As Director of Distribution Operations at the Big Lots Distribution Center in Montgomery, Anthony Hines is tasked with managing a smooth flow of goods to 317 regional stores. As Big Lots’ footprint grows in the Southeast, so too does his job. But he and his team are never too busy to help out right here at home. He points to his company’s commitment to giving back as the most rewarding part of his work.
Where are you originally from? I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Go Steelers!) I attended Salem University in Salem, West Virginia.
What brought you to Montgomery? I relocated to Montgomery in 2018 from Hartford, Connecticut, to join the Big Lots organization. During my 40-year career in supply chain logistics, I worked for three other distribution companies in Georgia, Connecticut, Texas and Ohio in different leadership levels.
What role does the Distribution Center play in Big Lots? The Montgomery Distribution Center is one of five in the Big Lots network. It opened in 1998 to support the growth of the company. The facility is 1.4 million square feet, with five miles of conveyors feeding into a high-speed shipping sorter. We receive between 350 to 450 trailers per week, and ship between 400,000 to 700,000 cartons weekly, depending on the season. The facility is staffed with more than 400 associates throughout a four-shift operation. We provide inventory to 317 Big Lots stores in the Southeast region.
What are your primary duties at the Center? My primary duties are to ensure our financial, customer service and operational plans are being executed daily through a highly trained and engaged team. Outside of the Center, I’m engaged daily with our corporate and store partners as well as vendors. including our transportation carriers.
What challenges is your company facing? Our biggest challenge is the associate turnover rate. We receive a fairly good applicant flow but retention has been our main area of concern and focus. We have been working with our corporate HR partners to develop and implement programs that may assist in decreasing turnover.
What’s on the horizon for the Distribution Center? We will continue to prepare our team for new store growth throughout the country, but for Montgomery, our focus will be additions to the Southeast. As new stores come online each year, there will be a need to ensure our staffing and productivity levels support the growth. Equipment modifications within the Center are also being planned.
What is the most rewarding part of your work? Not only to I get to lead and work with an incredible team here at Big Lots, I also get to serve in the Montgomery community to help individuals and organizations. I’m proud to work for a company that understands the importance of community service. Big Lots does an outstanding job of reaching out and serving “BIG” when communities and organizations need help.
What is your impression of Montgomery’s current business climate and what does that mean for your industry? The two major interstates—65 and 85—are extremely attractive for any distribution or manufacturing company looking to do business in Montgomery. From what I’ve seen and read, distribution and manufacturing continue to experience growth in Montgomery. That will bring more pressure and focus on ensuring there is a strong and reliable workforce.
Why do you and your company support the Chamber? Big Lots is one of the largest employers in Montgomery, and it’s important that we engage with the Chamber as often as needed to stay aware of changes that could impact our organization. We also use the Chamber to assist with hiring needs and to network with other companies in Montgomery to share challenges and successes.
What are your interests outside of work? I enjoy playing tennis and golf. But I really enjoy attending smooth jazz events in different cities with my wife, Jeanette. My most cherished accomplishment has been watching my two daughters graduate from college and flourish in their careers.
According to Anthony Hines, his transition from the Northeast to the Deep South was a refreshing relocation. “Moving back to the South was always in our plans. Living in Georgia and Texas were enjoyable for me and my family. We actually loved the warm climate and sunny days. The actual move to Alabama was a surprise,” he said. “This destination was not on our list of Southeast states to live in. However, once we traveled to Montgomery, our perception changed. The city is relatively quiet for the total population that exists here. Getting around the city and suburbs is easy as the traffic is lighter than we are used to. And the people we have met have been friendly and sincere. So, moving to Montgomery was a good decision.”