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Boxing out competition in LogistXGames

The crowds cheered on the competitors Thursday morning with the clank of bells and rustle of pom poms. The raucous chorus was loud enough to fill the warehouse, and the crowds were a sea of team colors. One pack in bright red had capes, hats and a sign that proudly displayed Bullseye, Target’s dog mascot.

It may have seemed like the Super Bowl for the logistics personnel all dressed in company wear, but for many of them, the intense camaraderie was just another day at the office.

“This is what we do,” said Target Human Resources Business Partner Shaneve Suver in full Target regalia. We’re self-motivated go-getters, and this is what we do daily. It’s no different.”

The fifth annual Hampton Roads LogistXGames were held at Virginia Regional Commerce Park in Suffolk to showcase the importance of the logistics industry, and to recognize regional employers in the industry and more than 100 of their logistics personnel competing in the games.

Eleven teams competed in four exciting events that tested their mettle with challenges straight out of their workdays. The annual event is organized by founding sponsor CBRE Hampton Roads and was hosted by Panattoni Development Company.

“We love logistics in the city of Suffolk,” Suffolk Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes said in the event’s opening ceremony. “Thank you for everything you do. This is a celebration of everyone involved in the logistics that makes our country move.”

Three members of each team assembled and labeled more than 30 boxes as fast as they could while their teammates cheered them on just a few paces away. But the boxes had to be stacked on pallets securely, because employees then used pallet movers on those precarious stacks to weave them around obstacles in a back-and-forth relay race.

“I tried to be fast, but I had to be safe too, so those boxes didn’t fall,” said Willie Scott with the Cost Plus World Market & Remedy Staffing team. “But none of them fell. I think I did good.”

Each team packed a box with fragile bottles of liquid, then tossed them for distance and accuracy with the hopes that whatever packing materials they used kept the contents safe.

Before that, they had to take their stacks and organize them on the correct shelves according to the numbered labels in the “pick/pack hurdle.”

“They don’t care about being fast,” Lang Williams, CBRE Hampton Roads senior vice president and co-founder and co-chair of the LogistXGames, said about the hurdle. “It’s rare for a team to get all 32 boxes to the right position. It’s just hard to read 10 digits on a piece of paper and get it right.”

Boxes fell with a thud as stacks came undone. Employees sprinted as fast as they could, and the cheers of dozens wearing the exact same shirts egged them on.

“It feels good having a lot of people backing you up,” said Target warehouse worker Douglas Brummel, breathing heavily after one of the challenges. “It makes you want to go faster.”

The games aren’t just for bragging rights. They’re also meant to reward warehouse employees with a day of fun and a break from their normal schedules.

“We get to see our distribution partners that we never really get to see,” said Jeff Adams, senior operations manager for QVC and co-team captain with Phillip Hauser. “It’s just a fun time to get out of the warehouse to cut loose a little bit.”

Givens took first place this year, the team’s third title in five years, according to Williams. Keurig Green Mountain finished second for the second year in a row, and Damco placed third.

Givens warehouse supervisor Shawn Joyner had competed in the Hampton Roads games every year with his teammates, who he quickly credited for their continued success.

“I couldn’t do it without my teammates,” Joyner said. “Everybody contributes in a great way.”

The event had about 30 sponsors this year and raised about $33,000, Williams said, bringing the five-year fundraising total to more than $100,000. The proceeds support scholarships for workforce development courses at Paul D. Camp Community College and Tidewater Community College.

“The vision is that one day we’ll be able to say one of these competitors got a degree from a scholarship, and now they’re running the whole facility,” Williams said. “They made it from the floor to the back office with the help of our funds. That’s what we hope happens to a lot of them.”