What Tours Have You Gone on Lately?

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In the last month, I have attended quite a few tours of manufacturing and distribution operations.  The pictures below were taken at an APICS Inland Empire and ProVisors tour of Southwest Traders Foodservice Distribution and Do It American Manufacturing.  Both were excellent.  And I walked away with great tips! Tours are a great way to see different ways of doing business and gain insights and ideas to apply in your company.  I find that what I see and learn will provide value to clients somewhere down the line.  As often as I hear clients request a consultant with knowledge in their specific industry,…
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Ireland’s Lean, Green Forklift Plant Proves Robots & IoT Not Required

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According to a new an Industry Week article, you can achieve amazing growth and success without robots and IoT! Combilift has used innovation, creativity and the customer experience to go it alone with amazing results! Safer, simpler, smarter is their tag line. Check out their video….      An Interesting Example of Improving Process AND Going the Extra Mile for Customers Combilift is revolutionizing the way companies handle and store materials especially long and awkward loads (sounds like several of our clients….). Most interesting is that they are successful through their attention to customers. They have an eagerness to…
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Motocross, the 100% Brand and How Global Distribution Scales

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I recently attended the San Diego Distributors and Manufacturers (DAM) group of ProVisors. We had an engaging discussion with Francis Costello, COO and CFO of 100%, a well-respected brand in motocross and mountain biking.  He made a very interesting point about how the value of distribution scales and supports “getting big quickly”.   Francis generously provided insightful lessons learned in scaling distribution: Don’t trust your gut. (In essence, it isn’t enough to run the business) Understand the rules and regulations. Contracts vs. trust (neither is sufficient alone) Choose wisely. The only constant in change (after all, Amazon, Alibaba and more continue…
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U.S. #3 in Global Manufacturing Scorecard

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According to a new Brookings Institution report, the United States ranks near the top for overall manufacturing environment.  The report evaluated policies and regulations, taxes, costs, workforce quality and infrastructure and innovation.  The only two countries to rank higher are the United Kingdom (#1) and Switzerland (#2).  The high tax rate and healthcare costs and the lack of government grants/ loans kept the U.S. out of the top spot. The study also measured manufacturing output and manufacturing employment.  China ranked #1 in manufacturing output with the U.S. just behind in second place whereas Poland ranked #1 in manufacturing employment (with…
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How You Learn More By Teaching

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If you want to learn, teach! Recently I taught a Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) class for my APICS Inland Empire Chapter, and it reminded me of this fact.  In order to teach anything (whether in a classroom or one-on-one), you need to brush up on the subject matter and think about examples, case studies or metaphors you can use to explain the concepts.  TAs my consulting mentor always says, he learns more than the students when he teaches. Which topics should you become proficient in to enable success? What have you taught lately?   One tip to implement this…
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What Should We Be Thinking for the 2nd Half of the Year?

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As hard as it is to believe, we are almost half-way through the year.  As a result, we should be thinking NOW about what to stop, start and continue for the second half of the year.  I learned this exercise from my HR mentor (a P&G-trained guru) as we performed it with our team with great results (thanks Debra!). Stop, Start, Continue Here are the questions to ask yourself and your team:  Stop – What should we stop doing?  This is actually the hardest. Not only do I find it hard to stop doing things I’ve included in my daily…
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Are Your Ready for a Systems Transformation?

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The topic of Systems Transformation seems to be arising more frequently lately.  How do you know if it is time to consider a systems transformation? Let’s start by defining a systems transformation.  In essence, a systems transformation is an upgrade to the way you perform business – inclusive of your people (allocation of resources, skillsets, etc.), processes, systems and information flows/ collaboration partners. Although there is never a bad time in terms of elevating your business performance, the investment and disruption might not be ‘worth it’.   In other words, does the return on investment make it the ‘right’ time? Here are questions to ponder…
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What’s Next in the Supply Chain?

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Our most successful clients always ask “What’s next?” as they want to stay ahead of the curve.  It is quite clear that staying on top of current trends and what is expected down-the-road is essential to successfully navigating your business to scalable, profitable growth. For example, if you think your industry might develop a new way of servicing customers, you need to attack it quickly as you afford to be left in the dust.  Clearly, providing an exceptional customer experience is important but so is developing this new service method in a scalable, profitable way. It will be much harder if…
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Gaining New Ideas to Increase Business Value

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Every executive we work with is interested in increasing the value of the business.  Whether a small closely-held business with an owner who might want to sell the business or exit with an ESOP, a private-equity backed company aiming to achieve the ideal exit strategy per the private equity agreement or a large, complex organization working to increase shareholder value, increasing the value of the business remains a unanimous top priority. Understanding this objective is quite different from fulfilling it.  There is a reason the most successful businesses have teams of people rather than one person who has to come up…
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Conflict & Collaboration in the Supply Chain

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Have you thought about the role of conflict and collaboration in the supply chain?  When thinking of supply chain from creation to customer, there are many links and connections.  In the current supply chain model, there are connections between and among suppliers, transportation partners, manufacturers, outside processors, distributors, customers, end consumers, and much more. Within any of these connection points, there are another set of links and connections between new product development/ R&D, sales, operations, finance, HR/ staffing, and any more.  Given the sheer number of variations of connections, it becomes a critical link in achieving success. Therefore, the concepts…
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