Founded in 2008, SpenDifference helps emerging and mid-size restaurant chains be more competitive across the supply chain. The company understands the challenges faced by restaurants, and it can provide the infrastructure its clients need to gain market advantages.

“When the company was started, we recognized that there was a great opportunity to create synergies within the foodservice industry from a supply chain perspective,” Vice President of Supply Chain DeWayne Dove says. “Our model drives leverage toward the cost of goods. If you are a single operator, you can get more leverage and find ways to create synergies, reducing the number of suppliers and creating efficiencies in manufacturing while maintaining brand specification requirements.”

For S & B Engineers and Constructors Ltd., having an alliance with suppliers means more than just giving them an opportunity to bid on projects the company works on. “On lump-sum projects, we will always utilize our alliance suppliers. “We’ve had many long-term partnerships, some for more than 15 years and many for at least the past six to seven years,” says Kent Malone, vice president of procurement and materials for the Houston-based engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor. “Over time with our suppliers, we’ve developed an innate ability to sense each other’s needs and act proactively rather than reactively as needs arise. 

“We know that utilizing our alliance suppliers brings exceptional value to our projects,” he adds.

Already the world leader in off-road, all-terrain and recreational vehicles for more than 60 years, Polaris Industries fuels the passion of riders, workers and outdoor enthusiasts around the world while delivering innovative, high-quality products, services and experiences that enrich its customers’ lives. The company has transformed itself for the future by diversifying it product offering, growing internationally, fine-tuning its supply chain and focusing on strategic growth.

With procurement staff located all over the world, from India, Mexico and China to Switzerland, France and Poland, along with manufacturing plants in the United States, Mexico, Poland and a joint venture in India, Polaris is able to reach a wide range of diverse customers with different needs. Polaris also plans to open a new facility in Huntsville, Ala., which will go into production in second-quarter 2016. The company invested about $150 million in this 725,000-square-foot facility that will house approximately 1,700 employees and primarily focus on outdoor recreational vehicle production. 

Dating back to 1940, MoneyGram is a global provider of money transfer and payment services. Today, MoneyGram is a publicly traded company with about $1.5 billion in revenue and approximately 2,500 employees. 

Headquartered in Dallas, MoneyGram’s history dates back to the founding of Minneapolis-based Travelers Express Co. Inc. in 1940. Over time, its current makeup came about after a merger between Travelers Express and Denver-based Integrated Payment Systems Inc. 

The company recently opened a new business center in Warsaw, Poland, and it has many satellite offices located around the world. MoneyGram currently has around 357,000 agent locations worldwide, and it offers services in 200 countries and territories. MoneyGram is also focused on new technologies and expanding its services online and through self-service kiosks.

At most entrepreneurial companies, the sales team is responsible for forecasting sales. But when Scott Cleaver joined Rakuten Kobo Inc. three years ago, he wanted the e-reader and e-book company to approach its sales predictions from the supply chain side. Being able to more accurately estimate how many devices would sell would allow Kobo to streamline its supply chain and lessen its inventory, making the company more flexible and capable to react to new market trends.

But there was an inherent challenge in the e-reader market. E-commerce has allowed manufacturers to skip the traditional brick-and-mortar retailers and now more than 70 percent of all e-readers are sold directly to consumers. Most companies guard those sales carefully, meaning there is little available data on industry trends or sales figures for comparable devices. So Cleaver and his team developed their own demand forecasts. “We rely heavily on Kobo’s historical sales data and how our product is selling in the market,” he explains. 

When Jewelry Television first went on the air from a studio in Greensville, Tenn., in 1993, no one knew what lay in store for the channel or the company. What started out as a home shopping channel focused on collectibles and jewelry eventually evolved into one of the leading retailers of fine jewelry of any kind in the United States. 

Indeed, the company has grown a lot since its earliest days, and Senior Vice President of Global Operations and Logistics Steve Walsh says its supply chain operations have played a crucial role in its growth over the years. 

Incorporated in 1897 in Midland, Mich., The Dow Chemical Company is one of the largest chemical manufacturers in the world. Dow strives to combine science and technology to drive innovations that extract value from the intersection of chemical, physical and biological sciences. In this way, Dow can help address challenges such as the need for clean water, clean energy generation and conservation, and increasing agricultural productivity.

There can be no understating the impressive reach of the Dow organization. In 2014 alone, Dow had annual sales of more than $58 billion and employed approximately 53,000 people worldwide. It manufactures more than 6,000 product families at 201 sites in 35 countries around the globe.

Through this footprint, Dow has built an integrated, market-driven, industry-leading portfolio of specialty chemical, advanced materials, agrosciences and plastics businesses. It delivers a broad range of technology-based products and solutions to customers in approximately 180 countries and in high-growth sectors such as packaging, electronics, water, coatings and agriculture.

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.” 


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