What is he doing back there?

What in the heck does Nic even do? He sure seems to be here a lot and looks like he is always driving around in circles on the forklift so what the heck is he doing??  Well as the Warehouse Manager/Shipping Coordinator I serve several important functions for Iron Horse Brewery.  

The first thing I do is make sure we have something to put our delicious beer in!  Keeping a healthy stock of empty kegs is important to keeping beer production running properly.  Each week I contact our various distributors around the state (they are the nice folks who actually deliver your favorite beer to your favorite watering hole) and make arrangements to have the very kegs you helped empty delivered back to us so we can fill and send them back out for your enjoyment again. As is the case with many breweries, Iron Horse does not actually own the kegs. They are actually owned by a company named Microstar. Why? Why don’t we just own our kegs? Well it‘s actually much simpler not to. You see instead of having to wait until a distributor gets some or all of OUR kegs back from your watering hole to have them sent to me I can just order whatever they have available on any given day. Broken or damaged kegs? No problem! Instead of having to continuously repair or replace broken or damaged kegs I simply send them back to Microstar for repair and order more. This saves us time and energy not having to track down our specifically owned kegs and fix or replace them when damaged.

The rest of my responsibility at Iron Horse involves taking care of the beer after it has been packaged. Maybe you’re enjoying one of our many wonderful varieties of liquid courage as you read this right now, well my job is pretty much to make sure that it got in your hand (or maybe more specifically to make sure it got in the people’s hands who put it in your hand).  

Whether it’s a nice refreshing can of Finger Gun PEW! PEW! sitting in your favorite recliner or a pint of Irish Death from the keg you rented for the games this weekend, I and my staff (of one other dude…) are the one’s who get it to you!  Once beer has been packaged it is our responsibility to maintain the inventory and to fill orders that come in each week from our distributors. Who, in turn take it to the stores and watering holes for your enjoyment.  

First beer has to be rotated like any other perishable good, new stuff in the back old stuff in the front. I know you grocery store produce department employees know what I’m talking about. Unfortunately, rotating kegs stacked on palettes 4-6 palettes high and cases of bottles stacked 60 cases to a palette is slightly more tedious, time consuming and nerve racking than pulling a few heads of lettuce to the front of the display. It’s a high stakes game of Tetris where one wrong move can cost hundreds in lost product and hours in messing mopping…  

Next, orders. At the end of each week Rikki our wonderful orders guru and I get together and review the distributor’s orders for the following week. We adjust order amounts and shipment dates in relation to the type and amount of beer we have available. Then on Monday we are ready to build the orders. We generally ship Tuesday through Thursday using the previous day to prepare orders that ship the following day. So by the end of Monday we’re ready with Tuesday’s orders and so on. This is what driving in circles looks like.  

Bringing down product, pulling off the amounts of each beer variety and packaging type needed and restacking them in a safe and secure manner together before they are wrapped in plastic wrap and staged back in the cooler once again until shipment the next day. This is where the majority of the warehouse team’s time is spent each week. That and rotating in the new beer packaged that week. There is of course monotonous cleaning duties and mind numbing sacks of paper work to be taken care of but you didn’t read this to hear about that. You read it to find out what I and the warehouse team do and the bottom line is we get the beer to you! So if you’re not holding one of our find brews right now, the next time you are cheers to the warehouse team for getting it in your hand!  Warehouse for life!

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