The massive distribution center at the Chef Works corporate headquarters in San Diego is always fully stocked and ready to ship. Thousands of orders come in each day that range from restaurant and hotel groups to single orders from family owned restaurants. Managing that warehouse is a monumental task.
Fortunately, Jan Buettner is on the case. With decades of experience as a senior project manager at multiple companies, Buettner has been with Chef Works for 11 years and helped get the distribution center up and running when Chef Works moved to its new facility in 2008.
She took a few minutes to chat with the Chef Works blog about her origins with the company, her passions and the Halloween costume that cost more than her wedding dress!
What brought you to Chef Works?
Jan Buettner: I had been in project management for many years with about three or four different companies. Before Chef Works, I was with a company called Ashworth, a golf apparel company. For three years I helped design and implement an automated, $30 million embroidery and distribution facility. It spanned 17 acres and included 600 embroidery heads. Some of Chef Works’ management team had asked to tour the facility to see how we tracked and shipped all of the garments. When Ashworth was sold, the leadership from Chef Works asked me to come aboard and do the same thing for a new facility they were in the process of planning.
What would you like our customers to know about what you do?
JB: I’m an integrator and a problem solver. What I like to do best is take a problem and look at it from the intersection where different departments and functions touch and then come up with solutions. I like to look at a problem from a bird’s-eye view. I’m detail-oriented. Where do those processes touch and how do we make it better for everyone, not just one group or one particular issue? That’s what I like to do and that’s what Chef Works allows me to do.
What’s something about our distribution center that customers might not expect?
JB: We deal with a thousand orders a day. Every order is equally important. I know that’s probably hard to grasp, but it’s true. While much of our distribution center is automated, a lot of time that can lead to inflexibility. We need flexibility because we’re always improving and designing processes that can accommodate orders large and small. I always try to look at things through a customer’s perspective. If things aren’t moving in the distribution center we’re not satisfying our customers. Making sure everything is always flowing to serve every customer is my top priority.
What’s something fun about you that people might not know?
JB: Halloween is my favorite holiday. I get to dress up and make costumes. I don’t do it as much as I used to. But we recently had a Disney Day [at Chef Works] and I got to put on my Donald Duck costume. When my kids were younger, I used to put it on just to pick them up from school and they’d get embarrassed. My most epic costume was Maleficent. I made the original cartoon version, not the beautiful Angelina Jolie version. It was yards and yards and yards of satin. It cost more to make than my wedding dress!