A game plan for operational excellence: Gillette Stadium
June 5, 2023
By the Blue Print Editorial Team
By the Blue Print Editorial Team
Sports fans know it as the home of the New England Patriots and New England Revolution. Others think of it as a concert venue for megastars like Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen, and Taylor Swift.
Gillette Stadium is all that and more. A destination for a million-plus visitors a year. A city unto itself serviced by hundreds of technicians, contractors, and subcontractors. A place where the work never stops because the countdown is always on for the next major event.
“For us, it’s really important to have all of the supplies we need on site, readily available, so that our teams have those at their disposal when they need it,” said Jim Kelly, director of facility operations. “Oftentimes, we don’t have the luxury of time. If something breaks or needs to be upgraded, we need to be able to address it right away.”
“When talking about parts and supplies, there are really three key items that we look at,” added Jason Stone, VP of site operations. “One is cost control: How are we managing our operational cost as it relates to products and processes? Second would be knowing what we have on the shelf. And finally, lead times: With the various lead times extending out weeks to months, we need to make sure that we’re being very good at scheduling and getting the parts we need at any given time.”
Tackling MRO pain points
As the scale and speed of their operation increased, they had reached a crossroads with their MRO supply program. They needed to become faster and more efficient to keep pace with an ever-fuller event calendar. This meant gaining visibility to what products are on hand, where they’re located, and how they’re being used by all of the operations teams – from maintenance and janitorial to audio-visual and field operations.
“We had been a very successful stadium over the past 20 years,” said Jim Kelly, “but we knew to really move into the future, we needed to make
some changes. So, it was important for us to partner with Fastenal and have them come in and look at our deficiencies and opportunities for improvement.”
For Fastenal, it began by listening and learning. “We were excited early on to sit down and have a chance to talk with their organization about what they were looking to accomplish,” said Ryan Scott, Fastenal’s VP of sales for the New England region. “We kept hearing some consistent themes: organization, visibility, time savings, efficiencies.”
Jason Stone put a finer point on it: “Prior to partnering with Fastenal, we were really challenged with understanding what parts and materials we had on the shelves versus what our staff truly needed. And we were really inefficient with the movement in the building, getting supplies and
delivering those to the work areas.”
To better understand the current operation, Fastenal brought in members of its Lean Solutions team for a site assessment. This included discussions with various stadium personnel to understand their process for requisitioning, procuring, accessing, and using MRO items. Based on this exercise, Fastenal presented a set of solutions to help them close some of the gaps between where they were at the time and where they wanted to go.
“What’s really unique about Fastenal is their approach,” said Jason Stone. “Even before that first order was made by us, they came in, sat down with our staff, took in all the information that we were providing them, understood the pain points that we had, and put a plan together to solve those pain points.”
The opening drive
Getting started took some heavy lifting. A team of Fastenal employees came in to itemize, pare down, and organize items that had accumulated for 20 years in various storage locations. The next step was to identify a list of high-use and critical needs – from tapes and gloves to drills and tools
– and then customize a set of industrial vending devices to make those items accessible and traceable, 24/7, in common work areas.
It takes a great quarterback to execute a game plan, and Gillette Stadium has found one in Tyler Constantino, their dedicated Fastenal representative. Today, Tyler works in the stadium full-time to manage their MRO inventory, replenish the vending devices, fulfill daily orders, and assist
with special projects.
“A huge benefit of our Fastenal program is having a dedicated resource on site,” said Jim Kelly. “They’re our lifeline for ensuring the program is working well. They also allow us to look outside of the box and understand other things we could be doing to operate more safely and efficiently.”
“They’re really an extension of our operations department here at Gillette Stadium,” added Jason Stone. “We’re not wasting time driving to another supply house. We have a point of contact right here at the stadium, and they’re an integral part of our team.”
Highlights and wins
When asked to discuss other wins achieved through the program, Kelly and Stone pointed to Fastenal’s vending technology and reporting tools. Some of the benefits stem from improved access and control. “We’re deploying vending machines to each level of the stadium to minimize the walking time between the supply crib and the point where the work is actually taking place,” said Stone. “And with a lot of different contractors and vendors coming through our building, we’re able to understand what we have on the shelves, lock it down, and ensure that people aren’t just helping themselves to things throughout our facility.”
Other benefits are tied to data and reporting – getting a clearer picture of purchasing and usage dynamics to reduce wasteful expenditures. According to Stone, “We’re provided with an overall view each month to exactly what is being purchased and used by different departments and individuals. We can easily tie that back to our budgets internally and really put in some robust cost control measures.”
These behind-the-scenes victories are enhancing Gillette Stadium’s fundamental purpose: to provide a world-class experience for millions of visitors.
“One of the biggest barriers they had before was having the supplies they needed when they
needed them,” said Fastenal’s Ryan Scott. “To be able to give them the visibility to what they have, where it’s located, and to be able to help them quickly identify and fix problems within the
stadium certainly drives a better fan experience during game day."
From Jim Kelly’s perspective, the program is helping to bring out the best in their team. “As busy as we are here at Gillette Stadium, we wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demand of the events that we do throughout the year without a program like Fastenal’s. We simply wouldn’t have the bandwidth. We wouldn’t have the efficiency to manage the event calendar that we have. It’s allowed us the opportunity to continue to push the events that we do, the programming that we do outside of football and soccer, but also do it while providing a wonderful experience for our guests and our staff.”
Meet the team
The keys to the game
Fastenal’s devices are making it easier for employees to access needed supplies. They also drive efficiencies through automated access controls, usage tracking, and inventory monitoring.
Provides digital visibility to all of the Fastenal-managed inventory in the facilities – what, where, and how much. A tool to reduce overbuying and employee travel time.
A dedicated resource to execute a Lean, proactive, and agile supply chain, keeping the Gillette Stadium operations teams moving full speed ahead.
Want to learn more? Visit our Onsite Solutions page.
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Jim Kelly | Director of Facility Operations
"...It's really important to have all of the supplies we need readily available..."
Jason Stone | VP of Site Operations
"We’re not wasting time driving to another supply house. We have a point of contact right here at the stadium, and they’re an integral part of our team."