Warehousing representatives from the southeastern United States gathered in St. Simons Island, Ga., Sept. 15-17 for the Annual Southeastern Warehouse Association Convention. In addition to a regulatory/government advocacy presentation from IWLA President & CEO Steve DeHaan and Marketing Manager Morgan Zenner, the event offered networking and some other great sessions:
Steve Bartkowski, former NFL quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Rams, kicked off the event as the keynote speaker. Bartkowski spoke of his career in football and baseball, and his long journey dealing with the highs and lows associated with being a professional athlete.
Next, Russell Gall with ARCO Construction discussed insights from the commercial design/build construction industry. He discussed trends in new warehousing projects:
- increased clear height trends to 40-foot ceilings;
- precast wall design to offset high labor costs;
- thicker floor slab design to withstand more weight and product; and
- fire protection design features.
He noted that the most popular markets for new warehouses include Denver, Dallas, Las Vegas, Charlotte, and Kansas City. Materials costs are on the rise with such high demand for warehouse space: Steel increased by 15 percent in the first quarter. Also, the changing building code in California is driving a more sustainable warehouse environment. California warehouses must have a dedicated panel to control and monitor each system individually: HVAC, energy, electrical and others. Gall reported that many warehouses are turning to daylighting and solar energy as well as electrical charging stations.
IWLA Board Member Scott McWilliams, EVP Strategic Development, GEODIS (formerly OHL) and Rob Levin, president of Republic Partners, discussed indicators of value in in a business, and merger and acquisition trends including the OHL historical timeline leading up to the GEODIS acquisition. Here are many things to be considered in any valuation process:
- Customer list and customer concentration (one big customer vs. multiple smaller customers)
- Growth potential
- Contract renewals (should be at least 96 percent)
- Customer satisfaction
- Brand awareness
Two attorneys from Hunter MacLean based in Savannah, Ga., presented on employment law issues including the overtime rule. At the very minimum, every employer needs to keep very good records of pay, including wages, labor, job descriptions, and overtime hours. As previously reported, the overtime rule more than doubles the salary threshold under which employees must receive overtime wages for any work that supersedes the regular 40-hour work week. The rule is predicted to have severe impact on employers across many industries. According to the speakers, claims paid toward minimum wage cases in 2015 amounted to 10,600 cases and roughly $38 million. Claims related to overtime tallied to 10,500 cases and $138 million.
Why are these cases so prevalent? According to the Hunter MacLean experts, employment lawsuits are a great target because they are barrier free as most attorney fees are covered. In addition, owners and managers can be sued, employees cannot be fired for making claims against employers, and many times these cases suffer the snowball effect, as other employees tend to make the same claims.
What can employers do right now? Here is advice:
- Review budgets.
- Review jobs and pay rates of exempt employees.
- Decide who to make exempt and nonexempt.
- Track non-exempt employees’ hours closely.