Midwest Warehouse Lead

Equal Exchange was the first fair trade coffee company in the United States. We are a worker cooperative, owned by our employees. Since 1986, we have been demonstrating the viability of worker co-ops and authentic fair trade. Help us achieve our mission!    

We’re looking for someone to join our small regional sales and distribution team in St. Paul, Minnesota. It’s a full-time, worker-owner track position, with eligibility for full membership in our cooperative after one year. We offer employer-paid health insurance on your first day of work, sick and vacation days, and, after new hires have become worker-owners, patronage dividend (depending on profitability), a vote and the opportunity to be involved in the governance of our co-op.

We need someone who can:  

  • See the big picture and still pay attention to the small details  
  • Know what is where, how it got there, and how to get it to somewhere else  
  • Manage the flow of product and supplies on a large and minute level while facilitating communication between multiple departments  
  • Find satisfaction in working a physical and fairly repetitive job  
  • Switch from warehouse work to handling customer calls as needed  
  • Work well independently AND as part of a team    

As a business dedicated to economic justice for small farmers worldwide, our worker-owners, and communities in the US, we would like people of color, women, queer and trans-identified folks to apply. We believe that our differences strengthen our co-op, and that we only reach true​ consensus by empowering dissent and dialogue.  

Job Description:   

  • Type: Full-time, regular non-exempt position, worker-owner track  
  • Hours: 40-45 hours per week  
  • Salary: $17/hour starting pay  
  • Benefits: health/dental/vision insurance coverage (employer-paid), vacations, holidays, sick days, eligibility for worker ownership + patronage dividend  
  • Reports to: Midwest Warehouse & Customer Service Manager  
  • Responsible to be proficient in: All Direct Store Delivery work, all Warehouse packing and shipping work, all Customer Service work, Powered Industrial Truck operation and training.     


  • Ability to communicate and problem solve effectively with customers and team members  
  • Previous experience in warehouse work or inventory management is required. Previous experience in cooperatives is preferred, but not required  
  • An ability to do extensive lifting is required (up to 70 lbs)  
  • Ability to communicate effectively in English  
  • Requires a valid driver’s license  
  • Ability to manage time and responsibilities  
  • An ability to pay attention to detail and work accurately  
  • Comfort with and ability to learn new technological skills  
  • Enjoy working as part of a team  
  • Willingness to be flexible and do other tasks as needed to support the team as requested by the supervisor.  
  • A desire to learn and contribute to the success of the organization  
  • An interest in the mission of Equal Exchange     

Warehouse Operations (70% +/-)  

  • Organize warehouse workflow for efficiency, accuracy, and safety, including temporary labor supervision 
  • Order-Picking: Organize pick-sheets for fastest, most accurate picking. Follow special requests of the sales team  
  • Shipping: Prepare orders for parcel, CPW, and freight shipments in time for daily deadline. Fill out all paperwork necessary for each outbound shipment  
  • Stocking & Clean-up: Restock daily, ensuring product rotation. Keep warehouse clean and well-organized. Remove/repack damaged items from picking locations. Routinely take out warehouse garbage and recycling  
  • Order warehouse supplies, avoiding stockouts and overstocks    

Equipment & Maintenance (5-10% +/-)  

  • Certified driver of powered industrial trucks (power jack & forklift)  
  • Day to day maintenance of warehouse equipment  
  • Train all MN team members in safe operation of trucks    

DSD  (5-10% +/-)  

  • Regular DSD route, and routes as needed  
  • Front and face EE product in delivery accounts. Merchandising, filling bins, proper inventory rotation for participating accounts  
  • Report back to Sales Rep observations and issues relating to accounts  
  • Van maintenance    

Team Support and Special Projects (10-20% +/-)  

  • Train all new worker-owner track and temporary workers (including Sales & Customer Service workers) in warehouse operations  
  • Work with Warehouse Manager on warehouse improvement projects, including physical organization, infrastructure, and systems redesign  
  • Customer Service back-up  
    • Creative problem-solving mindset  
    • Answer phones, take orders, and process credits accurately  
    • Familiarity with EE product line, and equipment  
    • Understand customer needs and build customer confidence in our ability to care for them  
    • Communicate Equal Exchange’s mission  
    • Familiarity with inventory and order-processing software  
  • Inventory Accuracy  
    • Assist Warehouse Manager with stock counts as needed  
    • Physically and electronically receive transfers as needed  
  • Other projects as determined with supervisor   

Personnel and Fair Trade Development (up to 10%)  

  • Participate in weekly staff, team, department, and educational meetings (Exchange Times)  
  • Understand our producer partners, trading policies, and the Fair Trade movement  
  • Understand and participate in our worker cooperative model

To apply, please review the job description, and then email your resume, and your answers to the following questions, to hjohnson@equalexchange.coop​ by 5/26/17.​     

1. Share an example of a project you completed, start to finish. How did you organize your work? When did you ask for help? What challenges did you face? How did it work out?  

2. Our office/warehouse has busier days and slower days. On a busier day, the Warehouse Lead can expect to be picking and shipping orders, receiving our big weekly delivery, helping will-call customers, posting shipments in our ERP software, and figuring out when to do a delivery. Or, the Lead might be needed to help with customer service, by answering phones and working on order entry, communicating with coworkers from other offices, and troubleshooting customer complaints. Tell us about some of your strategies for managing interruptions, triaging problems, and keeping on task.  

3. In practical terms, how do you see the role of the Warehouse Lead relating to the embodiment of EE’s mission? How would you go about this if you were in this job?