Profile of Success: Educational Pursuits
Profile of Success: Randy Brough, supply chaing manager, Lifeway
Greatest initial challenge: Making the distribution center (DC) a core competency for the company. “LifeWay’s DCs were treated as a forgotten part of the organization. … It was basically a necessary evil to be dealt with.” For the first few months, Brough, who joined LifeWay in 1994, and his boss even researched the possibility of outsourcing the entire operation.
Plan of action: The long-term costs of outsourcing outweighed the benefits, so Brough and the logistics team implemented the following tactics:
1. Built a better management team. Since 1994, the management staff increased from eight to 16, including three full-time industrial engineers.
2. Provided better tools. Brough oversaw the installation of a warehouse management system, a transportation management system, and the design and construction of LifeWay’s second DC.
3. Reduced headcount. Brough and his team reduced the number of DC employees from 310 to 195 full-time equivalents, even as sales grew from $257 million to $429 million in the last decade.
4. Incentivized DC employees. He also put in place a program that allows employees to increase their pay by 9 percent based on their performance.
Key point to his success: Staying educated. “In a lot of organizations, training seems to take a backseat, but to me it’s often what gives a person or organization a competitive edge.” To that end, he completed his master’s degree in organizational development.
Current goal for LifeWay’s DC: As a 115-year-old company and a catalog that’s only a few decades younger, Brough says LifeWay has developed a number of entrenched organizational silos and barriers. He points to his and his employees’ continuing education as a potential solution to the problem. “For our organization, if you’re a salaried position, depending on where you are, you’re required to have between 20 to 40 hours of external training per year,” he notes.