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Sedlak Supply Chain Consultants helps retailers and others improve their supply chain and distribution operations.

By Jim Harris

For the past 60 years, Sedlak Supply Chain Consultants has helped retailers and others navigate through a constantly changing marketplace. “There are existential challenges for retailers who are trying to deal with today’s market, and our job is to help them through that space,” says Dave DuBose, vice president of business development.

One of the most obvious of these challenges is competition from e-commerce giants such as Amazon. Meeting next-day and same-day delivery expectations without driving up costs is a constant challenge for retailers. The Cleveland, Ohio-based company helps many of its clients build their e-commerce distribution capabilities. “In-store sales might be declining and stores are closing across retail, but online sales are growing by double digits,” DuBose adds. “We help retailers think about ways they can leverage the assets in their in-store networks to creatively meet online sales demand, such as shipping from stores or using stores as pop-up distribution centers.”

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Rakuten Kobo experiences steady growth and introduces audiobooks to its product portfolio. 

by Kat Zeman

As tablets and smartphones grew in popularity, many people predicted the death of the e-reader. They were wrong. E-readers have millions of dedicated fans, especially among avid readers 45 years and older.

Rakuten Kobo, the second-largest manufacturer of e-reading devices and accessories in the world, can testify to that. The Toronto-based company, which introduced audiobooks to its portfolio in September, has been enjoying a steady revenue stream in recent years. It has also been studying readers and their habits. It segments them across a number of data points to glean who they are, how old they are and how they decide to buy and what motivates them.

It has found that its thriving business is driven partially by middle-aged adults and people in retirement age. Why? E-readers give them the ability to change font size to suit tired eyes or diminished eyesight, they are much lighter than the weight of most books and they offer instant access to books without having to venture outside of the home. 

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Loewen’s high quality and attention to detail make it the preferred wood window and door provider for ultra-luxury homes.

By Tim O’Connor

Many of the best craft manufacturers have one thing in common: they invest heavily in their skilled workers and keep them around for the long haul. It’s no different at window and door frame manufacturer Loewen, where continuous improvement and strong professional development are intrinsic to the culture.

The Canadian company works with employees early on to understand their interests and identify opportunities within its organization so that they are more likely to stick with Loewen as they advance in their careers. Those efforts have helped the company counteract the generational attitude shift that has millennial workers changing jobs more frequently than their predecessors.

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Honda of America wants its supply chain practices to be ahead of the automotive manufacturing pack.

By Jim Harris

For more than 20 years, Honda trailed much of the automotive industry when it came to its supply chain practices. For example, the operation was one of the last OEMs to partner with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider, which it did in 2006, Associate Chief Advisor Dana McBrien says.

Today, the operation is leading the industry in some supply chain and transportation practices such as the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) tractors. Honda partnered in a CNG fueling site located on its main manufacturing campus in Marysville, Ohio, and continues to use the tractors in an effort to be a better corporate citizen.

We wanted to not just catch up, but blow by the competition and do things better, McBrien says. Were committed to being innovators in the automotive world and want to have people watching us from behind for a while.

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LISK continues to enhance its S&OP and other supply chain initiatives.

By Jim Harris

When LISK began its journey to implement a formal sales and operations planning (S&OP) process in 2015, global technology consulting firm Gartner Inc. provided an assessment tool which evaluated its S&OP maturity level to be 1.5 on a scale of 1 to 5. The evaluation measured the effectiveness of the company’s process based on key performance indicators including its IT systems, use of data and level of collaboration.

By the end of the following year, Lisk improved its rating significantly to 2.9. Today, the company estimates its S&OP maturity level to be between 3 and 3.5; a greater than 100 percent improvement in under three years. “With a commitment to internal improvements we have greatly developed our S&OP process in a short period of time,” says Ruud Vullers, vice president of supply chain and quality for the Clifton Springs, N.Y.-based manufacturer.

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GSS positions itself close to its customers and its suppliers across the world.

By Alan Dorich

When you turn your steering wheel in your Tesla or General Motors vehicle, there’s a good chance that you are using the products of Global Steering Systems (GSS) LLC. “We’re one of the top five global suppliers of steering assemblies,” Eileen Meade declares.

Meade is the director of global procurement and supply chain for the Watertown, Conn.-based company, which manufactures intermediate and column shafts and related components for steering systems. “We’re a proven quality supplier,” she says.

The company originally was part of The Torrington Co., which established its steering business in Coventry, England in 1964. The Timken Co. acquired Torrington in 2002, and sold the steering business to DriveSol in 2006. In 2009, GSS acquired the steering business from DriveSol.

“Much of the key personnel was retained through these transitions, along with 100 percent of the intellectual property,” Meade says. GSS today has manufacturing facilities in Watertown, as well as Changshu, China; Ponta Grossa, Brazil; and Opole, Poland.

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Carmeuse’s purchasing department is leveraging technology to provide its internal stakeholders with better service and results.

By Bianca Herron

With more than 150 years in the mining industry, Carmeuse Lime & Stone is one of the leading manufacturers of high-calcium and dolomitic quicklime and hydrated lime, chemical-grade limestone and crushed limestone aggregate milled limestone, also known as ground calcium carbonate.

Carmeuse is a fifth-generation family-owned business located in Louvain la Neuve, Belgium, that maintains an international presence in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. In North America, its headquarters in Pittsburgh oversees 28 production facilities in the eastern United States and Canada, which employ more than 1,800 people.

Since its inception, a core strategy of Carmeuse has been to provide its clients with reliable products in terms of quality, technical expertise, and on-time delivery, according to Director of Purchasing Daniel Taylor.


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