Few retailers have the size and scope that Walmart does, and that means few retailers have as complete of an understanding of the consumer as Walmart does. As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart has a bird’s eye view of virtually every significant market on the planet, so it’s safe to say that if there’s a trend happening somewhere in the world, Walmart knows about it. As divisional vice president, supply chain, Sherry Harriman is responsible for ensuring that Walmart’s supply chain is up to the task of staying in front of those emerging trends. According to Harriman, all of Walmart’s leadership understands how important the supply chain is for changing along with the trends. 

“You have to keep adapting,” she says. “Our customer is changing and has changed significantly, and the companies that aren’t changing their supply chains are getting left behind.” 

Based in Regina, Saskatchewan, Viterra is a leading grain, oilseeds and pulses marketer and handler, and is also involved in canola processing. The company partners with growers in North America to help them market and deliver their grains in more ways and to more markets.

“Our company buys, markets and handles the leading share of western Canadian grain,” Supply Chain Manager Fernando Lamk says. “For more than 100 years, Viterra has earned farmers’ business with our expertise and commitment to service, tailored to their needs.”

A supply chain, like any other kind of chain, is only as strong as its weakest link. Many manufacturers must depend on the strength of numerous vendors throughout their supply chains to ensure the entire operation is strong. That’s not as much of a concern for Red Wing Shoe Company, however, as the company’s integrated supply chain maintains tight control over virtually every stage of production. As Director of Logistics Dewey Rothering explains, Red Wing’s vertically integrated supply chain makes it unique not only in the footwear industry, but in the manufacturing sector as a whole.

“I would say one of our largest strengths is that we have nearly full integration of everything we do in the company. We source raw material cattle hides which are tanned in our owned tannery, followed by shoe manufacturing in our plants, with finished goods shipped to our owned retail stores and mobile shoe trucks for sale to our many consumers in the United States and around the world,” Rothering says. “We are vertically integrated throughout the entire supply chain from beginning to end.”

Nowadays, not only are supermarkets expected to have in stock enough of an ever-growing variety of food and pharmaceuticals that consumers desire, but they even are being tasked with getting the merchandise into consumers’ homes. Previously, that last mile was the domain of the shopper, but now home delivery is being offered at five of Price Chopper Supermarkets’ 135 locations. An alternative curbside pickup option is also offered at seven of the chain’s locations.

“We have a fleet of vans which service these customers,” announces Jason Kennedy, who was director of distribution services at press time. “Personal shopping has become a growing part of our business over the last few years since we started offering these services in 2011.” The supply chain’s challenge is to drive cost out of what tends to be an expensive operation by using onboard computers, telematics data analysis and route optimization. 

Founded in 1980 as Precision Corp., Precor has become a leader in exercise equipment. Known for quality, innovation and performance, Precor provides state-of-the-art fitness equipment to health clubs, hotels, spas, fitness centers and private homes around the world.

“The major driver of our success is highly talented people who are drawn to a company culture focused on work/life balance,” Director of Global Sourcing and Supply Chain Management John Fogerty says. “We make fantastic products that enable people to live the lives that they desire. The freedom we give our people in a great place to work allows us to design and make great products.” 

Like many other utilities, OGE Energy Corp. believes strongly in customer service. For the Oklahoma City-based energy company’s supply chain organization, this service goes beyond providing energy and timely maintenance to its residential, business, commercial and institutional customers. 

“When I joined the company six-and-a-half years ago, the one thing I learned was you have to partner with internal customers, which are the other business functions supported by supply chain, so you can align goals and objectives and get moving in the same direction,” Enterprise Supply Chain Director Sherryl Love says. 

Don Vlcek finds himself on the road quite a bit these days, but it comes as no surprise. Vlcek is vice president of purchasing and distribution for Marco’s Franchising, the company that franchises Marco’s Pizza, which calls itself the fastest-growing pizza chain in the country.

Vlcek meets with vendors and distributors, talks to franchisees and meets with other members of the restaurant’s executive team in a continual effort to grow the company. So far, that endeavor has been a success.

“We’re shooting for 200 stores next year,” Vlcek says. That’s double the growth the company realized in 2013 when 102 restaurants opened. The following year, Marco’s Pizza added 155 locations, and the company expects to close 2015 with another 138 locations. Marco’s Pizza has 641 restaurants in 36 states and three countries, and the growth plan remains aggressive in the $46 billion pizza industry, he says. The goal is to quadruple the store count over the next five to seven years, he says.

Founded in 1984 by Eileen Fisher, the Eileen Fisher Inc. company and clothing line was begun with $350 and a vision of creating simple shapes that could integrate with each other seamlessly. The company’s mission is to inspire simplicity, creativity and delight through effortlessly chic and modern clothing for women. 

“As a socially conscious company, we are a pioneer in eco-fashion design and support global initiatives that empower women and girls,” Vice President of Distribution Khaja Khateeb says. “The brand is known for timeless design, clothes that are simple, modern and always relevant.” 

Eileen Fisher Inc.’s goal as a company is to help women solve their fashion problems through collections of clothing that take the guesswork out of dressing.  Offering comfortable, simple, beautiful and high-quality clothes helps women dress with ease and focus on joyfully living their lives. 

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