Connecting the Dots

When you hear the word “Supply Chain”, you may think of the manufacturing industry, Amazon, or may not be familiar what that word even entails. Rarely do people think of “entrepreneurship” within the same context of supply chain. I am a Korean-American, 24-year old, female restauranteur in Charlotte, North Carolina who is enthralled by the integrated processes of supply chain.

Rewinding back to when I was 12 years old, I vividly recall my mother handing me a blank sheet of paper to write down what we needed to purchase for the restaurant. I would go through the restaurant jotting down what was low in stock. The restaurant was nestled in the heart of downtown Anchorage where thousands of tourists would flock to the center city to experience the adventures of Alaska. This meant that I had to be aware of the various needs of a dynamic customer base in order for the operations to be prosperous. By the age of 16, I decided to renovate and update the restaurant’s interior design, concept, and menu. I was fully involved in the renovation process from the beginning to the end. I understood that the project required adaptation to the evolving needs of our customers. Shortly thereafter the renovation, sales increased three-fold.

By age 18, I left my hometown with my life in two heavy suitcases headed for Pennsylvania. The alchemy of my entrepreneurial history and my strong interest in supply chain led me to my next endeavor of pursuing a Project & Supply Chain degree at Pennsylvania State University. After four years of overnighters, creating new relationships, and always working towards my next opportunity, I evolved into a young adult ready to tackle on the world with my inspiration and motivation. I graduated with a Project & Supply Chain Management degree, a Management Information Systems minor, a Political Science minor, an SAP with ERP certificate, and a Bloomberg Terminal certificate.

By the time I graduated, my parents had already resided in Charlotte for a couple of years. We decided to open up a cafe in Charlotte. As my first project out of college, I was determined to apply my knowledge in the pursuit of a new business. I immediately started to formulate a business plan that would accurately depict my strategy and the competitive advantage to my business. The challenges I encountered during this project had a similar outline, but possessed a different texture. For months I was on a mission to familiarize myself with Charlotte’s neighborhoods and real estate market. I relentlessly researched and cold-called various property managers and brokers with limited resources. After months of searching, I was in a bidding war with some of my competitors for a prime space. I was communicating and negotiating back and forth with a property manager who worked directly with an owner of a high-rise in uptown Charlotte looking to improve the mixed-media space. The agreement had very attractive and lucrative conditions where my competitors seized upon the opportunity aggressively. Despite the odds in my favor, I managed to “level-up” to a higher bracket, beating out the well-known franchise: Starbucks.

After months of relentless effort and energy invested into this opportunity, I experienced my first defeat when I had lost against a local coffeehouse franchise that ultimately ended up securing the space. With the knowledge I had accumulated from the experience, I shifted my route and continued on with my search. With an altered business plan and with a more constrained time frame, I proactively sought out my next target location. Soon after, I had come across a preexisting space I had a strong interest in and had asked the restaurant owner if he would consider selling. Needless to say, I am now operating and managing my own restaurant with the help of my supportive family.

I gained a true appreciation in how supply chain had affected my endeavors throughout my development as an entrepreneur. From an early age, I was around an environment where I learned how to source goods, create my own efficient system that catered towards my customer base, and analyzed my competitor’s advantages and disadvantages. Operating a business on the consumer end helped me gain a deeper understanding of the interconnectivity of the processes. Once I knew how to align the processes effectively, I had a system where I would perpetually try to improve thereafter. I quickly realized that giving keen attention to detail is always a great idea. Being an entrepreneur helps you see how Supply Chain has a strong presence in other functional areas such as finance, marketing, etc. Also, being an entrepreneur and applying Supply Chain techniques, I enjoy having the creative freedom. When the two factors are fused, the possibilities seem endless. I understood that the restaurant industry is sensitive to social and economic trends. Catering to tourists from around the world helped me operate a versatile business while still adhering to the business concept. Global trends and technology will also vastly change the terrain of challenges.

Currently, I am trying to improve the operations of the restaurant so that it is more systematic and functions more seamlessly. Because the restaurant is still very new, I am simultaneously trying to find ways to advertise while building a dependable team. The restaurant industry always has unpredictable surprises and am currently working on the necessary ways to respond to any given situation. The logistics of knowing how to balance finance, hiring, operations, & marketing with the resources of a small business has been a challenging yet rewarding journey. Applying my knowledge in Supply Chain has helped me to exercise and expand my creativity. As Steve Jobs once said at Stanford University’s commencement ceremony, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backward.” As I reflect upon my past experiences and milestone events, supply chain has always been woven into the fabric of my life. I am excited to see what the future has in store as I have long-term plans to be involved in Supply Chain.

Chris Kim
March 18, 2017
Face of Supply Chain – MHI

The world on a lift truck: Everything has been touched by the supply chain

For 28 years, I worked in the automated electronics assembly equipment industry. It was an exciting career because I was working in a high-tech industry that continuously incorporated cutting-edge positioning, sensory and machine vision technologies. However, this industry was also very cyclic. During the low periods, downsizing is bound to happen with manufacturing being cut due to decreasing equipment sales. It was during one of these down times that I found The Raymond Corporation, an industry-leading supply chain provider. While interviewing to work there, the vice president of sales said to me: “Everything you are wearing, everything in this office, all the computer equipment — was at one time touched by a lift truck.” It was then that I truly realized how stable the supply chain and material handling industry could be for my next career.

Because the material handling industry touches everything, Raymond’s large presence in the Southern Tier of New York state is very impactful. Raymond® lift trucks can be found in local industries, food markets, retail stores and local sports arenas as well as most everywhere I travel for business. This brings a large amount of income back to the local area. The company also supports the area in many other ways. As one of the largest machine shops in the Northeast, Raymond has the time and talent to donate. Raymond welders have repaired heavy industrial equipment and plows for the local community, and many events are sponsored by volunteer employees who live in the surrounding area.

I enjoy assisting with and volunteering at these events, especially those that invite students from local colleges and high schools to come to Raymond to learn about the supply chain. Sometimes, showing students that logistics and supply chain management is becoming as progressive and high-tech as other industries interests them enough to join our Raymond family. When I speak to students about how this can be a great career option, I feel I am contributing to the industry’s future.

As other industries move forward in technology, so does ours. We have seen increased use of sensor technology in automobiles and farm equipment, and supply chain management is moving in the same direction with telematics systems that I work with at Raymond called iWAREHOUSE®. iWAREHOUSE provides vital data and analytics to warehouse managers, allowing them to promote operator accountability and monitor compliance, risk management and metrics for their industrial vehicle fleet, operators and batteries. Evolving industry communication standards will also aid in warehouses that have mixed fleets — such as a mix of Raymond, Crown and Hyster forklifts. The key is not to be concerned as much with what collected the data. Instead it is more valuable to be able to liberate the data from each system to then leverage and compare the information for a broader system view. By promoting these standards and contributing to industry publications, I believe I am helping contribute to both manufacturing’s and the supply chain’s continuous improvement efforts.

I am honored to have been recognized for my work in the supply chain industry when I won the 2017 Food Logistics: Rock Stars of the Supply Chain award. I have contributed insights based on my industry knowledge in numerous trade publications, and I am a certified Six Sigma Green Belt. Representing an industry I care about, and one that benefits the community I live in, is a privilege. I am excited to see how the supply chain continues to embrace and lead more innovative technologies.

Breaking down walls in supply chain for the last 20+ years

If I could sum up my 20+ years in the supply chain industry, it has been about breaking down walls, eliminating silos and asking the question, why not? In my early days, it was about doing so in the world of transportation. Back then it was about breaking down the walls between inbound and outbound transportation and asking, if I can use the same truck to deliver something and then pick up something else before I return, then why not?

Today, as the Vice President, Solution Strategy at JDA Software, I led the development of JDA’s Intelligent Fulfillment strategy. With Intelligent Fulfillment, we are tearing down the walls between supply chain planning and supply chain execution. In doing so, we are taking real-world execution constraints into account, supporting iterative planning and execution. The end result: reduced inventory levels and costs, improved customer service, and more agile, profitable and responsive operations.

Supply chain management is essential to a company’s growth strategy in today’s global economy – no matter how good your planning is or how efficient your execution is, without visibility to what is happening upstream and downstream, you’re flying blind. I help companies, whether in retail, logistics, or manufacturing, gain visibilities to help make better decisions that more accurately position inventory to match demand. By helping customers attach visibility to iterative planning and execution, their system will in turn provide optimal decisions on a continual basis to reduce costs, improve service and increase profitability.

My career in the supply chain began when I graduated with an honors Bachelor of Mathematics co-op degree with a specialization in business and information systems from the University of Waterloo, in my native Canada. After spending some time as an analyst at The Nielsen Company, I joined JDA to help develop innovative transportation and logistics strategies across all industry verticals, strengthening executive-level relationships with JDA’s key customers and prospects, and advising companies on best practices to become more profitable.

We have all heard that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. That applies to supply chain operations as well. If companies don’t learn from what is happening day-by-day in their supply chains, I think they will be doomed to repeat disconnected planning processes that lead to mismatches between supply and demand. These mismatches are costly and can lead to service problems such as out-of-stocks and over-stocks. My professional role within the supply chain is to help companies gain the visibility needed to learn past disconnects and apply their learnings to future strategies to optimize operations across all strategies.