CafePress, a leading ecommerce company headquartered in Louisville, partnered with University of Louisville Professional Development to leverage a strategic advantage beyond machines and processes – its people. By investing in its most critical strategic advantage, the manufacturer identified over one million dollars in savings and new production efficiencies.
From coffee mugs, to dog hoodies, yoga mats and everything in between, CafePress empowers customers to design, purchase, and even sell their own merchandise online. Headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, the company’s flagship production facility is located in Riverport and employs over 300 individuals.
The company’s employees are at the core of its operations. “The people are what make CafePress special. You can easily have enough equipment, but to have somebody who’s not only excited to come in everyday, but also equally excited to work twelve hours a day during peak season, and have fun while doing it – now that’s different! You don’t get that anywhere else,” said Keith Pataluna, vice president of operations.
“We want our employees to learn how to be better managers, and UofL’s professional development seminars help teach those necessary skills.”
Building Employee Skills
“We choose to promote our employees from within,” shared Keith. “It gives people something to aspire to. We know that in some cases people may not have the skills they need to perform at a higher level. We want our employees to learn how to be better managers, and UofL’s professional development seminars help teach those necessary skills.”
For the past six years, UofL has partnered with CafePress to develop internal leaders and strategic advantages over its competition. Since the beginning of the partnership, three employees have earned Project Management certificates and 17 have earned Management Development certificates.
“One of the key things that we do with this training is to tie it into our annual review system. It’s a good way to basically support or back up employee reviews, so at the end of the year we have something to say,” said Keith.
“These training opportunities really benefit our associates. In some cases, our employees are being given the opportunity to get education they haven’t received before,” said Tina Johnson, senior director of human resources. “They are proud of the certificate; they feel good about it.”
Employees are also able to grow their careers. As a direct result of the training program, five people at CafePress have been promoted.
“We chose to partner with UofL for several reasons,” said Tina. “The class format is convenient and we are able to get employees out of the facility so they can concentrate on learning something new. Also, there are many classes to choose from which works well for us because people may be in different places skill-wise.”
Tina and Keith felt that UofL’s training program has helped equip CafePress employees with important skills. “I think they always get something out of training and you can see them come back and try to put something to work that they’ve learned. Whether it’s, ‘wow, here’s how I can present something,’ or leadership skills in general when they’re having to deal with employee issues on the floor, this training gives them a new sense of confidence and enables them to handle some of those things,” said Tina.
Targeted Learning Solutions Reduce Waste, Create Efficiencies, and Save Money
Last fall, through a training and development initiative, CafePress’ Louisville-based employees identified over one million dollars in production savings. Keith and Tina worked with UofL to develop a targeted learning solution aimed at helping employees continue to improve their professional skillsets, while simultaneously saving the company money.
UofL initiated this cost-savings strategy by training CafePress employees in the DiSC behavioral style assessment. “We wanted to give them something common to relate to, a common language,” said Tina. “It was neat to see them asking one another about their personality types.”
Employees were divided into teams where each DiSC style was represented. The teams had three weeks to come up with a plan to save the company money by eliminating production waste and demonstrating cost-savings as a result of their recommendations.
“They had to take what they learned about themselves and learn how to work together as a team to find solutions,” said Keith. “This project will help generate less expensive ways to manufacture our products. It also exposes our employees to different aspects of the company and helps them feel a sense of ownership, like they have a stake in things. This is so important because it helps us measure the impact of our training program.”
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