Worker driving forklift and using handheld scanner.

Learn to master a forklift — and get paid for it

March 12, 2019

Bellingham Cold Storage, with large warehouse operations on the Bellingham waterfront and inland near Interstate 5, is hiring an efficient and talented team of forklift drivers. BCS offers a robust forklift driver training program to help team members gain transferable skills while increasing their value on our shipping, receiving and warehousing teams.

Those who successfully complete the 800-hour training program can become designated forklift drivers, based on regular evaluations of the leadership team at BCS.

Those in the program work hard for a great local company, earn daily overtime pay (at time and a half) during peak seasons, and gain skills while being trained to be an excellent forklift driver.

Interested? Here’s more details of what the forklift driver training program looks like at BCS in Bellingham, WA:

Week 1: Learn the handheld scanners. Handheld scanners are integral to the way we do business at Bellingham Cold Storage. Every product in our facility has a tag on it that must be scanned every time that item enters or leaves the warehouse. Week 1 of the training program is designed to acquaint new forklift drivers with the basic commands and functions of the scanner that are needed to navigate work assignments.

Weeks 2 through 8: During these weeks, employees rotate through day and night shifts (two weeks on each) at both locations – on Roeder Avenue and Orchard Drive. Once each week, employees are evaluated in specific skills. These evaluations are reviewed with the employees so that they know where they stand in the program and how well they are progressing in their skills. Here’s the general progression of skill evaluation:

Scanner training. As noted above, a good ability to use the handheld scanners is critical to the proper functioning of BCS.

Interpersonal skills. These include such items as attendance and attitude, whether the employee takes and follows directions well, how the employee checks forklifts in and out, and whether the employee is becoming competent in operating equipment.

Equipment operation. It’s expected that employees increase their competence in equipment operation. Evaluators also look at how employees handle shipping and receiving, whether their scans are accurate, how they complete the “move” function, and how they handle warehousing tasks, such as with bulk stacking and rack storage.

As employees progress in their skills and abilities, they are expected to competently handle bulk stacking and to properly use stacking aids such as tier racks and leg irons. They are expected to know the basics of the Optics system – BCS’s proprietary software that allows customers to track their products in real time. At this point in their training, employees are expected to handle manifests, retrieve and stage orders, print and complete pick sheets, and check trucks in.

Overhead view of forklift driving down dock to load large ship.

Refining skills learned. Day in and day out, employees continue to work toward proficiency on the skills they’ve learned in prior weeks.

By the end of Week 8, employees in the forklift program will have worked approximately 360 hours. From there, trainees continue to work toward full competency. When possible, employees who have demonstrated high levels of skill and ability will take on additional training in areas such as customer accounts, stand-up forklifts, pallet jacks and dock clerk duties.

As a company, we pride ourselves on our knowledgeable and helpful employees and believe we are successful when members of our team can grow and take on additional skills and responsibilities. If you’re looking to join a professional, forward-thinking and sophisticated company with a family culture, check out the options on our careers page.

You might also consider stopping by our job fair on Friday and Saturday, April 26 and 27, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Technology and Training Center.