“A time of crisis is when you show your true colors. And this was Gap Inc. at its finest,” said Shawn Curran, 30-year veteran of Gap Inc. and Executive Vice President of Global Supply Chain & Product Operations.
Curran was reflecting on how the company responded to the August 2016 fire that engulfed Gap Inc.’s distribution center in Fishkill, N.Y. By the time the smoke cleared and the blaze was under control, a significant portion of Gap Inc.’s second-largest distribution hub in North America was severely damaged and the team was faced with the challenge of quickly recovering and preparing for the holiday peak season, just 11 weeks away.
True to Gap Inc.’s core principles, the first and most urgent concern was the safety of its people. The company quickly ensured that all team members in Fishkill were safe, accounted for, and wouldn’t miss a single paycheck due to the disaster. Swiftly thereafter, the team shifted focus and activated their business contingency plan to take on the busiest shopping time of year. The Fishkill facility was set to deliver product to hundreds of Northeast stores across multiple brands and thousands of online customers.
Leveraging the company’s fulfillment network, the logistics teams immediately re-routed product and scaled up operations at Gap Inc.’s other major distribution hubs in Fresno, Calif. and Gallatin, Tenn. In Fresno alone, more than 400 workers were added to process the additional volume. At Fishkill, a ‘pop-up’ distribution center was built inside the surviving building to help absorb some of the facility’s lost functionality.
Fast forward to today: Gap Inc. used this tragedy as an opportunity to innovate. As the Fishkill facility prepares to reopen its doors, the operation is bigger and better than before, deploying state-of-the art infrastructure that will enhance capacity, responsiveness, and speed. From new automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS), high-speed carton handling, shipping auto loaders and a new sortation system – the teams at Fishkill will now have the ability to process over 300,000 cartons per day, and over 1 million units of product per day during peak. The newly rebuilt facility will be able to sort nearly twice the number of shipments per day than before the fire, accommodating Gap Inc.’s growth in e-commerce.
To learn more about the reopening of the facility and get an inside look at the Fishkill Distribution Center, check out this story in Fast Company that goes behind the scenes.