We’re packing it in… to boxes, that is

On the line—packing, packing, packing…

During this crazy holiday shopping season, Susan Reid (my fellow blogger) and I keep the warehouse folks supplied with daily treats, in order to keep both energy and spirits up. Our fulfillment folks (has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?) put in extra-long, hard days filling orders, packing boxes, mixing mixes, and generally moving at top speed for weeks at a time to get people’s holiday baking products on their way as quickly as possible.

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40 pounds of flour, ready to go into a box… this is heavy work!

Sometimes the weather slows us down. Last week, the biggest, most costly ice storm in New Hampshire’s history spilled over into Vermont; our headquarters here in Norwich, VT is just across the river from Hanover, NH, and many of our employees live in that state. Many, indeed, came to work each day from homes without power: no running water, no light, no heat save perhaps a fireplace (with temperatures dipping into the single digits). Add to that the 24” of snow we got over the weekend, and it’s been pretty challenging lately, weather-wise.

Yet here we all were, working hard. As an employee-owned business, and one that prides itself on customer service, we feel a huge responsibility at this time of the year to GET THE JOB DONE.

Admittedly, we’ve struggled at times. We were deluged with so many orders on Dec. 9 that our Web site slowed to a bare crawl, and some of our customer service reps were reduced nearly to tears by the end of the day, just from the sheer strain of trying to keep up with the phone calls and emails.

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You make your list—we check it twice before packing, to make sure everything is present and accounted for.

But, as a recent email to you, our customers, put it: We’re all in this together. Anyone who possibly could—the IT folks, test kitchen bakers, our company president, Steve Voigt—manned packing stations, furiously packing boxes of merchandise so that your order would reach you as quickly as humanly possible.

And that’s where the treats come in. Susan’s baked hundreds of dozens of cookies, cupcakes, and bars over the past couple of weeks, walking up and down the packing line to provide a “warm chocolate chip cookie moment” for those packers elbow-deep in wrapping paper and bags of flour. I’ve taken the weekend shift, making sure our Saturday/Sunday crew isn’t shortchanged in the treats department. And together—we WILL get through this.

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Our merchandise team pitched in, filling bottles with Fiori di Sicilia and jars with espresso powder.

The season’s nearing its end. The last holiday boxes will be going out the door this week (still in time for the holidays, thanks to 2-day delivery). For any of you whose order arrived more slowly than anticipated, we apologize. But we wanted to take this opportunity to thank you—for your patience, for your business, and for your baking.

Because after all, we believe that what feeds the body, also feeds the soul. Especially when it’s a warm chocolate chip cookie.

Happy holidays from all of us here at King Arthur Flour.

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Butterscotch cake to keep us going – good to the last crumb!

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Mike T.

    Thanks! And a Happy Holiday Season to you and yours as well!!!

    To all: Have a Happy Hanukkah/ Merry Christmas/ Happy Kwanza and a Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year to ALL!

    Mike.

    Reply
  2. Pilar

    Happy Holidays!!
    You have a great company, and I really enjoy your blog and great spirit.
    Thanks for the wonderful service.

    And happy holidays to you too, Pilar. Thanks for connecting – PJH

    Reply
  3. Beth

    In my 6+ years of experience with King Arthur Flour, I have never encountered a more friendly, helpful group of people, and for packages to be delivered to your door (from Vermont to Virginia) less than 48 hours after the order has been placed (with just regular shipping request), is nothing short of amazing. Personally, I think that the KAF employees are psychics, and have already packaged and shipped my order before I’ve placed it!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2009 to P.J. and everyone.

    Thanks SO much, Beth – I hope you have a temperate holiday – no freezing rain! We got 2′ of snow this weekend. Looks like Winter Wonderland, and provided me with LOTS of hours of gympfree workout in the Great Outdoors… PJH

    Reply
  4. Emilie

    I wholeheartedly second Beth’s comments — I’m in Virginia too and your customer service/shipping is nothing short of miraculous! You have an immensely dedicated customer base who are extremely thankful for such wonderful products from such terrific people!!

    Reply
  5. Susan Reid

    After seeing ANOTHER Susan Reid, I’m going to have to join the blog site for answers to my baking questions. Thanks for being such a reliable source of information.
    –Susan Reid from Washington State

    Reply
  6. suzanne

    I am waiting until New Year to place my order for more Butter Pecan Scones….I love those things beyond silly.

    May your season be blessed.

    And best wishes of the season to you, too, Suzanne – PJH

    Reply
  7. Sarah

    I got my box today, sourdough starter and crock, lava cake set and some Fiori di Sicilia. All arrived in perfect condition.

    Thank you for the hard work, and kids say thank you for the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe.

    YUM, those cookies are good, too – be sure to make them! Happy holidays – PJH

    Reply
  8. erin

    those oatmeal chocolate chip cookies ARE good. i got that recipe with my last order. i was kind of doubtful about whole wheat chocolate chip cookies but they were really great!

    I was doubtful about whole wheat, too, but it’s the WHITE whole wheat that makes them tasty, Erin. Enjoy- PJH

    Reply
  9. Shirley

    Let me echo the comments of others about your wonderful products and this helpful blog. I am waiting till my few days off to order a Christmas present for myself. My wish is that all of us who work could work in such an environment as all of you. It must be fun. Thanks again for a great year! We’ll be waiting for your new recipes and uses of all your products.

    Thanks, Shirley! It’s hard work, it’s fun sometimes, but it’s always gratifying. As an employee-owned company, we’re able to set our own course: family-friendly, caring deeply about our customers and baking — and about one another. I love coming to work every morning, I’ve been here for 18 years, and that feeling hasn’t faded – I guess that about sums it up. Happy holidays – hope you treat yourself to a neat Christmas present… PJH

    Reply
  10. Becky

    All I can say is thank you so much. I am one of the orders from the 9th! Your dedication shows (and will make our Christmas morning even better with cinnamon crumb cakes!). Hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

    Reply
  11. elianna

    LOVE you guys! I deal with customer service people many times a day at our home business…and beyond any doubt, KAF people are THE friendliest, quickest, best…AWESOME!!!!!! :) :) :) You bet you’ll be getting more orders from me!

    Thank you SO much for your kind comments, Elianna – and happy holidays from all of us. PJH

    Reply
  12. Maureen

    I agree that you all are the best! Thank you for the blog which is so engaging and informative, and for the fine quality of all your products. I’m grateful that I can go to the local grocery and find several varieties of King Arthur flour, but am also happy to receive your catalogs and browse online for all the wonderful additions to my baking.

    Many thanks for your help in keeping us happily baking…
    A very merry Christmas to you all!

    And happy holidays to you, too, Maureen – thanks for your kind comments. PJH

    Reply
  13. Jan Nellis

    I was one of those who placed my order on Dec. 9. I thought it was great to see you so busy! Didn’t bother me one bit to know that things might go a bit slow. I want to support your business. I learn from you and appreciate the delicious blog from the writer/cooks.

    Thank you for the pictures. I happened to have ordered both the espresso powder and the Fiori di Sicilia. Now I get to see the happy faces of those who put it together!

    Most of my gifts this year were hand-delivered yeast loaves I happily call my “You’re appreciated” loaves. These friends are getting gifts made with your wonderful ingredients.

    Merry Christmas, gals and guys.

    Jan in frigid IL

    Jan, thanks so much for giving baked gifts this Christmas. Makes SO much sense -a gift from the heart(h) is always welcome. I like the “you’re appreciated” tag, too. Merry Christmas from not-so-frigid (27°F) but snow-covered (24″) Vermont – PJH

    Reply
  14. Ellen Thompson

    I have used your flour for years but THIS year I stumbled on your newspaper ad for bread and pastry demonstrations in the NW Chicago suburbs (and of course attended)! There I discovered too many great baking tips and perhaps the best item of all, the dough mixer gadget. I ordered it immediately along with some other goodies and was quite amazed at how easy getting dough together is with this gadget. So much so that I had a ‘cook-a-thon” with a friend to make Polish pierogi. It was a snap! Of course there was time left in the day so we also made tons of cookies. What can I say but THANK YOU, THANK YOU, AND THANK YOU.

    Wishing everyone at KAF a Very Merry Christmas and may your every wish come true! (so…be careful what you wish for!)

    Ellen in snowy Illinois (but heading for Arkansas soon)

    Ellen, glad you enjoyed the baking classes… I’m glad your pierogi worked out well. And happy holidays to you, too – PJH in sunny Massachusetts.

    Reply
  15. Sue E. Conrad

    Here it is, Christmas Day 2008 (Florida with temps in the 70′s) and although I haven’t taken advantage of mail ordering as often as many of your customers, the times I have done so have resulted in nothing but total satisfaction. As for home-baked gifts, my standard for the past few years has been loaves of Easy Cinnamon Bread, always received with comments such as “yum-yum” or “I/we just love cinnamon stuff”!! Thanks to ALL the folks at KAF – with a special salute to P.J. – for such a great company.

    Thanks, Sue, for your kind comments… We appreciate your loyalty. Best wishes for a great 2009! – PJH

    Reply
  16. Anna Russo

    You people are always down to earth. I enjoy reading what ever you have to say: it’s informative, interesting, and at times entertaining! I always appreciate hearing from you!

    Anna, thanks so much for your kind comment! PJH

    Reply
  17. Marcia

    I too placed an order and helped overwhelm your web site. Things arrived in a timely manner. The mailman has worked overtime with packages on my porch. KA was one of three that evening when I came home.

    To me, it is extremely important to buy Made in the USA and know that someone has a job because of what I chose to spend my money on. That is the best way to help our economy.

    Thank goodness, it is in the 60s today for Christmas in ATL. The crumbs of my KA muffins are beside me on the bedspread. I am eager to try sour dough again and am looking for a cookbook and some ideas. My Christmas present was an 11 cup Cuisinart food processor–that dough blade and hook look promising. The DVD makes it look so easy. So, I am stocked up with bread supplies and ready to start. KA makes quality products and I appreciate being able to support your business.

    And thanks for the support, Marcia – we appreciate it. Enjoy the food processor – they’re a real “must have,” in my book… – PJH

    Reply
  18. Andrea

    A belated Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to ya’ll! We’ve gotten dumped on here in Wisconsin too – it snowed ON Christmas for the first time that I can remember. Ever. We sat and wondered all weekend whether we’d actually see family or not – living in a rural area poses its own perks and troubles, snowed over roads that don’t get plowed till the very last being one of the troubles – and I baked up a storm.

    I love the quality, the level of customer service, the willingness to answer what seems to be endless baking questions sometimes. Thank you again for being so dedicated to your employee-owners: as the wife to a husband who also works for a B corporation and a company that is run by employee-owners as well, you have no clue how grateful I am that I can patronize a company like yours.

    Off to do a few “Tuesdays with Dorie” baking entries – with my KA flour, of course! Had to use another brand at one point this holiday season, and I’ll be honest, those cookies weren’t as good! Hope your respective holidays were happy and joy filled!

    Reply
  19. Sue

    In the above post from Ellen Thompson ,she mentioned a “dough mixer gadget” What is she talking about? Did I miss something new?

    Thanks to all there at KAF I don’t know what I would do without you :-)
    Sue Ellen was talking about a dough whisk, #5568. It’s used in the National Baking Classes and works amazingly well. Molly @KAF

    Reply
  20. gretchen

    Used several of your mixes for various parties this holiday season, scones, chocolate cake with your frosting, and lemon cake, etc., must say they were all great hits, did not taste “boxed” and were unique and fresh tasting enough to get many compliments!

    Thanks for making me a good cook, cause otherwise, I am a lousy cook.

    Reply
  21. Carol

    Just read most of the posted comments so I won’t repeat the accolades but will say that you must visit the store when you are in the area! The friendly, expert help extends to the staff on the floor and the building itself is amazing. The central spiral staircase between the 3 floors is beautifully crafted from recycled wood. In fact, you feel wrapped in the warmth of the wood and people. With Valentines coming soon, please try their Vanilla sugar cookie mix! It’s grandchildren-friendly.
    Carol

    Reply

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