Business Behind the Scenes: Why We Partnered With Newgistics for All Our Gear Distribution


We’ve been shipping orders since 2010. First it was out of my condo in Washington DC, then it was in Colorado, then Bozeman, then Seattle. Each move was the product of growing pains, each transition the foundation of considerably more. As of today, we are shipping all orders out of a Newgistics Distribution Center (DC) in Hebron, Kentucky. And by “we” I mean our partner, Newgistics, is doing this for us. This means that they own the building, the staff, the process, and they bill GORUCK per order. The reasons are lengthy for this switch, but the most important one is pretty simple: Order Fulfillment isn’t what we do, it’s something we’ve had to do to get our gear to you. Our livelihood doesn’t depend on being great shippers all the time, which has led to inefficiencies. Newgistics is in this space because it’s what they do and their livelihood depends on it.

Our goals in switching to Newgistics, a 3PL (3rd Party Logistics) Company:
(1) Focus on what we do best: GORUCK Gear and GORUCK Events. We’re not a shipping company because we haven’t had to be. To provide more consistently fast and on-time shipments to you no matter the season, we needed to partner with a team of people who eat and breathe shipping and logistics. It’s a highly competitive business, with huge seasonal shifts (Christmas being much busier). While I believe our team in Seattle had gotten to a great point (>.05% error rate in shipments out the door), we’d rather focus on growing GORUCK Nation than on growing and managing our order fulfillment process and team. Yes, in terms of human capital and leadership, it’s always a trade-off. Newgistics lets us focus on what only we can do.

(2) Pick a central location with faster ship times to more of America. If you live in New York City and wondered why Ground shipments use to take so long … it’s because they were coming from Seattle. There’s a different business model out there which says, have ship centers all over the place so you can reach all or most of America via Ground in a day or two. We’re simply not there yet. Splitting inventory is a tedious process, managing split inventory more so. We just don’t have the volume yet to justify this. It’s a lot simpler to have one distro center with all of our inventory. Kentucky is a great spot to just have one distribution center. On top of this, shipping rates will decrease because we leverage Newgistics’ scale (more aggregate shipments by all their partners leads to better rates for all their partners) and we’re better geographically positioned. That means on average shipping costs decrease. And Ground shipments to more of the USA, including the East Coast, will arrive much faster.

(3) Further consolidate Key Personnel at GORUCK HQ in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Four employees are moving to Florida this year from Seattle, some to do completely new things – they’ve earned our support, and I’m humbled and grateful they’re making the move. We will no longer have any employees in Seattle as of 2017. It’s a great town and Washington is a great state and I’ve enjoyed our time there, but spreading out employees across the country has led to a lot of missed opportunities to communicate more effectively, and to strengthen our culture. We’re at a point in time where we need to focus, and the only way we can do that is to all be together in the same location. I’m more excited about this than any other part of this whole move.

Here are some pics of the inside of Newgistics’ Distribution Center. It’s huge:

Here are a couple vids. Nothing super special, it’s just so you can get a sense of the size of one part of this building.

That’s Chuck at the end, he’s managed this entire process for us, from Seattle. Below, here’s our little corner of the building. I was in town after the first truckload had showed up, but before everything was there. By now, our shelves are full.

One question could be, why didn’t you do this sooner? The biggest impediment was that we had to change the process  of doing Quality Control (QC) on our gear, at our manufacturing partner facilities. Our DC in Seattle was co-located with one such partner, and using it as a shipping center also allowed us to do QC on every piece of gear before it went out the door. The challenge of the last year and a half was to do upstream QC, at our vendors. That means that when gear leaves their facility, it’s ready to be sold (after it’s received in Kentucky). Our QC team has to make more frequent trips during production runs to ensure our standards are met. This is a process that will never end, and the way we’re doing it now is how it’s supposed to be done. Collectively, these partnerships (manufacturing as well as now, distribution), and the people who manage them, are part of our foundation at GORUCK. We could not do what we do or focus on what we need to focus on without them, and I’m grateful for their hard work and dedication.

Ultimately, this is a great move for us. Our goals at GORUCK are to pioneer fitness with backpacks and strengthen communities across the country and the world. But sometimes you have to lay tracks to set yourself up for success. Operations is not a fun, or a sexy part of any business. It’d be great if we could just drink beer and ruck and be excellent. But that’s not how the world works. Excellence yesterday is not excellence today is not excellence tomorrow. This move is better for everyone who orders anything from our website, and it’s better internally for our team as well.

Win win.

goruck-newgistics_reds-game
After our first shipments had gone out, our team (and some of our families) went out with theirs to a Reds Game just over the Ohio River in Cincy. I’ve gotten questions over the years about how to start a company that makes it. And insofar as GORUCK has done that, it’s because of the people. And the only best way to find solid partners and solid team members is to get to know them, personally. If you’re just an email address, you’re nobody. If you’re an a**hole, even worse – so be nice. If you know someone personally, if you go to a baseball game or do something outside of work with them, if you forge a bond or a relationship based on more than spreadsheets and bottom lines, you’ll be surprised how much more fun “work” can be.

You may even find yourself dancing in the stadium, like Mocha Mike.

mocha-dancing_reds-game
If you have any questions, ask away.
To test the process out for yourself lol, order some gear from goruck.com 🙂

16 comments

  1. FlamePatches&Challenges says:

    Layoffs and Outsourcing.. First it was Bozeman.. Now Its Seattle. Jason, I feel like GR is really just crumbling into typical abyss. The posts you made when you were cruising America in the expedition with Java seem to be a far-cry from what GR has become. “Doing Good By People” really meant something, and the passion back then was apparent. This is obviously your show to run, but it’s a different brand than the one a lot of us backed.

    • GRTHoosier says:

      I totally disagree. How is Goruck any less about doing right by people? The company is trying to grow to reach more people and a reality of that is trying to become more efficient, otherwise the company will just go out of business. To me the brand is changing, of course it is you have to change to get better. Its about getting more people to get out and be active by rucking. GoRuck gear is the best out there for it, but to me it seems like there is an even bigger emphasis on people and getting people involved with the awesomeness of Goruck. Look at everything that’s come out lately from the company it’s more about people now than it ever was, all while keeping the same promises about quality of gear they always made.

    • jason says:

      Every single Full-Time Employee from both Bozeman and Seattle was offered a Full-Time position in Florida. By definition, those aren’t layoffs. And as for me and jav in the GORUCK Truck … that makes me smile, thanks for following that adventure. It also pre-dated the GORUCK Challenge, which is (after already having GR1 as the foundation) the reason GORUCK still exists. Namely because people became our focus. My goal for us is to grow, yes, because I believe in who we are, and in our way of life. I don’t think that’s changed one bit. In fact, I think we’ve gotten more confident about what it means to Do Right By People, both internally and for supporters.

  2. Greg B says:

    Jason, you do what you think is best….Just don’t forget your Special Forces background…It has made you who you are and what Go Ruck is today…Remember you’re part of a team…Don’t fall victim to Corporate America, they can’t and don’t want to see reality…They don’t want to leave money on their three legged stool.

  3. Chris says:

    I respect and support your decision if it keeps Goruck around and producing awesome gear. But, I do have to say that my experience with this shipping arrangement has not been anything like you mentioned in 1 & 2.

    I recently placed two orders, about 1 week apart. Both times chose USPS Priority Mail for shipping. During the checkout there was no indication that a shipping partner would be used, so I was expecting Priority Mail delivery. Usually 3-5 days. When I get the shipping notification, now I see its being handled by Newgistics, which I’ve never had a good experience with, and on top of that Priority Mail has been changed to Parcel Select.

    Using Newgistics seems to automatically add an extra week to shipping time. A lot of the times the packages are just sitting there. Add to that the slower shipping once the package reaches USPS hands because the Priority that I chose was changed. It’s been two weeks since my first order shipped, and will be two and a half to three weeks when I receive it. Something that was supposed to take 3-5 days. My second order still hasn’t even reached USPS hands after a week. Once it does, then who knows how long it will take with Parcel Select.

    I already emailed with my order numbers and experience, and was told that you are looking into this, and that it won’t be an ongoing issue. I really hope so. Because it’s not cool to pay for one shipping service and have it switched to something slower with no indications. I can only imagine how horrible shipping times will be during holiday season. At the very least, there should be some sort of indication during checkout that a shipping partner is being used, and how this will affect your shipping expectations.

    I am rooting for you guys and wish you the best. Please keep up the hard work and awesome gear!

    • jason says:

      Thanks, Chris. I’m sorry for your experience. There are/have been some growing pains. But behind the scenes, on average in every way, the transition has been smooth. It’s the outliers that are significantly harder for us to manage, and your case seems to be in there. I’m sure our team is on it.

    • fightinfith says:

      Not a complainer and never even thought to write something here but,…I had exactly the same experience. I live in Alaska, the second larges air cargo hub in the world but USPS is my go to, why, price and time. It take about $10-20 to get most things in days that it what I thought would happen with my GR2. Instead i tracked daily only to see it sit for days. Jason and Java, you make this totally righteous piece of equipment that I have lusted after and I had to wait literally weeks to get it. Got it love it, but still a fan of USPS.

  4. Andrew D says:

    Newgistics is the worst, you need to re think this decision! I have 5 goruck bags, and I will not order anymore if Newgistics is going to be the shipping agent. I just spend close to 400 dollars on a bag I dont want awful Newgistics touching that box. Before I discontinued using Newgistics I never received a package in their delivery window, its always late. Packages just sit in places for days on end. I fully understand going to a distribution center but Newgistics is one of the worst logistics companies out there, how they are still in business is beyond me, I would rather go to the DMV then to deal with Newgistics.

    Goruck you make some great bags, some of the best on the planet why use such a bad company to distribute your products is very confusing. Nothing like getting excited for a purchase then go way beyond frustration waiting for it.

    My package is supposed to be delivered between 12/2 & 12/6 today is the 5th at 10PM and my package has been sitting in “Electronic Shipping Sent to USPS” for 3 days now, chances of it coming tomorrow 0% I was really looking forward to take this bag on its first trip on Wednesday, looks like thats not going to happen.

    I think that the partners you use are a reflection of the business, I hope the Goruck management team reviews the feedback and re thinks this decision because Newgistics shipping is really sub par.

    Better off paying the extra and going with UPS.

    • jason says:

      Your feedback is duly noted, kind sir. Sorry we’ve let you down, thanks for the support. And yeah, we’ll re-visit everything when it’s time to either re-extend our contract or move on in a few years. Of note, nobody likes any of the shipping companies out there is my experience after having gone through the process.

      • Qaedi Sham says:

        Come on Goruck. Still having growing pains with this partnership? I’m 9,250 miles from seeing my GR1 and tracking still shows USPS have not received it from Newgistics after 14 days ordering. And this is not including the time to arrive to Malaysia but that is on USPS. Never in my life ordering stuff from the states I experienced this. And this is by far the most expensive item I’ve purchased.

  5. Shaun says:

    Newgistics seems to be good at getting orders out of the factory and past the first leg of the shipping journey, then “they” sit on the order and it doesn’t move. They can point fingers at the USPS all they want to, but the USPS isn’t the problem.

  6. John MacKay says:

    Jason – disappointed in your discount policy. Active military and first responders I absolutely respect. The Government employees, teachers are some of the highest paid workers in American with incredible retirement benefits. Yet no discount for seniors with fixed income and could benefit from products to keep them active. I really like your products but cannot support that policy. Seems like your business focus is on embellishing government workers who already have a kushy employment situation.

  7. Jim says:

    I just purchased a GR1 and thought the bag was coming from somewhere in Florida but Newgistics in Kentucky sent the bag. While after it reached the USPS in Cincinnati, there was no further word, it arrived all tolled within 3 business days from the order. So, I am pleased overall with the speed of processing the order. I just wished that the tracking details were updated each day to see where the bag was in the transportation process. Again, I ordered the bag on Sunday, and I received it on Wednesday. I have no complaints otherwise and am actually quite pleased with the speed for order to delivery.

  8. Alvin Tan says:

    Hi Jason,

    My only grime with Goruck would be the Shipping Cost to my location here in Singapore.

    I’m currently using the GR2 34L, Rucker and a upcoming Kit Bag 32L, also i own 2 x Simple Field Pocket, Echo, GR1 and GR2 Padded Field Pocket, all of the mentioned items was purchased either by friends visiting USA or via someone selling them off due to less usage.

    The cost of the Shipping is at least 1/3 of the product itself or more, for example if i chose the GR1, the estimate shipping cost alone is $143.00.

    I remembered a couple of years back, the Shipping Cost wasn’t so high, would appreciate if this can be look into.

    I have No Doubt with the QC of Goruck products as i use them daily but the Shipping Cost is becoming a killer and owning a new piece direct from Goruck is out of the question.

    Alvin

  9. Jason says:

    I found this thread and article while searching around trying to figure out if my order shipped or when I could expect it. I guess I am used to Bozeman or Seattle where it would ship within a day and there were people I could call. Now, I get a generic invoice with no information on when it will ship, if it shipped or when I will receive it. The double edged sword of outsourcing is that your partner now impacts your company’s image and culture and Newgistics doesn’t seem to be performing at the level Goruck and their customers deserve. Here are 95 reviews of how the company delivers: https://www.yelp.com/biz/newgistics-austin

    I’ll continue to buy stuff from Goruck because the products are awesome and I love the culture and mission, I just hate to see them take a hit by a partner that isn’t up to their standards (or pretty much any online retailer’s for that matter).

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