The Digilent brand has become pretty pervasive in both the classroom and the industry over the past decade, but the sophistication of our product line belies the small size of our company. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that each of the nearly 14 thousand orders we ship each year are hand-packaged by one of the only three people that make up our shipping department.
Digilent has come a long way since its incorporation in 2000 when we only had one product to market and sell. We now house and ship over 200 different products from our 7,000 square foot warehouse.
Our shipping guys play no small part in contributing to Digilent’s success in becoming a household (and classroom) name around the globe. “We are the people who actually put the products in people’s hands,” says Evan, our warehouse manager. “If we can get them what they ordered in a timely fashion and in good order, I feel that makes the company as a whole look good. If we make a mistake then it can drastically affect the company’s relationship with a customer.”
Evan happened upon his position at Digilent by chance. “When I first heard about the job here at Digilent, I was actually working for Clint [Digilent’s founder] in his backyard doing landscaping,” he remembers. Since joining the team in 2006, Evan has expanded his role significantly, moving from the only shipping clerk — shipping just a few orders a day — to the manager of the inventory and shipping processes. “When I first started, the stock count was done by writing down the number of each product on the boxes they are in. I totally redid the entire way we count stock. I have been growing and pushing to better myself and the others in my area.”
Mark started working for Digilent in 2007 and focuses mainly on packaging orders for our ever-growing list of distributors. “Since I started working here, the distribution orders have increased exponentially,” he says. And he’s right — since our first distributor was signed in 2006, our distribution network has increased rapidly and now represents approximately 40 percent of our total retail sales. Today, over 50 official distributor channels exist worldwide for Digilent products.
Giovanni — the newest member of the Digilent team — is responsible for packing all orders submitted through our online storefront. Giovanni started with Digilent in May but has already formed an indelible bond with his team. “These guys are awesome and make the worst of days worth coming to work for.”
One thing the Digilent shipping department prides itself on is the fast order turn-around. Getting orders out the door in 24 hours or less during peak business hours is one of the greatest challenges Giovanni faces, but touching and seeing the products gives him a better understanding of our mission in the engineering and hobbyist community. “I think the more I see the items I package, the more I learn about them and what they actually do despite having no engineering experience.”
When Evan isn’t at work, he can be found cheering for his wife at local roller derby bouts. “I enjoy watching my wife play roller derby and supporting her in any way that I can. She is part of the Palouse River Rollers. When I am not doing that, I spend time at my miniature war gaming clubhouse.” Evan is the president of Da Momma’s Boyz war gaming club in the nearby town of Moscow, Idaho. “We play a large variety of different table top games and we have teams that travel all around the Pacific Northwest to compete.”
Mark – an avid poker player and rock aficionado – spends any free moment he can soaking up live shows from his favorite bands. “We just saw an amazing Cash’d Out show,” says Mark of the Johnny Cash tribute band. “If you didn’t get the opportunity to see the real Man in Black, this is the next best thing.” Also dear to his heart are his grandsons, ages 8 and 1, who live in Wyoming. “I visit them every chance I can,” Mark says.
Giovanni spends his downtime listening to a lot of music and reading. “I am into a lot of different kinds of music; mainly rock, but my playlists have Spanish music and other things. I’m quite nerdy at heart, so I play a lot of games and read everyday.”
For these guys, Digilent can be a home away from home. Wrapped around his left boot, Evan keeps a treasured bandana from his dog, Yogi. “He passed away a few years back. Like a lot of dog owners he was like a son to me. So anything I can hold on to of his means the world to me.”
Giovanni, who is living thousands of miles from his family, keeps a plush Thing 1 doll at his workstation to remind him of home. “The last time I went to visit [my family]I bought my only brother a Thing 2, and he bought me the Thing 1,” he recalls. “It reminds me everyday that, even though I am on the complete opposite side of the country, I’m not alone.”
Digilent may be an internationally-known brand, but a lot of our roots are still firmly planted in a small company family atmosphere. “Most of the people at Digilent are just great,” says Evan. “I have grown up around most of these people, and they are family to me.” While we may be primarily an engineering company, the shipping department plays a critical role in making sure our innovative products land in the hands of engineers worldwide to be used in the classroom, government programs, and hobbyists’ basements.