The GAINS Supply Chain Executive Spotlight highlights talented supply chain leaders who deployed GAINS to orchestrate and execute their business objectives successfully. This installment focuses on the passionate, curious, and dedicated Director of Supply Chain for Grimco, Matt Luther. Grimco is a wholesale distributor and manufacturer of sign supplies currently operating in North America, including the US and Canada, as well as in the UK. Matt oversees the US operations, which encompasses procurement, supply chain logistics, and warehousing.
Better Every Day
Matt and his team at Grimco were awarded the GAINS 2022 Award for Supply Chain Resilience. With good reason, Matt and Grimco share a philosophy of continuous improvement in their supply chain operations. This approach helps guide Matt and his team in their daily activities as their ‘company’s sales and productivity constantly increase.
“We are never satisfied with where we are. We continually reinvest in our business, people, and technology. We strongly believe in this; Grimco wants to be better. Better today, better tomorrow, and better a year from now. That’s how everyone succeeds, personally and professionally. We look for organizations with a similar mentality and choose to reinvest in themselves. “”
Matt is always looking to make positive changes, driven by his shared mission to make things better every day. After meeting with a fellow customer at a GAINS client summit, Matt was introduced to the idea of bringing automation into ‘Grimco’s operations to increase efficiency and reduce errors in their processes. “It wasn’t until we went to one of the GAINS Summit events and heard one of the other customers talking about automation and what it’s done for their business that we became intrigued. So, we started asking our contact, “How do we utilize automation in our business?”
Better Technology Makes for Stronger Teams
Matt has been a big proponent of leveraging new technology to improve what Grimco has been doing well since its founding in 1875, providing shareholders with value and return on their investment by focusing on the customer.
Matt has worked hard to use technology to allow his team to do more and grow. “We’ve placed 650,000 PO lines on a purchase order. We have since automated about 380,000 of those lines. Two years ago, our team would have been responsible for 100% of all of those purchase order lines and their review.” Automating this process has made reviewing all those POs easier, freeing up his team to devote their attention to more complex tasks requiring more sophisticated decision-making, like customer service-related issues.
“With the introduction of automation, as our business has grown over the last few years, we’ve leveraged automation so that we haven’t had to increase our team size. If we placed 100,000 purchase order lines per team member before we brought in automation, we could now get 150,000 lines per team member. Automating our process has essentially allowed us to do more with less; even though we’re not downsizing the team, we do not have to add the same amount of resources that we did two years ago to keep up with the growth of our business.
Talking the Talk and Walking the Walk
Matt has been a champion for the cause of introducing automation into supply chain workflows since ‘Grimco’s adoption of automation several years ago. He has been passionately advocating for greater use of technology as a way to increase productivity and efficiency in day-to-day operations ever since. Matt has also presented at ‘GAINS’ most recent customer summit promoting technology and automation. He credits automation as a method of:
- Lowering operating costs
- Reducing the reliance on working capital
- Decreasing processing errors
- Encouraging team members to grow by relieving them of the need to devote time to easily repeatable but labor-intensive duties
“We have pushed for more automation in our processes. It’s helped our employee engagement by freeing them up to do different, more fulfilling tasks. For example, they now have time to work with our sales team to understand their challenges better. These insights allow us to adjust forecasts and attain a higher level of accuracy.”
Additionally, Matt and Grimco have been expanding their use of technology to manage their inventory better, as well as bringing improvement to a host of other processes. “If we had an unlimited budget, we would use it to work toward injecting more technology into our existing workflow. Bringing in technology to increase visibility into the transportation side of our business and figuring out how to integrate our new data into other platforms we use. Integration with our CRM, web store, and GAINS system gives us a better idea of our ‘customer’s expectations, how we’re delivering on those expectations, and asking if we are doing what we need to be successful”.”
Curiosity Creates Opportunity
Matt has a term that he and his team use quite often: “Be curious.” This approach has served him well as the world continues to increase in complexity. The Grimco team is always open to and looking for new and innovative ways of doing things. Asking questions when issues arise, listening, and observing, seeking first to understand a problem before enacting a hasty solution. Matt is eager to seek others’ opinions, perspectives, and approaches. As it was when Matt was first introduced to the notion of adding automation to his supply chain efforts, he realized that there are potential new answers and solutions to problems hidden in other ‘people’s thinking.
He recently spoke at the 2023 GAINS Summit to share his vision for supply chain excellence and has become an inspiration to those in the GAINS community.