LAS VEGAS—There is no doubt the pandemic brought major changes to the supply chain, but what many may not realize is that those changes are here to stay.

During Monday’s education session, “Supply Chain Success Stories,” Holly Veale, vice president of purchasing for Core-Mark, put it bluntly:

“If anybody is managing their business the way they did pre-pandemic,” she said, “they are probably doing it wrong. If you’re doing something the same way that you did prior to 2020, there’s probably a better way to do it.”

Bill Williamson, senior vice president of commercial operations for Monster Energy, said the pandemic showed a company’s true character by showing how they responded to changes.

“I think in times of crisis, companies take their core values, and they’re going to get tested,” he said. “And you’re going to see the true character of your leader and the true character of your organization or company during a crisis.”

Brad Haga, vice president of grocery and general merchandise for Casey’s, said one of the biggest tools companies can use to manage their supply chain going forward is communication.

“It all starts with communication, and when you start thinking about communication in our business, the most important person in a merchandising unit is the category manager,” he said. “When you start thinking about them as the orchestra conductor of this, it all starts with a plan. We’re all working from the same sheet of music, and we’re going to be open and honest.”

Veale said companies need to be flexible when it comes to their supply chain and rethink the way things are done from the top down.

“Just-in-time inventory doesn’t work anymore,” she said. “As a wholesaler, we carry considerably more inventory than we did in December of 2019.”

Williamson added that planning ahead—way ahead—is also key to a successful supply chain.

“Get out there at 120 days,” he said. “The worst thing you can do to your supply chain folks is surprise them at 90 days. If you don’t plan that far out, I can’t plan that far out.” 

Veale said careful planning is essential because even though she believes the worst of the pandemic-related supply issues are behind us, we still haven’t fully recovered, and it may be some time before we do.

“The world just kind of keeps throwing things at us,” she said. “The scary part is, we don’t have our safety net back yet.”

Also in this issue from NACS Show Daily