Pilot Warehouse: Taking Care of Our Coats, so Our Coats Can Take Care of Kids

By now you know that when it comes to the quality and care of our coats, Operation Warm has some pretty strict standards. That is why we are thrilled to warehouse and work with Pilot Freight Services. As our main warehouse provider, Pilot stores and ships out over 300,000 Operation Warm coats each year!

To put this in perspective, the bulk of those coats are on the move in the months of November and December. In November alone, Pilot’s dedicated warehouse team prepares and sends out approximately 16,000 boxes of coats! This past year, the (Chicago) Pilot warehouse dedicated 16,500 square feet of space just to Operation Warm coats.

Operation warm coats at Pilot Warehouse

Operation Warm coats stored on pallets that are shrink wrapped and on racks.

“There are times when we come in early and stay late in the day to make sure we get everything done,” says Michael Jachym, the Operations Manager at Pilot. Jachym says no one complains even when the team works from six in the morning until eight at night. “We have a great team, and we do what we have to so we can get it done.”

Pilot has done a great job meeting some tough challenges, such as large orders, same-day fast turnaround, and special circumstances. For example, sometimes they have to label every single box and group multiple orders together in one shipment—such as when delivering to hospitals. “It isn’t hard. It just takes a lot of extra time, but we don’t mind,” Jachym says.

Pilot Warehouse loading dock doors

Pilot Warehouse loading dock doors

“The Pilot Warehouse team has always been available, if there is ever a need,” says Liz Lewis, Director of Operations at Operation Warm. “They get HUGE orders pulled and ready to ship in record time.”

The pilot team knows how important our coats are to the children, families and communities we serve. They take extra care to make sure the coats are safe and well protected on their journey to get to the organizations, and ultimately the children, who are waiting. “I think it is really great—all of the kids who need coats—Operation Warm can reach out and get it done for them,” he says.

“The partnership is a wonderful experience,” he adds. “Liz does a great job coordinating every order that needs to go out. Our relationship is outstanding.”

This season, the Pilot warehouse team helped out Operation Warm partners in yet another way. They went the extra mile, literally, to make sure there were enough volunteers to help distribute coats to children at a local school.

“It was a great experience,” Jachym says. “When we handed out coats, it was a wonderful feeling to see the kids’ faces—so that was nice they invited us to share that experience with them.”

Mike proudly posted some photos of his experience giving coats to kids, and a friend reached out to him because she recognized the school. It is one where her own children attend. “She said ‘thank you,’” he says, “And also, ‘I think what you and Operation Warm are doing is great.’”

“We’ve been partners for about five years. Operation Warm is doing a wonderful thing, so I hope we all keep up the good work. I see every year how you grow more and more. Ever since we started, you have helped so many people over the years—so I think it is just is a wonderful thing to do.”

On behalf of everyone at Operation Warm, we would like to thank the whole Pilot Warehouse team for supporting our mission to put brand new coats on kids in need:

Mike Jachym – Operations Manager

Josue Salgado – Supervisor

Raul Cardona – Receiving Team Lead

Daniel Benitez – Outbound coordinator for Operation Warm

Julio Torres – Inbound coordinator for Operation Warm​

Juan Roman

Alfredo Martinez

Rogelio Elias

Marcin Szewczyk

Jose Caraballo Ramos

Eric Huerta

Robert Mason

Juan Martinez

James Lodge

Jorge Mendoza

Aaron Marsh

Angel Collado

Update: As we grow, so do our warehousing needs. In addition to our Chicago area Pilot warehouse, we also just opened another 63,000 square foot Pilot warehouse in northern New Jersey! This warehouse will be the home for approx. 160,000 coats!

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