At AK Material Handling Systems one of our team-building exercises is participating in a Fantasy Football league as a company. We choose a night after work, order some pizza and enjoy selecting our favorite players for a chance at winning the coveted AK Fantasy Football Trophy. 2014 Represented our third year participating in a league together, and we were able to get 13 employees and a special guest to participate. We have found that this league strengthens relationships within our company and creates some good, clean competition within the walls of the company.
The goal of a Fantasy Football draft is to maximize the value of every draft round, or every dollar for those of you in auction drafts. The early rounds are made up of elite players that should deliver consistently and have minimal risk. As the draft proceeds, the cost of the player is less but the risk is generally higher, as the player may be injury-prone or unproven. After having a blast at this year’s AK Fantasy draft, I started to wonder how our company would get drafted in a Fantasy Pallet Rack Draft. Well, I started thinking about the same terms that are used in the Fantasy Football world: value, risk, upside, tiers, handcuff, vulture, flyer, etc. As a company that specializes in pallet rack system projects, I thought it would be fun to define these terms and relate them to the process of choosing a partner for a warehouse project.
Value- Fantasy Football drafting is all about value. When it is your turn, you try and select the player with the most value to improve your team. When choosing your pallet rack supplier, value means getting higher performance from your provider than what you paid (drafted) them.
Risk- You’ve heard the phrase “Risk for Reward,” right? Well, in Fantasy Football, it may be ok to take some risks late in your draft in hopes of some late rewards, but that’s not the case when choosing a pallet rack supplier. Not knowing if you will get the performance needed to complete your project correctly, safely, and on schedule is not a risk worth taking when selecting your pallet rack supplier. Does your partner have BTS? (see below)
Sleeper- A fantasy football “sleeper”, is a player that drafters seem to pass over while drafting because they do not see his value. In a Pallet Rack Project, products that may be overlooked by a rookie supplier while trying to keep costs down are considered Sleepers. Proper rack protection and safety products would be considered “sleepers,” because they hold great value for a small investment.
Bust- These are also the type of fantasy football players you want to try and avoid — they look good on paper, but are expected to have declining statistics from the previous years. In the pallet rack industry, “busts” can be compared to companies that look good on the internet, but whose actual facilities are merely fluff. They don’t have the inventory advertised or are not actually located at the locations they have listed. BUSTS.
Deep Bench- Drafting a deep fantasy football team is very important because injuries happen and it’s necessary to be prepared for the worst. In the same sense, having a stocking distributor as your pallet rack supplier is also important, because when you need rack systems in your warehouse immediately, a 4-5 week lead time just won’t cut it.
Bad Team Syndrome- In Fantasy Football, “BTS” happens when there is a talented player stuck on a bad team — typically you want to stay away from these players. You will also find BTS in the material handling industry. Certain companies are not set up to handle pallet rack projects. They specialize in other products, such as forklifts, docks, doors, etc., and are not prepared to provide you with the service needed to complete the project. The team in this case would be salespeople, project managers, rack manufacturers, installers, and so forth.
Handcuff- Handcuffing means having the backup player on your team so that if the starter gets hurt or under performs, you will have a quality player in their place. Our philosophy is the same, except we typically use 3-4 handcuffs with our projects. As we have grown, we have developed relationships with multiple suppliers in the pallet rack industry. If a project takes a twist and the preferred vendor cannot deliver, we have a plan B, C, and D. Again, the main goal is to mitigate risk.
Vulture- This is my favorite fantasy football term. Vultures are companies that come into a project late (“sure, I sell pallet rack”) and try to buy the project at a low price. They are generally a one-trick pony (low price, low quality, and inexperienced). Be advised and stay away from the Vultures.
Obviously, I would expect most companies to choose (draft) a company that brings a quality performance every time at a reasonable price. There’s no hype — just consistent results for every project. When you draft this team, you get elite results with minimal risk (see handcuff). Think of Peyton Manning last year in the 2013 draft: he had a reasonable cost (2-3 round), but provided elite results. Hopefully, this lightened up your day and provides a bit of guidance the next time you’re selecting a pallet rack supplier.