Incredible opportunities

Libbie Hammond spoke to Brandi Cervantes, Senior Director, Supply Chain Management at Caliva, to get an insight into a career into this exciting and fast moving segment

With nearly two decades of perishable industry experience under her belt and an expert understanding of end-to-end supply chain management, Brandi Cervantes is in an ideal position to share some details of her work with readers of Supply Chain World. She began by explaining how she gravitated to the supply chain arena. “While working in other industries in my early career, I found myself regularly hitting a point that work was not as satisfying as I would have liked,” Caliva ashe said. “I had the opportunity to work with an amazing female mentor who had built her company from the ground up, initially working from her garage before growing her business into the success that it is today.

“Her drive and dedication to her chosen field and commitment to improving processes for her employees highlighted to me where I would like to be one day. While I have had a different path and industry, the drive to improve processes led me to my current role within Caliva’s supply chain. Specifically geared towards distribution and inventory management, I have found a niche that has afforded me the opportunity to work with amazing people in a growing and exciting industry.”

Brandi noted that historically, the supply chain segment saw women held to administrative roles. “But now we see women holding executive and industry leadership positions routinely,” she was pleased to note. “Our supply chain leaders are strong, confident women who are paving the way for our daughters and granddaughters to continue to excel and develop our supply chain end-to-end.”

Brandi also believes that there are a lot more opportunities in this sector for women to advance in their careers. “There is always opportunity for women to gain a larger share of the supply chain segment,” she confirmed. “However, women continue to gain higher- and top-level executive roles within the industry. Caliva has proven to be a company that provides women with growth opportunities, such as myself and many others.”

Having mentioned her own female mentor, Brandi is keen to draw on her own experience and in turn inspire and support her colleagues: “Regardless of gender, I strive to encourage growth and the seizing of opportunities that become available to each of us during our own particular career journey,” she agreed. “While not involved in any particular formal program, it is an important part of my overall approach to the mentoring of my employee base.

“My philosophy is that myself and team should be able to feel we have made an accomplishment daily, whether big or small,” she continued. “This reward at the end of a day creates a mentality of ‘doing’, which pushes each of us to work towards a daily accomplishment. The supply chain is ever evolving and improving, so a daily accomplishment is a great way to measure success and create a pathway towards the end goal. So, every day I am rewarded with a ‘win’.”

With her enthusiasm for her role clearly evident, Brandi and her team work hard to ensure that the supply operations at Caliva run smoothly, and she had some advice for others on how to preserve the most successful associations with suppliers. “Keeping relationships with suppliers strong is a two-way street,” she said. “Creating confidence and trust between yourself and the supplier with robust and open communication and clearly defined expectations that are met by each party is key to overall supply chain success.Caliva b

“Professionalism is vital while creating a close working relationship that allows for fair negotiations and realistic asks that can result in long term successful contracts,” she added.

An efficient supply chain operation is a pivotal part of the success of a business – if they want to be more competitive in the marketplace, boost customer satisfaction and reduce operating costs, then the supply chain department is where all of these facets can be improved and controlled. “The opportunity for increasing efficiencies, continued process improvements, trainings, and solutioning scenarios arise daily,” Brandi divulged.

The supply chain industry sector may be overlooked by many as a career path, but it clearly offers a varied and challenging vocation, with many different aspects that make every day different. “Working in the supply chain field has created incredible opportunity and growth for me personally,” said Brandi. “As part of the management team for Caliva’s Supply Chain, I am dedicated to targeting initiatives that are geared towards finding solutions to the unique nature of our industry.”


Care where it is needed

Faced with a once in a generation global health emergency, HCA Healthcare’s IT procurement team continues to rise to the challenge posed by Covid-19, helping the organization to deliver the life-saving care its patients require

When asked to describe what the past 12-to-18 months have been like for HCA Healthcare (HCA) – one of the leading providers of healthcare services in the United States – Chris Rhinehart, Associate Vice President of Procurement, rather appropriately likens it to being “a tale of two cities”. As he explains; “As you will have heard from virtually everyone you speak too, for us it was very much a case of business as usual up until late February early March of 2020. We were moving along nicely, achieving regular business growth – both organically and through acquisitions – at a similar pace to that of previous years, but of course Covid-19 changed a lot of that.”Matthews Automation a

When the pandemic hit, Chris and his team, who (as previously documented in Supply Chain World) have been responsible for developing and building out an IT-focused procurement department within HCA to enhance its operations and help to deliver the highest level of care to its millions of patients, went into what he calls a response mode. “This was so that we could quickly and efficiently react to any anticipated changes or shortages within the supply chain, and focus on areas that we believed to be critical to HCA’s operations,” he details. “This meant channelling our energies, hard assets, resources and people towards supporting the integrity of the shared IT service that we provide to the organization. We also rapidly honed in on working on solutions and modifications to said service, the network and software so that we might be able to respond faster to any supply or care issues relating to the pandemic.”

Understandably, given the circumstances that the world still finds itself in today, the aforementioned work has remained Chris and his team’s primary focus ever since. What he does also reveal to us is how HCA’s capabilities and resilience helped in making this sudden transition as efficient and successful as possible. “Being a major healthcare provider – and certainly the largest in the United States outside of Government – HCA takes a view to its work that is rarely shared with anyone else, especially in the sense of scale, the scope of patient care provided, and perhaps most importantly (especially from where I sit within the organization) the use of data and data analysis.

“With the importance of the latter in mind, we have pivoted much of our internal investment towards helping us in that area, and to allow us to better analyse incoming data, and to look at ways of augmenting it in order to improve care in patient outcomes. We have also made several investments in supply chain related solutions that can help HCA to better identify and track inventory and its availability, which is especially important when it comes to vital life-saving equipment such as ventilators. Meanwhile, other solutions that we have either devised or improved upon include a vaccine tracking and tracing alert system, which is 95 per cent proprietary having been self-developed.”

If there is one major positive to be taken from the way in which Covid-19 has impacted HCA’s IT procurement operations, it is that it has well and truly elevated its importance onto center stage. Indeed, it has reinforced what Chris and his team already knew, and that is the fact that virtually every area of response needed to provide care for patients in times such as these require some kind of IT component, with many being led by IT itself.

Bearing that in mind, the recent efforts of HCA and its IT procurement operation have been immense. Chris goes on to state how key elements and qualities such as contingent labor, financial resilience and sound analytics have been key to his team’s success. “Starting with contingent labor, one of the inherent values we see in this is that it provides you with flexibility to either increase or decrease resources quickly as per one’s business needs. It also offers a degree of financial resiliency in challenging times, and we saw some pretty significant, almost immediate reductions which helped us tremendously. “Other measures we have taken to shore up cash flow and reduce outgoings include reaching out to our partners to postpone orders, modify contracts or adjust payment schemes. We have also found that several of the new business practices that we have adopted in the last year will likely continue moving forward – particularly those Matthews Automation binvolving payment terms and the like – leading to better cash management in he future.”

Lastly, in terms of data analytics, Chris cannot stress enough how critical the use of sound, reliable data has been in not only helping HCA’s efforts to respond to and care for its Covid-19 patients, but also in supporting those providing the care itself by trying to ease the burden of an already overwhelming workload. When it comes to what Chris has learnt about himself, his team and the relationship they have with their vendors and partners, the last 12 months have provided an invaluable experience that he feels has helped him grow quicker from a personal and professional perspective than at any other time he can remember. “On a personal note, I would say that before the pandemic struck, I was at a professional level of satisfaction that I would consider at or near its very peak,” he says. “However, after witnessing and being a part of the response of HCA – and the wider industry – to the pandemic, this has been taken to a whole new level that I couldn’t imagine. “Internally, our CEO and senior leadership made a commitment from the outset to weather the storm of Covid-19, putting our people among their highest priorities in order to keep them safe and within work, and that is what has been achieved. Meanwhile our teams, including my own, have truly stepped up to the plate, driven by a desire to help wherever possible and go to whatever lengths that we require of them, and that has been amazing to see.”

In terms of vendor relations, the last 12 months have also reemphasized the importance of strong and effective supply chain partnerships, and how they help to see businesses through not only the good times, but the challenging ones too. “I have been very much humbled by what has again been an overwhelmingly positive response from our vendors over the past year,” Chris adds. “We have reached out to many of them during that time period to assist in various efforts and to set out our hopes and requirements for the coming months, and they have universally responded enthusiastically and helpfully. So, it is fair to say that we have definitely seen the very best of our vendors and supply chain partners during this unprecedented period as well!”

As far as 2021 is concerned, the immediate focus for Chris and HCA’s IT procurement team remains very much the same as that of last year, and that is delivering the solutions and services needed to continue in the fight against the pandemic. There is some cause to believe, however, that this year could also see a return to some degree of normality. “By normality, I mean the possibility of making additional investments in projects that maybe are not specifically tied to our Covid-19 efforts,” Chris clarifies. “For the most part, we are not expecting a return to operations like those that we had in 2019 until perhaps the latter stages of 2021 or early 2022. In the meantime, we will further improve upon how we operate in today’s environment, accentuating the positives that we have found from having people working remotely. As mentioned previously, our team has embraced this way of working, and for the most part they would prefer to retain some form of this going forward, so let’s hope that we get a point in time where those conversations can be had, perhaps sometime in Q3 or Q4 of this year!”

HCA Healthcare
Services: IT procurement

Rough seas make stronger sailors

Thanks to the power of collaboration and strong business relationships, the world’s second largest cruise operator, Royal Caribbean Group, is getting ready to bounce back after the Covid-19 crisis

For many people, the name alone is enough to conjure images of turquoise seas and sunsets on wide horizons. Royal Caribbean Group operates some of the most popular and recognizable cruise brands in the world - including Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea Cruises - and has continuously redefined cruise vacationing for its guests since 1969.

Serving a large portion of the 30 million people that embark on cruises each year, Royal Caribbean has become known for its friendly and engaging service, adventurous itineraries and onboard innovation that includes a number of industry RCG afirsts, such as rock climbing, ice skating and surfing at sea. After years of hard work, the company has earned its reputation as a well-loved and respected vacation provider, and so it was with great sadness that the world received news of the challenges Royal Caribbean and its cruise sector colleagues faced in 2020.

“The travel industry has been hit extremely hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, but you will not find a subset of the sector that has been hit harder than the cruise lines,” declares Paul Litvinov, Royal Caribbean’s Vice President of Global Supply Chain Management. “Rightly or not, cruising was perceived early on as something that causes easy transmission of the virus and so all sailing was suspended. As opposed to hotels and airlines that are able to achieve some revenue in some parts of the world, cruise lines were not able to sail anywhere at all for many months.

“As always, the safety of our passengers and staff was our number one priority throughout,” Paul adds. “In some instances, the crisis meant that there were no flights available so we sent ships from Florida to Asia full of crew. It’s our duty to keep our crew safe, so we were happy to do it.”

Understandably, as the cruise industry battled the impact of the pandemic, its suppliers began to feel the strain. While Exxon, Coca-Cola and the rest of Royal Caribbean’s multinational partners were able to mitigate the damage of Covid-19 to their businesses, smaller, independent companies suffered greatly.

With no sailing for nine months, travel advisors were affected more than most. Having forged excellent working relationships with its partners and suppliers in over half a century of business, Royal Caribbean acted in solidarity with the travel sector in December 2020 and introduced Pay It Forward, a $40 million pool of funding available to qualifying travel advisors as they look to rebuild their businesses.

The goodwill and cohesion on display in Royal Caribbean’s Pay It Forward campaign has been reciprocated in other areas of the industry. Working closely with its long-standing suppliers, the cruise operator was able to extend payment terms for many goods and services as the sector worked together to tackle the downturn.

“We continue to pay and we continue to honor our obligations as much as possible because we still have consumption in areas like technical part suppliers that way. Of course, it is much less than what we operate with normally, but it is not insignificant and we are providing companies with business in a tough time.

“In addition to Pay It Forward, we have also created a workstream with Ernst & Young to guide smaller suppliers towards a more efficient way of applying for government assistance. The US has a lot of initiatives in place, such as the Paycheck Protection Program, to help businesses with loans and keep that workstream going.

“Right now, we are working with suppliers to understand their inventory position so that when we resume cruises, we can start pulling product that has been sitting on their shelves because it is good product, within the expiration dates. We just want to support these valued partners. Our relationships have been built over many years of trust and collaboration, which is really helping us and them to come through this situation in a big way.”

Though it is difficult to confirm an exact timeline due to the unpredictability of Covid-19, the ongoing rollout of a vaccine for the virus means that Royal Caribbean is already preparing to bounce back. Short cruises out of Singapore were the RCG bfirst to return in December 2020, and the firm’s joint venture with TUI Cruises in Germany resumed sailing in a limited sense earlier this year.

Royal Caribbean aims to start operating on a larger scale as soon as possible, but customers will not be back on the high seas until the company and industry regulators are absolutely comfortable with cruise liner safety. In 2020, the company joined with Norwegian Cruise Line to form the Healthy Sail Panel – a taskforce of globally recognized medical and scientific experts that develop recommendations for establishing the strongest protocols in the travel industry. Panel-led rules and procedures will play a huge role when Royal Caribbean ships next leave port.

“It’s difficult to predict when things will get back to normal, but we are very focused and working extremely hard on our return,” Paul reveals. “We have new suppliers and we are buying a lot of medical equipment so that we can test people prior to the cruise and exclude any guests or crew if there are any unfortunate Covid-19 cases. We want to create an airtight bubble onboard, but ultimately the vaccine will help us the most. We are staying motivated and will start cruises as soon as it is safe.

“There is huge pent-up demand at the moment for people who really want to go on a cruise,” Paul continues. “Everyone is sick and tired of being inside and they want to take vacations. Bookings are very strong for later this year and 2022. Just recently, a big oil company came to me and said they wanted to buy hundreds of cabins for its employees on the first cruise back, so we have a lot of reason to be optimistic. When we bounce back, I think we are going to bounce back in a very, very big way.” 2020 was a tremendously challenging year for Royal Caribbean, but the company has weathered the storm and is confident that smoother waters lie ahead. One thing customers can be sure of is that when the operator’s cruises return to the seas, they will still be among the most modern, innovative and revolutionary in the world.

“There is a very clear distinction between us and the rest of the industry. A lot of it comes down to that spirit of innovation that began when we brought out the monumental Voyager class back in the early 2000s,” Paul explains. “Our cruise liners have the most creative and advanced hardware in the market, from the world’s tallest viewing deck on a cruise ship to onboard replicas of Central Park and Coney Island. We were the first company to transform a private island into a blend of theme park and luxury resort in the Bahamas. We are almost the Apple of cruises in that way – we come up with the features that people have never even thought of and before they know it, guests cannot imagine cruise ships without them!

“Up until the pandemic, Royal Caribbean had been smashing records year on year and we were really set up for huge success,” Paul summarizes. “I am confident that this success will resume once the crisis is over. We still have a lot of ships being built, including a brand-new cruise liner launching in April. I know 2021 won’t be easy, but we have exciting hardware ready for release, and we have great relationships with our customers, suppliers and travel advisors, so I think the future is very bright.”

Royal Caribbean Group
Services: Global cruise holding company

In control

Agile, innovative and growing, Matthews Automation Solutions provides the software and controls behind warehouse automation for some of the world’s biggest brands

For over two decades now, major global corporations have been partnering with Matthews Automation Solutions for its innovative material handling technologies and proven vertical industry expertise. A member of Matthews International (MATW), the company provides advanced software and controls to the warehouse automation industry, and its software solutions can be found in distribution centers and ecommerce fulfillment facilities worldwide.

Made up of the warehouse automation brands Compass Engineering, Lightning Pick and Pyramid, Matthews connects automated systems into one centralized stream, balancing work throughout the fulfillment process for optimum material Matthews Automation aflow, efficiency, accuracy, real-time visibility and speed. Compatible with any mechanical system, and combinable with emerging collaborative robot technologies, Matthews’ solution architecture is built to meet the process challenges of today and tomorrow.

“At Matthews Automation Solutions, software and controls-based technology are our expertise, whereas at some mechanical automation companies they often take a back seat to mechanical products,” explains Gary Cash, the company’s General Manager and Vice President. “The differentiator is our warehouse execution software. We compete by offering more comprehensive feature sets than our competitors.

“As an overview, our systems help control operations at a distribution center - managing flow, releasing, fulfilling and shipping orders,” Gary adds. “As part of that, we specialize in fulfilment systems and technologies that pick and pull units from where they are stored and place them into orders. Along with our superior software, we are not tied to any brand of conveyor or storage system, meaning we are agile enough to grow with a changing business.”

Matthews’ success stories include a decade-long partnership with a worldwide shoe retailer. Having first installed controls and software at the company’s 1.8 million square foot California site, Matthews has grown with the business as it moved overseas, installing new systems for the retailer in Belgium and China.

Productive long-term partnerships have been a Matthews hallmark throughout its history and the company continues to value collaboration today. In 2018, Matthews partnered with a leading meal-kit provider, adding semi-automatic systems and software into its US facilities to help with the boxing of ingredients. Since then, Matthews has watched the meal-kit company grow across California, Texas, Georgia and New Jersey, applying different automation solutions on a case by case basis to help reduce lead times and break into new markets.

“At one time or another we’ve worked with almost every integrator in the industry because we strive to be easy to work with for both integrators and customers,” Gary declares. “Typically, these companies will provide the mechanical scope and installation, whilst we will provide the software and controls portion of the solution.

“Our best partners are the ones who bring us to the table early on in the process and let us help design the system because they recognize the importance of the software. It means we can work together between mechanical, controls, software, and the end user to build a system that fits the client.”

One of the key factors behind Matthews’ longevity and continued success is the company’s willingness to understand that each customer possesses its own culture and requirements, and therefore, there can be no ‘one size fits all’ approach to its solutions. Instead, Matthews employs a more flexible, tailored methodology in its projects, and at the heart of this lies a focus on innovation.

“Innovation is one of those topics that is becoming more and more important on the software side because we control how orders flow through a building. The smarter we can be with optimizing flow - anticipating when there is going to be capacity, making sure we don’t overflow the system - the better the solution is going to be,” Gary says. “A lot of our customers have one million square foot buildings, yet by using technology we can know how busy every area of a building is at any one moment, so we can anticipate capacity and release work.

“Algorithms, adaptive analytics and machine learning all play a part, but in simple terms, our systems maximize customer success. They are there to make sure that, even on your busiest day, you are doing everything you can to stay efficient.”Matthews Automation b

Though Matthews’ work is inherently centered around software and machinery, the company is also reliant on a highly skilled technical team, committed to learning about and understanding the latest technology in a rapidly changing market. Of course, many of Matthews’ employees have been forced to work from home over the last 12 months as Covid-19 restrictions led to a reduction in staff onsite. Gary suggests that this wasn’t the only impact of the pandemic.

“There was a three-month period where new orders went way down and some were even cancelled, but by September, things picked up and we ended up achieving a record year for new orders,” Gary reveals. “When we heard that customers were having trouble keeping product on the shelves, it became obvious that it in a crisis environment it is important to keep up with demand. A noticeable trend was an increase towards ecommerce. Once companies saw the benefits of that change in consumer habits, they started placing orders with us. They realized that they needed to be more aggressive and continue investing in their supply chain. Everyone learned together, and right now, this industry is as busy as I’ve ever seen it.”

Before 2020, ecommerce had been an increasing factor behind Matthews’ growth, but the trend was intensified by Covid-19. The company’s experience in helping retailers expand their ecommerce platform proved invaluable during the crisis.

“While many of our competitors were working out ecommerce on the fly, we already knew what had worked well in the past and we were able to apply those fundamentals,” reports Erica Wine, Matthews’ Product Marketing Specialist. “The growth is set to continue well beyond the pandemic. We are now working not only with meal-kit providers but also grocery delivery and pickup services. Even in sectors that were traditionally instore only, people have realized that they can buy more conveniently online.”

With more and more consumers shunning instore for online, the importance of ecommerce to retailers is only going to intensify in the future. Consequently, Matthews is already developing new technology and advanced algorithms that will improve its offering in the months and years ahead.

“It’s funny, when I get in front of customers I ask, ‘When was the last time you received an ecommerce shipment that was wrong?’” Gary remarks. “Almost every time everyone shakes their head, and I tell them that it is due to software like ours. We make sure that the right items are in the right box and that they are going to the right place. A lot of what makes ecommerce possible, and successful, is the software behind it.”

One of Matthews’ newest software products is NEXUS, a warehouse execution solution that takes full advantage of contemporary web-based technology. Compatible with any device, NEXUS will be released later in 2021. Beyond that, Gary believes that Matthews will be looking towards introducing more advanced algorithms as well as solutions that work in cohesion with autonomous mobile robots.

“Our brands Pyramid and Compass have their own software products that are best in grade, but we will soon be jumping to newer technology in order to come out with something that could take over the industry in terms of management flow, building optimization and compatibility,” Gary asserts. “Robotics is growing quickly and is going to take over a lot of operations, so being able to communicate and drive efficiency on that front is a big ambition for the future.

“We have been one of the leaders in warehouse execution software for a number of years and that is where we want to stay. The market is continually evolving and we are doing everything we can to stay at forefront of that.”

Matthews Automation Solutions
Products: Warehouse automation software and controls

New year, new opportunities

The year 2020 was a non-stop ride for Purple, yet thanks to its industry leading supply chain infrastructure and company-wide performance it enters 2021 firing on all cylinders

As Vice President of Supply Chain for one of the leading disruptive direct-to-consumer multi-channel brands in the mattress industry, Purple Innovation, Mike Schultz’s responsibilities within this rapidly growing and evolving business are understandably numerous. Having joined Purple at the beginning of 2018, Mike today oversees a number of functional areas throughout the organization, which are broken up into departments. Said areas include purchasing and production planning, sales and operations planning, quality control, logistics, transportation and global trade compliance, sourcing – both domestic and international – warehousing (which encompasses inventory control) and fulfilment (which includes Purple ahome delivery).

When Mike came into the business, Purple was already turning over approximately $200 million in annual revenue, yet he freely admits that, at the time, it lacked the necessary infrastructure to support the high rates of growth that it was experiencing. Fast forward to January 2021, however, and the efforts of Mike and the rest of the Purple team have put the company in a much stronger position than arguably ever before.

“I strongly feel that with the team and infrastructure we have in place today, Purple is in the best possible position to maintain its strong rate of growth, while continuing to fine tune itself in order to become increasingly profitable,” Mike states. “We remain incredibly focused on our customer centric activities, and therefore our fulfilment and delivery operations continue to get a lot of attention. We also work continuously on operation discipline in order to minimize mistakes and channel our efforts into managing our growth, as opposed to spending time fighting fires.

“Meanwhile, moving forward more of our efforts will be channelled towards achieving greater efficiencies. When a business is in a high growth mode, it can be easy to experience death by 1000 cuts when it comes to waste, shrinkage and so forth. Therefore, it falls upon us in the supply chain – and indeed throughout Purple – to minimize such things wherever possible. I believe that we have done an excellent job in doing so to date, and we will continue to work to get the best out of Purple, whilst maintaining a culture that is based around high performance.”

At the heart of Purple’s achievements to date has been its people. “It takes a certain type of personality and mentality to handle a high growth, high pressure type of environment like the one we have here at Purple,” Mike explains. “What it often comes down to is temperament and work ethic, and we look for those qualities

in everyone who comes into the business, from the top down. We have people within the business who come from a variety of backgrounds, from veterans to extreme sports enthusiasts (in a previous life Mike himself was a keen ice climber), and they share a desire to perform and to win, even if that means having to suffer for it at times!”

Possessing the right temperament and personality also comes into play when selecting which suppliers and vendors Purple forges relationships with. “Due to our brand profile and the fact that we excel in what is a premium space within our industry, a lot is expected of Purple as a brand, and we expect a lot in return from the suppliers and vendors we work with,” Mike adds. “From the outset, we are wholly realistic with said businesses about what our own expectations are, as well as what our limitations may be. We also do not shy away from the fact that we do push our vendors at times to get as much out of them as possible, so their ability to handle this and be flexible to our requirements is also a matter of high consideration. If they are seen to be able to meet such demands, and have a personality that matches our own, then we are confident that both parties will be a great fit for one another.”

Reflecting on the year just gone (2020), much of the company’s efforts were understandably dictated by the effects of Covid-19 and how Purple could continue to operate in a manner that – first and foremost – protected its people, yet also meet the growing demand for its products. “Employee safety was clearly paramount for us throughout 2020, and this required us to pivot the way our manufacturing operations work in order to keep everyone looked after,” Mike confirms. “In addition to implementing various CDC recommendations, such as sanitization protocols, face masks, temperature checks, social distancing and contact tracing, we also ensured that our professional staff had all the tools needed to effectively work from home.”Purple b

By enabling the business to function efficiently during the pandemic, Purple has also been able to continue to grow. In fact, from January through September last year, Purple hired an additional 900 employees, and saw its direct-to-customer business increase by an incredible 97.5 per cent. In that time, it has also opened up a number of new showrooms in locations throughout Texas, Virginia, Ohio and California, and has witnessed expansion within its distribution model.

Purple has also continued to push forward with various long-term investments that will support its future prosperity. “In October 2020, we rolled out what I would describe as a semi-automated fulfilment solution within our Utah facility. This non-conveyable, pick-to-cart system was installed with barely any disruption, and it has already helped to expand our capabilities considerably,” Mike continues. “Furthermore, we are excited to be on the cusp of opening up a brand new, 500,000-square foot facility in Atlanta, Georgia, during the first quarter of 2021, and among the different systems that will exist within this location, will be a new pick-and-pass mezzanine solution.”

Indeed, when Mike describes the last 12 months as a “non-stop ride”, one can certainly see what he means. What the company’s experiences have done, however, is help ready itself for 2021 and beyond. “Personally, I am really optimistic about the future,” he declares. “Everyone at Purple has worked tremendously hard to get to where we are now, and we are truly firing on all cylinders. We have fantastic infrastructure surrounding us, and with the opening of our Atlanta facility this will help us to begin playing at a whole new level. We recognize, however, that this will require us to continue to up our game, and this will call for further focus on things like the development of technical skills, achieving ever-greater efficiencies, minimizing waste, and managing our relations with vendors and suppliers through higher levels of communication and understanding. I am excited to see what new opportunities our efforts will bring, and I am confident that what we will see is yet more growth, which we will certainly have a lot of fun with!”

Purple Innovation
Products: Mattresses, pillows, bedding and bases

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