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Harvesting Honors

Training helps Tractor Supply Company achieve goals

When Linda Nuckles went to work for Tractor Supply Company in Braselton, she encountered something she’d never seen before: a company committed to providing the kind of workforce training needed to build a solid team.

“It was unique,” she recalls. “I had never seen that kind of commitment before.”

Nuckles works at Tractor Supply Company’s latest distribution center that opened in the past year in the North Georgia town. She’s just one of the many team members at the new facility who have gone through Quick Start training and found out how valuable it can be for both preparing her for her job, and also building team spirit.

“It was a very good experience,” Greg Huggs said of the Quick Start training program that he went through. “It brought everybody together, and it showed. After Quick Start, we were a team. I’ve never been through anything like that.”

Nuckles and Huggs are just two of the 70 employees at the Braselton facility who went through the Quick Start training in distribution process, team building, safety, communications and forklift operations. According to General Manager Roman Roman, their training laid a foundation of team spirit that carries over to new employees as well.

“Quick Start gave us a great head start in building our team,” Roman said. “And you rarely get a chance like this. You’re able to get all your people training together… It builds that core group of people that’s very important to our ongoing success.”

That training has paid off: less than a year after the facility opened, the Braselton team ranked #1 for service in the fiscal month of June by Tractor Supply Company’s retail stores and has a 99%+ delivery on-time rate.

“The foundation was well crafted,” Roman said, “and Quick Start was a main component.”

Phenomenal Growth

This kind of solid foundation of skills training and team building is critical for companies such as Tractor Supply Company, which has experienced “phenomenal growth” recently, according to Roman.

Founded in 1938 as a mail order catalog business providing tractor parts to the many family farmers across the country, the company quickly established itself. As times changed, the company adapted, and today Tractor Supply Company serves a steadily growing market of “hobby” or “pleasure” farmers, who spend about $5.5 billion a year.

This booming market has led to the spread of nearly 500 Tractor Supply Company retail outlets in 31 states. Last year alone, Tractor Supply Company opened 113 new stores, positioning itself as the national leader in “fulfilling the needs of those who enjoy the rural lifestyle.”

There are plenty of those who enjoy the rural lifestyle in the Southeast, so it was inevitable that the company would look to strategically locate a distribution center in this part of the country. After considering other locations, the company chose a site along Interstate 85, centrally located between South Carolina and Alabama, and within easy reach of all the Southern states.

And with the market expanding, the company had to move fast.

Once the decision was made, Roman said, they began training with Quick Start and Lanier Technical College in late 2003 and wrapped up the first phase just after the new year.

“We signed a lease and were operational within 58 days,” he said.

Having the services of Quick Start and Lanier Tech available made it possible for the company to keep on the fast track. “Having workforce development partners in the same mode is instrumental to a project’s success,” Roman added.

Once up and running, the company didn’t slow down. The hiring continued, and so did the need for training.

Tractor Supply Company emphasizes the importance of its mission, Roman notes, and rapid growth can often prove a challenge to making sure everyone embraces the same values of honesty, respect and, above all, teamwork. The team in Braselton, though, easily dealt with those challenges by virtue of early, consistent and professional training.

“That first team trained by Quick Start became a core group to support the new team members,” Roman said. “That training is what helps make our success possible.”

Roman concluded, “Quick Start was, and is, invaluable.”

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