“Your immediate boss is the absolute success or demise of your enjoyment at work.”
These are the wise words of Brian Birch, Netrush Chief Operating Officer. As the person charged with managing the hands-on processes of a multistate company (that is growing every day), he does a phenomenal job of keeping productivity and job satisfaction at an all-time high. Under his management, the Netrush Fulfilment Center in Erlanger, Kentucky, has gone from 11 to 40 employees in two years, and grown through the transitions with miraculous ease.
This week, we wanted to dive a bit deeper into Brian’s story, looking at his path to Netrush and style of management.
When did you join the Netrush family and what led you here?
I’ve been with Netrush for two years, and I will say that it’s the best place I’ve ever worked. It’s been an organic journey that flowed in a natural progression.
I call home Arizona. Went to Arizona State University (go Sun Devils!) and graduated with a Political Science and History degree and then my MBA from the University of Phoenix. My original intention was to be a teacher. The parts of business that I really enjoy reflects this – human interaction, problem-solving, working together. I never strayed too far away from the academic world as I teach undergraduate and master’s level classes on Supply Chain topics.
My first full-time job out of college was with a telecommunications company. I was there for five years and got my first introduction to Six Sigma, which has formed a theme throughout my career – of process improvement.
After my next job, I started at an upstart e-commerce company called Amazon and was there for 9 years.
During my last 2 years at Amazon, I moved to Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), where my job was to visit sellers at their locations, understand their processes and tools, get feedback about their experience, and offer guidance.
That’s how I met Chris and Brian. Our very first seller visit, we were looking for sellers in the Seattle, Washington, area and lo and behold, another upstart little seller called NetRush popped up on the radar.
How did that process happen?
Immediately, we enjoyed the chemistry between Netrush and Amazon. For about a year I visited a whole bunch of sellers. Then we decided, instead of casting a wide net across a lot of sellers, let’s focus on one seller and deeply integrate. For about a year, I met with Brian and Chris once every two months. I would visit their facility, learn more about their process from the seller perspective. During that time, we pioneered some new tools and software. It was a very cool, deep integration.
There came a realization that I was having so much fun at Netrush, I wanted to make it a permanent position. I joined Netrush about 2 years ago, when we were still pretty small – about 11 people at the Kentucky facility.
Robert Couch, Hailey Orosco, Justin Sharp and Brian
How would you describe your style of management?
I firmly believe in servant-leadership. I work for Kentucky and I work for Washington. My job is to make everyone’s job around me easier. I see the people who are doing the shipping as the most important job in the company. Without them, packages don’t get to our customers, so everything flows down from them.
As the COO, I have two jobs: I develop people and improve processes. I’m overjoyed when I can focus a lot of my energy on both of those things in a day. I have two day-shift managers and one night-shift manager, and my job is to make them incredibly effective, coach them, develop them, and grow them into the next COO.
Essentially, I want to be replaced. I think that every good leader should have the mentality to work yourself out of a job, because you’ve done such a good job at developing leadership at all levels. Almost like a revolution – they should be doing their jobs so well that I become obsolete.
I try to be very approachable and to talk to people. Your immediate boss is the absolute success or demise of your enjoyment at work. I obviously have fiscal and fiduciary responsibilities, and I try to do this by being effective in managing and inspiring people.