AMS CEO Leads Charge to Improve Client Support
AMS provides its clients with business-to-business, business-to-customer and back office administrative services.
When clients turn to AMS Fulfillment, they need to be confident that AMS has the expertise and infrastructure to meet their warehousing, pick-and-pack and fulfillment needs. Over the years, the Valencia, Calif.-based company has built a team of supply chain management and omnichannel fulfillment experts.
“Our clients are supported by fulfillment lifers,” CEO and founder Jay Catlin says. “Our history in this space helps us in collaborating with clients to find efficiencies and support growth.”
A longtime veteran of the fulfillment industry, Catlin started the company in 2002 to help his father’s CD and DVD business. Catlin recalls, “My father was having terrible troubles with his East Coast partners who managed operations, and we basically took control in a move to the West Coast.”
The younger Catlin changed the operating model, ordering DVD components separately and creating finished goods under a just-in-time assembly process to keep up with demand. He explains, “DVD replicators were not delivering the finished goods on time, and we made things easier for them by ordering the individual component parts.”
After helping his father’s business, AMS branched out in 2003 to become a true pure-play fulfillment firm. Catlin says that by using experience that he gained with a top national fulfillment company, “We started marketing ourselves and going after other vertical markets.”
In 2004, AMS landed the action sports brand C1RCA. “We fulfilled one season of snowboards, boots and bindings,” Catlin says, noting that Burton Snowboards acquired C1RCA’s winter brands, and C1RCA then shifted their year-round footwear and apparel business to AMS. “That really exploded the fashion vertical for us.”
Today, apparel and footwear clients comprise roughly 50 percent of AMS’s business, while health, beauty and skin-care products account for 35 percent. Catlin explains, “We have a variety of consumer goods, home goods, education and electronics rounding out the rest of our client mix.”
AMS provides its clients with business-to-business, business-to-customer and back office administrative services. “Client administrative support ranges from retail routing and customer service, to our full-service model where we enter orders, manage accounts receivable, allocate inventory to orders, work with sales reps and cut commission checks,” he saiys, noting that the firm provides these services for multiple accounts.
“The experience AMS has gained from the full service model has made it a better organization,” Catlin said. “Managing the wide range of back office functions allowed us to understand supply chain challenges from brand’s perspective. This experience helped set us apart from the competition as a fulfillment service organization.”
A Big Push
AMS recently implemented paperless picking in both its West Coast and East Coast facilities, driven from AMS’s own proprietary warehouse management technology platform (WAMS). Catlin says, “For us, it was really a big push forward in efficiency.”
Some of the conveniences this has provided include the ability to wave orders by any criteria, including specific channels such as Amazon Prime, specific aisles or zones in the warehouse, order characteristics such as number of units, and criteria such as overnight ship methods. Orders go directly to hand-held devices, which connect to optimized picking carts that accommodate the highest number of orders. Catlin continues, “As we pick and scan items through the pick path, we’re linking orders to serialized bins on the cart.”
Pack stations feature screens that list the items for the order, and indicate if gift wrapping, branded pack-out or specific marketing inserts are required. Custom packing slips are automatically printed if required by the client. Catlin points out, “The screens simplify the pack-out process and enhance quality control.”
AMS recently expanded its operations to the East Coast with the acquisition of EchoData Group, an order fulfillment company. Catlin says, “After working with the company for nearly two years, I knew they would make a great addition to AMS.”
“We are very much aligned culturally,” he adds, noting that this acquisition allowed AMS to officially become bicoastal while growing its national footprint. With 550,000 square feet of facilities in Los Angeles, AMS has added 270,000 more with EchoData’s locations in Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Purpose over Profit
AMS has earned the status of a Certified B Corporation, which reflects its mission of making positive social impacts while operating productively and sustainably. Catlin says, “Our employees are positively engaged through our B-Corp culture, seeing work as more than just a paycheck by supporting our local communities as well as the planet.”
As part of this mission, the company has worked at federal, state and local levels to create employment opportunities for people looking for a second chance. Catlin points out, “People exiting incarceration, individuals with disabilities, at-risk youth, people making their way off of welfare… we give them an education in logistics and a pathway towards success.”
Catlin went on to say that AMS will continue to “do good while doing well” in supporting its clients. “We make sure our clients are with us for the long haul as we scale to accommodate their changing needs. We’re also going to make sure our bicoastal facilities operate as one. We have a lot on our plates here in 2020, including the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m so thankful for the team we have in place to weather this storm. We will emerge from this as a stronger, more integrated company.”