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Roundtable: COVID-19 Supply Chain Disruptions

The topic of the webinar is about supply chain disruption primarily due to COVID. The goal today is to share those experiences, talk about some of the innovative approaches to this situation, benchmark some best practices solutions that have been implemented, and just ultimately how have you and your company approached this unprecedented supply chain disruption head-on.

Roundtable: COVID-19 Supply Chain Disruptions
 Allison Carr

Green Mountain Technology hosted this roundtable, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: COVID-19 Supply Chain Disruptions”, during this year’s Home Delivery World. See our Knowledge Center for additional presentations!


Transcript

 

JAKE HELLENSCHMIDT, HOST: Hi, everybody. If you’re just joining us now well, thank you for obviously joining us again, and I hope you’ve been enjoying the conference so far. I’m going to give a couple people the remainder few minutes to get in, as it does take a minute or so to connect to the Zoom, and then I’ll go over the basic logistics and looking forward to a good roundtable.

JAKE HELLENSCHMIDT: And a quick reminder when you’re not speaking be sure to have your mic toggled to mute.

JAKE HELLENSCHMIDT: Great, so while everybody’s here, or the first few here, what I’d like you all to do if you could – this makes it a bit easier in identifying yourself – if you could change the view of your roundtable to gallery view, so you can see every square even if the camera is not on. And what you’re going to do next is then hover over your name go over to the three dots right above your name. There in the options scroll down to rename and then enter your name and company, and if you’d like an example take a look at mine.

JAKE HELLENSCHMIDT: Great thank you for everybody who’s listening.

JAKE HELLENSCHMIDT: And if you’ve called in by phone, no problem at all. Just do your best to have your phone muted, you know while you’re not speaking or probably not called upon.

JAKE HELLENSCHMIDT: Great three minutes in. I’m sure we’ll have some late joiners, so if again you forget any of the logistics I’ve instructed or whatnot, I am going to put these instructions in the chat. And first lesson so to say is if you’re not familiar with the Zoom chat function, click the chat button at the bottom of the screen where the videos are, open it up and that’s where you can post your questions any comments. We find it’s much easier to do that rather than speaking out loud. And again a quick reminder – be sure to have your mic muted when you’re not speaking and called upon.

JAKE HELLENSCHMIDT: And apart from that feel free to message me privately. If you have any questions, you can toggle that by selecting the selection arrow in the chat and selecting a name, and I’m very pleased to introduce we have two great moderators from Green Mountain Technology: Rebecca Wyatt and Ron Taylor. And they’re going to be discussing something very close to all of our hearts right now – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Supply Chain Disruptions, specifically around COVID.

RON TAYLOR: Thank you, Jake. Good morning or good afternoon everyone, depending on where you’re working from in the world these days. Great to be with you, thanks for having us. We’re excited to hear what some of the discussions we’re gonna have here – here shortly. As Jake mentioned, this is your roundtable, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, we’re going to talk about supply chain disruption primarily due to COVID-19.

RON TAYLOR: Just a quick intro, my name is Ron Taylor, and I will be one of your moderators for this session. I’m a Solutions Manager at Green Mountain Technology, a company based in Memphis, TN, [we] deliver best-in-class Parcel and LTL invoice audit system and specialize in customized Parcel and LTL Spend Management solutions.

RON TAYLOR: So I took a look at the attendee list prior to jumping on the call, and wow! We’ve got a great group of companies and different positions represented out there, quite the diverse group. I’m excited to have that, because it just makes that conversation that much more interesting so thanks for being here again today.

RON TAYLOR: As I mentioned assist assisting me today is my partner in crime, Rebecca Wyatt. I’ll hand it over to Rebecca shortly for an intro, and then she’ll kick off our first topic to kind of begin the discussions. And just keep on – this is your round table. We want this to be very fluid, very dynamic, and more or less a dialogue and sharing. Our goal today is to share those experiences talk about some of the innovative approaches to this situation, benchmark some best practices [and] solutions that have been implemented, and just ultimately – [ask] how have you and your company approached this unprecedented supply chain disruption, head-on?

RON TAYLOR: We know some of these strategies are more effective than others, so it’s also important to understand the things that didn’t work so well. Just as important as the ones that have worked. So, let’s talk about it all, everything’s on the table here.

RON TAYLOR: I think you’ll all agree that 2020 and COVID-19 will be remembered in so many ways, but ultimately I feel – I’m confident and feel – that we’ll be stronger and better than before once we surface on the other side. We just don’t know exactly when that’s going to happen. One thing I do want to point out, too, is COVID is not your typical supply chain disruption when you consider the seven elements, and I’m gonna talk briefly about the seven elements.

RON TAYLOR: There are seven dimensions of a traditional supply chain disruption. The first one being geography, so with your typical disruption most of those disruptions are local or regionalized. They’re specific to an area, whereas COVID is widespread. It’s global, and it’s affecting all regions of the world. So, that’s a major difference.

RON TAYLOR: [The] next dimension is scope. With a typical disruption, it’s limited in scope. There’s fewer industries affected, and then with COVID it’s again – it’s widespread in scope, affecting both goods like toilet paper (that we all went through not too long ago, trying to find a roll of toilet paper), as well as services.

RON TAYLOR: [The] next dimension that I want to mention is demand and supply. So, when you look at disruptions, they mostly affect the supply and sometimes the demand, but it’s highly leaning on the supply side of things when you look at typical disruptions. Whereas when you look at COVID-19, it’s affected both supply and demand.

RON TAYLOR: [The] fourth dimension I want to mention is prior planning and experience, with your typical disruption we typically have experience dealing with that particular disruption in the past. We’ve learned by those experiences, we’ve documented standard operating procedures [and] contingency planning. That type of thing is well documented and well understood. When this happens, here’s what we do. But with COVID, that’s a little bit different. We’ve got limited disaster planning for a global pandemic, with limited prior experience. What’s new? It’s fluid. We’re constantly trying to figure this out.

RON TAYLOR: The fifth dimension is the financial system. So, when you look at the financial system as a whole, it’s a low to moderate correlation with the global financial system. On the other hand, with the COVID-19 situation, there’s a very high correlation with global financial system, [a] huge difference.

RON TAYLOR: The sixth dimension is the term. So, with a typical disruption, the term is typically short term. In terms of needs for emergency services, you know flood rescues, that type of thing. Where COVID-19 is much more longer term, we need those services longer. Think about hospital beds, and then list goes on. But we don’t know when it’s going to end.

RON TAYLOR: And the last, but not least, is the human – the most important – human impact and behavior. So, with the typical disruption, it’s more localized. As I previously mentioned, it’s a limited duration. We kind of know when it’s possibly going to end. There is public fear, but it’s – again – it’s short-term, and most of the risks are visible. Most of the risks are known, and a good example that would be an earthquake, or a tornado, or any type of disruption of that nature, you can kind of see the end. You know the end of the light at the end of the tunnel. With COVID, again widespread human impact, the unknown duration and the unknown impact, and with all those unknown impacts, it creates fear. So public fear is, you know, lasts longer for longer term, and the risk is much greater.

RON TAYLOR: So, with that I want to hand it over to Rebecca to kind of kick things off in a brief introduction, and let’s get our first topic started. Let’s get going, Bec, it’s all yours.

REBECCA WYATT: Great, thanks, Ron. So, hi everyone! I’m Rebecca Wyatt. I am a Solutions Manager at Green Mountain Technology as well, and I don’t know about you guys but I’ve been looking forward to this conversation for like two weeks. So, I’m gonna go over just a few ground rules today – the first one being, it’s a conversation. Ron and I have no show tunes prepared or proper presentation to roll through, so we’re counting on you to engage – and looking at everyone I see on so far, I’m really excited.

REBECCA WYATT: I know this is an engaging group. I can tell by your faces, really exciting – really excited to hear the perspectives that you guys are going to bring today. So just from a ground rules perspective, please know that the chat is open. I’m going to be manning that primarily. If you do want to have a chat, simply just unmute. You may need to use the raise your hand feature to get your line unmuted, but please know that the value of this session comes from our sharing.

REBECCA WYATT: And I’m saying ours – more your – sharing. So, all right, with that, I’ve dropped the first question in the chat as just a teaser, about five minutes ago, to get everybody a chance to get nice and warmed up for this conversation. So, the first question I’m going to throw out to you guys: what was the number one impact on your organization’s supply chain due to COVID-19 crisis?

RON TAYLOR: Anybody want to get us started? Table’s open.

REBECCA WYATT: I know you’ve been impacted.

MITCH MILLER: Hey, how’s it going? I guess I’ll get it started. So–

REBECCA WYATT: Thanks, Mitch! Come on!

MITCH MILLER: We’re a Texas based logistics company, and I guess for us, obviously like most companies, we forecast out. And, like most companies during COVID, we did not forecast correctly. So, for us, it was just making sure that we were taking care of the end consumer – with trained drivers, because we try to train our drivers, obviously, to improve the customer service. But with the huge increase in volumes that we started to receive, it was just making sure that we got all the right pieces in place to get our driver teams trained up and ready to go.

RON TAYLOR: So, Mitch I got a question for you on that training – how did, you know with, how did you handle the training? You know in this day and age, it, you know [you] just gotta do things a little bit different, right? So, was it a lot of virtual online type stuff, or what, how, did you handle that?

MITCH MILLER: Yeah, it was a little [of] both. I mean, we’re in Texas, so we opened up a little quicker than other states, and we tried to, I mean, we took safety precautions, but a lot [of] it was virtual training. We have an online portal drivers can go into and take tests, and watch videos, and different things of that nature. But I mean, I’m sure other people have experienced as well – it’s harder to get drivers to do that, and [to] get the online training that they need, too, because it was just a learning curve for everybody and that was a part of this.

RON TAYLOR: Anybody else have something to add? That’s good stuff, Mitch, thanks for sharing.

REBECCA WYATT: Roman, you look like you have something to share. How has your business been impacted by COVID?

ROMAN FITZMARTIN: Yeah, sorry, I missed a little bit. How dare a customer call me in the middle of Zooming and complain about my capacity and performance. Yeah, I mean we can state the obvious and be redundant, but it’s really about how in the last mile side, we’re dealing with multiple things: we’re dealing with, you know, the customer’s fear number one, and then you’re dealing with retail stores in a retail replenishment model that every other day, you get a bankruptcy notification, and you’re trying to plan for volume and financial wherewithal, you know three months out.

ROMAN FITZMARTIN: But you know, next week you don’t you know they’re still demanding, you know, in a month they might have three stores closed but next week they’re all open. So, it’s a planning quagmire. It’s very… it’s a black hole we can get down, but you know I think the due diligence on the financial side, based on the shippers I think, is taking a new priority. And then also, on the the residential side, it’s really about the comfort level of the customer – do they feel like you’re going above and beyond?

ROMAN FITZMARTIN: So, yeah, it hasn’t been impacted, incredibly impacted, but you know from a pure revenue standpoint, things are good. It’s really the capacity and the margins that are the focus right now.

REBECCA WYATT: For sure, and I know, you know from what I’ve seen, you know, capacity has been sort of the theme of the year. And especially now as we go into peak with additional capacity constraints and caps. You know, I’m really curious as to how you all are managing through that.

ROMAN FITZMARTIN: Yeah, so if there’s one, I think, lesson learned – it’s last year’s, not this year, right? So, last year, you can get capacity based on your relationships and everything a lot easier. This year, you have to be way more upfront and very honest with the customer if you don’t have capacity. In the past you most likely said, “standby, I’ll be right back, I’m going to get you some capacity in 24 hours.” Right now, if we don’t have capacity, I’m letting the customer know, “look elsewhere, we do not have capacity right now.” I don’t want to lose a business, but I don’t want to hold you up. [It’s a] much different conversation than 12 months ago.

RON TAYLOR: Yeah, absolutely. Anybody else? I do see some comments here on the chat. Somebody mentioned, you know, delays. I guess, you know, some of the carriers – FedEx was called out, and that’s probably, there’s probably more than just FedEx. And then I see the mention of furloughs. So, any comments anybody wants to share about either one of those?

REBECCA WYATT: Emily, come on, let’s share. FedEx delays – talk to us about what you mean by that.

RON TAYLOR: Very curious.

EMILY DENOBLE: Hi, guys. I wasn’t sure if I was gonna speak, but here we are. So, yeah. So, I primarily deal with warehouse management, and our customer orders, and inventory, and things like that – so, coming from a bit of a different perspective. What’s particularly been affecting me has been… basically just the delays in all the carriers that we’re seeing, that our warehouse works with. Particularly FedEx, but like you said, it’s widespread. It’s happening everywhere. But yeah, it’s been a challenge.

RON TAYLOR: You know what would be helpful – if you could when, just before you speak, if you could tell what company you’re with, that would help give a perspective on [you], you know, for everybody if we could.

EMILY DENOBLE: Sure, yep–

REBECCA WYATT: And Emily, since we’ve got you, I’ve got some more questions for you.

EMILY DENOBLE: Sure.

REBECCA WYATT: You know, you mentioned DC operations, so, you know, as I think through that – staffing has to be kind of huge. So, for you guys, how are you managing through that during this time?

EMILY DENOBLE: Yeah, that definitely has been a challenge. I think we’ve just had to be really good about communicating to our internal business about understanding the delays that the warehouse, and also transportation teams, are going through. It’s been tough to work through, but I’m glad that the warehouses are taking the precautions that they are, so, yeah.

RON TAYLOR: Well, I’m sure there’s a lot of modifications, and changes have been made for the safety of the employees, is there anybody – either you, Emily, or anybody else – that can kind of speak to some of those changes that have been made, and and how effective are they?… Or, we can move on to another topic.

JOE FERNANDEZ: This is Joey at Vera Bradley. You know, one of the things that we’ve seen is since our stores are–at the beginning of COVID, we’re closed. We’ve seen quite a bit of business move to E-Comm, and just managing and handling that gigantic increase in E-Comm – really without having any notice, and kind of adjusting the process within [indistinguishable] to accommodate you know twice as many orders as we’re used to seeing. Almost like having a holiday rush, you know, that last, you know, four or five months.

MITCH MILLER: Can I ask Joe a question? Mitch from Hot Shot.

JOE FERNANDEZ: Sure.

MITCH MILLER: So, was it difficult for you? Because with us, like when we’re unloading trailers, and we see an increase in trailers coming into our warehouse, usually we flex up with warehouse personnel. But due to COVID, how did you manage around that with not being able to just add a bunch of people to a smaller area?

JOE FERNANDEZ: Yeah, so we kind of cut back from some parts of our warehouse staffing, as far as the hours they worked. And we were able to kind of move people around to kind of handle those inbound containers in our fulfillment, but there was definitely some mandatory overtime we had to implement, you know. Just to keep people that we know are able to work – and want to work – you know, keeping everything moving.

JOE FERNANDEZ: It’s definitely a challenge though with, you know, the labor shortages that we see in general. And then on top of that, you have people that are maybe afraid to come into work and and be around other folks.

MITCH MILLER: Yeah, that’s what we saw here. We’re in the major cities in Texas, and that’s something that we saw. I mean, we had people coming in, and you depend on people to come in, but obviously as soon as they start to show any signs – you have to send them home. So, you plan for it, and then things change day-to-day, and you’re trying to bring somebody else in and then train them. I mean those are some of the issues we were running into. Especially in the warehouse.

MITCH MILLER: On the office side, we were able to kind of test – we had put into place people working from home before, but it was actually good for us because we showed ourselves that we could do it, and [we] have the office to work from home and still communicate with the warehouse staff.

RON TAYLOR: Mitch, that’s a good – we kind of learned that ourselves at Green Mountain Technology. We were able to seamlessly transition to that remote work, and I’m sure a lot of other companies have figured out the same thing. And of course, over the long run, that, you know, that saves some capital dollars. Instead of, you know, expanding in office space and that type of thing, and [it’s] obviously a perk at the end of the day for the employee, you know. If you’re productive, [if it’s] a productive situation. So, yeah, there’s a positive. There’s some silver silver lining there that I think you just brought up.

JAMIE JENKINS: Hey, Mitch and Joe, this is Jamie Jenkins. I’m with CMOS, and I am on the staffing side of it, but from a cost per unit pricing model versus an hourly pricing model. So, we’re about output, not heads in the building, right? So, a lot of what we’ve done, or we’ve been able to help our customers with, is creating new shifts so that social distancing throughout first or second shift, maybe it’s a third shift, maybe it’s a weekend shift, and so we’ve been able to separate out, and really, you know, have that contingent work plan, continuous improvement plan, to move forward in times of uncertainty. So, not that we come in and just do project work, we want to live within your building, you know, 24/7. But, you know, if we are already in the building, or if it’s, you know, we can come into the building during a time of need and maintain a home there, then that’s certainly something that we’ve been able to do, especially throughout COVID. And it’s been very helpful to so many companies.

MITCH MILLER: Yeah, that’s that’s kind of what we’ve seen. We’ve been able to kind of spread out our schedules and kind of move to, I mean we were always 24/7, but more of a full 24/7 model. But, like Joe was mentioning, you have your stronger warehouse workers that have been there for years and know the operations in and out, and they’re having to lead a team with, you know, people that aren’t trained as well and don’t know the operations in and out.

JAMIE JENKINS: And that’s the other part about CMOS, is that we have our leadership, and basically your leadership, trains hours. And then we train the team, so all of that additional workload is actually on our team to get up and running, but it makes for a seamless integration within your team, and [it] really kind of keeps that cultural alignment within what your expectations are.

REBECCA WYATT: All right, great conversation here, guys. Along these lines, I’m gonna shift gears, for just a moment, and pick on some of our shippers here – possibly even some of our retail shippers who are on with us – and ask about COVID surcharges. So, you know, we know, as Roman mentioned earlier, that, you know, budgets have been upended this year with, you know, unforeseen costs that certainly weren’t financially forecast at the beginning of the year. So, you know, how have you all been managing through those COVID surcharges, you know – are you finding that you’re shifting your carrier mix strategy to potentially avoid some of these surcharges? Or, how are you all navigating?

REBECCA WYATT: Joe from Vera Bradley and Tanja from IKEA, I’m going to pick on you just a little bit to get us started.

JOE FERNANDEZ: I, fortunately for myself, I am not dealing with the shipping side of these things, specifically to the surcharges, so I’m gonna pass that over to Tanja at IKEA.

TANJA DYSLI: Yeah, hi, my name is Tanja. I’m working in IKEA. Yeah, we have long-standing contracts with our shipping partners, so we have not been really hit with surcharges that much, since we have–the way we negotiate our contracts are a little bit more long-term. We also work continuously, I mean there is of course a hit in our cost side of COVID if you just look at last mile, but we are trying to mitigate that with expanding our services. So, differentiating in services, going into different solutions, one man dropping off, contactless, these kind of things which then makes up for lower costs in the way we are handling. So even in a difficult situation, it forced us to think a little bit more outside the box and diversify our services, which we would have done anyhow, but probably not in this speed. So, we have been able to manage our costs in a fairly good way.

REBECCA WYATT: Thank you, Tanja. Anyone else want to join?

RON TAYLOR: One comment about – can anybody speak to communication? With you know… things change, you know, this change and adapting to working remote, [or] just being in contact with your team, being in contact with, you know, your leadership – how have you managed that? Or [what are] some of the challenges there? And [what are] some of the things you may have done to manage through that?

SOPHIE D: I’m happy to jump in, it’s Sophie from Mars Wrigley. I know quite a few are curious about my company. Clearly this was a key factor, we, our leadership has been immediately visible through video calls, video chats, video Teams to first and foremost supporting whoever was out there, because we all of a sudden became scattered and remote. So active visibility of the leadership has been one factor. Leveraging Microsoft technology – Microsoft Office Suite of solutions, and there has been a company direction, and we were reflecting, if the COVID would have hit the company, or the world, not even two years ago, I don’t know if we would have had the same positive experience. Because, I mean, technology has significantly improved.

SOPHIE D: When you think about it two years ago, you couldn’t sustain a video call without any Internet disruption, so that has been key. They also provided us some health and mental awareness additional support system, truly to take care of us from a 360, yeah? So, we had ongoing update from a doctor globally looking at the pandemic and the numbers, so these have been tactics used. But then also convert to some remote ways of working. You gotta learn to recreate yourself remotely and still drive forward whatever you need to communicate.

SOPHIE D: And the one example of communication we’ve also transformed into remote partnership is when we had to reengage with our retailers, I mean, we work in the company, we sell our candies through the typical chains, so we dispatch food trucks from our warehouse to their warehouse, and we had to recontract either because we couldn’t produce your bill of Snickers for a period of time, because associate has to be put safely in different positioning.

SOPHIE D: The key was communication, speaking through with our partners, the retailers on one end, but also our suppliers, because for us the big impact was also on inbound logistics. How you get in the raw materials, the packaging that you need to be able to produce, and our suppliers are also disrupted. So, it was about open book communication and coming up with an agreed manageable scope at both ends, yeah? That’s how you – you gotta work together. There’s no other choice.

SOPHIE D: So, that would be some lens on that communication, the crucial importance, one was – is – visible leadership at any time, and keep it human. The fact that we could see them in the house [it] brought the entire company at ease, and leverage technology to still do remote work, and leverage technology to do remote engagement with a customer at one end, or of suppliers at the other end. And then co-create together, yeah? Find that mutual benefit.

RON TAYLOR: Yeah, you bring up a good point. You talked about the relationships with the distributor and the supplier, that type of thing, so, you know, with travel – not being able to travel and be face, you know, being face-to-face, how would, you know–what about relationships overall? You know, from that supplier, manufacturer, distributor on to the end consumer, can anybody speak to how those relationships are? You know, are they better than they were? Are they saying they need improvement?

DIANA: Well, hello. It’s Diana from Datalogic. I had trouble unmuting myself. So, I could contribute just from an overall relationship viewpoint. I feel from, you know, everything going on with customers and vendors, suppliers – there’s been a real sense of community. We’re all kind of rowing in the same boat up the tidal wave, you know. We’re all kind of experiencing the same kind of fear, uncertainty, and doubt – and how do we support each other best, and really collaborating to make solutions happen for the ultimate end customer. Because  we really realize, you know, we’re servicing, you know, a broader community. So, I’ve been really energized and pleased with a warmer sense of relationships, I think, and also being seen as a more of a value contributor, because we’re extending ourselves and thinking creatively, you know. How can we tackle this in a maybe a different way? Because we have all these, you know, roadblocks from the constraints of COVID, so it’s, I think, been a really great set of conversations in the last month, and I think building more solid foundations with not only existing customers but then new customers as well.

RON TAYLOR: It’s good to hear. Thanks for that, Diana. Anyone else want to comment on that?

JOE FERNANDEZ: Yeah, I’d say internally for us, it’s been, you know, really great to kind of communicate remotely in these scenarios. And, you know, just as far as meeting times, and how we use our time, has been, you know, really kind of optimized and made more effective. You lose a lot of that small talk that you have with people in a room, but you get to the point a lot quicker, and you can make decisions, you know, a little easier I find.

RON TAYLOR: That’s good. Anyone else want to add something?

MITCH MILLER: I have a question on communication. So, and this is Mitchell from Hot Shot again. Taylor, so Taylor works with me, and we’re both in Sales. I’d like to get people’s opinion on communication via Sales, like how – with not being able to to visit as much and not having, like you were saying, Joe, the multiple meetings and kind of just getting straight to the point – how do shippers feel about getting new partners? How–like what is the best process to go about as a sales team, as a salesperson, to make the shippers feel confident that we can get the job done?

ROMAN FITZMARTIN: I mean, I’ll jump in here. I’m in same boat. This is Roman with JW Logistics. It’s actually been excruciating for me, like the meetings, you know, it’s kind of like the glue that’s keeping the business together – the Zoom meetings, and online, and the phone calls. But that’s really  – probably, if we’re at this level and doing this for a while – it’s probably not what our strengths are. It’s [our strengths are] that face-to-face communication. So, it’s really – it’s absolutely, it’s – I think people have a very positive attitude towards it and, you know, everybody’s adjusting, but I find a very material difference. I mean, it’s killing me. I was on a plane every week. I’ve got three daughters, a wife, and a mother-in-law at home, so I’m going absolutely bananas for many reasons – usually because I’m not right about anything in this house, and I need to get away. But that being said, it’s an absolute challenge. I’m not sugar coating it, I am much better as a producer, as a leader, when I’m on the road. I can make decisions in warehouses better, I can report issues, so it’s to me. I’m not even pretending. I hate everything about it. I accept it is what it is, I want to follow the rules – follow the guidelines, keep people safe, but I don’t think there is a full replacement for that connection. And in terms of new connections, it’s that much harder. So, sorry to ramble a little bit, but that’s my honest two cents.

RON TAYLOR: Yeah, no that was great Roman–well, no go ahead, Mitch.

MITCH MILLER: No, I was gonna say that I feel like we’re in the same boat. I know Taylor’s a little different than myself, she enjoys it more than I do – jumping on the Zoom calls. But for me, I mean it’s the same. I find it harder for me to show my personality and kind of gain that trust but–

ROMAN FITZMARTIN: But it’s also, I didn’t touch on it, but also I think you did, Mitch, was even internally – so I’m remote. I live outside by Philly, out away about an hour from it. So, my office was really the airport, right? And my home office is in Frisco, TX, so I used to go down there as needed to help with decisions and strategy, and how we’re going to attack things. I haven’t been there since, and to me, believe it or not, that’s even – as much as I’m disappointed about the development side – that’s even a bigger problem. That lack of of being involved with corporate leadership, and I’m getting an email on decisions that I found out I wasn’t involved in. It’s nobody’s fault, but that’s a damage, that’s basically collateral damage from the situation. So, I’ll even go a step further and say the internal communication is even more restrictive.

MITCH MILLER: Yeah, it’s the same for us. I mean, like I said, we’re in Texas, so I’ve actually, I actually didn’t get the benefit – or I mean, if you call it a benefit – I haven’t worked from home yet. I had to come into the office every single day, but it is very difficult coming to the office when it’s empty. Because you come into the office to communicate with others, and visit with others, and kind of talk. And so even though I wasn’t working from home, I still had to talk to everyone else that was working from home. So essentially I was working remote, from everybody else, at the office.

ROMAN FITZMARTIN: I did do a couple trips by the way, and it was – it worked out great. It wasn’t in an office environment. It was in a warehouse environment, to a customer. But it was socially distant. Everyone was, you know, following the, following the rules, and it was well worth it. So, it’s not – I don’t think it can’t be done. It’s just got to be done right.

KELLY CERVANTES: Hey, it’s Kelly Cervantes with Cargomatic. Just kind of giving you guys like the female perspective, I would say as far as like Cargomatic, you know, we’re a transportation provider. And I think because transportation is so hard, and especially in California, I feel like it’s not that hard currently to, you know, get new shippers. A lot of people are looking for other options, so right now, I feel like, you know, getting that customer like one-on-one time – like they’re hitting my inbox versus me trying to cold call, or, you know, call in a new customer, and then also you know the drivers who are looking for work are, you know, on our app. So, we’re able to provide that, you know, real time quick pick up, you know, Same Day delivery service.

REBECCA WYATT: Yeah, thank you, thank you for sharing that, Kelly. Does anyone have a similar perspective as Kelly, where, you know, customers are just running into your door? Or your inbox as it would be.

TAYLOR MEADOR: I was just typing back to Kelly, this is Taylor with Hot Shot Final Mile. And, well, I definitely agree with what she was saying from a sale’s perspective. With everything going on, we are kind of shifting over to more home delivery and more distribution side of things, so those people are coming and reaching out for us to help them with those types of services. So, even though I’ve kind of changed my perspective, and my point of view of it and everything, recently I do think that I have actually had more meetings now, so. And I think that’s kind of what Mitch was saying, that I actually like it a little bit better. It’s a lot easier to be able to jump on a couple of different Zoom calls within, you know, one day versus traveling to go meet people in person. So, I think generally people are more accepting of just doing the Zoom calls now, because it’s what’s acceptable right now.

RON TAYLOR: Good input thanks for sharing that Taylor. Anyone else want to comment?

AMY: Hi, everyone. This is Amy, I’m with Koolshot Expedited, it’s actually a division of FFE transportation, and I’m kind of like you, Taylor, and who was it that was speaking–Catherine? Kelly? Sorry, yes, we are actually seeing an influx in business because we are LTL, and most freight that would ship truckload, we’re getting the smaller orders. And customers are coming to us left and right, so now we’re dealing with the issue of of capacity. We’re having to kind of, as far as FFE is concerned, we’re having to hold off in the northeast to our third party customers and–but in turn, we are offering our final mile cool shot expedited to our third party customers. So, it’s kind of a twofold, and going back to the comment, Roman, of what you mentioned – just being at home, we’re used to traveling like all these trade shows. That was something that I would do, and I miss it so much. And when I do go into the office, our corporate office is based in Lancaster, I find myself socializing more in the office, and I actually do get work done. So I kind of do miss it, [and] can’t wait till we get back to the norm – whatever that’s going to be, I guess. That’s my two cents.

RON TAYLOR: Well, that’s good. It’s great hearing these different perspectives, you know, sometimes you hear them swinging, you know, this wave, and then down here on this side. So, it’s good, I like like the dialogue.

RON TAYLOR: Anybody else want to make a comment before we kind of pivot to the next–the next topic?

RON TAYLOR: All right, let’s jump in. So, if – can anybody share any strategies that you, your company has executed to either protect revenue or continue to serve your customer, you know, just anything that’s, any changes that have been made due to the COVID and the pandemic? What have you – what have you done, whether it be access points, we heard some of these, but you know which with capacity constraints in play, and various other things going on with the carriers, what are some of the options that you’re using to help make sure you protect your revenue, grow your revenue, and ultimately make sure you’re servicing your customer?

MITCH MILLER: I’ll go again. I feel like I keep talking, so sorry. This goes back to the communication piece. It’s all about communicating – communicating with the end consumer, and communicating with our shippers that we work with – seeing what they’re doing, what what they see works, telling them what we see works. And I think Roman touched on it previously, it’s just being upfront with everybody, being up front and keeping everyone in the loop, and that’s, luckily for us, we heavily invested in technology right before COVID hit, and that’s been huge for us because it’s just – that’s helped tremendously with the communication piece.

RON TAYLOR: Thanks, Mitch. Anybody else? Gotta be some other things out there.

RON TAYLOR: We heard a little bit about changing hours of operations in the warehouse, you know, maybe there’s some shipment consolidation, ship from store type moves, curbside service.

REBECCA WYATT: BOPIS, access points, any anybody dealing with those kind of, you know, introducing those options into the market?

REBECCA WYATT: Bless you, Joe.

REBECCA WYATT: No major shifts? I don’t believe that.

REBECCA WYATT: All right, all right. Well, so, let’s shift gears to something I know everyone here has something to contribute on – so no excuses. You know, as we as we look to, you know, our last few minutes together here, Ron and I most definitely want to end on a positive note, so as we think back through our COVID experiences thus far, what are some positives, you know, that have come out of our COVID business world and transportation? And do you believe these changes will persist long after the pandemic is under control, you know? So thinking along the lines of, you know, remote work, deferred office space, how you deal with your customers, how you manage your employees, you know, I’m looking for every perspective here. Tell me the positives.

JOE FERNANDEZ: Joe here, from Vera Bradley. I’d say for us, it’s given management at the company, you know, a new set of eyes for automation, and really looking at our distribution center and seeing how we can cut out the need for, you know, physical laborers there. And then what technology, what equipment can we introduce to kind of speed up E-Commerce, and, you know, fulfillment for our stores even, you know, in case this sort of thing happens again, you know, and even without.

JOE FERNANDEZ: These sorts of things can help us during a holiday rush, you know, where we’re bringing in extra labor and having to pay, you know, higher rates for those folks coming in during those times of the year.

TANJA DYSLI: I can go next, because it builds nicely on what you just said, so we have started our digital transformation, maybe a year ago in IKEA on global level as well. And I think if nothing else, the pandemic has accelerated our digital transformation in the total supply chain management. We are transforming all our stores into fulfillment centers. We are well on the way bringing in a testing new technology in our warehouses, so that has just sped up all the things, and we are heavily invested in building our digital team here in the U.S. And I think that has been one of the things that really helped – getting money from our global organization, also investments that we had been negotiating for months basically, and now all of a sudden with the pandemic, and seeing where we need to build the resilience that has enabled us to invest more money, and we are speeding up things you could say.

SOPHIE D: We [indistinguishable] at Mars Wrigley. We decided to keep focus on some major transformation and took advantage of the crisis almost to make some bold choices, and the point you bring is absolutely the right one. One of them is continue to accelerate the positive trend of these new technologies, and be – another insight is – be agile. Don’t anymore shoot for the moon. Don’t try to reach perfection, because odds that what we know today will most likely be changed in three months from now. A better move at a first improvement rate, but act now, don’t go through cumbersome approval and complex design of decision making. That’s also another learning we gained.

SOPHIE D: Learn fast as fast, fail fast, spend not much money on resources, because we don’t have them anyway.

RON TAYLOR: Good points, good points.

ROMAN FITZMARTIN: Yeah, I’d like to jump off that, too, I mean between what Tanja said, it’s – a really big positive is a lot of these brick-and-mortar ones that were traditional and yet in – whether in their infrastructure or their, their mind saying, “well we are doing E-Commerce, we are engaged.” So, you know, we’re in this Omnichannel environment, but the reality sunk in where they’re not where they need to be from an E-Commerce perspective when COVID hit, right? So now, that, in my mind, that expedited some of these Big Box and other old-school retailers, probably three to five years where their plan of rolling out this – maybe a distribution network or a DC network – just went through the roof in terms of timing-wise. So, from a customer acquisition standpoint, now you have something to help them with. Now, you can say, “okay, you need to expedite this.” Now you’re adding, you know, a consulting value to their, to their plan, so, you know, for me, that’s where I would focus. And I’m planning on focus– capitalizing on that transition, where they don’t have the excuse to not. They don’t have the excuse to ignore that channel anymore. So, to be a partner in that is much better than, you know, just having them set it up on their own, and then try to jump in. So, I think it’s a good thing.

RON TAYLOR: That’s a very good point, Roman, thanks for sharing that. I think it has fast cycled things about two or three years, as you say.

RON TAYLOR: Anybody else want to comment. You know the floor is open for you to share.

REBECCA WYATT: Jamie Jenkins is there a positive that you’d like to share with us?

JAMIE JENKINS: I think management has really had to take a look within, and like I said in the text box, I feel like so many of the top executives are looking down going, “have we made the right partnerships with our contingent labor, can we trust them, are they reliable, did they stick with us through times like this?” And I think that’s where I know CMOS has gotten a lot of – a referral from other clients, you know, where customers are looking for– I mean, “this isn’t working, and they ghosted me in the biggest time of need, and we can’t even get anybody on the phone,” right? So, I think a lot of those executives are reaching out and really truly trying to find better partnerships and having more transparency. And I think that’s always good for the market.

SOPHIE D: I may have a last gift for the group and the audience, to keep the resilience of our associate, of your associates, of any associate out there. I mean supply chain by design, it’s a series of great people out there that always want to make sure that the right things are at the right time at the right place, per the the expectation of the end consumer or the customer. And you gotta be resilient. We are by design a bit resilient, by nature, because we fix problems at the last minute. But an additional length of resilience our company has invited us to do is to give back to our local communities by simple stuff. Could be just go out and clean your neighborhood, go out and help the folks that don’t have food every day in their household. So, it was also another way to, other, I mean, we are, from a corporate responsibility, we are big on that – to leave zero footprint to our environment, and one of them is we might be lucky to be in business that are still up and running, so we give back to the folks around you that might not have that luxury because their business went completely bankrupt. So, it’s just another way to give a meaningful purpose of why associates belong to a corporation, so maybe that could inspire you, or maybe you have already other examples of what you’ve been doing in your respective businesses, but that’s just another tip we’ve taken, you know, to manage the resilience and build the resilience of any of us.

RON TAYLOR: We’ve been given the five-minute mark, so, till the end of the session. It went quick. If there’s anything you want to throw out there on the table, please do. Now is your opportunity.

REBECCA WYATT: Again, we’ve spent an hour together, you guys, now’s not the time to be shy.

RON TAYLOR: Well, I guess it’s, yes we can end early if that’s what everybody – where we are. We appreciate your time. Well, thank you very much for your participation and sticking with us. We’ve lost a few over the course of the hour, but I know they’ve got one o’clock, two o’clock, meetings to get to more than likely. Thank you, again. Our pleasure to moderate this session today.

JAKE HELLENSCHMIDT: Absolutely, and I want to say thanks to both the moderators, and the attendees as well. It seemed that it moved quick, because everybody got their questions answered pretty quick. And that’s what you want out of a roundtable. And I’m happy to be a part of it, and remember to send everybody connection requests on here and keep those relationships going. And I hope you enjoy the rest of today, and especially tomorrow, take care everybody.


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GMT’s video transcripts are created on a rush deadline and produced using automated transcription software. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of GMT’s overarching message is the video and/or audio record.

Roundtable: COVID-19 Supply Chain Disruptions

Written by Allison Carr


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