Amazon Distribution Center Ramps Up in North Jackson

NORTH JACKSON, Ohio — Seven weeks ago, Tom Lynch launched his independent transportation business, Smile Logistics LLC, with just one other employee.

Today he has 52, thanks to a robust delivery schedule that has ramped up alongside Amazon’s last-mile distribution center here.

“I’m very thankful Amazon chose me as a partner,” said Lynch, one of five such delivery service partners, or DSPs, working out of the North Jackson facility. “Just having the opportunity to own my own company, for it to be in transportation, and to impact the area the way that we have is amazing.”

Amazon executives, drivers and workers were on hand Tuesday afternoon to show off Amazon’s new 42,000-square-foot distribution center, which began operations at the end of May.

Smile Logistics is part of a growing national DSP network that Amazon established last year. The North Jackson hub is responsible for serving at the moment the Youngstown regional area, but that could expand should demand and volume increase.

Lynch leases 25 delivery vans that are loaded in North Jackson and then delivered to doorsteps across the Mahoning Valley. “Currently, we do about 150 to 200 packages per van,” he said. “We stay for the most part about a 100-mile radius from the facility and we’ll continue to grow our fleet to support Amazon.”

Former workers from the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx have joined Smile Logistics since the operation started, Lynch said. Since the delivery vehicles are not commercial vans, no commercial driver’s license is necessary, he said.

Amazon spokeswoman Shone Jemmott said that there are more than 100 DSPs across the country today. 

The North Jackson hub – named DCL3, an abbreviation for Delivery Cleveland 3 – accepts Amazon packages from fulfillment centers all across the country, but the majority of goods moving into this center come mostly from a large distribution center near Cleveland.

“This is a great place to be,” said Sean Healy, regional operations director for Amazon Logistics. Among the major factors in locating to the Mahoning Valley was the quality of its workforce, the welcoming nature of the community and the strong customer base in the region, he said.

“We’re a customer-obsessed company, and this is an area that’s growing and we want to be close to our customers to offer them the fastest delivery possible,” he said.

George Senita, station manager (left), Germaine McAlpine, director of the Boys and Girls Club of Youngstown, and Sean Healy, regional operations director for Amazon Logistics were on hand for the event Tuesday. Amazon donated $10,000 in STEM equipment to the Boys and Girls Club.

Healy said the Mahoning Valley boasts a “super high-quality” workforce and Amazon’s local distribution center employs nearly 200 part-time and full-time at a base rate of $15 an hour. Another 200 are employed through the five delivery companies partnering with the company.

In all, Amazon employs about 8,500 in Ohio, he said. Earlier this week, Amazon announced it would move forward with the construction of a 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center on the site of the former Rolling Acres Mall in Akron.

The fulfillment centers can serve any station across Amazon’s network, he said, but noted “we try to keep it as local as possible.”

Healy said the concept of using Amazon’s network to create new independent businesses is receiving great responses throughout the country. “We feel really proud that we’ve created a lot of new small businesses and also independent contractors – people who really want to be their own boss.”

The program, called Amazon Flex, pays between $15 and $18 per hour and drivers make their own schedule – a program. Those interested in becoming a delivery service partner are encouraged to apply online.  According to the company’s website, startup costs could be as low as $10,000.

Inside the center, workers were busy scanning, moving and loading packages for local delivery. The merchandise is shipped from a fulfillment center to North Jackson, where Amazon employees scan the bar codes on every piece that comes in.

Workers scan and sort packages in the distribution center.

The packages are then sorted according to route level and are hand placed in the appropriate bins. The bins are then wheeled out of the hub and loaded onto a designated delivery van.

“What we’re trying to do is to make sure we use the right number of routes for the right-size vehicles in order to minimize total drive time and maximize efficiency,” he said. “We know every order.”

Amazon uses a software application that ties the entire process together – even providing drivers with instructions with correct routes, stop sequences and communication tools, Healy said.

“It’s got maps on board, it’s got the capability for them to reach out to a central dispatch if they have questions or concerns about the routes or difficulty completing the delivery,” he said. “They’re able to access that via the app or contact the business owner of the DSP.”

These are just some of the advances in logistics technology that Amazon has developed over the last 20 years, Healy said. “The geospatial technology that we leverage is state of the art,” he said.

Among the most important deliveries on Tuesday was $10,000 worth of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, equipment that Amazon donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Youngstown.

The majority of the vans are loaded in the morning and the packages are delivered to the North Jackson site normally between midnight and 7:30 a.m., said George Senita, station manager at North Jackson. “My job is to make sure everything under the roof is as perfect as it can be to get these drivers out.”

Amazon’s North Jackson location was initially projected to move about 9,000 packages a day, Senita said. “But, with the team we have in here, it’s going to be more like 18,000 to 22,000 per day,” he said.

Pictured above: Tom Lynch, owner of Smile Logistics, next to one of his trucks.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.