upply chain and logistics professionals responsible for imports and exports have faced numerous challenges over the past few years and few organizations have been spared. Nearly two-thirds of small businesses say they’ve been unable to acquire some products due to supply chain shortages. Nine in 10 consumer product company executives responding to a recent survey rate supply chain issues as the greatest threat to growth. Even the Girl Scouts and their pint-sized purveyors of sweet treats were hit with supply chain shortages of their newest cookie, Adventurefuls.
Despite these challenges, some import/export professionals have not only survived, but thrived. Their strategies include working hard and smart, and being open to experimenting. The recent trials presented “an opportunity to evolve,” says Bruce Lancaster, CEO of Wilson Electronics, a manufacturer of cellular signal booster technology. Other traits that have proved critical include a willingness to go above and beyond, and to build productive collaborations. “Having strong, trusting relationships with customers and suppliers” has been critical for North American Meats & More, says owner Justin Marx. His company supplies restaurants and food service operators with premium meat, seafood, and other products. The ingenuity, grit, and hard work of the supply chain leaders proled here continue to help them succeed. From its base in Utah, Wilson Electronics has prospered over the past few years by making greater use of domestic suppliers and beeng up its forecasting function, among other steps. Many of its products come from a factory in southern Utah, where they’re assembled, programmed, and tested. At the same time, Wilson’s extended supply chains reach across the globe. Like many companies, Wilson has had to navigate freight
timeframe by an additional six months, going out to between 12 and 18 months. “This helped to ensure the company’s place in line with key suppliers,” he notes. Wilson’s sophisticated API connections with key suppliers enabled the company to readily communicate any demand adjustments, helping to mitigate problems. For instance, if demand fell for parts that were in short supply, Lancaster would let the supplier know so they could supply what Wilson actually needed. This also helped to manage inventory levels from a capital allocation stance. The team at Wilson Electronics also worked with its suppliers’ suppliers to
costs that quadrupled—or more— even as delivery timelines uctuated. Given the company’s location, the Port of Los Angeles has been the best option for receiving goods, despite recent congestion. To address these challenges, Wilson moved some business to local suppliers, including a packaging supplier that’s a three-hour drive away and a large supplier of assemblies that’s about six hours away. “It helped to eliminate the variability,” Lancaster says. Every two weeks, Lancaster and his team analyzed demand and customer input to adjust the forecast for every stockkeeping unit (SKU) Wilson offers. They also extended their forecast
Wilson Electronics, a cellular repeater technology company, moved business to local suppliers and bolstered its forecasting capabilities to address supply chain issues.
52 Inbound Logistics • March 2022
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