Since 1931, Star Distribution Systems Inc. has been recognized as Florida’s premier third-party logistics provider. Specializing in LTL freight consolidation to every point in Florida, Star Distribution Systems makes more than 800 deliveries a day. The company, which is headquartered at a state-of-the-art facility in Plant City, offers a range of promising long-term career possibilities for job-seekers of all levels of experience.

In an interview, JD Mattioli, operations manager, detailed career opportunities at Star and the advantages of working for the company.

What makes Star Distribution a special place to work

The main thing is our small business, family atmosphere. We care about our people here. We hear from so many people that they’ve worked other places where they just felt like a number, and they never have to worry about that here. Caring about people isn’t just something that we say — it’s a value at Star that we take very seriously. It’s something our employees thank us for. Our owners are on site every day. They’re very involved, talking to everyone, asking questions, and making sure everyone’s doing OK. We work with our people. We listen to them, and we’re very understanding of anything they might be going through. If they come to us with a problem at work or in their personal life, we work with them and do what we can to help them.

A range of job opportunities

We have several positions that we’re always looking for new people for. The main area would be in the warehouse. The first category of warehouse work is a lot of hand-stacking pallets and unloading trailers by hand, and we call those employees warehouse associates. It’s a lot of manual work and also a good introduction to what we do. Accuracy is very important handling the pallets. If you’re successful in those positions, we’ll move you up and teach you to operate a forklift. And that’s the other category we hire for — order pullers or order selectors. They operate a forklift, go down the aisles, pull freight down, stack it, that sort of thing. That’s the freight that actually goes to our customers, and they have to make sure it matches what’s on each order.

We also have driving positions. We always need qualified CDL drivers. At Star, our drivers come in the morning, get their truck, go on their route — they might go up to Jacksonville or to Orlando or Tampa or somewhere else in Florida — and then they come back after they’ve made all their stops and get to go home every night. We also have office positions open up occasionally, and those are more customer service-oriented.

Opportunities for advancement

We take pride in promoting from within. Most of our leadership started on the ground level here. There are two really great things about that. One is that your boss understands what you’re going through because they’ve been where you are and gone through it, too. The second thing is that it shows that you don’t need a lot of outside experience or degrees to advance here. You can get all the training that you need right here. For some of our supervisors and managers, Star is the first full-time job they ever had. So, it’s definitely a homegrown type of environment that we have here, and it’s definitely something that we take a lot of pride in. When we’re recruiting for entry-level jobs, we like to let people know that the warehouse manager you’ll be working for started here doing this same job you’re being hired for.

Keys to advancement at Star

When it comes to advancing here, reliability and accountability are big. And an openness and willingness to learn. When you make a mistake, we want you to admit it and learn from it. On the other hand, if someone has a negative attitude and doesn’t want to admit when they’re wrong, then that’s someone we probably don’t want to keep around long. Consistency also is big for us. That means showing up on time, putting in consistent effort, and showing accuracy in your work every day.

Training: Learning by doing

Training is very important to us. We don’t leave someone on their own until they know what they’re doing. We usually pair them with someone doing their job so they can shadow them and learn from them. First, that means watching them do it, and then they start to do it under their supervision. For us, it’s about getting your hands dirty, doing the job and learning by doing. The training process takes about two weeks for most jobs, a little longer for some others.

A culture of safety

Safety is our number one priority here, especially in the warehouse because we know that one error can have consequences. We make sure that everyone understands the rules we have in place and why they’re there. We have safety bonuses, and we give out occasional awards when we see someone really paying attention to safety in the workplace. For us, it comes down to culture and habits. Every single day, we make sure safety is top of mind for our team members.

Particular qualities important for job-seekers at Star Distribution

The main thing is the attitude. We want someone who can grow with us, and that means they’re open to learning. They don’t act like they know everything already and believe they’re a finished product. We like people that are humble but hungry and ready to put in the work. People who are excited about coming to work and learning new things — excited about learning new processes and working with new people and new equipment. That eagerness and hunger is something we can’t teach, but we can teach you to do everything else here. So, for us, that’s more important than education or experience.

At home in Plant City

We’ve been in Plant City for a long time, and we’ve grown here and the community has grown, too. We’ve seen a lot of great changes here. We’re very involved in the community in a lot of different ways. Our relationship with Plant City and the people here is very important to us. That’s part of why it’s very important for us to hire from this community whenever we can, and we’ve had a lot of people from Plant City work here and advance and grow within the company. We’re very excited about the future of this community.

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