Aug. 23, 2022
Jeff Ellis, one of the team working behind the scenes to support MSU’s innovative research, pushes barrels of soil samples across the warehouse floor. University Procurement and Logistics is responsible for the receipt and delivery of all types of materials, including sensitive instruments and hazardous items.
“Our team provides consistent service to our campus customers, which contributes to outstanding education, research and impact around the world,” says Ellis. “As a Spartan myself, there’s a great sense of pride in the work I do here on campus. I have many family members who are Spartans — we have a strong sense of MSU pride.”
“We’ve had some challenging deliveries over the years, but our team finds ways to adapt and complete the job for our campus customers while ensuring our safety,” says Shane Kelly, a 10-year veteran of University Procurement and Logistics.
Some of the notable items to pass through include malaria vaccines being sent to Malawi, a 750-gallon aquarium used by researchers to develop robotic fish and the Big Ten Basketball Championship trophy.
Matthew Hadley uses a forklift to retrieve materials stored in the unit’s warehouse. Hadley has been part of the procurement and logistics team for six of his eight years at MSU.
“I enjoy the variety of services I support,” says Hadley. “Whether it’s assisting customers in-store at University Stores or managing warehouse stock, my work makes a direct impact on our partners across the university.”
Jainaba Faal, a buyer on the IT Procurement team, works to strategically source, negotiate and issue orders for information technology products.
“We are committed to procuring products that are accessible, usable and provide data security,” says Faal. “IT solutions are widely used across the university and it’s exciting for me to be a part of buying everything from a supplier diversity management system to technology that will be used in cutting edge research.”
When products arrive at the warehouse, Steve Simpson is responsible for updating the electronic inventory. Once customers place an order, Simpson picks the products off the shelves, packages and labels them for shipping, then transfers the package for delivery.
“Thanks to a wide variation of tasks, I find my job fulfilling. Plus, I work with great Spartans — both coworkers and our customers,” says Simpson. “My wife and mom are both MSU alumni, and my mom gets season tickets for basketball every year. I love cheering on the Spartans with her at the Breslin Center.”
Commodity coordinator Dan Crosslan is no stranger to operating heavy equipment. The 32-year employee has spent most of his time on campus managing inventory for University Stores. Like all the warehouse staff, Crosslan is certified to use forklifts and handle hazardous materials, ensuring safe warehouse operations.
“We take safety seriously at UPL. In fact, when there is an incident, our UPL Safety Committee conducts a problem-solving exercise to identify ways to prevent it from happening again.”
There are nine vehicles in the UPL fleet. More than 160,000 packages were delivered across campus last year. On any given day, UPL receives in-bound shipments from 20 to 25 carrier trucks, preventing excess traffic on campus and increasing pedestrian safety. The team then processes and delivers these shipments to campus customers — often on the same day — maintaining a 97% on-time delivery rate.
Chris Fordham loads items into one of the university trucks that make deliveries to buildings across campus.
"Every day, we get to see a fascinating variety of materials used for research,” says Fordham. “From desks to test tubes to research materials, we deliver goods that impact MSU students and enhance their educational experience. We’re proud of that.”
More than two million pieces of mail are processed by the Mail Services department each year.
“From urgent documents to research specimens, accurate and timely mailings are critical to the university’s mission,” says Andrea Parker, a Mail Services clerk. “It’s a fulfilling and challenging job. Every day, there’s a new puzzle to solve and we work hard to ensure minimal disruptions to our campus customers.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, carrier platforms and policies have changed at the drop of a dime, and our team has had to ensure we were aware of and able to adapt to these changes. Additionally, when our campus customers shifted from on-site to remote work, we had to create and support new options for remote shipping.”
“In making deliveries, weather can be one of our greatest obstacles,” says Fordham as he loads bins prepared by Mail Services into a university truck for delivery. “From heat and humidity during the summer months to cold weather and snowed-in docks during the winter, we have to adapt our processes to accommodate the weather and ensure everyone’s health and safety.”
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Jennifer Trenkamp, MSUToday editor