Taking the last train to Clarksville…..

…..Indiana, that is.  Yes we are heading north.  No, we are not quitting Amazon.  I have held off posting a blog for awhile, as Amazon made an unexpected offer to the Camperforce team here in Campbellsville, KY.

Original Offer

About 2 weeks ago, all 400 plus Camperforce associates (what Amazon calls their workcampers, separate from the hundreds of seasonal/temporary employees they hire as well) here received an e-mail with an offer to help out the Amazon facility in Jeffersonville, Indiana.  It is located about 90 miles north of Campbellsville right across the bridge from Louisville.  The facility opened in 2012 and it is one of only a few centers that specialize in apparel.  The facility has been overwhelmed with orders, and needs more people to help out during peak season.  They have been transferring a lot of clothing (socks, underwear, shirts, jackets) to our facility to help fulfill orders.  We have seen more than our fair share of “ugly sweaters” which are apparently quite popular…not sure why!

They needed 100 campers to join their team during peak, in Picking and Packing only.  The offer stated everyone would be on the same shift, with the same benefits we currently receive (full paid campsite and end of season completion bonus).  The difference was a higher hourly pay ($10.75 vs. $10.00 per hour) and an additional bonus of $500.00 per person, after taxes.

The “campground” they chose was the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville, which is basically a parking lot with hook-ups.  It is located about 17 miles from the new Amazon facility.

We talked about it, weighed the pros and cons, but decided an additional $1000.00 in our pocket was not enough of an incentive to move for 4 weeks especially with the extra cost in daily gas and a long commute.  Because we work the weekend shift, we already receive an additional 60 cents per hour, so we would only be making 15 cents more in Indiana, and we would have to file income taxes in two states.  We like it here in Campbellsville, and this year has been going very well for us.

In addition, having to drive through road construction and rush hour every day was a big turn off for us. We have enjoyed walking to work and since we arrived seven weeks ago we have not needed to add any extra diesel fuel.

Revised Offer

About 2 days after the original offer, Amazon amended their offer to include other campgrounds in the area (that were still open, as some had shut their water off for winter).  In addition, they would provide a shuttle bus to and from the Expo Center, so people did not have to drive.  This new offer was enough incentive for 31 people to sign up.  Most of those folks cited wanting to see what it was like at a new facility as their main incentive to go.

The Sparkly Carrot

Since they only had 31 folks signed up, Amazon upped the ante again.  This time they increased the bonus to $1,000.00 per person, if nineteen more people would sign up.  Now they wanted 50 total (so it was the same original budgeted pool of bonus money).  They would gross up the bonus so you would net the $1,000.00, after taxes.  Next thing you know, everyone seemed to be jumping on board.  Between the addition of campgrounds in Indiana only 5 – 8 miles away (and not having to cross the I-65 bridge every day during rush hour and road construction), and the increased bonus, we decided to put our names on the list as well.

We were also intrigued by working in a new facility, that was specifically designed and built for the Amazon apparel division.  And, since we would only be there for 4 weeks, we figured it was time to throw caution to the wind again.  After all, that is what this lifestyle is all about.  We called one of the campgrounds, and told the owner we signed up, but have not received official word if we were selected.  She told us to call back.  Later that day we noticed on the Amazon Camperforce Facebook account, that many people were signing up at the various campgrounds.  So we called back, only to find all the campgrounds booked already (except the Expo Center).  We did not want to stay there, so we figured “oh well, it was not meant to be.”

Several days later, Amazon decided to take 100 Camperforce associates, and keep the increased bonus of $1,000.00 per person.  And we were one of those chosen, although we still had no campsite.  So we had to wait, and wait, until people who did not make the list, started cancelling their reservations.  Then Amazon announced that 90% of the positions would be in Picking, and the remaining in Packing.  A lot of people dropped out after that, because they did not want to go into Picking, even though Amazon made it clear this was going to happen.  So finally, after a week of trying to get a campsite, we did get a call back that enough people had cancelled their reservations, that they could provide a spot for us at a campground about 8 miles from the facility. The KOA campground we will be staying at is in Clarksville, IN.

What’s Next?

We just finished a 5 day/50 hour week (overtime, yea!) and will spend the next 3 days resting, cleaning and getting our stuff put away.  I checked the Walmart, Target and Kroger apps, and we will have all that and more, right near us in Clarksville.

Saturday will be our final day of work here in Campbellsville.  Sunday we will hitch up the truck to the 5th wheel, and join the caravan of others heading north.  We start work on Tuesday, with a half day of orientation. Then our regular workdays will be Wednesday thru Saturday, with Sunday as our mandatory overtime day.  They have been working overtime for over 12 weeks at that facility, so I am sure the workers will be happy to have some more help.

Last night we had a final dinner together with two couples that we met last year.  Tom and Ellen, along with Ruth Ann were all working with us in Picking.  They took us under their wing and helped us “newbies” learn the ropes.  Ruth Ann’s husband Jack was doing his rotation last year in the IT department.  This year, Ruth Ann and Jack are on a different shift and a different department, and Tom and Ellen are also on a different shift, so we don’t get to see them as much.  Tom and Ellen will also be headed north, so we will be working with them.  We had a nice last supper at Brother’s Restaurant in Campbellsville.

Tom, Jack, Ruth Ann, me, Dan and Ellen

Tom, Jack, Ruth Ann, me, Dan and Ellen

Sorry this turned out to be so long!  It has been a crazy couple of weeks, but stay tuned for more on our new adventure.

Quote for the day:  “Change is not merely necessary to life, it is life.” – Alvin Toffler