Q: What is the biggest pitfall that companies should avoid this upcoming peak shipping season?

A: They should avoid looking at their distribution labor cost in terms of only minimizing the hourly wage and instead consider the real cost per unit produced, taking into account training effort, productivity, retention/turnover, error rate, etc.

Q: You’ve visited hundreds of distribution centers over the years. What is a common problem you’ve heard from these different companies?

A: Crummy cafeteria food.

Q: Technology and customer expectations are disrupting and revolutionizing the landscape of consumer products and retail distribution. As someone who has spent nearly 40 years in the industry, what’s the number one piece of advice you have for leaders who are managing through so much change?

A: Consider the implications of the change to the entire organization rather than just on your immediate area of responsibility. Enlist senior sponsorship to provide the resources needed to implement the change based on the organizational benefits, not just cost and benefits in one isolated area.

Q: What makes an executive successful when driving change?

A: A successful executive has the vision to see the benefits of the change, understands the main arguments for resisting the change and is able to motivate team members to continue working toward that vision until the arguments are overcome.

Q: Even though much has changed in distribution over the last 20 years, some problems still remain. What issues haven’t changed for distribution executives and front-line leaders?

A: There is often a reality gap between the understanding of a distribution operation by the executive and the challenges faced daily by the front-line leaders, as well as a failure of the front-line leaders to understand the objectives of the executive.  The best run organizations are the ones where the executives can understand the challenges and the front-line leaders can understand the organization’s objectives. These organizations have a solid basis for communications that provide the foundation for a well-run operation.

Q: What advice would you give a young professional embarking on a career in logistics?

A: Find a way to always be working on the most difficult and important problems facing your organization and earn a reputation for being able to play a key role in solving these problems.

Q: We heard through the grapevine that you spent a portion of your honeymoon onsite with a client… Tell us more.

A: We actually spent our honeymoon in Savannah, GA and in Atlanta. But, Colleen and I then drove to my project assignment in Martinsville, VA and the first night there (which I count as the last night of our honeymoon) we stayed in the honeymoon suite in the windmill of the Dutch Inn located near Martinsville before moving into a rented house. I found this picture of the hotel and windmill, which has since been torn down. In its place, a new Dutch Inn has been built.

Q: What are you looking forward to most this summer, professionally and personally?

A: Personally, I am looking forward to a cruise up the Danube River from Budapest, Hungary to Nuremberg, Germany with Colleen and a large group of college friends and their wives. Professionally, I hope that I can stay current on existing projects and start new ones while working around the cruise!

Torre Crupie has nearly 40 years of management and consulting experience, focusing on distribution center design, supply chain improvement, and logistics network development. As Principal at LogistiPoint, Torre has provided customized solutions for major retailers, including Chico’s, Tory Burch, and Technicolor Home Entertainment Services. Torre’s clients achieve optimized results in several key areas, including streamlined logistics, improved supply chain performance, enhanced logistics-asset utilization, and reduced distribution labor costs. Read more about Torre here.