August 2019

Early this week, NASA circulated images of a flaming woodland area. Are these the California wildfires back again? Is this the beginning of a new wildfire disaster? Nope, worse. It's an even more alarming development, and it's definitely not just beginning.

These pictures come from Brazil - home of the largest rainforest on Earth.  The Amazon, which covers around 1.2 billion acres of green, lush land, is commonly referred to as the "Planet's lungs." Producing as much as 20% of the oxygen in our atmosphere, these lungs are now in serious danger. What's most horrifying about these ongoing wildfires is that they've been raging for three whole weeks. That's right-- almost an entire month of mass ecological destruction has passed without making global news.

So, why are we just now hearing about this? The delay probably isn't a coincidence.

Did American news outlets know about the fires and de-prioritize the information? Or was this news being purposefully suppressed by Brazil? The latter looks like a plausible explanation. Seemingly, the Brazilian government has motives for keeping the disaster under wraps.

Many are pointing fingers at Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro. Since Bolsonaro came into office in January, he has been facilitating logging, mining, and deforestation efforts to open up land for new business. Unsurprisingly, CNN reports that Brazil has seen an 80% increase in fires this year. According to Amazon Watch, he's been consistently flippant about ecological issues and the well-being of indigenous people in the Amazon.

In the wake of recent fires, Bolsonaro has not only neglected to accept responsibility, he's shifting blame to a third party. The group he's suggesting is responsible is... environmentalists? A quote from President Bolsonaro himself illustrates his stance on the issue:

"Regarding the fires in the Amazon, I’m under the impression that it could have been set by the NGOs because they had asked for money. What was their intention? To bring about problems for Brazil." Later on, he states, "Maybe – I am not affirming it – these (NGO people) are carrying out some criminal actions to draw attention against me, against the government of Brazil”.  

Rather than attributing the disaster to his own anti-green tendencies and policies, he is firmly asserting his belief that the forest fires are a direct action against him.

While commentators are torn on the true cause of the fires, they've proposed several possibilities.

A piece by CNN  heavily suggests that the fires are caused by farming civilians. Fires have been used as a land clearing technique for ages, especially in dry seasons. Environmentalists are suggesting this is the only way the fires could have spread this quickly. While they acknowledge climate change's role in causing similar disaster, they dismiss the idea that Mother Nature is solely to blame. But Bolsonaro isn't of the hook yet.

Many believe these farmers were encouraged to do so by the President as a way of supporting "pro-business" actions. Brasil de Fato reports that the president's repeated statements regarding "exploring economic activity in the Amazon" have prompted farmers to organize a "fire day" at the beginning of August which left smoke-covered cities all over the country. As Bolsonaro lacks evidence to show NGOs are culpable, these perfectly-aligned timelines do not help his case.

Bolsnaro's actions will likely lead make the terms "pro-business" and "anti-environment" synonymous throughout Brazil. Will the U.S. begin to conflate them as well? Not if we push for businesses that are pro-environment and pro-profit simultaneously. More economic growth does not have to mean more ecological destruction and greener practices do not have to mean a negative impact to the bottom line.

Environmentally conscious companies are becoming more and more numerous as the rising generation of consumers begins to raise its voices. According to a survey by Deloitte, Millennials and Gen Z-ers are making shopping decisions based on company ethics. They regard environmental responsibility as particular crucial.

Environmental tensions aren't going anywhere any time soon. Consumer and voter awareness will only heighten and the most forward-looking politicians and companies will naturally align their efforts with eco-conscious individuals. For the Procurement space, that means ensuring your materials are sourced responsibly and that all operations are carried out in a sustainable matter.

For now, we hope Brazil can save this valuable and beloved ecosystem. This is not the first time a massively-important ecosystem like this has faced total destruction. Scientists announced last year that the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef system, is dying and can no longer recover from the effects of climate change. What's more, Forbes reported last week that 12.5 billion tons of ice has melted in Greenland. We were not expected to reach this total until 2070.

Can Brazil save the rainforest, or will our planet soon need a lung transplant?

One of the more difficult (and common) hurdles commonly faced by procurement is the transitional process from a longstanding incumbent supplier to a new one.  The domino effect of this decision can be felt throughout your organization from all levels, and more often than not, lack of compliance from one level has the ability to derail the entire initiative.  The purpose of this article is to demonstrate how to prepare and react to these potential hurdles, and how to put your organization in the best position to handle this transitional process.

Buy-In at Management’s Level:
Obtaining approval to transition from a long-standing incumbent supplier can be difficult. Oftentimes, you’ll need to present a strong, compelling case study to your leadership group.  The phrase “if it isn’t broken don’t fix it” holds true within all tiers of business. If this transition isn’t due to poor supplier performance, be prepared to identify a clear path that can lead to significant savings and benefits to the organization’s total cost of ownership.  A positive impact to the bottom line can go a long way in obtaining approval and affirmation from this group.

Once the new supplier is approved, it’s important to provide open communication and transparency as the transition takes place.  Historically, providing management with an implementation roadmap highlighting key milestones has proven to be a key driver in keeping this group at ease.  Once presented, updates via bi-weekly (or monthly) meetings should also be considered to help share any updates to the roadmap as supplier implementation unfolds.

Buy-In at the Local Level:
This initiative will only go as far as the local plant level takes it, so it’s important to generate clear and concise messaging anytime a supplier transition is conducted.  If your local buyers and plant workers aren’t properly informed and trained on how to purchase and communicate with the new supplier, this initiative will fail immediately.

First and foremost, providing complete transparency throughout this process helps establish respect and ownership at the local level.  For instance, implementation is a complex process that often times faces many unforeseen hurdles.  Being open about these potential challenges and requesting input and solutions from the get-go will help create ownership and teamwork at the local level.

Greater transparency can also be achieved through structured communication channels to help drive compliance.   For instance, following these two steps has proven to be effective in accomplishing this task.  The first step is the distribution of internal memos highlighting this transition which leads to the second step of face-to-face meetings with account managers from the new supplier.  The face-to-face meeting will help establish relationships in addition to also establishing a clear line of communication to help reiterate the key points established within the internal memo.

While a definitive blueprint does not exist for transitioning suppliers, hopefully these steps will help guide your team and overall initiative in the right direction.  Just to reiterate, communication and transparency will be a key driver to ensure a successful implementation is accomplished.


The Strategic Sourceror has served as a resource for supply chain and procurement professionals since 2008 and covers everything from Procurement transformation to the specifics of packaging costs.

In this series, we're giving you a curated list of our all-time top blogs in key categories. This is a perfect opportunity for anyone getting an introduction to Procurement and Supply Chain Management to familiarize yourself with the field.

This time around, we're looking at our top-performing Logistics blogs.

1. The Increasing Impact of Global Warming on Supply Chain and Logistics
The melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is predicted to cause a 10-to-15 foot rise in global sea levels. Scientists also assert that sea levels will continue to rise as more Antarctic ice melts. Will this environmental disaster affect supply chains globally? Absolutely. Port cities, in particular, face risks related to material costs and working conditions. Read on to learn more about how our changing climate threatens global supply chains.

2. Sourcing Specialty Courier Services
Sourcing transportation services is never easy. Things get particularly complicated when a business requires the support of a specialty provider. These couriers are capable of transporting materials that require extra care and, fittingly, relationships with them tend to require extra care. This blog provides insights for selecting a best-fit provider and optimizing each step of the sourcing process.

3. Top Four: Reasons to Leave Asia
Sourcing and manufacturing on a global scale has long meant operating facilities in Asia. Recently, the risks of doing business abroad have begun to outweigh the benefits. From rising labor costs to industrial property theft, this blog examines the emerging risks of operating in China and other Asian countries.

4. Buying vs. Leasing Your Supply Chain: Lessons Learned from Brew Masters
Craft beer is one of America's fastest-growing industries. Why not learn a lesson in strategic outsourcing from the sector? Dogfish Head is a Delaware-based brewing company that partners with a third-party logistics company rather than operating independently. Their story provides a case study in supply chain optimization.

Thanks to eCommerce giants like Amazon, consumer preferences are evolving quickly. Traditional retailers are looking for creative solutions to keep themselves afloat. For many, this means developing a hybridized shopping experience. The Buy Online, Pick-up In-Store (BOPIS) and Buy Online, Ship-to-Store (BOSS) models have so far proven popular.

6. Walmart Looks to Reduce Cost of Shipping
Walmart has multiple solutions to its shipping cost problems. Because nearly two-thirds of all US consumers live within five miles of at least one Walmart, it's a no brainer for them to jump on the BOSS train. In addition to providing a newly convenient shopping experience, the shift will mean lower shipping costs for the world's largest retailer.

7. How to Reduce Food Waste in Your Supply Chain
A whopping 14 % of Americans today regularly experience periods of food insecurity. This makes the global food waste epidemic all the more troubling. This blog calls on stakeholders throughout the food value chain to do their part to address this situation.

8. The Spend Analysis and LTL Shipping – This is How You Do It, Part I
Less than Load (LTL) freight can be a tricky spend category to operate within. Most carriers have a pricing structure that's specific to their own tariff base rate which can make a price comparison tricky. In this blog, we address these concerns to offer readers a step-by-step guide for optimizing LTL spend.

9. Blockchain: How Can it REALLY Be Applied to Supply
Blockchain isn't just about digital currency anymore. The technology promises to transform entire industries and bring a new level of security to the global value chain. Check out our comprehensive guide to the what, how, and, why of blockchain-powered solutions.

10. Feeding Modern Cities: Why Disappearing Farmland Could No Longer Matter
The demand for produce is growing exponentially, but farmland isn't. How can farmers flex to meet demand? The truth is that they might not have to. Vertical farming is on the rise as agriculturalists experiment with growing "up" rather than "out." Learn more about this intriguing phenomenon. 

Check out some of our other "Greatest Hits" collections: 

People aren't good at picking out jobs. Even with a record number of positions to choose from, more American workers feel disengaged and discouraged than engaged and enthused - many more.

Why is finding the right fit so challenging?

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, an organizational psychologist, has identified several reasons in a new blog for the Harvard Business Review.

Unsurprisingly, money plays a big role. While there's little correlation between salary and satisfaction, impressive paychecks still tempt countless applicants into positions they'll only grow to despise. Chamorro-Premuzic also points to poor self-awareness. He writes, "people are generally quite inept at evaluating their own talents." The same goes for their real interests. Once they've found the job they think they want, these folks tend to work on one skill more than any other: suffering in silence.

So what are professionals really looking for? According to Chamorro-Premuzic, it's not the outrageous perks and near-complete flexibility that make all the headlines. His ideal workplace provides three simple things.

A Sense of Competency and Mastery

It's thrilling to feel good at your job. Even without external recognition, the knowledge that you've persevered past obstacles and mastered once-difficult tasks presents a powerful reminder that you're where you ought to be. 

That's not to say recognition isn't important. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) suggests it's absolutely essential. 89% of survey respondents credit recognition programs and "more frequent check-ins" with promoting professional growth. Managers can't count on every employee to generate feelings of competency and mastery on their own. Sometimes that extra reminder is necessary.  

Fostering feelings of competency and mastery is about more than introducing a program to send out thank-yous. Recognition works best when it's aligned to an organization's core values and serves as an integral part of culture. Effective programs provide a consistent reminder that leadership cares - not just about results, but about the happiness of the entire team.

Chamorro-Premuzic notes that employees feel especially gratified by the opportunity to "perform above the expectation of [their] role[s]." In a business unit like Procurement - one that's long existed in a silo - such opportunities aren't always available. The function's leaders have the potential to change this with rotational programs and ambitious career paths that broaden its role. When they make this investment, managers and executives receive a more invested and inspired team in return. 

A Sense of Community and Affiliation 

Recognition - from managers as well as peers - also goes a long way in stoking these feelings. When co-workers exchange feedback with one another, they begin to establish a collaborative and productive community. Many will go on to build genuine friendships that enliven their day-to-day tasks. While it's easy to make fun of water cooler small talk and the 'mandatory fun' of team building activities, workplace friendships can make a big difference. 60% of employees say they're more likely to stay with a company that's staffed with good friends. This number rises to 74% and 69% for Millennials and Gen-Zers respectively.

Even professionals who work remotely have expressed their desire for a sense of belonging.  They're also more likely to quit - or consider quitting - if they don't feel it. Experts have begun to regard loneliness and isolation as an epidemic among this growing sector of the workforce

Employers have a distinct challenge ahead of them. How do they provide flexibility and promote human connection? Writing for Reuters, Lauren Young advises managers to occasionally place the spotlight on offsite workers. Encouraging them to lead meetings, she suggests, will remind them that their perspective matters and ensure their voice is never muffled. It'll also guarantee they're accountable and always serve as an active participant in workplace conversations. 

A Sense of Meaning and Purpose

Like workplace friendship, corporate purpose is sometimes tempting (and always dangerous) to dismiss. Far more than a buzzword, 'purpose' has become an all-important factor for applicants, employees, and consumers across the globe. And it's not just young loudmouths calling on businesses to do more. 70% of all U.S. adults want to make a difference at work. They're eager to do more than earn a paycheck or advance in their careers. They're hungry to work for companies that operate with a clear mission.

This mission should result from a community effort rather than a top-down decree. Adopting a company-wide approach, one that welcomes all perspectives, will stimulate engagement while providing for a more purpose-driven business. It will also produce a far more authentic sense of purpose than an executive brainstorming session possibly could. 

Introducing a sense of purpose doesn't have to mean setting ambitious goals to fight climate change or eradicate waste in the supply chain. While organizations should always identify opportunities to serve the planet and its people, workplace purpose can come from far simpler initiatives. It's often enough to remind employees that they have a clearly-defined purpose within the office and that their efforts make a noticeable difference. 

A lot of people hate their jobs. They spend weeks, months, and years regretting their decision to let a big paycheck or exciting location woo them. Surprisingly few, however, ever regret the decision to quit. Are you providing your team with everything they're looking for? 

Miguel Patricio, the new CEO of Kraft Heinz, faces a wealth of challenges in his new position. He joins the organization as its profits are flagging and its public perception is at perhaps an all-time low. In addition to losing health-conscious customers, the maker of supermarket staples like Jell-O and Heinz 57 has faced months of scrutiny from the SEC.

The SEC probe could not have come at a worse time for the struggling brand. Kraft Heinz broke the news to stakeholders alongside an utterly disastrous earnings report this February. News that the company had engaged in procurement and accounting misconduct quickly took things from bad to worse and drove consumer confidence even lower. Required to re-file its financial statements, the company also conducted an internal investigation of its own.

While they've wrapped up their own inquiry, Kraft Heinz is still contending with SEC investigators and its stock hit a new nadir earlier this month.

Where Did it All Go Wrong?

Kraft and Heinz have seen their problems multiply since the two organizations merged in 2015. Spearheaded by Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffet called it "my kind of transaction"), the deal produced a combined entity that quickly set about reducing costs. It's this dogged focus on slashing expenses that led Kraft Heinz to engage in procurement misconduct and attract the attention of investigators. 

Kraft Heinz' internal investigation revealed financial misstatements accounting for around $200 million dollars. "The misstatements," a spokesperson explains, "largely relate to the timing and recognition of supplier contracts in the procurement area." Most likely, this means that employees accelerated the rebates and discounts they negotiated with suppliers to reflect cost savings more quickly. The company also noted that it had reprimanded several dozen employees for these actions.

Citing conversations with current and former employees, CNBC suggests this tricky contracting was just one symptom of a culture dominated by savings targets and annual bonuses. In addition to inspiring "rapid-fire promotions of often inexperienced employees," Kraft Heinz' policies appear to have encouraged bad behavior. As sales declined throughout 2016 and 2017, the pressure to cut costs at all costs grew even more intense. "A large portion of that pressure," writes CNBC, "fell on the procurement and operations teams."

More specifically, it fell on hungry, young employees eager to make an impact and elevate the company's procurement group. They tended to strike suppliers as overly-aggressive, even combative in their pursuit of low-cost contracts. One described the call for savings opportunities as little more than a "blunt instrument." 

What's Next? 

For a company looking to change with the times, Kraft Heinz relied on surprisingly outdated methods. Coming down hard on suppliers and beating the drum for cost savings are the tactics of Procurement's dark, ineffectual past. Patricio acknowledged this in his first earnings call last week. "I believe," he remarked, "that we persisted with integration-minded cost cutting and did not commit to a continuous improvement, productivity-driven mindset soon enough." 

This mindset will prove essential for rebuilding Kraft Heinz' reputation and (hopefully) winning back the consumers it's lost over the last decade. If nothing else, the hard work of rebuilding and rebranding will provide a valuable opportunity for the Kraft Heinz procurement group to evolve in their approach and make the function a force for more than just savings. 

Since J.C. Penney’s decline, beginning in 2009, the company has made efforts to rebrand itself in hopes of spiking sales and creating opportunity. Last year, sales for J.C. Penney fell 25 percent: a net loss of $985 million. J.C. Penney was largely affected by the Great Recession and in the period of 2009 to 2011, the company witnessed their yearly revenue decrease by one billion dollars. In 2007, J.C. Penney’s yearly revenue peaked at $20.18 billion, compared to its current revenue of $11.7 billion. Throughout the recession, shoppers who would frequently purchase at J.C. Penney turned to cheaper stores.

However, J.C. Penney’s rapid downfall is mostly attributed to its former CEO Ron Johnson, appointed in 2011. Under Johnson’s management, J.C. Penney changed its marketing method and its pricing model. The goal was to appeal to wealthier shoppers and turn J.C. Penney into a more upscale retail store. J.C. Penney also stopped carrying many brands which were mostly purchased by low-income and middle-income customers, who made up a large share of J.C. Penney’s customers. Prior to 2011, the company had a successful private label program and their management properly handled costs and shortened the supply chain.

Johnson wanted J.C. Penney to stand out from its competitors and introduced a unique shopping experience: a store within-a-store-concept. Customers could indulge in services such as manicures, an effort to convert the company into more than just a retail store. Nonetheless, Johnson’s focus on tailoring to a higher-income market was a tough call in a time where many Americans had lost their jobs or were struggling financially.

Another substantial mistake was terminating clearance sales and coupons. Instead of pricing their products and then lowering the price-tag after six weeks of sitting on the shelves, Johnson decided to not waste retail space and capital, so he decided to initially list products at an already reduced price. However, customers want to feel that they are saving money and find good deals; therefore, this tactic proved ineffective. As a result, sales declined by $4.3 billion in 2012. J.C. Penney’s stock (JCP) also took a hit; its highest stock price was $82 in 2007, compared to $27 in 2011 and a current low of $0.60 a share.

Ever since the Ron Johnson era, J.C. Penney has been working to increase its revenue and satisfy its investors. However, with Amazon conquering the e-commerce segment and consumers buying more online instead of in department stores, the market looks different for J.C. Penney than it did ten years ago. If J.C. Penney wants to achieve the success it did in the past, it must capture a larger market share of the shrinking retail segment. Current CEO Jill Soltau aspires to eliminate the company’s four billion dollars of debt. Her vision is to reduce inventory in stores, in order to boost margins on products, while shutting down underperforming outlets. Soltau also plans on renovating locations and replacing outdated goods with women’s apparel and home goods. J.C. Penney will also introduce a centralized pickup and returns center in its stores, as well as an efficient checkout process.

Another growth opportunity for J.C. Penney lies within the secondhand clothing industry. J.C. Penney agreed on a partnership with consignment firm ThredUP to introduce the sale of secondhand women’s clothing in thirty of its locations. Soltau hopes this will cause an increase in budget-minded millennial shoppers. J.C. Penney’s efforts to turn the company around will take years to show results; however, with the right management and decisions, the company can work to reduce its debt and reverse some of the damage made by past management.

Consumers want to be assured that the products they purchase are the genuine article and of the highest quality possible. However, experts increasingly say that because of how complicated the global supply chain and the rising prevalence of "gray-market" commerce are, it may not always be easy for companies to keep bootleg items from reaching their shelves.

Recent estimates from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows about 1 in every 20 products purchased by consumers in the U.S. is counterfeit these days, and that number is rising, according to Logistics Management. A large part of this is specifically because of the gray market, in which genuine products are removed from the supply chain - either directly from the factory or somewhere in transit - and sold at a discount. At the same time, counterfeit goods are becoming easier to make and pass off as the real thing.

Today, the vast majority of bootleg or gray market items come from China, but other nations - including India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam - generate sizable portions of the counterfeit market as well, the report said. Indeed, some of those countries are seeing their foothold in the counterfeit market growing these days, and companies may find there's little in place to prevent the trend; in fact, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol only stops about 1% of counterfeit goods coming into the country.

Spotting counterfeits in the supply chain is vital to keeping consumers happy.Spotting counterfeits in the supply chain is vital to keeping consumers happy.
A potential risk
One area where this trend may be particularly concerning is when it comes to food and drink, according to Business Insider. The fact that people will consume these products means quality control is of the utmost importance, but bootleggers cannot be counted on to uphold any such standards. A recent unfortunate case in Costa Rica highlights this quite well: 25 people there died after drinking bootleg alcohol tainted with methanol.

The International Alliance for Responsible Drinking estimates that almost one-fifth of all alcohol in the Central American nation is counterfeit, and unfortunately the most recent incident is not isolated, the report said. These products often end up in perfectly reputable establishments, and typically they aren't purchased knowingly. Often, the people doing the ordering may just think they're getting a slightly better deal on a normal order.

What can be done?
Experts say that while there's no way to ensure there is nothing but real products in your supply chain, steps can certainly be taken to reduce that risk, according to QSR Web. For instance, advanced technologies including the blockchain may be used to identify products at every step of the chain, from factory floors to transport vehicles to store shelves. That may be especially useful in sourcing food and drink products to better ensure products are safe to consume.

The more that can be done at every step of the supply chain to better monitor for quality in any type of product, the better off companies will be in keeping consumers' confidence.

While the economy has been going strong for years, many experts now believe some cracks in the foundation for all that growth are starting to form. In the past few weeks, warnings of another recession looming a year or so down the road have become more common, and that could have a major effect on the global supply chain.

At the end of June, a survey of supply chain professionals found that 55% of those experts expect to see a recession of some kind take place before the end of 2020, according to a the new Plans & Tactics to Recession-Proof the Enterprise: Survey of Procurement & Finance Professionals study from Suplari. While the majority of respondents think a downturn is 15 months or so away, at most, 30% feel they or their companies are not prepared to deal with a recession.

Moreover, because so many companies are anticipating financial difficulties, 80% are trying to rein in costs before the end of the fiscal year, the survey found.

"Finance and procurement professionals operate closely and holistically in relation to the matters of spend management, purchasing activity, savings optimization and risk factors," said Nikesh Parekh, co-founder and CEO of Suplari. "They are likely to be the first in their organizations to perceive and deal with the impact of a recession."

Concerns about a recession are mounting.Concerns about a recession are mounting.
Assessing the potential impact
In recent decades, recessions typically take place soon after the yields on 10-year Treasury bonds are surpassed by those for two-year Treasuries, and that happened in mid-August, according to supply chain expert Steve Banker, writing for Forbes. That in and of itself should serve as a warning to supply chain pros: They need to speed up their preparations for a downturn, or at least have plans in place for how they will react.

Companies need to consider the ways in which a recession would impact their ability to source materials or products and then link up with other businesses in the supply chain, and start building those projections into their integrated business planning, Banker added. However, it may be vital to speed up the regularity of that planning, based on the size and ability of an operation to handle it.

Some may benefit from upgrading monthly IBP to weekly, or quarterly to monthly, to put themselves in a better position to deal with these issues.

Already feeling the effects?
Meanwhile, investment bank Goldman Sachs recently cut its own growth forecast by about 10% because it has already begun to feel some of the early effects of a potential recession, triggered in large part by the "trade war" between the U.S. and China, according to CNBC. Goldman Sachs chief economist Jan Hatzius recently told clients that as much as one-third of the drag on the United States' GDP could come from just the latest escalation of the trade war's tariffs, some of which has been delayed over concerns about the holiday shopping season.

In fact, Hatzius specifically cited fears about complications in the supply chain that would lead to difficulties in the U.S., the report said.

With all this in mind, supply chain professionals would be wise to make sure they start their planning as soon as possible for a potential recession, so  they aren't caught half-prepared when and if the downturn hits.

This blog comes to us from Megan Ray Nichols of Schooled by Science. 

When it comes to improving sustainability and optimizing operations, procurement channels are some of the first places to focus on. After all, the supply chain not only accounts for most costs and sources of inefficiency, but produces more emissions than internal operations typically do.

It’s not just about external parties and processes, however. Inefficiencies can come from within, too. Achieving a transformational change, for the better, means maintaining proper operations across the board, from fostering supplier-buyer relationships to cultivating employee compliance.

But in practice, sustainability is not easy to do. After all, monitoring, communicating and collaborating with hundreds or thousands of suppliers at a time is no small feat. Luckily, there are some things that leaders and managers can do to keep their procurement operations on the right track.

Here are some actionable, effective practices for implementing a more sustainable procurement process.

1. Evaluate Your Existing Setup
More than likely, your business has been involved with its suppliers and partners for many years. Before jumping ship for more efficient and eco-friendly partners, evaluate your existing setup. It may be better to swap merely one or two suppliers at a time, starting small. Besides, the teams you already work with may have green initiatives in place or programs that are actively developing. It’s always a good idea to communicate your plans for improved sustainability, even just to see if anyone else is on board.

Establish a decision framework for choosing new suppliers to work with. When issuing RFPs, be sure to negotiate environmentally sound and resource-efficient practices with potential suppliers. Also, it’s important to secure the most energy-efficient and green products available at the same or lower price than alternatives — something that should always be included in agreements.

2. Define a Code of Conduct and Collaboration Requirements
Collaborating with eco-friendly suppliers and partners is always a plus, but what does that mean? What does it look like for your business, products and practices?

Before diving down the rabbit hole, it’s important to establish a code of conduct and series of requirements that can apply to all potential and existing suppliers. Make it clear about what you’re looking for and what their responsibilities will be. What behaviors do you expect to see, how do you want waste handled and what about emissions? Are there limits or boundaries to said restrictions?

A good idea to honor this is by incorporating ISO standards and becoming certified. The new ISO 20400 explicitly deals with sustainable procurement practices, making it an ideal match for most businesses.

3. Educate and Build Awareness
Establish a team dedicated to corporate social responsibility and sustainability, and employ their help with optimizing the business. More importantly, that team should also invest time educating and spreading awareness about eco-friendly initiatives with suppliers, for both existing and potential prospects.

An alternative for small to medium-sized businesses that don’t have the manpower to create a dedicated team, would be to sponsor online training programs and seminars. By sharing these programs with suppliers, managers can better communicate what they are looking for and what that means for the relationship.

4. Reward and Respond
As you do with employees for conventional operations, it’s important to evaluate and respond accordingly to your supplier’s progress and achievements. Establish a series of audit mechanisms to grade their commitment to sustainability and reward good behavior. Offer incentives to help encourage greater levels of commitment. Those incentives don’t necessarily have to be monetary, but they should value your partner(s) time.

5. Optimize Communication
All this talk about evaluating suppliers and prospects isn’t going to do any good if there are no open channels of communication and collaboration. It’s important to implement a streamlined method of communication across all involved parties, not just internally.

Are there ways to highlight an active process and suggest improvements? What real-time and maintenance opportunities are available to your management team? If something goes wrong, how long until the appropriate contacts are notified?

Once that line of communication is open, it’s just as important to keep it consistent and effective. You and your team must be able to communicate with any partners — not just to evaluate but to help improve collaborative processes, too.

6. Align Core Business Strategies
The adage says to practice what you preach, and that’s true here. Ensure your employees and your operations adhere to sustainable and eco-friendly requirements. If it’s not a priority for your team, then any suppliers and partners you work with are going to follow that example.

That's why you want to lead by example. Send a strong message to your partners that sustainability is ingrained in your core business practices. It’s not just a movement or an afterthought. It’s a way of life. When they see just how serious you and your constituents are, they’ll make it a priority for doing business with you, as they should.

Sustainable Procurement Starts From Within
While it’s certainly true that suppliers can cause real problems when it comes to sustainability and corporate social responsibility, they are not the sole reason why things go wrong. Green initiatives and improved sustainability start from within, as part of a core business strategy.

These best practices send a clear message that it’s important to establish relevant practices at a foundational level. The best place to start is by educating and training employees, managers and partners as to what they can do to contribute and maintain sustainability. Then it’s on to more actionable strategies, such as incorporating green initiatives internally, collaborating with eco-friendly suppliers and continuing to evaluate the total footprint of your business.

ICYMIM: August 19th, 2019

Source One's series for keeping up with the most recent highlights in procurement, strategic sourcing, and supply chain news week-to-week.  Check-in with us every Monday to stay up to date with the latest supply management news.

3 Tips to Improve the 'First Mile'  of Your Supply Chain
JP Morris, Spend Matters, 8/15/2019
Companies who design a solid foundation to work from have a clear advantage in the industry. The flaws in your supply chain will carry through the entire process, so it's critical that the "first mile" is well thought out. Back in July, Spend Matters notably pronounced, "The 'first-mile' flaws hinder last-mile success'". JP Morris provides three solid tips that will help to improve that first mile.

The Rise of the Ethical Consumer and Why Businesses Need to Follow
Franco Vessio, Future of Sourcing, 8/12/2019
Consumers are becoming more and more aware of the climate change crisis and food production is one of the most relevant talking points of the movement. Dairy and meat consumption is declining as consumers ethical sensitivity heightens and companies need to keep up. Franco Vessio will discuss how a new awareness of consumer eating habits and environmental concerns will transform the way the food industry will operate in the coming years. 

Cooperative Ecosystems: Finding Suppliers That Give a Damn
Sarah Scudder, Sig Speaks
Procurement teams want suppliers that demonstrate values a little more deep than a quality project or a completed timeline. We want morally strong people who care with good ethics. Scudder speaks to the importance of choosing suppliers who your company can be proud to represent and be able to depend on in difficult situations. 
The RFx process will essentially determine whether your strategic sourcing initiative is strong and successful or a total flop. The way you approach an RFx will not only leave a lasting impression on your potential supply base, but it will determine how efficiently you will get the information you need to inform your purchasing decision.

You want your RFx documents to read direct and concise. You certainly don’t want your work to come off as worthless documents to add to a supplier’s shred pile. We gave you the lowdown of RFP spam, but here are some best practices of how to avoid the dog pile and establish a connection with a potential supplier.  In this Infographic we talk how to maximize the RFx stage; we broke it down into two stages: the Request For Information (RFI) and the Request For Proposal (RFP).

Why do business owners and category stakeholders continue to maintain incumbent relationships that are damaging and costly to business operations? Is this resistance to change due to the longevity of the relationship, lack of category expertise, free dinners, or just pure laziness to invest in the market for a better fit solution and supplier engagement?

I once had a customer whose 20+ year long relationship with its marketing firm resulted in 40% higher costs compared to the competitive landscape. My customer did not have the internal resources or knowledge to know this problem existed and never expected their “buddy” to rip them off. It was only after a Procurement lead strategic sourcing initiative that unveiled the truth; where alternative proposals for “like” services showed lower pricing was available in addition to more modernized solutions. When the customer’s CEO confronted the company’s President, the response was simply; “You are right, I have no excuse, we just never adjusted pricing to align with the market”; basically saying they have been over billing for MANY years and probably for other customers as well.

Procurement teams can offer objective support in approaching the market and promote cost savings by identifying innovative services that fulfill and surpass the requirement. These professionals have the subject matter expertise to help navigate contractual best practices and improve supplier relationships to be more strategic and beneficial for all parties versus expensive dinners and friendly conversation. Category leads are typically too in the weeds in order to stay ahead of current market conditions and facilitate up-to-date benchmarking activities. Procurement can coach stakeholders to shift their thinking while letting them focus on their operational responsibilities taking on the burden of keeping suppliers honest for the experts.

At the end of the sourcing initiative, my customer did remain with the incumbent based on the complexity of the services being provided and still holding on to the past too tightly. However, pricing was now aligned with the market, they received a large credit to offset historical cost variances and to build up trust again, while setting ground rules for ongoing business reviews and the ability to test the waters as needed throughout the contract term. This experience also lead to other sourcing activities across many spend areas where the supplier in place had been around for more than 5 years.

Don’t overestimate the value of personal relationships and don’t underestimate the value of what Procurement can offer. It’s business; nothing personal!

August 16, 2019

Here's a look at where Source One's cost reduction experts have been featured this week!

New Interview:
Perspectives: Practitioner Q&A
Reginald Peterson, Inside Supply Management, 8/2019
In the latest issue of ISM's magazine, Corcentric Director Reginald Peterson discusses the challenges facing today's Procurement professionals. True spend management, he suggests, still eludes many organizations.

Upcoming Events:
Procurious Big Ideas Summit | Chicago, IL | 9/18
Industry professionals will gather in Chicago this September at the Big Ideas Summit hosted by Procurious. The digitally-led networking event will welcome supply chain management professionals to engage in thought-provoking conversations concerning the future of procurement. Catch Source One's spend management team's presentation sharing their insights into procurement today.

Scope: Procurement Summit | Red Rock, Las Vegas | 9/18-9/20
Quartz Events will be hosting the Scope Procurement Summit will be hosting a networking event for procurement professionals to learn new things and share new ideas. Big industry names like IBM and the NBA will share their insight into procurement trends and innovations today. Source One will be presenting "Perception is Reality: Refining Procurement's Brand for Maximum Impact" on Monday at 3 pm, see you there!

Procurement Professionals Networking Happy Hour | Chicago, IL | 10/24
This October, Source One will be hosting it's annual Procurement Professionals Networking Happy Hour. For the fifth year in a row, procurement experts from industries far and wide will convene for drinks, hors d'oeuvres, and valuable connections. 

From August 18th to the 20th, Procurement and Supply Management thought leaders will gather in
Las Vegas for the SCOPE Procurement Summit. Corcentric is sponsoring the invitation-only event and joining experts from organizations like Siemens, Bayer, and the National Basketball Association to exchange insights and discuss the challenges facing today's Procurement professionals.

Key themes from this year's agenda include Procurement's lingering skills gap, the promise of emerging technologies, and the global economy's evolving risk factors. On August 19th, Corcentric Director Jennifer Ulrich will address another all-important subject: Procurement's brand identity. Titled Perception is Reality: Refining Procurement's Identify for Maximum Impact, the presentation will call on Ulrich's history of empowering clients to elevate Procurement and make the function a trusted business leader.

"When we discuss branding," Ulrich remarks, "we almost always focus on the individual and organization-wide perspectives. We tend to ignore the fact that business units like Procurement have brand identities of their own. The same principles that drive personal branding efforts and company-wide initiatives could help Procurement set itself apart too."

Though Procurement units have evolved considerably over the last decade-plus, the function is still often perceived as low-value and tactical. Ulrich contends that it cannot reach its full potential unless it commits to building a new, more impactful identity. "To become a trusted ally," she suggests, "Procurement has to first refine its vision, align itself with stakeholders, and emphasize its power to enable the entire." She hopes her presentation will inspire SCOPE attendees to carry out these initiatives within their companies.

Headed to Vegas? In addition to sitting in on Ulrich's presentation, be sure to stop by Booth #101 to meet the Corcentric team and learn more about the future of Procurement and Finance.

Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump made deregulation a common theme, a promise to prospective voters. Though he's had mixed results, he's consistently acted on his deregulatory ambitions as President. More rollbacks are incoming. This week the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a Transportation Department agency, proposed amendments to the trucking industry's "hours of service" (HOS) rules.

FMCSA Administrator Raymond Martinez believes the proposal will allow for "a commonsense approach to crafting hours-of-service regulations that are more flexible for truck drivers and promote safety for all who share the road." Others suggest the changes would do nothing to promote safety. Harry Adler, executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition, charges the government with "offering flexibility without regard for the fact that these weakened rules could be exploited by the worst actors in the industry."

HOS rules aren't new regulations. The trucking industry first introduced them in the late 1930s. Recent updates, however, have made them particularly unpopular among truckers and trade groups. In December of 2017, a long-dreaded mandate went into effect and brought HOS regulations back into the headlines. Requiring that all drivers track their road hours with Electronic Logging Devices (ELD), the so-called ELD mandate brought a slew of inflexible requirements. It has proven no more popular in practice than it was in theory

Truckers were particularly outspoken during the "public listening sessions" hosted by the FMCSA throughout the last year. "I feel," one New York fleet owner remarked, "as though some of these rules and regulations have been put in place by people that have never seen the inside of a truck."

The FMCSA is now suggesting five key changes to the current HOS rules:

1. Split Sleeper Berth

Current Rule: A driver can use the sleeper berth to get 10 consecutive hours off duty. But the driver must spend at least eight hours (no more than 10 hours) in the berth, which does not count toward the 14-hour window. A second period has to be at least two consecutive hours (but less than 10 hours) and would count toward the 14-hour window.

Proposed Rule: The 10-hour break requirement could be split in two: One break of at least seven hours in the sleeper berth and another break of no less than two hours spent either off duty or in the sleeper berth. Neither counts toward the 14-hour driving window.

2. Split Duty Provision

Current Rule: Once a driver is on duty, a 14-hour clock starts to run continuously. When it runs out, the driver may not drive again until they have taken ten or more consecutive hours off duty. Nothing will stop the 14-hour clock except a period in the sleeper berth of at least 8 hours.

Proposed Rule: A driver can stop the 14-hour clock by taking a break of at least 30 minutes (no longer than three hours). This, the FMCSA hopes, will reduce the effects of fatigue and enable drivers to wait out traffic without losing valuable drive time.

3. 30-Minute Break

Current Rule: A driver must take a 30-minute, off-duty break if more than eight hours have passed since their last off-duty break of at least 30 minutes.

Proposed Rule: The break requirement only applies if a driver has driven for a period of 8 hours without at least a 30-minute interruption. Additionally, drivers can satisfy the break requirement with thirty minutes of on-duty, non-driving time.

4. Adverse Driving Conditions 

Current Rule: A driver may operate their vehicle for two additional hours beyond the maximum time allowed. They cannot, however, extend the 14-hour window.

Proposed Rule: Adverse conditions would allow drivers to extend their "driving windows" (14 hours for property-carrying vehicles and 15 hours for passenger-carrying vehicles) by up to two hours. This will encourage drivers to take more caution during inclement weather and potentially reduce crashes.

5. Short Haul

Current Rule: Short haul drivers may not be on duty for more than 12 hours or drive beyond a 100-mile air radius.

Proposed Rule: Short haul drivers can extend their on-duty window from 12 hours to 14 hours and operate across an 150-mile air radius. '

In addition to promoting more cautious driving and providing flexibility, the FMCSA believes its proposal could mean more than $250 million in cost savings for carriers. The agency is accepting public comments until late September. While Martinez did not indicate how long it would take to review these comments and present a final proposal, he suggested that his organization is "ahead of schedule."

In recent years, the number of flexible tech options that allowed companies at every point in the supply chain to get a better handle on their operations has proliferated. Innovation in the sector is now to the point that just about every business - at every step of the supply chain - has at least some sort of technology in place to monitor how efficient they are. The question many in the industry may have, then, is what comes next?

As recently as a decade ago, most companies' reliance on tech was relatively siloed off - they could see what they were doing on their end, but not what the businesses shipping to them, or those receiving shipments from them, were doing, QAD DynaSys global product manager Shaun Phillips recently told Supply Chain Brain. Now, there is more integration between companies at every step of the supply chain so the old metaphor of "one hand not knowing what the other is doing" no longer applies. That, in turn, enables far greater efficiency, and has firms striving for even more transparency from the beginning of the chain to the very end.

One area where this kind of integration between supply chain partners could spur significant innovation in the years ahead is where artificial intelligence is concerned, Phillips noted. When AI systems are able to get a look at the data all these businesses are producing, they may be able to identify inefficiency that's not necessarily visible to human interpreters, and make suggestions or decisions to iron out those kinks in short order.

Digital tracking in a warehouse is key to the entire supply chain.Digital tracking in a warehouse is key to the entire supply chain.
What's needed
Of course, for AI systems to make the best possible decisions, there likely needs to be even more buy-in from businesses in the supply chain, according to Supply Chain Dive. After all, those platforms can only make the most informed decisions based on the data available, and if the information isn't being collected properly or doesn't paint a complete picture, the decisions AI makes about improving efficiency won't be as good as they reasonably could be.

Experts say there's no reason most large- and medium-scale logistics operations shouldn't at least adopt RFID tracking for many of their daily functions, the report said. The cost of that technology has come down so far that it's eminently affordable and, while it may not provide the keenest insight into every facet of operations, something is far better than nothing.

A global vision
The more that can be done to implement smarter data tracking across the entire international supply chain - so that an item can be tracked from a factory in China to a retailer in Kansas with absolute precision - the better off all involved are likely to be, according to First Post. That kind of effort could even include giving consumers a better understanding of where the items they purchase come from, as well as providing assurances about their authenticity.

With all this in mind, companies that haven't yet made a step toward broader adoption of tracking technology - or which are not integrated with partners - would be wise to make this leap sooner than later.

Conversations around artificial intelligence and automation tend toward the apocalyptic. In January, the Brookings Institution reported that more than 35 million Americans hold jobs with "high exposure" to automation. These vulnerable professionals - occupying roles in production, food service, and transportation - could already see at least 70% of their day-to-day tasks replicated by a machine. It's clear that these machines will soon graduate from replicating tasks to replicating entire jobs, even mechanizing entire industries. The report anticipates this massive shift and concludes with a call to action. To "mitigate coming stresses," it reads, organizations will need to pursue a number of strategic initiatives. This should include "promoting a constant learning mindset."

A new study from the Technical University of Munich and Rotterdam University echoes this advice. In addition to teaching new skills, the researchers encourage business leaders to consider the psychological impact of replacement and unemployment. This impact, they suggest, is even greater when an employee is replaced by another human. Their study arrives at the intriguing conclusion that employees in automatable positions feel more threatened by other people than by machines. Intelligent machines might dominate the headlines, but they're not necessarily an immediate concern for the professionals who are preparing to confront them.

The study's findings appear almost paradoxical. A summary reads, "In principle, most people view it more favorable when workers are replaced by other people than by robots or intelligent software. This preference reverses, however, when it refers to people's own jobs. When that is the case, the majority of workers find it less upsetting to see their own jobs go to robots than to other employees." These same professionals do, however, consider automation that greatest long-term threat to employment.

People don't compare themselves to machines the way they compare themselves to peers. This, the study's authors suggests, is why robots pose less of a threat to self-worth. They go on to suggest that the social impacts of replacement and unemployment have gone largely un-addressed. Reskilling should help professionals experiencing technological replacement, but more psychological support might prove necessary for other displaced workers.

These workers, for their part, have largely expressed interest in reskilling. According to Randstad US, 67% of U.S. employees believe they'll need new skills to survive in a changing economy. Employers, however, have been slow to embrace the opportunity. While 80% of workers believe their company should provide for reskilling, nearly 40% have seen no progress.

Employees aren't just hungry for new skills. They're also beginning to insist the employers promote their mental well-being. Far from just a Gen-Z talking point, the demand for more empathetic workplaces touches every generation. As automation moves from theory to reality, businesses will need to devise plans for addressing its full economic, social, and psychological impact.

Last week, Chainyard and IBM announced their collaboration on a blockchain network. This network, called Trust Your Network, is meant to improve supplier qualification, validation, onboarding, and life cycle information management. It also serves the purpose of reducing risk of fraud and errors, which then creates continuous connectivity across supply chains. It enables businesses to store information in a decentralized and secure database on the cloud, which cannot be tampered with, thus building trust in the chain. Chainyard, a blockchain specialist firm is providing the technology and building the network using IBM's blockchain platform.

Prior to blockchain, managing suppliers was a very difficult and time consuming process. The validation of identities and documents such as ISO certifications, bank account information, tax certifications, and certificates of insurance through the lifecycle of a supplier was not an easy task. Blockchain can be applied to several supply chain processes and allows for a secure collaboration for contracts and preventing counterfeit products. The main uses of blockchain are for transparency, verification, and risk mitigation. The time stamps increase transparency in the bidding process, smart contracts allow for the verification of transactions prior to their execution, and the possibility of money laundering decreases due to visibility of untampered data in the ledger.

Trust Your Network assigns its suppliers a digital passport. It then allows those suppliers to share information with the permissioned buyers who are on the network. By the suppliers sharing their information, is saves time for companies conducting research on potential suppliers. This generates more business between suppliers and buyers. Blockchain also connects existing procurement business networks by relaying necessary supplier data required for exchanging Purchase Orders and invoices without having to enter it into multiple networks and then automating onboarding processes to those networks. Companies who share the same goal of IBM and are alongside them in solving challenges related to supplier information management are Anheuser-Busch InBev, Cisco, GlaxoSmithKline, Lenovo, Nokia, Schneider Electric, and Vodafone. These companies taking part in blockchain, upload their suppliers data and expertise onto the network, which in turn expands it. Gartner Inc. has estimated that by 2023, blockchain will support the global movement and tracking of $2 trillion of goods and services annually.

Although blockchain is in its early stages and has some kinks to work out, such as the rules and regulations it will follow and the standardization of it across different countries, it has significant potential. The advantages of blockchain are its cost savings and its ability to increase transparency and traceability. Going forward, blockchain is something that we will definitely hear more of.
For some time, the Trump administration has been saying it would impose tariffs on imports from China, raising concerns about the impact on companies on both sides of the Pacific. However, it now appears as though at least some of those tariffs will be delayed, largely due to concerns about what impact they might have on the holiday shopping season that's a few months away.

Originally, most of the higher tariffs on Chinese goods coming into the U.S. were supposed to go into effect on Sept. 1, according to CNBC. These increases would have likely resulted in significantly higher prices for many things consumers will be eager to scoop up in November and December, and which retailers would need to start stocking in September and October. Now, many tariffs won't be
put into place until Dec. 15.

Many Chinese imports will see their tariffs delayed until December.Many Chinese imports will see their tariffs delayed until December.
"We're doing this for the Christmas season," President Donald Trump told reporters in announcing the change of plans. "Just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. customers. So far they've had virtually none, but just in case they might have an impact on people, what we've done is we've delayed it, so that they won't be relevant to the Christmas shopping season."
Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the delayed tariffs are for items like electronics or apparel that would be popular during the holiday season, as well as Christmas-related decorations like lights, ornaments, nativity figures and so on, the report said.

Digging in
Altogether, the tariffs were expected to be applied to about $300 billion worth of Chinese-made goods, and could be as high as 10% above current import taxes, according to a separate CNBC report. In addition to the announced delays of tariffs on certain items, others will be removed entirely, but the U.S. Trade Representative office has not revealed what those will be, simply saying they will be considered "based on health, safety, national security and other factors."
Representatives from the Commerce Ministry in China have already been in contact with U.S. officials about the delays and they will speak again before August comes to a close, the report said.

A change in position?
Trade experts noted that Trump's comments on this issue mark a potential shift in attitudes for the White House, as it previously did not admit higher tariffs could end up impacting individual consumers, according to The Washington Post. With the president stating these changes are being made to potentially avoid higher costs for consumers during the holidays, the change is considered a tacit acknowledgement of the fact that, in the end, consumers pay for higher tariffs, rather than foreign entities.

Indeed, The Tax Foundation previously estimated this round of tariffs would have resulted in average costs of an additional $350 per year to the average family of four, the Post reported. That's because these import taxes would have been applied to consumer goods, rather than those targeted by previous tariffs, like components used in U.S.-based manufacturing processes.

Nonetheless, any companies relying on a supply chain that originates in China would be wise to keep a close eye on any developments here, and alter their forward-looking strategies accordingly.

If there's any one industry that a highly functional retail supply chain depends upon, trucking may be it. The vast majority of the tonnage delivered in the United States is by motor carriers, yet an ongoing driver shortage threatens the speed and frequency with which department stores, grocery aisles and toy sections receive product. Indeed, in an annual survey conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute, respondents cited the driver shortage as the most pressing issue facing the sector.

But it isn't just people behind the wheel that's in short supply. There's also a dire need for professionals who work under the hood.
"Roughly 34 million trucks are on the road today."

75,000 more mechanics required by 2022
According to government data cited by Supply Chain Dive, an ever smaller number of high school and college graduates are going on to become automotive mechanics. In fact, among diesel service technicians specifically, an estimated 75,000 new mechanics will be needed to by 2022 to keep pace with the rate at which commercial trucks are used, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of big rigs currently on the road is approximately 34 million, based on ATA figures.

Andy Dishner, chief operating officer for Konexial, a Knoxville, Tennessee-based carrier, told Supply Chain Dive that the shortfall in repair professionals is quite apparent.

"We have all felt the consequences of the skilled labor shortages in the over-the-road transportation industry," Dishner explained. "Not only does this affect the fleet owners and managers, but it has the potential to dramatically alter the economic equation."

Disher went on to note that aside from the fact that commercial trucks are always on the road, which puts additional pressure on drivers, too few mechanics can potentially create safety hazards.
"Not having a driver to man the truck is a priority issue for sure, but a driver simply can't do his job if his rig is down without someone to fix it, Disher added. 

Stereotypes may be playing a role
Part of the problem is stigma, the notion that vocational professions such as HVAC workers, boilermakers, tradespeople and plumbers don't pay much and ultimately lead to nowhere fast. That's simply not the case, including for mechanics, noted Jennifer Maher, CEO at TechForce Foundation.
"The skills required to be a professional technician are highly technical and advanced, Maher told Supply Chain Dive. " Technicians can go from entry level to master technician, and have the opportunity to shift from hands-on work to become advisors, managers and corporate leaders."

Depending upon experience and demand, automotive service technicians and mechanics can make upwards of $67,000, according to BLS figures, which is well above the median salary ($59,039).
"Technicians have a virtually limitless ceiling when it comes to income because of things such as shift options and flat-rate pay plans," Maher further explained.

In the meantime, organizations like TechForce and Penske Truck Leasing are on a recruitment tour, looking to bust myths and set the facts straight among teens and young people so more people consider entering the field. In doing so, they may wind up improving operational excellence for businesses that rely on a well-oiled supply chain, which goes for just about all of them.