How Fingerhut’s sister company, Granterion 3PL, is navigating demand and empowering retail brands 

Operating under the parent company of Bluestem Brands, Fingerhut is a leading provider for American consumers seeking to establish, build or rebuild credit, offering revolving credit and installment loans issued by WebBank with monthly payment options and the flexibility of paying over time. Although the business was established in 1948 by brothers William and Manny Fingerhut, who sold automobile seat covers, it has since diversified into an e-commerce company selling everything families need from a broad selection of national brands.   

Lady picking orders in a logistics warehouse prior to despatchIn recent years, its parent company, Bluestem Brands, has strategically adapted its business model to better fulfill consumer demand and maximize profits. Specifically, it has transformed its Minnesota based warehousing facility that previously fulfilled only Fingerhut orders, into a standalone business that provides 3PL solutions across the US. With a new name, GranterionSM 3PL Solutions (Granterion 3PL) offers genuine value to those in the marketplace needing warehousing, fulfilment, prep, etc. for retail brands, including its largest customer, Fingerhut.  

Led by Scott Jensen, Granterion 3PL is a customer focused partner committed to solving logistical challenges through innovative solutions that reduce costs, simplify operations, and perhaps most importantly, enable business owners to focus on growing their business. As the business became fully operational just under one year ago, Scott joins us to share an insight into the company’s operations and how it can transform clients’ supply chains. 

“Having been originally built in 1989, this facility has a very interesting history,” Scott opens. “It underwent a significant expansion in 1994 and was the largest employer in the local area for several years. Although Bluestem’s business strategy has changed over time, the building has always been operated by Fingerhut personnel. That same experienced staff now services the Granterion business starting in June of last year. 

“I feel extremely lucky to have a team on the ground that have an average tenure of more than 20 years; the expertise in this building means we’re able to offer Fingerhut, and now other retail brands, true value in their fulfilment,” he reflects.  

Peak season performance 

With the ability to reach 75 percent of the US within three days, the business boasts impressive capabilities, but to maintain this level of service, a strategic model is required. “The facility is very seasonal in nature, so it’s not unusual for us to hire an additional 500 or more people to get through our peak season,” Scott states. “However, the retail landscape is changing. Before the rise of e-commerce, peak season used to be 12 weeks, as people began ordering products for Christmas in October. Today, people don’t even start thinking about Christmas until after Thanksgiving, which condenses a high volume of orders into a four-week period.  

“We call this the non-peak to peak ratio, and in peak, we increase production ten-fold. If you consider that an average fulfillment center has the capability to increase production by two or three times, our ability to increase is impressive, especially as a young company. The difference with others is that they maintain a certain customer level and experience more similar levels of demand all year round. While your everyday online retailers experience some of the retail influx over the holidays, it’s not nearly to the scale that many other retailers face. 

“That’s Granterion 3PL’s secret sauce – we can quickly and successfully onboard temporary workers to tackle our peak season by effectively pushing volume within an allotted period. As the facility has transitioned into a separate entity, part of our niche is being different to our competitors, and the way we tackle peak season is a key differentiator.” Lift truck operating in a logistics warehouse

Scott makes the process sound simple, but how exactly does Granterion 3PL find 500 extra staff? “We call it the friends and family approach,” he replies. “There are lots of people looking to make extra cash, especially before Christmas, so rather than solely using a temporary hire model, we invite former colleagues or friends back to work for a short time. Most people already have warehouse experience, so can hit the ground running, and it’s also a transparent way of hiring temporary workers, as both parties are aware of the nature of the contract. 

“We run the friends and family scheme congruently with our staffing agencies to supplement labor and control our hiring expenses. Many warehouses face the issue of hiring people for peak season, but this isn’t a common approach in the industry. It can be difficult to encourage people to return year after year, but we’re seeing an increase in people who want to come back, which is testament to our workplace culture.” 

Turning to the benefits Granterion 3PL brings to its customers, Scott explains: “Partnering with us means that smaller businesses don’t need to invest in capital trying to anticipate their current and future needs. Instead, businesses can focus on applying their capital to their growth and paying for the space they use when they use it. By converting the facility into one that can service multiple businesses, we’re not only opening the opportunity for others to utilize a beautiful facility with phenomenal resources, but also enabling them to drive cashflow efficiencies within their operations. 

“Partnering with us also enables customers to focus on the areas of the business they’re passionate about. For instance, many of our clients don’t want to spend time operating logistics or setting up warehouses; they want to focus on sales and growth. Instead, they trust us to take care of fulfilment and warehousing, which allows them to focus on their core competencies. However, if they do need to get involved in warehousing or fulfilment, they can pick up the phone and call us, as we maintain genuine, positive relationships on a first-name basis.” 

As an already successful, yet young company, the future is bright for Granterion 3PL. “As we grow, we’re aiming to find larger companies who are national in scope but explore using Granterion 3PL to service a specific geographic area within our ‘ZIP code sweet spot’,” Scott concludes. “However, the key to our success is maintaining positive relationships, so while we want to grow our customer base, we must also be able to provide each customer with our hands-on, positive approach.”