Anyone who has tried to move the refrigerator out to dust behind it knows that appliances are not the easiest items in a home to move. Transporting everything that goes into an appliance as well as the finished product to retailers and even individuals worldwide is the responsibility of Whirlpool Corp.’s supply chain.

Whirlpool has been working to integrate supply chain functions and eliminate redundancies. “About three years ago, we jumped into this with both feet,” recalls Jim Keppler, vice president of the integrated supply chain and quality. “Prior to having an integrated supply chain, we had separate leaders over our 13 manufacturing plants and other supply chain functions in North America

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It isn’t hard to understand how or why supermarkets supplanted the traditional corner market – people like being able to get everything they need in one place. As the largest American group purchasing organization serving the grocery industry, Topco Associates LLC understands this, and that principle has been the driving force as the company enacts a major transformation that ultimately will make it a one-stop shop for its members. 

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Founded as Apex Tire in 1924 as a tire and retread retail chain with outlets along the East Coast, Teknor Apex has been on a mission of expansion ever since. Within the first few decades after its founding, the company diversified into chemicals, additional polymer processing and vinyl compounding while expanding nationally across the United States. Today, Teknor Apex is an international custom compounder of advanced polymer materials with a focus on vinyls, thermoplastic elastomers, engineered thermoplastics, bioplastics and colorants. 

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Ordering an ice-cold limeade or a juicy cheeseburger at SONIC couldn’t be easier for patrons – all they have to do is push the iconic red button and their order is wheeled out to them in the style of the drive-ins of the 1950s. Behind the scenes, however, getting exactly what it needs when it needs it is a much more complex and sophisticated endeavor for SONIC. Managing a supply chain that consists of more than 3,500 SONIC Drive-In restaurants across the country and hundreds of suppliers means there’s no push-button solution to optimizing SONIC’s supply chain. 

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Skechers USA’s robust international growth has led to the expansion of its European Distribution Center. Its warehouse in Liege, Belgium, opened 12 years ago. Prior to that, Skechers’ overseas distribution needs were handled by third-party logistics. 

The distribution center began with ten employees in a 270,000-square-foot building. In 2009, a second 215,000-square-foot building was added. Now, there are more than 150 employees working at the European Distribution Center and by next year the facility will measure more than 750,000 square feet with a third building scheduled for completion in 2015. 

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ShawCor Ltd. stays focused and aligned on its journey to excellence after launching its industry-leading continuous improvement plan in 2006, which ensures the standardization and improvement of its business and manufacturing processes.

“Our leadership recognized that initiating the ShawCor Manufacturing System [SMS] journey would complement our growth strategy by significantly influencing our continued efforts to differentiate ourselves from our competitors,” the company says. “It would do so by improving ShawCor’s overall operational excellence in all its processes and services, creating a reliable, high-performance organization.” 

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Sears Holdings Corp.’s product delivery operations are unmatched when it comes to size, scale and omnichannel integration. The company, formed in 2005 after the merger of national retailers Sears, Roebuck and Co. with Kmart Holdings Corp., has long specialized in providing products of all sizes to its customers where and when they need them.  

“The ability to effectively deliver products not only into our retail network but into homes is a distinct advantage of our supply chain,” Chief Supply Chain Officer and Senior Vice President Bill Hutchinson says. Sears is a home appliance, tools, lawn and garden, apparel, consumer electronics and automotive repair and maintenance leader, known for its Craftsman, Kenmore and DieHard brands. 

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With more than 2,100 locations in the United States, eight Canadian provinces, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, Service Corporation International (SCI) says it is North America’s largest single provider of funeral, cremation and cemetery services. But before its five-year purchasing plan was implemented, it was not realizing as many economies of scale as it could have from the hundreds of thousands of purchases made by its multiple locations.

Begun in 2009 and completed successfully this past year, the five-year plan’s goal was to save the company $35 million over its five-year span. Instead, it saved in excess of $60 million, and with those purchasing changes now being standard procedures, those savings will continue into the future.

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