manager or a GM or even a regional manager come down and say, Hey, I'm going to play with you guys. And again, you're having side conversations that are investing in them and they feel like, you know, important. It's a big thing I told to all of our supervisors, and again, circling back to having to check in is you want more screen time and more facetime with your immediate boss. It goes from the top down. Right? So your employees are wanting the same from you. So putting that as forefront to say, yes I have to do x amount of records and turn as many tracks and whatever it may be saying I need to take time out of my day to give five minutes to an employee and that employee may not be having a bad day or maybe in a day where they're kind of coming in and just kind of chugging along and oh, I'm here. But if you take the five minutes to say, hey, you had record numbers yesterday, that was awesome. I noticed that and I really appreciate it because we really knew that yesterday. Yeah. All of a sudden they have an extra pep in their step that they didn't before. Yeah. Cause they're getting recognition. 

Kofi: 27:17 Yeah. I'm, I'm quite taken with how you're being intentional of making sure. Cause oftentimes in a company there can be like two classes of workers, you know, those who are more on the professional and administrative and just taking care of things within the company. And then those probably affecting the bottom line for the product. And um, sometimes the division between them can be counterproductive and, and poisonous. But if you're being intentional about how you're engaging both and then helping them see even more so how they need and why it's beneficial to engage with each other. Um, it's one of those very, very good things for your culture that hopefully can help with retention. 

Kelly: 27:59 I think it's also about respect. So your hourly employees are warehouse men are not going to go to battle with you if you haven't earned the respect. And we have situations where if we're really behind, our operations managers will go out and get on a forklift and we don't post their production numbers because they may think that they're really great, but obviously there's a reason the warehousemen do way better than then 

they're doing it day in and day out. Right? Yeah. But I also think that it's, it's respect for the warehouser and say, wow, if my boss's boss is out here on the floor doing this, I need to pick it up. Yeah, true. And I always tell them, you know, when they come in and have conversations with me, I tell him, I have so much respect for you all and I'll give a shout out to my dad because he taught me this lesson a long time ago and when I was in high school I said I didn't want to study for a test. And he goes, fine, don’t study. And I'm like, what? He said outside. So went outside and he handed me a shovel and start digging and I have is planting a tree. And I said, okay. And I, you know, a couple dirt fulls later, it was like, what am I doing here? And he goes, there's two ways that you're going to make a life and it's either going to be with your brain or it's gonna be your body. We need to have both. Um, but you need to decide what you want to do and what your forte is. I’m like can I get back inside because this is not my forte. 

Adam: Ace the test. 

Kelly: So he's like, absolutely. And I went back in the head a renewed sense for studying and studied for my exam. So when the warehouse men come in and they say they're so appreciative for that, you're putting on the different events and stuff like that. I tell them I'm like, I'm appreciative for what you do because like I mentioned earlier, you would not catch me dead on a forklift. Yeah. I think if I was coming out a rack too fast, the first thing I did with stick my foot out. Yeah. Safety 101 says we don't want this girl even anywhere close to it. Right. She's a disaster. So I know that, um, and I have a lot of respect for them to come in each and every single day and do what they do and turn tracks. So it's, it's the mutual respect thing that I think, you know, from, from the top down that we have to have cross our companies. 

Adam: 30:03 That's awesome. I want to jump back to something you said earlier. Um, you mentioned everybody wants more facetime with their manager and creating that extra five minutes or you know, maybe it is that one on one time that- I don't want that to go unheard because I think that's… when I came into a position where I had direct reports. I don't remember how many I had, but I remember a mentor telling me going one on ones will be the single best thing you will add in and you know you’re… we're, we're really close knit group. We don't need them. And um, and he, he's, he told me, he goes, I have seven hours of one on ones a week. Wow. And I go, oh boy. Okay. If you can do that, I can at least add in like a few minutes here and there. But, but you're, you're, you're dead on. I mean, 

everybody wants direct access to their manager and if you have people under you, you have to be thinking that way too. They want direct access to you to whether that, whether that is a, it will be weekly one on one, whether that is a formal one on one feedback, whatever that is. So I love that you've instituted that. That's got to, that's got to help build your retention. Yeah, 100%. 

Kelly: 31:11 It also creates the comradery. So if employees are going through something, they feel better about, you know, I'm, I have a death in the family, my mom's really sick, whatever it may be. Coming in and having that conversation instead of just going into a stranger's office saying, hey, I might need some time off. Um, you know, creating that atmosphere that you feel comfortable. 

Kofi: 31:30 So I like that you focus on promoting from within. Obviously you told us the story of how you entered into Interstate, but as we are approaching spring of 2019, how do you all approach recruitment now? What, what are some of your strategies to at least get potential employees to start to consider what it means to be part of the Interstate family? 

Kelly: Absolutely. So for our management positions, we go to local colleges, um, across all of the United States. Obviously we recruit for all of eight of our divisions that we have. Um, and then we also have internships. So this year we have six internships starting with us across our Indiana locations. One of them is actually going to be a high school student. It's a brand new program that we're launching. 

Kofi: Impressive! Look at you all! 

Kelly: And, um, the main driver there is to re kind of catch them before their mind is made up when they go into college. That you know, we kind of talked about this in the breakfast series that um, the NCIS is the number one because of the TV shows. We'll supply chain is obviously not an extremely attractive career, but it is something that's needed. You have to eat, we have to have logistics. It's something that's never going to go away. So attracting those good candidates to say, hey, maybe should think about supply chain. So we're really trying to corrupt catch them while they're still in high school before they even go to college to bring them in and, and kind of go through our program and say, this is what it looks like. And kind of manufacturing I know is doing this too because they have the perception that it's really dirty and hot. Right. And that's not the case. So I'm working on that, um, across all of our buildings. So 

we start with the internships. It's great if we can get them in an internship, the sooner the better. I have someone who's returning for their third year at with an interstate or Intrastate um, internship. They started right as a senior out of high school and that allows us to really kind of focus in, instead of trying to jam pack, um, their, their training, we say, okay, this summer you're really going to focus on receiving, shipping. It's, you know, going through the different, taking a little bit more time. Um, if he does decide to accept a position with us is MIT program is going to be very short because he really is getting the MIT training in his internship. So when he comes in and will be a three month process of, okay, let's fine tune some things on the operational side, gets you through all the other different departments and we'll get you ready for launch. So obviously that's great for us if, if we have an opening to get someone in very quick. 

Adam: 34:05 Awesome. 

Kofi: I think the information you just shared would pique the interest of a lot of Hoosiers. You know, that may be thinking about, uh, that, that field of for work. You have interstate offices outside of Indiana, are there any others in the Midwest or… 

Kelly: 34:20 Yes, we have one in Joliet, Illinois, and also one in Cincinnati, Ohio. It's actually in Hamilton- is the address this, the city. Um, there's also one in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I don't know if that's necessarily considered the Midwest. 

Kofi: 34:33 Yeah, technically south, but it's only like five, six. Well, it's a little bit farther away than that, but that's not that far away. 

Kelly: It's, it's a great city. I love going there. When we have our internal audits, one of my favorites, 

Adam: It’s close to Nashville. 

Kelly: Yes. 

Adam: It's like right there. 

Kelly: It's about 20 minutes. So that's why it's so dangerous. 

Kofi: Murfreesboro. It's true. Um, I think they're going to be a lot of interested people and trying to learn more about what Interstate has to offer. So if someone was interested in finding out more, uh, how could they get in contact with you? Kelly? 

Kelly: 35:05 Um, I am on Linkedin, Kelly Knecht. Um, and if they, you're wanting to reach out to me there. Um, otherwise our company pages Tippmanngroup.com and then if they want to apply for a job, it's IWI Jobs. 

Kofi: 35:17 IWI jobs- Tippmann and is that Tippmann with two P's? 

Kelly: 2 P’s and two N’s. 

Kofi: Oh, see, I'm glad I asked. Okay. Well Kelly, it's been great talking to you. Thank you so much for helping us understand, uh, the promising practices that you're doing at interstate to make sure you compete in this war for talent. 

Kelly: Thanks so much for having me. It's been great today. 

Kofi: I should not be surprised. But again, wow, what a great conversation and I'm so grateful that Kelly was able to offer the insight about their MIT program manager and training program, which really helps the individual become an expert in their own job quickly, but then also helps them understand what else is happening in other departments so they understand why their job is important and why the other jobs are important. I think that's critical for heightened employee engagement and I think it's good for your culture. Also liked that they had that high percentage focus on employee engagement- 80%- if you're really trying to succeed in this war for talent, you really got to focus on making sure you're engaging at that high degree. So I really appreciate that she focused on that. 

Adam: Yeah and you don't get high engagement without taking down barriers and building relationships. And I think it's clear that that's what Kelly's doing, uh, over at Interstate warehouse. She, she's done a really good job of breaking down those barriers between the millennials and the veterans. And then once those barriers go down, you then have to work on building the relationships. So really a really good conversation with Kelly. Um, thank you for listening to this episode of the Skill Up Build Up Podcast. Please check us out wherever you listen to your podcast, and we'll talk next time. 

Music: 36:51 [inaudible].