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October 16, 2018 • Headline News
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Thrive market going strong

In this bird’s eye view of a portion of the 375,000 square foot Thrive Market Fulfillment Center in Batesville, one can see the packing stations and pallets of boxes that are ready to ship. Director John Gentzkow shared that the center is almost completely waste-free, as all of the materials used inside are recycled. Packaging materials that make it to the end user are also recyclable.

Jared Rogers
Assistant Editor

It was the 15th of September, 2015, when the Thrive Market Fulfillment Center located in Batesville, Indiana picked, packed, and shipped its first order to a member of the online retailer specializing in health foods, body, and home products. Fast forward to the present day, and the center picks, packs, and ships 5,000 orders every single day.

Thrive Market, founded in 2014, is headquartered in Marina Del Ray, California, and has two fulfillment centers: the one in Batesville, which serves the central and eastern United States, and one in Reno, Nevada, which serves the western half of the country. Of total business, the Batesville site services approximately 70% of all orders, which come from members of the online market who pay a $59.99 yearly fee for access to over 7,000 items that generally fall in the “organic,” “vegetarian,” “Paleo,” and “gluten-free” types of categories. According to their website, over 85% of U.S. residents are able to receive orders in two days.

John Gentzkow, director of the Batesville site, says the retailer is similar to Whole Foods in that it seeks to stock healthy, environmentally friendly items. However, the ability of customers to order online and have items shipped to their door (free for orders over $49) creates a convenience that is also matched with a price point that reflects dispensing of the brick-and-mortar presence of most retailers. “We can bring healthy food to a larger segment of the population,” Gentzkow says of the e-commerce structure of Thrive Market.

The Batesville center is housed in the building which GE previously owned on Lammers Pike. It is a 375,000 square foot space that Thrive Market purchased and began with one single employee: Joe Meer, a maintenance technician who kept the building in shape while it was vacant, but still owned by GE. Since Thrive Market took it over, they now employ 265 people and the space is decked out with infrastructure that helps the fulfillment center to process orders as efficiently as possible.

The process all begins with the delivery of the products available for consumers to buy online, of course. From there, they are sorted and stocked into two main “picking” areas. The first, called the bin-pick area, is for products that are lower in demand. Orders received containing these products are picked first by staff in that area, before a conveyor belt carries the box to a second area, where four “pick mods” dispense eight boxes at a time for employees in that space to pick out more high demand items. Making the process even more refined, the items that show up on employees’ wrist-monitors to pick are listed in order of where they can be found along the shelves next to the pick-mod. That way, employees don’t have to backtrack to grab any items as they fill their boxes and send them onwards.

The process is completed at one of 40 packing stations, where boxes of complete orders are scanned, wrapped for shipment, filled with protective material, and sealed. From there, orders are loaded on trucks and delivered to UPS for final-destination delivery.

On the week of their third anniversary, Batesville staff all took some time out of their regular work day for a grill-out to commemorate the occasion. Staffers also enjoyed getting an anniversary t-shirt to add to their work attire collection. When asked about the reason for the fulfillment center’s success in its opening years, Gentzkow quickly replied, “It is the dedication of our employees.” He said that recognizing the employees was the most important aspect of the anniversary.

Looking ahead, Gentzkow said he believes the center can continue to grow at a pace similar to what the first three years have seen. That includes hiring more team members as demand rises, and continuing to invest in their facility. “We’re really excited,” Gentzkow said of the company’s potential.

In addition to growing business, the Batesville center also wishes to continue fostering positive community connections. As it is now, local food pantries benefit from the center’s donation of excess items and goods that are coming to the end of their shelf life. They also donate power bars to the Batesville football team, sponsor children in Cincinnati’s Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome, and have recently hosted a community blood drive.

Gentzkow said of the fulfillment center, “It’s a good atmosphere here.” Three years in, with room to grow, Thrive Market hopes to build on that positive energy in Batesville.

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