In changing the nature of its relationship with steel mills and distributors, Whiting Petroleum has improved how it procures steel pipe casing and eliminated inventory costs while streamlining the supply chain. “Being able to acquire [pipe casing] in the simplest, most consistent manner at a very competitive price is real beneficial to an end-user such as Whiting,” says Materials Manager Ross Weaver, the man behind the company’s fundamental supply chain shift. Oil producers have utilized distributor stocking programs for years. Whiting was growing fast enough to justify changing the procurement process.

Whiting is an independent oil and gas company that explores, acquires and develops land for crude oil, natural gas and liquid natural gas. The company operates mainly in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale and northern Colorado, where it runs drilling rigs on leased land. It’s proved reserves were 780 million barrels of oil equivalent (Mmboe) at the end of 2014 – a 78 percent increase over 2013 – and it produced 167,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (BOE/D) in first-quarter 2015.

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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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People are always looking for ways to save time, save money, and improve the environment when it comes to their commutes to work. Troy, Mich.-based vRide provides a less costly option with a ridesharing platform that connects people with similar routes, Purchasing and Supply Chain Manager Jerry Glynn says.

Although it may not be easy to get people to give up use of their cars, “We do that by explaining the benefits of the program, from a standpoint of not only personal savings, [but also] by not having the wear and tear on your personal vehicle,” he says. “[There’s] also the benefits to the environment where we’re reducing the carbon emissions and pollution.”

vRide started operations 37 years ago as a division of Chrysler that helped its staff members commute to its headquarters location in Highland Park, Mich., various outstate facilities, and eventually Auburn Hills, Mich., Glynn says. Over time, Chrysler spun off vRide and it became a private firm. 

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There are numerous players in the smart home market, but Vivint’s approach sets the company apart. “We shake things up. We like to ask, ‘Why not?’” says Wayne Dupin, vice president of supply chain. “We can rival any mainstay company today.”

The Provo, Utah-based company’s approach to the market is a bold one that relies on continual advancements to stay ahead. “It’s a very competitive market,” COO David Bywater says. “It keeps you sharp every day. You need to continually innovate.”

That’s been the company’s goal since its beginnings in 1999 and again when it transitioned from marketing third-party security products and services to creating its own smart-home platform and products in 2005. The reason for the conversion was simple, Bywater explains. 

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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.”

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Independent grocery stores often attract customers because of their local, community-based focus. Although this means they can serve their customer base with greater attention to individual customers, it also means they don’t have the scale to compete with large, national chains when it comes to negotiating with suppliers. 

For many independent grocery stores, wholesale cooperatives such as Unified Grocers Inc. in the western United States give them the collective buying power they need to keep prices low for their customers. But that buying power is only part of the story of how Unified Grocers provides value to its members. According to Vice President of Logistics Gregg Bostick, the size and scale of Unified Grocers also provides members with benefits when it comes to supply chain and logistics.

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The Arctic Circle is one of the more isolated and harsh environments on Earth. There are few roads and less infrastructure. Shipping goods over 1,000 miles is always a challenge, but in the north, every delivery is a small miracle.

It is in those far reaches where The North West Company finds its customers. North West traces its history to the Hudson’s Bay Company, which was founded as a fur-trading business in 1670. In 1987, investors purchased Hudson’s Bay’s Northern Stores Division and renamed it The North West Company after a competitor that merged with Hudson’s Bay in 1821. North West has evolved into a retail business and now operates a number of brands in the northern provinces and territories, as well as Alaska, the Caribbean and Pacific.

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Some companies keep their focus strictly on their own operations, but not SunPower Corp. This past spring, the company began partnering with its suppliers to find better ways to deliver their services, resulting in better products.

Together, “There’s a better understanding of how our product quality impacts the end-customers,” Chief Procurement Officer and Vice President of Supply Chain Mike Kienitz says. “Both parties are focused on how we supply sustainable improvements in quality.”

Based in San Jose, Calif., SunPower designs and manufactures high-efficiency solar panels and systems for the residential, commercial and utility markets. Dr. Richard Swanson co-founded the company in 1985.

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