Haslet CamperForce Orientation

A Plus RV Park, furthest of the Haslet campgrounds at 37 miles out

A Plus RV Park, furthest of the Haslet campgrounds at 37 miles out

Yesterday was my first day of work, orientation day at the new Amazon fulfillment center in Haslet, TX, near Fort Worth. Actually this facility isn’t new per-say, but it is new to the CamperForce program this year.

As always with my Amazon coverage, I’m going to focus on what’s different this fall from previous falls. I’ve written extensively about this program over the years, and if you’re looking for a good starting place you can read a good overview about CamperForce (which is updated regularly) here. At the end of that post are links to everything I’ve written about this job opportunity, this article will be listed there soon. I am not officially affiliated with Amazon in any way and this post reflects my personal experiences and opinions only. Information shared here can change without warning, thank you for understanding.

Differences.

For starters, DFW7 (warehouses are named for the closest airport – Dallas/Fort Worth – and the order in which the building was made, meaning this was the seventh Amazon building near this airport to be made), is huge. It’s the largest Amazon warehouse in the world at 1.6 million square feet, spread out along four floors where Fernley and Coffeyville only had three. Luckily, it’s one massive rectangle and doesn’t have any additional buildings or wings which in theory should make it easier to navigate. We’ll see how that works out.

It’s also newer than the other two I’ve worked at. There are some little things that are different because of that; it’s cleaner, has some windows, and the AC works wonderfully (it got up to the mid 90’s yesterday, but inside I was comfortable with jeans). But the biggest change is the robots.

The Haslet site is the first and only (so far) CamperForce location that has robotics. I and other work-campers have speculated on what robots mean for the CamperForce program. One would think that as robots took over more and more of the work, that there would be less and less need for seasonal help. I think eventually that’ll prove true, but the day CamperForce is no longer needed is still a ways off. Despite it’s robots, Haslet will employ over 2,000 seasonal workers this peak, which will bring the total workforce at this warehouse to a staggering 5,000 people.

350 of those seasonal helpers are CamperForce, and Joni Johnson, the head of the program at this site (she was head at Fernley last year, nice lady), is already hard at work looking for ways to double that number for next year. She said during orientation that she received about 900 applications for the Haslet site in the first six weeks the job listing was up. That would explain why I got e-mails from a couple of you saying you never heard back after you sent in your application when usually CamperForce is scrambling to fill its slots.

The bottle neck is the campgrounds. There simply aren’t any full-hookup campgrounds near Haslet, and there is a limit to the distance people are willing to drive to get to and from work. About seven miles up the road from the warehouse is a racetrack that has a campground without hookups and when Joni approached them at the beginning of the year, they said they’d be willing to renovate the campground and put in hookups to service CamperForce. This was where I first put in to stay when I applied back in February, but they ran into problems when the county said their roads weren’t wide enough, and they needed to start over. The campground should be ready by next year, and that’ll give 250 more spaces to allow for a bigger work force.

New for orientation this season, Amazon is working on moving to a paperless system. Instead of filling out the W4, nondisclosure agreement, direct deposit slip, harassment and discrimination policies, etc. at orientation on paper this year, these documents were posted up online for us to fill out a couple days before orientation. Even the employee handbook is online this year. This makes for a quicker orientation experience, but could pose a problem for RVers who don’t have a computer or reliable internet at their campground. In our class of 30, only four people were unable to finish their documents online, and they were given access to computers at Amazon to finish them so it worked out alright.

So instead of having one full orientation day followed by Safety School the first part of the second day, we had orientation in the morning and safety school in the afternoon. When we all start our second day of work, we’ll jump right into learning our department.

For me, that’s Receiving. I’ve worked in Stow two years and ICQA one year, this’ll be a new department for me which is nice, I always like trying new things.

The Receiving job doesn’t look like it’ll be different from at other Amazon sites, but if you’re in Stow, Pick, or ICQA and are familiar with them from previous years, you’re in for a surprise. Instead of walking miles a day from product to product, you have a work station like a receiver or gift wrapper does, and the KIVA robots bring the shelves with the product on them to you.

Another difference is the number of shifts this location has. There are shifts starting every day of the week here, and numerous times of the day. My shift starts at 7 am (barring overtime) from Saturday through Tuesday, 10 hour days. There are day shifts that start at 6 am, a mid shift that starts at 11 am, and then night shifts that start at 7:30 pm. In my orientation class we had eight different shifts represented, it gets confusing fast. All the shifts are assigned a code (DL4 for mine) and you need to memorize that code, because that’s how the different shifts are referred to on the overtime bulletins displayed on TVs throughout the facility.

From what everyone says, this site is very fast-paced and busy. I’ll be reporting more on the Receiving job in a couple weeks once I’ve learned the ropes, and by that point I should have a pretty good idea what the managers and work environment is like here. Hope this helps those of you who are trying CamperForce for the first time this year, or are considering it for a future year.

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28 Responses to Haslet CamperForce Orientation

  1. Diane Ely October 15, 2015 at 6:01 pm #

    I imagine that Haslet got more than enough applicants because that is the southernmost Camperforce location this year. Will probably be more comfortable in December there than the warehouses further north.

    • Becky October 16, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

      That would be my guess Diane.

  2. Jim Schmechel October 15, 2015 at 6:25 pm #

    I hope you can post a photo of the robots 🙂 That sounds interesting! A mid shift might have fit you better, but having a regular start time should let you adjust to that schedule. I hope everything goes well for you!
    Jim Schmechel recently posted..1 Year NomadiversaryMy Profile

    • Becky October 16, 2015 at 4:45 pm #

      Absolutely no photos inside the warehouse Jim, but you can find photos of them online and another reader below has posted a link to a video that shows them at work. Mid shift wasn’t an option given to us campers but it would be nice I think. Thanks.

  3. claire October 15, 2015 at 8:01 pm #

    becky, i sent you 2 emails. hope all goes well in haslet, claire

    • Becky October 16, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

      I got them Claire thanks.

  4. concerned October 15, 2015 at 9:58 pm #

    Do you get benefits for working full-time? If you work overtime do you get paid overtime?

    • Becky October 16, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

      I’ve answered both those questions and more in the link at the beginning of the article Concerned. http://www.interstellarorchard.com/2012/06/26/about-amazons-camperforce/

      In short, there’s a $1 bonus for every hour worked if you complete the season, medical benefits start after 90 days so doesn’t really effect CamperForce. And yes it’s time and a half for everything over 40 hours.

  5. Jim@HiTek October 16, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    It’s good that they’re finally doing some robotics now, because there are just some jobs best left for robots. Like CD/DVD picking.

    I’d like to see photos too, but at Fernley you could be fired for taking photos of the inside of the place. Or even for carrying in your cell phone. And we don’t want to get Becky into trouble.

    I hope you enjoy this new department. Have fun, Becky!
    Jim@HiTek recently posted..Housesitting…My Profile

    • Becky October 16, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

      You can watch the video listed below to see how the robots work Jim, they don’t pick the actual items, they bring the whole shelf to you. It is neat to watch.

      Thanks.

  6. RvGetFit October 16, 2015 at 9:55 am #

    https://youtu.be/UtBa9yVZBJM Here’s a video of Amazon robotics.

    • Becky October 16, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

      Thanks GetFit.

    • Jim Schmechel October 17, 2015 at 2:48 pm #

      Wow, that is super cool, thank you for posting the link! 🙂
      Jim Schmechel recently posted..1 Year NomadiversaryMy Profile

  7. Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets October 16, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    In light of very recent news that Wal-Mart is having financial problems, and that Amazon is partially to blame, I’m not surprised at the sheer size of that facility and the technology “employed” there. Amazon is reportedly now the world’s largest retailer.

    Won’t bother me if you can’t take photos. Not worth losing a job over and totally understandable. We can always try Googling for images.

    Enjoy the ride and good luck. Blows me away that in some departments, the robot brings the product and or shelf to you. Conjures up cartoon images of things gone wrong. 🙂
    Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets recently posted..Mineral CreekMy Profile

    • Becky October 16, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

      Check the video linked by another reader to see how the KIVA robots work, it is pretty neat Ed.

  8. PamelaP October 16, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

    Hello Becky – so happy orientation went well for you at our newest addition to the CamperForce program.

    For those of you who are interested in seeing how our robotics work, there are several videos on UTube that show them in action. It’s awesome to watch! Type in either Kiva (the name of the robotic company) or Amazon robotics.

    No need to get Becky in trouble as, everyone is correct, no cameras in our facilities (since we sell them…) but we’ve pretty transparent about our robotics!

    Have a great peak & I hope you enjoy your time at DFW7!

    • Becky October 16, 2015 at 4:57 pm #

      Yep, enjoying it so far Pamela. 🙂

      For those who are wondering, Pamela heads up the CamperForce program from Amazon headquarters in Seattle. A previous poster linked on of those mentioned YouTube videos that shows the robots at work and it is pretty fun, definitely worth a watch!

  9. Rvgal October 16, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

    Went by a Coffeyville campground that was empty a month ago but is now almost full, did they reopen Coffeyville.

    • Becky October 16, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

      Not to my knowledge RVGal, but I know there are other warehouses in that area who hire seasonally too so it’s possible they’re working elsewhere.

  10. Diane Ely October 16, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

    Becky:
    Are there other Camperforce people staying at A-Plus working the same days and shift as you, whom you could carpool with (to ease that 74-mile round trip commute)?

    • Becky October 18, 2015 at 7:21 pm #

      Yes there is Diane, although I got in touch with one of the closer RV parks who had someone leave and I’ll be moving on Wednesday, yay!

  11. FrugalRVGals October 16, 2015 at 6:57 pm #

    I do want to work for Amazon one of these days. Of course I’m not getting any younger so I am liking the robot idea. I did see the videos a few weeks back and they are awesome. It truly is amazing technology. I look forward to your posts and will go back and read the past ones of your Amazon experience!
    FrugalRVGals recently posted..Sunrise at Zia RVilla RV Park – New Propane Hoses and New TiresMy Profile

    • Jim@HiTek October 17, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

      What I found as a ‘picker’ was that my flat feet couldn’t stand the 5-15 MILES PER DAY that I had to walk. Couldn’t get human resources to xfer me into a different department so had to quit after 4 weeks. I didn’t want to, and did a good job while I worked there but…

      These robots would have made it soooo much better. Weren’t available at the Fernley warehouse.
      Jim@HiTek recently posted..Housesitting…My Profile

    • Becky October 18, 2015 at 7:28 pm #

      That link has them all Frugal, I hope you find them helpful.

      The robots are really neat!

  12. Terri October 18, 2015 at 6:44 am #

    Not surprised that they don’t allow pics. But I know your descriptions will always be so good and detailed that we will feel like we are right there alongside you. I do admit, if I go on the road at one point (would be with a much smaller trailer), then I would highly think about doing the amazon thing to store up some cash.

    But wow, 37 miles is a long way to have to drive at the end of a physically taxing 10 hour day. And I know it’s physical whether or not you are walking miles or not. And at least the weather will be warmer for you in your little Casita. Do you still have to worry about pipes freezing there? (I’m working on winterizing my RV now and just have to take care of the sewer hose.)

    Every time I see a casita or a scamp, or even more recently an Escape (with Alberta plates all the way this far south!) I think of you, and I’m like “she is so right to do it in something that small and economical.” Hope you get to meet a lot of people this year and actually have time to socialize since you’re on the day shift now! (or one of them, anyway.)
    Terri recently posted..My Relationship with MoneyMy Profile

    • Becky October 18, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

      Average low temperature during January is 32, I’m not sure if I’ll have to take precautions yet or not. I think I’ll have to use insulation on the hose but hopefully won’t need to worry about the tanks. I guess we’ll see. 🙂

      How cold is it in Kanab in the winter? I know deserts can get cold at night…

      I hope I’ll have time too, we’ll see. I am moving to a closer park on Wednesday which’ll help greatly.

  13. Dwayne October 28, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

    Finally read this, been working 12 hours a day on the sugar beet harvest in Montana. Read your comment about the campground that is going to change into a full service. As soon as I heard that Fernley was closing and next choice would be Haslet got on line to check out campgrounds. Found out about that one and contacted them. They had never heard of camperforce so I referred them to Joni. Then she contacted me and said they could not get the proper permits done in time for next year, but they were planning on next year. Job at the sugar beets went over pretty well, but don’t think I will do it again next year. Just cost so much for fuel to go there and back.

    • Becky October 30, 2015 at 8:05 pm #

      Yeah Dwayne, the cost of getting to a job is always an important consideration. I’m not sure I could work every day of the week, even if it doesn’t last as long as Amazon. I need days to sleep in, I become a bear when I can’t catch up on sleep. 😛

      So far it’s going okay, but Haslet is definitely busier and more concerned with numbers than Fernley or Coffeyville was, but then I always worked night shift before which were more relaxed so I can’t make an accurate comparison. Still, if all went according to plan we had/will have a record breaking week in receive this week. As in, most units received in a week ever, at any Amazon facility. Busy busy busy.

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