Supply chain. Labor. Inflation. Check, check, check.
In an interview with HBSDealer, True Value CEO Chris Kempa didn’t miss a beat tackling the three big issues facing the business of distribution. The industry veteran – whose resume includes leadership posts with other Chicagoland distribution giants, Grainger and Essendant —fluently described in detail the interconnected (and unprecedented) global challenges facing the industry.
“We have over the last couple years, built the best-in-class team that really manages the end-to-end supply chain,” Kempa said. “And so we have gained an advantage based on our team. We are doing everything we can to move and get goods. And from my perspective, our team has done an incredible job.”
That job includes building diverse options into the supply chain, finding dual sources, looking at new countries of origin and preparing for the unexpected. “And we’ve been doing that from day one,” he said.
Among those leading the charge is Jennifer McNeill, True Value vice president of logistics and one of the driving forces behind the distributor’s participation in the White House FLOW program. That’s the Freight Logistics Optimization Works program, a data-sharing group of distribution leaders created to ease supply chain congestion and share perspectives.
“Our perspective is easy,” Kempa said. “Please help me get goods so that I can take care of my customers.”
[Read “True Value joins White House task force” here.]
“We're also helping leaders understand all the challenges we go through, to try to make this work better,” Kempa added. “Now, things are getting better. But better is not normal.”
Naught without labor
With so many moving parts in the distribution industry, there are even more moving people. People are needed to run warehouses, receive shipments, pick orders, pack orders and drive trucks, to list a few. Filling those positions is similar challenge for the distributor, its customers and the industry as a whole.