"What solutions are you putting in place to keep your supply chain agile? With buying natural products, we rely on crops and if there's a drought in an area or locusts or something that affects the harvest, you have to predict it. Not only do I have a partnership with my suppliers, I have to have a very close partnership with my sales team.
Knowing what their customers are actually going to need and getting my resources in time is very important. Sometimes it means pulling in supply earlier than I typically would have, because if I wait too long, it won't be available. Adjusting my forecasting as much as I can, communicating with my suppliers, working closely with the sales team while making sure that they're getting the answers we need from our customers is key to our success."-Grant Sackett, Supply Chain Manager, D.D. Williamson Colors
Francis Adanza: [00:00:00] Hello everybody. Welcome to the down to freight podcast. And with me today, I'm speaking with Grant Sackett, North American supply chain manager for D. D. Williamson Colors. Grant, thanks for being on the show today.
Grant Sackett: [00:00:13] It's a pleasure. I'm excited to do this.
Francis Adanza: [00:00:16] Likewise. Well just so everyone can get a sense of who you are and your background. Could you please introduce yourself and your company?
Grant Sackett: [00:00:25] Yes. I am the North America flight manager for DD Williamson colors. We are a natural food coloring company. We're based in Louisville, Kentucky, and we're over 150 years old. They actually started the year the civil war ended in 1865. And they’re in the malt industry for beers and started by an immigrant.
His name is Douw Ditmars Williamson. That's where the name comes from and they relocated to Louisville I believe in the 1930s or so and, taken off from there, they were big in the caramel industry. And then in 2005, they bought our branch in port Washington, Wisconsin where I'm located and got into the natural colors industry as well.
So I have been with the company for a little over 10 years, I started in operations and then warehousing and I've been in supply for about five years now with them. And we've expanded my role from port Washington to also covering our Louisville branches. And we are a global company of 12 plants around the world.
And always continuing to grow, it seems like.
Francis Adanza: [00:01:26] Wow. Damn, that's an impressive background as well as the history of the country. Thank you for sharing that. So well here on Down To Freight, we like to talk about problems that arise in the supply chain, around technology change management.
What was the problem that you were wrestling with or the story that you'd like to share with us today?
Grant Sackett: [00:01:46] As we've come out of 2020, nobody knows with the pandemic, but there are always issues that are global that when you watch nightly news, they affect you in this career. Things such as political unrest in a country, especially when we're buying globally and domestically, with elections going on here and with the changing of presidencies and rules around that. Weather is a huge thing.
Just with the pandemic, with tightness of transportation, with countries, entire countries, pulling balance, Peru and India who closed their borders for a month and nothing's allowed in and out. So all of that affects the way we can do our job and the decisions we have to make.
Francis Adanza: [00:02:28] Yeah, definitely. Like these things are unforeseen and definitely impossible to predict. So how did you handle situations like this previously?
Grant Sackett: [00:02:38] I'm even though I've been on this for five years, I still feel green in it. And I have a great teacher, he's located actually in Cork, Ireland and I consider him an expert in a lot of the fields and I have pulled on his ear quite a few times.
But we're learning as we go here. Obviously a pandemic is new, but the weather and certain things you kinda learn to mitigate, you deal with the spires. And it really quite shows true colors to us, to who is good with communication with you, who is willing to work with you on things and the ones that didn't help you out as much.
And you might need to look to replace. So it shows their colors too. And who's going to help build the strength of our company as we continue to grow and who we might have to leave by the wayside.
Francis Adanza: [00:03:24] A lot of sense. Because the supply chain really is a partnership. So you're looking for those that are invested in your success, just like you're invested in theirs.
Grant Sackett: [00:03:34] That's correct.
Francis Adanza: [00:03:35] Hopefully we don't have another pandemic for another hundred years, but between the politics and the weather and everything that happens in between them what are some of the solutions that you are putting in place to, to be more agile moving forward?
What solutions are you putting in place to keep your supply chain agile?
Grant Sackett: [00:03:49] Yes, there's always paying attention to the news and then keeping up on things. There's Brexit was a thing along those lines, keeping an eye on those but you have to, it's almost "plan for the unplanned" and I find myself with the tightness on transportation with the tightness on availability.
With buying natural products, we rely on crops and you have to, if there's a drought in an area or locust infestation or something that affects the harvest, you have to keep an eye on things.. Not only do I have a partnership with my suppliers, I have to have a very close partnership with my sales team, knowing what their customers are actually going to need and getting my resources in line.
And, sometimes it means pulling in supply earlier than I typically would have, because if I wait too long, it won't be available. That ties up capital, but it also means that we're going to keep the customer in the long run. So that's the end game for us. It's more important than the short term capital loss.
So, adjusting my forecasting as much as I can, communicating with my suppliers and working closely with the salesmen and making sure that they're getting the answers we need from our customers and expressing to them and stressing to them the importance of a forecasting tool.
Francis Adanza: [00:05:06] Awesome. So as you go about, there's new forecasting and initiative and planning, what are some of the KPIs that you would measure the before and after, and that impact on the business?
Grant Sackett: [00:05:17] We keep an eye on when we started, we call it cases. And so if a supplier for having problems that I would say are within their control, we keep track of that and it's a quality issue or it's a delay in production and things along those lines that help us keep a metric on who is holding up their end of the deal.
And obviously we have. Everybody has unforeseen things, or if you're in the industry, there's going to be a problem here and there and it's how they mitigated through it and got through that with us and everything that kind of keeps track. So it isn't just a numbers game of "it was supposed to be here and it arrived then" or " freight was going to be this much, but it bumped up to that much". It isn't always that, it's also a personal feel on who worked with you.
Francis Adanza: [00:06:03] Great. Thank you for sharing that, Grant. Greatly appreciated. So it seems like you have your work cut out for you in the near term, but as you look beyond this planning and forecasting, what's next for you and DDW?
Grant Sackett: [00:06:18] Like I said I, even though I've been in this for five years, I can still consider myself green.
I would like clears and things start opening up more. Be more boots on the ground with my suppliers and getting to visit them. I visited quite a few of the domestic ones. I go to trade shows and talk to them, but actually getting to more of our international suppliers and becoming more of an expert in certain areas.
As we become larger and our roles increase and everything like that, a little more diversification in us and, the areas we cover, it's very important that if we want to keep up to the ever-changing demands of this food market with global, organic and non GMO that we need to keep educating ourselves and it'll never stop for DT Williamson. That's for sure.
Francis Adanza: [00:06:59] Definitely. Awesome.