AMS Fulfillment’s growth led to rapid-fire expansion

The company also plays a big role in the community and lives of SCV residents

AMS Fulfillment’s meteoric growth over the past decade led to the company’s leasing of 13 different buildings scattered throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.

As is the natural course of business, its rapid growth led to the company achieving several key milestones in the past few years and the recent loss of one of its key clients due to the lack of locally available commercial space.

Still, with the demand for third-party logistics companies growing, AMS Fulfillment continues to secure other new clients and the managing partners are confident the company will continue to prosper.

By 2012, the warehouse, order fulfillment and distribution company celebrated its 10-year anniversary, landed several major clients such as TOMS Shoes, received the “Business of the Year” award by the California Enterprise Zone and secured a foreign trade zone status for itself and the benefit of neighboring businesses in the Valencia Commerce Center.

Committed to sharing its success along the way, AMS Fulfillment grew its business while it gave members of the community a boost along the way by hiring at-risk youth, developmentally disabled adults and the un-employed. It also supported a number of charities – all guided by the company’s vision that “community support is essential to building a positive future for many generations to come,” said Ken Wiseman, CEO and managing partner.

And in the spirit of “paying it forward,” at Christmas, employees of the company saw to it that 28 families were adopted for holiday and given dinners and gifts. It also donated hundreds of gifts to local groups including the Sheriff’s Youth Foundation, Special Olympics and others.

With 30 clients and the need to consolidate a portion of its operations under one roof for one of its clients, and a scarcity of commercial space available in the region, the third-party logistics company looked at building a warehouse facility.

“We were going to build a 500,000-square-foot building in Santa Clarita,” Wiseman said. “It was slated for the first quarter of 2014, and we believe it would have been the second largest building in the Santa Clarita Valley.”

Timing was a key factor for TOMS, however, and the shoe retailer needed to move faster. In February they notified AMS Fulfillment that it was moving its business to a company in Riverside that already had the space to accommodate the changes the retailer wanted to make in automation.

“The retailer has been very good to AMS Fulfillment, and very professional as part of the exit process,” said Jay Catlin, president and managing partner. “AMS, however, may be keeping a portion of TOMS business and is holding another TOMS shoe sale locally on April 19-21.” “Having TOMS as a client helped to build AMS Fulfillment’s reputation along the way as being able to perform and deliver on expected results,” Wiseman said.

“The retail world is well aware of what a success story TOMS is,” Wiseman said. “Being the company that was able to keep up with their growth brought in a lot of folks who want to see our business and probably helped us land clients.”

But there’s actually an upside to the downsizing say both partners.

“The other nice thing is we are able to focus on AMS again as a third party fulfillment company for all kinds of businesses,” Catlin said. “When you have a really large client, you can’t focus on your business as much as you should. Now we have some time to grow the rest of our client base.”

Having some breathing space also allows the company to focus on its existing client base and enhance service capabilities across the board, he said.

As for all that space AMS Fulfillment has leased, the company isn’t ruling out constructing a larger building in the future, the partners say. And based on how the company structured leases to account for any fluctuations in business, they believe they are in a good position to manage through the change.

AMS Fulfillment will sublease some of its smaller buildings over the next year, Wiseman said, and some leases will expire. The partners plan to keep the leases on those buildings that are 100,000 square feet or greater and release many of the smaller buildings back into the community, which will help with the shortage that has existed locally, he said.

“Leasing so many buildings was always a matter of growth surpassing our ability to consolidate into a much larger building,” Catlin said. “And there wasn’t a larger building available in Santa Clarita. It was certainly less efficient to leverage several smaller buildings.”

Even as the two men spoke about their plans to remain in the buildings that best suit the company’s needs, AMS Fulfillment is already bringing in new clients.

And the timeline of moving the TOMS shoe business runs through September 2013, giving the logistics company time to bring on new accounts. It recently landed another shoe retailer, Sole Society.

“We met with every one of our employees and are working hard to backfill with new business and preserve jobs,” Wiseman said.

Given the natural ebb and flow of business in their industry, Wiseman said it was good fortune that the company and community had TOMS Shoes business locally during the bad economy because it helped to keep a lot of people employed. AMS Fulfillment has over 500 full-time and temporary employees.

As for the future, Wiseman is confident that AMS Fulfillment will continue to grow because third-party fulfillment operations are a cost-effective way for customers to grow their business and yet mitigate the risk of having to lease space that may not be adequately sized for their own growth.

AMS Fulfillment is also able to provide its customers with a professional operations team that is familiar with the requirements of their business and that keeps up with growth by warehousing its products and filling orders on time, he said. “We are feeling positive about our business, and morale is high,” Catlin said. “We’re feeling good about our long-term prospects.”

Meanwhile, AMS Fulfillment continues to consider that new building.

“The prospect is still of interest to AMS,” Catlin said. “There are cost benefits to being in one large building.”

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