Getting a product on Wal-Mart’s shelves is an accomplishment for sure, but it’s not just getting there that counts. That product also has to sell and be replenished efficiently or suppliers run the risk of being rooted out by competitors also vying for shelf space.
Dan Sanker, CEO of Fayetteville-based CaseStack, a third party logistics firm, has grown a service-oriented business around helping suppliers keep product on retailer shelves why also reducing their overall transportation and warehousing costs. The former Proctor & Gable executive attributes CaseStack’s success to it’s collaborative model and technology prowess.
CaseStack works in tandem with suppliers on one side and Wal-Mart and other larger retailers on the other side to ensure uninterrupted availability throughout the supply chain.
Sanker felt so strongly about the power of collaboration that the business entrepreneur authored a book on the subject in 2012 titled, “Collaborate: The Art of We.”
Sanker says there is an enormous amount of lost money sloshing around the supply chain as smaller and mid-size suppliers often lack the capital to invest in their own in-house supply chain management systems.
He said trucks travel half empty, losing more time at the distribution warehouse while waiting for a door to unload products bound for retailer shelves. The suppliers are penalized for late deliveries and damaged goods which can negatively impact their score cards and opportunities for valuable shelf space.
Since the recession of 2008, the CaseStack model, according to Sanker, has consistently saved its customers 40% in logistical costs while also improving time efficiency by 20%.
“Consumers, and even the environment, ultimately benefit when we all work together to extract anything wasteful in the macro supply chain network,” Sanker said.
He says larger suppliers are already able to realize transportation cost savings and high service performance levels because they have invested in inventory systems to maximize efficiency.
But CaseStack caters to the smaller and mid-size suppliers that make up a majority of the less-than-truckload shipments coast to coast.
Sanker founded CaseStack in 1999 and first based the firm in Santa Monica, Calif.
His goal was to level the playing field for mid-size suppliers by providing consolidation programs, efficient warehousing systems and streamlining transportation management to increase efficiency while also creating cost savings and raising supplier score card performance.
“We want to do what once seemed mutually exclusive – improve supply chain performance while simultaneously reducing operating costs for customers,” Sanker said.
The creation of the company’s network of collaborative retailer programs in conjunction with its cloud-based technology platform allowed CaseStack to deliver on its vision.
“We have worked with leading retailers in the U.S. and internationally to build on the premise that supply chains must become more efficient for companies to prosper in the years to come,” Sanker said.
CaseStack works as a middle man to help suppliers get their products delivered timely and economically to retailer shelves. Through technology, the firm offers suppliers a one-stop system that provides tracking and visibility of product as it moves through the supply chain.
Whether its helping Greystar Products get Tony Roma’s barbecue sauce on grocer shelves or working with Asian companies sourcing American-made products, CaseStack is busy tailoring services to fit a wide range of logistic needs for suppliers, Sanker said.
“The international piece of our business is the fastest growing segment in our company, still relatively small but an enormous opportunity as the entire world is beginning to rethink about how and where it sources products,” Sanker said.
Anaheim-based Greystar also benefits from CaseStack’s retailer consolidation program which combines two or three separate deliveries heading to the same distribution center, store or region into one full truckload delivery.
CaseStack pools Greystar’s products and receives a reduced freight rate. The consolidated program not only saves Greystar Products money but also cuts back on CO2 emissions, road congestion and dock congestion, according to Terry Italia, president of Greystar.
MOVE TO NWA
In 2007 Sanker, his wife, Jane and their two sons moved to Fayetteville so he could immerse himself in the culture of consumer packaged goods, supply chain and retail thought leadership.
He said the company has found an abundance of industry talent in Northwest Arkansas, and the company has added about 70 people to the Fayetteville home base.
The company has doubled in size since 2007, with roughly 2,000 customers to date. CaseStack has grown at a 20% annual clip since the recession of 2008.
Sanker says that growth pace is expected to continue in the coming years as companies have been asked to set the sustainable and efficiency bars higher and higher.
“There is a network effect; the more retailers and suppliers we work with – the better the platform is for everyone,” he said.
CaseStack still has two offices in Southern California and warehouse locations in areas that include Los Angeles, Portland, Dallas, Chicago, Toronto, Atlanta and Scranton, Pa.
“I travel fairly often to meet with our many partners and clients. It’s great to participate in the world’s largest retail business cluster, but I feel like our customers and retail partners throughout the world have become like mentors for our future development,” Sanker said.
He quotes, Major League Baseball Hall of Fame manager, Casey Stengel who said “Gettin’ good players is easy. Gettin’ ’em to play together is the hard part.”
“We’ve cobbled together an ever-growing network of the best and brightest in the industry – some CaseStack and some partners. Everyone wins when we find new ways to use our people, process and technology to create win-win situations,” Sanker said.