Customers are focus at Amazon, Tracy GM says

October 16, 2013


kelvin downes amazon

Tracy Amazon Fulfillment Center’s general manager Kelvin Downes

TRACY – The fulfillment center in Tracy shipped its first order Oct. 9, General Manager Kelvin Downes told business leaders at a Chamber of Commerce event Wednesday.

The order was a book entitled “Raising the Bar.”

It’s an appropriate name, Downes said, given Amazon’s passion for thinking big.

It’s one of the leadership principles Downes shared with the local business community during his 20-minute talk. Others included:

  • Insisting on the highest standard
  • Being vocally self-critical
  • Diving deep
  • Earning trust

The entire list is on Amazon’s website.

None of Amazon’s principles is more important than customer service, however. Downes mentioned it numerous times throughout his talk.

“We always start with the customer and move backwards,” Downes said.

At Amazon, Downes said, customer orders are personal.

“We can ruin Christmas (with a late order). We can ruin birthday parties. We don’t ever want that,” Downes said.


PHOTO BY ELIZABETH STEVENS Fulfillment Center on Chrisman Road in Tracy.

Downes said he knew of general managers who have personally driven orders to FedEx to make sure they went out on time.

The new fulfillment center opened Oct. 1 – two weeks ahead of schedule — with 300 associates, Tracy City Manager Leon Churchill told the City Council. It added 300 associates a week through October with the goal of having 1,000 associates at the center by Nov. 1.

Downes came to the United States from the U.K. in 2003 and arrived in Tracy a year ago. He said the thing he likes best about being in Central California is that everyone seems so happy. And the “gorgeous weather.”

Downes’ presentation was part of the Tracy Chamber of Commerce’s Progressive Leader Speaker Series. The theme, “Think Differently,” is intended to provide a new outlook for businesses by educating them on how to multiply their impact and expand their possibilities to reach their maximum potential.”

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