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MILLTOWN, NJ–The Home Depot is hiring thousands of associates for its busiest 120-day period of the year, said a company spokesman.
There are 67 Home Depot stores in New Jersey and that’s where most of the jobs are. However, openings can also be found at Home Depot's half a dozen distribution centers in the Garden State.
“Typically we hire about 40 to 45 per store,” said the spokesman. “We do this every year, and if you were to talk to most people in the company you’ll find they were hired in the spring.”
But if someone starts in the spring and is “a very strong performer” the retailer could keep them on.
“We are going to try to hang on to them and keep them around,” said the spokesman, noting it’s a great way to get your foot in the door. And most store managers, assistant store managers, and district managers started in the spring, he added.
The positions are in customer service, sales, freight and receiving, store support, and check-out, on top of others, said Home Depot.
Overall there are 75 Home Depot distribution centers in the United States, but five different types, according to the company.
And while there is no Direct Fulfillment Center — the type that fulfills online orders — in New Jersey, there is one “Rapid Deployment Center” to feed products into stores daily. All six centers support the stores and the product flowing to stores, in one way or the other.
Home Depot says its application is very quick: "We want everyone to have an easy and convenient experience with The Home Depot, whether they're shopping with us [at one of our 2,000 outposts in the United States] or applying for a position," said Tim Crow, Home Depot’s executive vice president of human resources, in a news release.
In terms of business, Home Depot is a strong retailer that is able to successfully “manage events, including the vagaries of the weather,” and ended 2016 on a “high note,” said Håkon Helgesen, an analyst at GlobalData Retail, in a note.
The retailer reported record revenue of $94.6 billion for last year, a nearly 7% increase from 2015. Fifty percent of its e-commerce traffic comes from mobile devices, said the company, noting the redesign of its website, HD.com.
Craig A. Menear, CEO, The Home Depot, said the company was focused on “providing … innovative product selection, [while] improving the interconnected customer experience," adding that its "interconnected retail" business advanced last year.
Menear also cited the robust housing market in the United States as a boon. But with customer needs changing, said the CEO, the company must simplify its operations so that store associates can meet the demand.
“Our efforts to improve our freight handling initiatives by [reducing transportation costs] are focused on creating one consistent process for every store that … removes waste, and optimizes product flow from truck to shelf,” said Menear on a recent call with investors.
Helgesen, the retail analyst, explained that Sears’ demise may also be helping Home Depot, because consumers view it as a “convenient alternative,” when replacing appliances, a common large ticket purchase.
"We believe that Home Depot is gaining [market] share in a number of high value categories, including appliances," noted Hegesen. "Part of this is down to the poor performance of Sears, which has traditionally been a destination for appliance purchasers, [but is losing ground]."
The consultant added that "ongoing difficulties" for department store chains can create room for growth at Home Depot.
Earlier this year, Home Depot’s new “Buy Online Deliver From Store” (BODFS), a digital fulfillment system allowing customers to order any item within a particular store using a computer or a mobile phone app, became available in New Jersey.
The retailer delivers merchandise or supplies as though purchased in-store, to construction and job sites as well, saving contractors for instance, valuable time spent driving to stores.
But delivery is not free. Prior to the roll-out of BODFS, delivery from local stores was a flat $65.
Now, the delivery charge starts at $69. If a customer selects a two hour delivery window, when scheduling delivery, however, the charge increases to $79.
Still, an employee at the “Pro Desk” in Milltown's Home Depot, said the new offering was catching on, although they’ve had to iron out problems with fraudulent credit card payments made via the Home Depot app, for instance.
“BODFS has been an extremely popular addition to our delivery options. In fact, keeping up with the demand was our biggest challenge, initially,” said Ro Rodriguez, vice president, New Jersey Metro Region for the Home Depot.
“Now that we’ve solved for that, contractors are finding it to be a great time-saver, and DIY [Do-It-Yourself] customers are also enjoying the convenience.”
Home Depot’s customer base constitutes three categories: professional contractors (Pro's), DIY customers, who do their own installations, and the "Do-It-For-Me" customers requiring installation by Home Depot personnel.
Recently, the number of Pros being served by each Home Depot outpost has increased, as expected, said the company.
“It’s about 4% of customers and 45% of sales,” said the spokesman, adding the figure doesn’t change much from state to state. (Whereas, last year, Pro customers accounted for 3% of the customer base and nearly 40% of transactions.)
The home improvement retailer, which has more than 14,000 associates in New Jersey alone, is planning to open three new stores in Florida, Texas, and Louisiana, this year.