Governor joins Amazon, city officials in signing, tour of new Suffolk facility – The Suffolk News-Herald

Governor joins Amazon, city officials in signing, tour of new Suffolk facility

Posted at 4:21 p.m. on Friday, October 21, 2022

BY JAMES ROBINSON

STAFF EDITOR

Amazon officials and city council members gathered alongside Governor Glenn Youngkin on Thursday to celebrate the grand opening of Suffolk’s Amazon robotic fulfillment center.
The new Suffolk facility is notable for its 3.8 million square feet and is the second largest building in the state of Virginia.
The grand opening included a press conference, music from the band Nansemond River High School, and a facility tour that explored the robotic technology employees use to improve Amazon customer service. He also brought Holly Sullivan, Amazon’s vice president of global economic development and public policy, and Gregory Lum, chief operating officer of the Suffolk Fulfillment Center, to town for the special event.
Governor Youngkin spoke at Thursday morning’s press conference alongside City Mayor Michael Duman, Vice President Sullivan and Suffolk Fulfillment Center Chief Operating Officer Gregory Lum to stress the importance of Amazon’s new facility – from its use of technology to promoting new jobs for the town of Suffolk.
“Today we have the opportunity to take a look inside the incredible capabilities that enable Amazon to deliver extraordinary customer service, provide industry-leading customer access and opportunity,” said Youngkin. “What this represents is an opportunity to step back and not think about the size, scale and scope of this incredible facility. But think about that moment, when those two words are spoken. 1,500 people – “you are hired”. 1,500 families. When someone is hired, it’s not just an individual, it’s a family.
The governor said there are no bigger words, other than when a loved one says ‘yes’ when he asks you to marry them, than when he hears those words, ‘you’re hired “.
“Let’s think about this, 1,500 great jobs here. Opportunity,” Youngkin said. “The ability to pursue dreams, the ability to support families holistically, and I just want to thank Amazon for thinking about not just how to hire people, but how to give them a career and ensure they have a fulfilling life.”
Sullivan explained Amazon’s investment in Virginia.
“Our presence in Virginia means more than these great jobs with all the benefits provided within the four walls of the distribution center,” Sullivan said. “We’ve invested more than $34 billion statewide in cloud execution and infrastructure through compensation for our thousands of employees.”
These investments, she said, have helped create more than 96,000 indirect jobs and other trade in services such as logistics and construction.
Mayor Duman also took the time to thank those supporting Project Amazon and explain how the facility will benefit the city in the future.
“As you can imagine, our city code never envisioned a 90-foot-tall, 3.8 million square-foot robotic processing center,” he said. “Furthermore, I would like to thank our plan reviewers, building officials and fire marshal who undertook this difficult task and worked diligently to get us to where we are today.
Duman said the city is grateful for the monumental success of the venture, the economic impact through job creation and tax revenue generated will be significant for years to come.
“We are indeed fortunate to welcome a corporate partner of this caliber to this part of our community,” he said. “As mayor of this diverse and vibrant city, I am often reminded of how far we have come and how far we still have to go.”
Lum, a Virginia Military Institute alumnus, former member of the Virginia National Guard and commissioned logistics officer, then discussed the importance of his employees and the development of new jobs in the city of Suffolk.
“Every day, our employees play a vital role in delivering smiles to our customers and they work hand-in-hand with our operational colleagues at the cross-dock distribution center in Chesapeake, just down the road, and at delivery stations in Hampton, Norfolk and Chesapeake.” Lum said. Once the Suffolk operation launched last month, Lum said it created more than 1,500 new full-time jobs here.
“The Amazonians who work here earn an average starting rate of over $16 per hour and we are proud to offer compensation packages to our frontline employees that not only include good pay, but also provide full benefits on the first day for all these regular employees. employees on time,” he said.
Lum also provided details on the benefits Amazon employees receive for their work during the conference.
“Benefits include health, vision and dental insurance from day one. A 401K plan with 50% company match, up to 20 weeks of paid leave, which includes 14 weeks of pregnancy, related disability leave, or six weeks of parental leave,” he said. . Additionally, there is a mental health benefit that supports their workers and families.
“We strongly believe in investing in the long-term success of our employees and the communities in which we operate. »
During the conference, Lum also announced that Amazon would make a monetary donation to the Nansemond River High School group to thank them for coming out for the celebration.

Tour of the facilities
Lum arranged a tour of the Suffolk facility, known in the Amazon as ORF3, with Sullivan and Youngkin. It offered an in-depth look at the robotics and equipment that local Amazon employees use in their work to deliver packaging and distribution to their customers.
L5 area manager Tamya Crawford spoke about her work history with Amazon and the opportunities she received
“I started with Amazon in 2011 in the Pennsylvania facility and came home because Virginia is home,” Crawford said. “I grew up in Charlottesville, so I came home because my mom is here and she kept having medical issues…five versus one and a half is much better in car.”
She said she started as a tier one, helping launch the building in Chester, launched another building in Prince George in 2020, and then joined that team as the L5 lead to help launch that building.
“I started as an hourly associate, came to the Richmond building as an hourly associate as well, got promoted to process assistant, which is basically my right hand as a manager,” Crawford said. “He’s the person who looks after and helps manage the hundreds of people we have on his shift. Promoted to Regional Manager in June 2020 so I haven’t been in the role for a very long time, spent time as Level 3 for a very long time, it was great.”
She said she loved the people, the interaction, and the opportunities of working with Amazon.
Likewise, Crawford also addressed those who want to have Amazon as a first step in their career.
“It’s not easy work, but it’s rewarding,” she says. “It’s absolutely gratifying. As an Entry-Level Associate, be able to enter and within your first month be able to begin training in different career paths.
Amazon’s Career Choice program offers plenty of opportunities within the company for workers and those looking to earn a degree.
“Amazon pays for a lot of things now, so if I decided that wasn’t what I wanted to do and I wanted to drive the trucks, we have our TOM (transportation operations management) team,” Crawford said. “We have so many different avenues to pursue opportunities with Amazon at this point. And even though I didn’t even want to stay here in Virginia and wanted to go somewhere else, we throw buildings every year.
She said she could travel and see the world.
“You could really almost transfer to another building if you wanted to be in California, or if you wanted to go to New York, or North Carolina, that’s where you want to be,” she said. “We have places that would be with open arms and ready for you to come and help with these facilities.”

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