As freshman at Georgia Tech, in pursuit of a business administration degree in operations and supply chain management, Lee Washington gained summer employment as a forklift driver with Packard.
“I picked orders a little but mostly I was responsible for wrapping all the outbound orders and loading the trucks,” said Washington, 27. “That was one of the funnest jobs I’ve ever had.”
After a quick venture with John Deere, Washington was elated to hear Packard was looking for an operations manager, and he jumped at the opportunity.
“I heard Packard was looking for an operations manager, which I knew would be a stretch for me, but I applied anyway. Four years later, here I am.”
As operations manager, Washington has learned the importance of including the individuals most impacted by a decision as part of the decision-making process.
“It’s incredibly powerful to give people ownership over decisions that affect their daily work routine,” he said.
Washington’s most enjoys his interactions with his peers and customers.
“There are a lot of great people that are down to earth and genuinely interested in helping others,” he said. “Although I don’t get out to a lot of industry events, I enjoy meeting new people when I get the chance.”
Washington is driven to make a difference in people's lives.
“Wherever I'm at, I want to make a difference,” he said. “I do not want to be a passive observer in the workplace but an active participant. I want to drive the company forward and foster a place where people want to come to work.”
When it comes to welcoming new people to the business, Washington encourages them to be curious and to always continue learning.
“The learning process doesn’t end when you graduate,” he said. “Young people bring a unique perspective to the workplace, and I think it’s important to allow them room to take ideas and run with them, even if they may fail. I have been extremely blessed in my four years at Packard to have leaders who have allowed me the freedom to chase ideas and try new things.”
In essence, don’t get comfortable with what you know or are doing today, said Washington.
“What got us here, won’t get us there,” he said. “What we are doing today isn’t enough to get us where we need to be next year. This is what motivates me to continuously learn and improve.”
Among all the technology deployed at Packard, Washington is most fond of the wholesaler’s wireless warehouse system.
“We use it for shipping, receiving, inventory control, etc.,” he said. “Our wireless warehouse system touches every part of the daily warehouse routine. I worked in the warehouse when we were tracking everything on paper, and the difference between paper and wireless is night and day. And, using wireless scan guns has allowed our warehouse to become even more efficient.”
When not working, Washington, who is a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt from Georgia Tech, enjoys hunting and hiking with his wife and dog.