Career Value and a Sense of Accomplishment All Thanks to the Supply Chain

Like many people who’ve discovered rewarding and satisfying careers in the supply chain, I had little awareness of the industry—including its vast size and scope—early in my own professional career. That is, until someone took the time to explain to me what the supply chain is all about. Now, nearly 20 years later, choosing to work in the supply chain is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Long before my current position with ASSA ABLOY Entrance Systems as Director, Commercial Door & Docking Solutions, 4SIGHT Yard & Dock Management, I was pursuing my passion for recreational biking at one of the world’s leading bicycle manufacturers. I still enjoy riding their bikes to this day. I’ll be the first to admit it was a lot of fun working around all of those cool touring, racing and mountain bikes, but when it came down to it, they were just bikes. Something was missing. I just didn’t find sporting goods as meaningful compared to what I’ve experienced working in the supply chain.

Once I further explored a supply chain-focused career, I realized the potential for more value and a sense of accomplishment working in a business-to-business setting. Also, I was able to better understand how I could more effectively apply my educational background which includes a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing as well as an MBA.

Loading docks just the beginning

During a job interview with the former Kelley Loading Docks (the Kelley brand is now owned by Entrematic), my future boss explained that nearly every product I used or relied on made its way in and out of a warehouse with the help of dedicated dock equipment designed just for that purpose. I quickly realized that the supply chain profoundly affects the way the world works, and impacts just about everything we use or do on a daily basis.

My initial exposure to the supply chain primarily involved the material handling side of the industry. I became immersed in warehouse and dock products—including the equipment and tools that make warehouses work smoothly and keep them secure. And while warehousing is still a vital part of the supply chain, I’m now working with advanced technology that helps warehouses, especially via their docks and yards, run more efficiently. I’ve found that this has really provided an added dimension of value and satisfaction to my career in the supply chain. In essence, I’m actually transforming traditional warehouse dock and yard management practices—even old technology from the 1970s and 1980s—and bringing it all into the 21st century using state-of-the-art technology.

Supply chain’s still trying to catch up

With all of the rapid advances in today’s technology—including the explosive growth in mobile computer devices—I’m amazed at how the supply chain is still trying to catch up. It’s surprising that some traditional, but vastly outdated methods and practices for managing everything from the warehouse gate to the dock, remain perfectly acceptable. And beyond that, comfort levels are still high for using tools like white boards, spreadsheets and radios to track trailer movements. I’m glad to say, however, that times certainly are changing for the better.

Being part of this technology shift is very rewarding, especially as we see advances in warehouse management systems moving toward more robotics and highly efficient automated storage and retrieval systems. Yard and dock management is advancing right in front of our eyes as well. I’m proud that I’m helping to spearhead advances in automatic door and dock equipment technology and also ensuring that dock-related equipment becomes Internet of Things (IoT)-ready in the process.

If you’re considering a career in the supply chain, always remember that the supply chain affects everything around us. And if you like variety, you’ll find that as well. The sheer number of different companies out there to work with is fascinating. For example, in just one week, I’ve met with companies in auto, tire and motorcycle manufacturing, bottling and beverage manufacturing, as well as a major retailer.

Diversified understanding of business

Getting back to my formal education, my MBA and level of business understanding have definitely allowed me to communicate and relate well at all levels within any company. Marketing and selling cutting-edge technology like ours, I have to deal effectively with C-suite executives, IT and operations personnel as well as various other levels of management. That applies both internally within my own company and externally with our prospects and customers. I also need to firmly understand where our products fit into the overall cost or revenue structure of a company. In addition, I need a good grasp of important considerations such as ROI, how a project will be justified, whether it will be capitalized or if leasing would make better sense and more.

The supply chain certainly can provide a wide range of satisfying and rewarding career opportunities. Looking back on my past 20 years, I’m very fortunate that someone took the time to inspire me and explain what the supply chain is all about, or I might not be where I am today. At this stage in my career, I’m constantly excited and motivated to work with forward-leaning companies that want to take their warehouse yard and dock operations to a whole new level.

That’s just one of the many reasons why I enjoy working in the supply chain. I know for a fact—from two decades of personal experience—that others will too.

Eric Breen
Commercial Door & Docking Solutions
4SIGHT Yard & Dock Management
ASSA ABLOY Entrance Systems