November 22nd, 2013
Behind the Holiday Curtain: Part Two – Manufacturing
This blog is the second of our three-part series about life in Vistaprint during the holiday season.
As the Digital Manager at our manufacturing facility in Windsor, Canada, Cole Gardner is responsible for the digital value stream organization, or VSO. That means he is responsible for any orders printed digitally – paper products, stickers, and pens, among other things. It also means he’s responsible for holiday cards, calendars, and custom envelopes.
We spoke to Cole to learn more about what the holiday season brings to life in Windsor:
What does the ‘holiday season’ look like for you?
Volume from holiday orders starts to rise at the end of September and continues through October/November. We see a steady increase the first two months and then we’re busiest during the month of December. The strong volume lasts until our last ship date three days before Christmas and then in the New Year, we go from the busiest to the slowest.
What kind of volume increase do you see and what is the impact?
We build in capacity for peak periods at the plant, and the holidays are one of those times we see an increase in digital printing productivity. Because we receive more small batch orders needing to be printed on the digital presses (such as calendars and holiday cards) during this time of year, our digital production usually triples. The number of digital team members also triples during the holiday season.
How do you prepare for that kind of increase?
Planning for the success of the holiday season usually starts in April for us. Near the end of August, we devise the training plan for our additional team needs. The added positions are skill jobs and most of them get filled by current Vistaprint employees (in other roles). The rest of the positions are filled externally with temporary, seasonal workers. The preparation for the holiday season is actually the most challenging.
More challenging than in the peak season?
Actually, the hardest part is earlier on. The build up to the season is much harder than when the holiday season is in full swing. We need to have the hiring and training done, the equipment ready, the budget set. When the season actually happens, the hard work is over.
It’s a bit like taking a test; you spend a lot of time studying and preparing and that’s the most anxious part. Once you get to test day, you are through it. By the time Christmas comes, for us, it’s over.
Do you enjoy the holiday rush?
The most enjoyable part of holiday is the energy on the floor as we reach new firsts.
Do you take anytime to recoup after the rush?
I like to take off a couple weeks after the season. The plant sees about 2-3 months of rest in January/February before it all begins again.