FARGO — As the company is seeking to hire 150,000 seasonal employees for the holiday rush nationwide, Fargo’s 1.2-million-square-foot Amazon Fulfillment Center is trying to fill vacancies, as well.
After launching with 100 employees, the facility is working toward reaching a maximum staffing level of 1,400, Human Resources Manager Ashley Moran said Tuesday, Oct. 19. Order volumes in North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota and Montana will continue to dictate staffing levels, she noted.
“I think we’ve made tremendous progress within the past four weeks,” she remarked.
With the holiday shopping season peaking from the end of November through the end of December, Moran said Amazon is looking for both part-time “flex” employees and full-time employees. The objective of the staffing push is to not only continue ramping up operations but also handle the busy season.
“We want people to be a part of Amazon,” Moran said. “Whether they’re looking for employment for the next couple months as a second job or not.”
Amazon currently employs about 300 people in Fargo, and Moran expected to make “a lot more progress” toward the goal of 1,400 employees by the end of the year. Anyone hired on a seasonal basis is also welcome to become a full-time employee after the holiday season ends, she added.
The facility is offering $15.50 per hour and a “comprehensive” benefits package valued at $3.50 per hour. Additionally, Amazon is offering a $3,000 sign-on bonus for new employees as well as $5,250 for employees to use toward pursuing their education.
“It’s an incredible place just from a compensation standpoint,” Moran said.
The site’s General Manager John Sabo said Amazon’s early holiday hiring push has been the ideal approach for the company.
“Amazon during the holidays is always extremely busy. I think one of the things that we’ve done is get significantly more proactive in terms of anticipating customer demand and growth,” he said. “One of the things that I expect for this facility is to maintain the trajectory that we’re on in terms of our ramp-up.”
Sabo noted that while the building is mostly finished, he doesn’t expect the Fargo Fulfillment Center to be a major contributor this Christmastime. The facility’s shelves were mostly empty Tuesday, with the stocking of items such as Nespresso machines, Instant Pots and printers still underway.
Other items spotted in the building Tuesday were DeWalt tools, computer monitors, dog bowl stands and various bags of gardening soil and fertilizer. Amazon handles everything including the kitchen sink, which was the first item processed through the facility roughly a month ago.
Currently, the building is moving several thousand units in and out per day, but Sabo said the target is to move tens of thousands of units daily.
“I don’t know if I would ever call anything in the building done; it’s always a constant work in progress,” he said. “Our employees have been fantastic in letting us know how we can best support them.”
'Employer of choice'
Moran said the Amazon Fulfillment Center is hoping to be a top choice for prospective employees in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
As the company weighed the impact of North Dakota’s low unemployment rate and ongoing workforce shortage, an emphasis was placed on the workplace environment. “That, initially, was something in our minds, but we want to be there as a potential employer of choice for the residents of this area,” she said.
Thus far, the response they’ve received from employees has been what they hoped it would be.
“We have gotten a lot of positive feedback,” Moran commented. “We really put an emphasis on the associate experience, because that is what distinguishes us. We have the name of Amazon, but that only carries you so far.”
Jacob Ament, a flex employee who works on the inbound side of the facility, said he has enjoyed the fast-paced environment.
A Jamestown native and finance major at NDSU, Ament said the flexible scheduling options were perfect for him as a student.
“This summer, I was looking for a job and I noticed that Amazon was hiring,” he said. “They have great hours with the flex where you can pick up whatever schedule you need, whenever you want to work. I thought it would fit perfectly for college.”
The benefits and job description stood out, Ament said, adding that his managers have been “very understanding” working with him. “I would recommend everyone work here,” he said. “It’s a great atmosphere and everyone is super friendly and helpful.”
Augustus Rivera-Laureano, a former construction worker originally from New York, said he was considering a career change when he began seeing advertisements for Amazon. “I thought it would be a good experience to get into something new and fresh,” he said. “Turns out, it was a great opportunity and a great choice that I took this job.”
Rivera-Laureano said the facility’s “learning ambassadors,” which teach needed skills, have been a highlight for him. He, too, has recommended working at Amazon to friends and family.
“I’ve voiced my opinion to everybody about how I feel about the Amazon experience,” he said. “A lot of them are saying maybe they should switch.”
Both Ament and Rivera-Laureano said they could foresee continuing their employment with Amazon in the future.
“I could see that,” Ament said. “There’s plenty of opportunities here. You can transfer and go anywhere.”
Rivera-Laureano said he is continuing to pick up new skills in the hopes of progressing with the company.
“There’s a lot of room for moving up in Amazon,” he said “So far, I’ve already put my foot in the door for certain positions, and I’ve got myself pretty much ahead of other people trying to get certified for different things so I can perform different roles.”