Kicking it in Columbus:AJ Zambetti's KSM 2019 Journal Pt. 1

Well… we’re here! 2019 KSM install. Let’s back it up a bit. A few months ago we journeyed to Columbus for our first in-person meeting with Matan Gutwaks the director of catering at the JCC and got our eyeballs on the kitchen. It was myself, Mike Ward (Marketing Guy), Joe Sorkirka (Video Guy) & Lauren Norika (Space Optimization Gal), and boy did we get an education. Not only on the Kosher aspect of the kitchen, but a real look of what caught the judges attention and eventually led them to victory.

Needless to say… to be blunt… it was a disastrous work space. You could not even walk yet alone prepare food easily. (See the before photos for the scope). But… I recall saying to Matan…“no worries, we got this.” So without haste, we (Lauren) started speaking to the employees watch them prepare food for the day. What did we see? Sheet pans on trash cans for more prep space, (Don’t judge we’ve seen this many times before…you know you do it.), Pan racks full for utensils (Clean or dirty… Not sure), Old cabinets with nothing in them taking up tons of space, Storage piled to the ceiling, carts parked in the aisles, coolers in disarray… I could go on, but you get the idea.

Why & how does this happen?

Well… When you have poor workflow, not the right storage space, and HAVE TWO OF EVERYTHING BECAUSE YOU'RE KOSHER!!!! That’s how.

How do we fix it?

With smart solutions that maximize the space and position them in the right spot for the right reason. We take advantage of unused wall space, maximize space with more shelf tiers based on the size of the common orders, add multi-functional options so it’s more flexible.

Ok, not let’s get back to today… Day one of the transformation. It all starts with the install team. Our group of 15 Metro employees from all areas of the business… Logistics, Engineering, Strategic Accounts, Marketing & Brand depart from our Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania HQ in 3 Large White SUV’s (Like some government convoy). The journey was about 8 hours, with a few pee breaks (Because our video guy’s small bladder), directly to the JCC to begin around 4:30 that evening. We are very fortunate that the winner was in driving distance because it is much easier logistically. Side note: One of the entries that we were told was in the running was New Mexico 4+ hours from the nearest Airport… that would be tough!

It’s the first night. We arrive give the team a tour of the kitchen & present the plan of attach to both the team and the JCC. The stage has been set (literally). We are staged in the super-large theater within the JCC. It has great access to street level to get the equipment in, and provides the perfect space to assemble product. My only concern was the distance to the kitchen was considerable, but it proved me wrong… it was perfect.

So the goal the first night was to assemble as much product as possible in order to prepare for 4 days of back breaking labor. The team was awesome, in a few hours we assembled more than half of the 11 pallets of product… wow. The commitment from the team after a long drive was everything a project manager would dream of. Truly AWESOME!

So awesome… I could say, “that’s a wrap for tonight, let’s get some beer”… and start the Metro pep rally at a downtown Columbus staple “The Walrus”.

Sleep for now… tomorrow with be in the next blog…

AJ