AMS was formed in 2002 when Jay Catlin took over operational responsibilities for his father’s (David Catlin) packaged media (DVD/CD) company. Jay and David’s first order of business was to create a new fulfillment entity to assemble product and displays, warehouse and manage finished goods inventory, fulfill orders, and process returns.
Serving as CEO of the company, Jay began to convert Advantage Media Services, Inc. (AMS) into a multi-client pure play 3rd party fulfillment entity. With the help of a dedicated team, from the senior executives to the crew on the floor, AMS grew into an impact player. In 2019 AMS sold the majority stake of the business to Fort Point Capital, a private equity firm with a strong presence in the logistics industry. With the change in ownership, Jay took the position of CEO in order to guide the company’s continued growth.
AMS currently employs approximately 600 individuals within eight warehouses. The company is headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, with locations in Los Angeles, New Holland, PA, and New Castle and Newark, DE.
AMS Fulfillment has been named one of the 20 Leading Companies of the Year 2022 by Global Business Leaders Magazine. We had the opportunity to interview the CEO of AMS, Jay Catlin.
I am very proud of how AMS came together as a Team in 2021, with our AMS East and AMS West business truly functioning “As One”. AMS acquired an amazing, like-minded fulfillment company (EchoData) around the same time that the COVID-19 pandemic began, so with travel restrictions loosened, 2021 became the year for us to put the finishing touches on building our Team and operating cadence, strengthening our B-Corp culture, and synchronizing best practices across both coasts. We have been 100% committed to serving our clients in a singular, consistent manner as their high-value fulfillment partner and the Operational Arm of their businesses.
What sets AMS apart is our proactive approach to managing our client businesses as their Operational Arm. Every AMS employee understands that our clients’ successes breed our own, and they take pride in helping our clients succeed. We are transparent, we communicate, we coach, we collaborate, and we care, which makes AMS a true operational partner.
AMS is committed to being best-in-class in serving our client base. As the Operational Arm of our clients, their success is dependent upon us having all the tools and resources needed to deliver on their behalf. While we will continue to add amazing team members, I feel we have laid the framework for long-term success from a leadership perspective on both coasts, and we have fine-tuned our best practices in all facets of warehouse operations.
We’ve seen tremendous success in our investments, as automation has played a significant role in meeting the volatile volume demands of our clients. AMS has always believed in maintaining and ensuring service levels for our clients are extremely high, and as part of that, we have employed a more organic and controlled growth strategy versus quick expansion through acquisition. That said, we have grown and will continue to expand in a manner that ensures our service levels will not be compromised.
AMS is unique in the industry as a B-Corporation. In 2017 AMS Fulfillment made the B Corp commitment to being ‘good for the world’ in several ways including treatment of our employees, our commitment to safety, our care for the community, our environmental sustainability practices, and our company culture. We are a company that is determined to look out for the best interests of all of our stakeholders: our clients, our shareholders, our employees, our community, and our planet.
Our work culture at AMS is an example to others of what can be achieved. For several years AMS has offered our employees free training and educational classes, and a significant number of employees have taken advantage of these classes. In addition, AMS Fulfillment has worked for several years with community organizations to hire individuals with disabilities, justice-involved individuals, the homeless, single mothers and fathers, at-risk youth, and others who face challenges in finding employment. In the past two years we have ramped up our DE&I efforts in hiring, promoting, and training and we take seriously our role in not only being invested in our employees, but in our community as well. Thirdly, we are committed to employee safety. Because of the training we do, AMS has a safety record that is outstanding in the industry, with loss-time injury being a very rare occurrence.
None of the success we’ve experienced would be possible without the amazing staff that makes up this company. The AMS Team includes many fulfillment ‘Lifers’ who bring experience from fulfillment companies outside of my own history. In all of my years in this business, I’ve never worked with such a cohesive group of professionals, and the family-like environment we promote at AMS spills over within our client base as well.
Treating the client’s business as if it were your own has been our driving philosophy since the company began, and communication is the key. It starts with internal communications from floor operations to the client services team, where the company identifies challenging situations and shares opportunities for continuous improvement. We've had a team effort in our 20 years of existence between all departments, and the result is a sound warehouse management platform that we rely upon every day.
We see our client brands needing multi-channel expertise, allowing them to operate with excellence in the world of major retail, boutique retail, their own brick-and-mortar locations, drop-ship eCommerce, and direct-to-consumer through their own shopping cart. As a major bi-coastal player AMS is positioned well to serve successful brands in the US and around the globe. We are committed to investing in best-of-breed systems, warehouse automation, and our incredible workforce in support of our mission to serve as the Operational Arm of our clients.
Being at the forefront of resolving fulfillment complexities, ranging from pre-sale to post-order services, AMS is poised to invest more into automation going forward. We have already seen tremendous success with our investments in automation by meeting the volatile volume demands of our clients. In that quest, we have developed a new shipping solution with overhead print and apply, which launched in July of 2021. Our employees can set packages on a conveyor while the system reads the barcode, finds the order, and applies the shipping label onto the carton automatically.
While adopting advanced technologies we always try to maintain and ensure that our service levels for clients exceed industry norms. As part of that, we have embraced a more organic and controlled growth strategy. AMS became a bi-coastal operation in 2018 and then officially acquired its East Coast operations partner in January 2020. In the next five years, we will launch another regional operation, at a strategic location in the center of the country. This will serve as a strong foundation for us to deliver to the entire US population in 1-2 days via ground service.
Quote: “We are transparent, we communicate, we coach, we collaborate, and we care, which makes AMS a true operational partner.”
Read Full Magazine: 20 Leading Companies of the Year 2022