Amazon has started hiring for its Kernersville fulfillment center, about 14 months after confirming plans for the more than 1 million-square-foot facility.

The company has pledged to hire more than 1,000 full-time employees for the facility at 1656 Old Greensboro Road. It has not indicated when the plant will begin operations.

"We typically begin hiring for our new fulfillment centers a few weeks prior to launch, and the facility will gradually ramp up to full operations in time for the 2020 holiday shopping season," said Courtney Johnson with external communications for Amazon Operations.

The online retail giant is directing job applicants to www.amazon.com/carolinajobs.

Applicants must be at least 18 and have a high-school diploma or equivalent to be considered. Starting pay will be $15 an hour.

Employees will pick, pack and ship larger-sized items to customers across the region, including bulk cleaning supplies and paper goods, sports equipment, pet food and supplies, electronics, and household goods.

"Jobs are available on a rolling basis and fill up quickly," the company said in a statement. "We encourage people to sign up for text alerts for regular updates by texting PITNOW to 77088 to receive automated messages about job openings."

Hiring to be quick

The process will take weeks for the initial hires, with the full workforce expected to be in place within several months after operations begin, Rachael Lighty, regional manager of external communications for Amazon Operations, said in June 2019.

Lighty said the work shifts will operate on a four-day-on, three-day-off schedule at 10 hours a day. Though the facility will operate around the clock, two hours for maintenance is built into the daily schedule.

“There will be about 200 employees on site at any given time, seven days a week,” Lighty said.

John H. Boyd, a national site-selection expert based in New Jersey, has projected the Kernersville fulfillment center could represent a $150 million capital investment. Amazon signed a lease for up to 40 years with Atlanta real-estate developer HPC Seefried in July 2019.

Amazon has more than 5,000 full-time employees in North Carolina, mostly in Charlotte and the Triangle.

Lighty said Amazon will bring in a small group from other fulfillment centers for about two weeks to help train the initial wave of hires.

“Our first priority will be identifying senior leadership for the center,” Lighty said. “The vast majority of the employees will be local hires.

"We will give current employees, particularly those who are coming in to help with the training, the opportunity to transition to the Kernersville center, but we don’t anticipate there being that many.”

The Kernersville facility will be similar to the one Amazon opened in Kannapolis in July 2018, in that both will primarily handle bulky items that are 18 inches and larger. Those items can include items as varied as diaper boxes, kayaks and furniture.

In October, the company opened its first Triad delivery station in a 66,000-square-foot building with “hundreds of part- and full-time” workers already in place.

The delivery facility at 7929 National Service Road “empowers the last mile of our network,” an Amazon spokeswoman said. The property has a Colfax address but is in High Point city limits.

Connected to the facility are hundreds of delivery-related jobs, whether utilizing Amazon delivery vans or personal vehicles. Those jobs pay between $18 and $25 an hour with flexible work hours daily. For more information, go to https://flex.amazon.com/.

Amazon offers benefits that include health, vision and dental insurance from the first day of employment, a 401(k) with 50% company match, up to 20 weeks paid parental leave and a career choice program that pre-pays 95% of tuition for courses in high-demand fields.

Not for everyone

Several employment studies have shown that working at an Amazon fulfillment center is not for everyone.

For example, Amazon makes it clear that the job can be taxing, particularly during the peak holiday shipping season.

Workers can walk seven to 12 miles during a shift. Most employees must be able to lift up to 49 pounds.

Several Amazon centers have dealt with COVID-19 outbreaks among employees, most notably in the New Jersey and New York areas.

CNN Business reported June 30 that Amazon "has refused to reveal data on the number of coronavirus cases inside its warehouses by claiming the data itself 'isn't particularly useful.'"

However, CNN Business said an internal Amazon memo shows the retailer "has been closely tracking the spread of the virus inside at least one warehouse in Shakopee, Minn.

Amazon previously has claimed that coronavirus cases were "popping up at roughly a rate generally just under what the actual community infection rates are," according to Dave Clark, is senior vice president of worldwide operations.

Amazon said in its statement about the Kernersville facility that "we are doing everything we can to keep our employees as safe as possible as we prepare for the launch."

"In fact, across our operations Amazon has invested more than $4 billion from June to April on COVID-19 related safety measures. This includes spending more than $800 million in the first half of this year on safety measures, like temperature checks, masks, enhanced cleaning, gloves and sanitation stations."

Amazon also has a blog that provides updates on its COVID-19 responses.


Photos: Amazon's Fulfillment Center in Kannapolis

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