Web works

Kirk McBride This has been the month for website updates.  Jill Cucci-Smith wanted a total re-working of her site, not merely a facelift. Stan Sperlak is continually tweaking his site. And Kirk McBride added dozens of new paintings to his galleries.

While Kirk is best known for his seascapes and paintings of the eastern Shore of Maryland, I am especially enamored of his paintings of old trucks, farm machinery and Volkswagen Beetles. I guess the fact that my first vehicles were old trucks (a 1966 Ford 100, a 1964 Ford 3/4 ton, and a 1970 Toyota Hi Lux) and a 1971 Super Beetle might add to the nostalgia. One day I hope to be able to afford one of his paintings.Stan’s updates have been a little bit more mundane – updates to his ultra-busy workshop schedule. Stan’s workshops fill up almost before I am able to post the openings. He has been featured in The Artists’ Magazine and in the Pastel Journal this summer, either one a commendable feat, but both? I don’t know how the man finds the time to paint! He will soon be posting information on his latest exhibition.

Jill’s foray into the bogosphere has been bumpy to say the least – but we have finally worked out the bugs and she is coming into her own, an aspiring writer (and poet?) with a brand new creative outlet.

Personal Shit:
Tonight is my Friday… I go in at 9PM. We knocked out the lighting aisle reset this morning – this was a major reset that took six of us two nights to complete – a 96-hour project.  We have one more store to do. he most difficult stage of the project is moving a 300+ lb. display from the middle of the aisle to the first bay. It includes resetting almost every beam in every bay – in older stores, moving beams requires deadhead mallets and 3 lb. sledge hammers. At least I don’t have to go to a gym for my exercise!

Tonight I will be doing the B-vent reset. B-Vents are the vents used for hot water heaters and heating systems. The bay includes about 30 SKUs – or individual items. To my knowledge, no store has their vent bays set according to POG. POG is retail-speak for planogram – basically a blueprint for setting displays and shelves. The B-Vent project has 30 new SKUs, with space to add maybe one or two. My boss likes to give me these projects, maybe because he enjoys hearing me curse. I can get pretty creative.

The big problem is fitting five bays worth of product into three bays.  Being anal-retentive and possibly OCD, I insist that product placemnt at least make sense to the shopper. The stores are always happy with the results, and I guess that is the important thing.

There is a sense of accomplishment in making the unworkable work, as opposed to setting an aisle to a preset, predetermined planogram. The one takes creativity, while the latter is simply a matter of follwoing the directions.  Setting according to POG is usually guaranteed to result in the store manager congratulating the team, but is is mosty mindless work. Of course this can be a good thing when you are working overnights and you are not as sharp as you could be. But, deviating from the plan, and creating a freestyle reset is a special sort of accomplishment. The important thing is that our work as a team assures that our company remains at the top of the game in the industry. The twice annual profit-sharing check makes the extra effort worthwhile, and the subsidized stock shares that only increase in value sweeten the deal.

I was not planning on this job becoming a sort of career, but now I am planning on staying until I retire. The benefits are generous by today’s standards, and unheard of in the retail world. My boss is on vacation for the week, and he appointed me as spokesman and intermediary to the supervior that has never worked with our crew. We are down to nine, as Don left us for a day job (with the same company).

Myself and Daren are the only two that Brandon trusts, I think, with roles of leadership. In two years, the rumor is that the night crews will be assigned to one store rather than the five (ten during major resets) that we service now. Each night crew will require a supervisor (hourly, thank god) and the company has a habit of hiring from current employees rather than outside.

Right now our team hits a store for four days (sometimes three days, sometimes five, depending on the project load) and does all of the service that cannot be performed during the hours that customers are in the store. It would be nice to work at one store – sine each store has its own personality, as it were. But for now I am happy with my position; I work with a great crew and my boss is great. Unorthodox, but he is a perfect fit for our team. We joke that we work nights because the company would not set us loose during the day on unwitting customers…

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