The Supply Side: New tech division drives growth at CaseStack

by Kim Souza (ksouza@talkbusiness.net) 13 views 

Editor’s note: The Supply Side section of Talk Business & Politics focuses on the companies, organizations, issues and individuals engaged in providing products and services to retailers. The Supply Side is managed by Talk Business & Politics and sponsored by Propak Logistics.
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The recent launching of a technology division is part of the growth at CaseStack that has seen the logistics and warehouse company grow to 350 employees and more than $250 million in sales.

CaseStack, which was founded in 1999 in Santa Monica, Calif., and has a large presence in Fayetteville, has 14 developers working in the company’s cloud-based services division, according to CaseStack CEO Dan Sanker. He expects to employ 40 technology developers in the next 18 months.

Sanker launched the new technology division about six months ago after two years of planning and looking at strategic ways the company could better equip suppliers amid the competitive and changing retail landscape. CaseStack’s new technology applications are aimed at helping suppliers take friction out of the supply chain, whether that’s helping them catalog their online products for multiple retailers, making appointments of deliveries or deploying analysts to ensure the supply chain is optimized.

“We already have two business divisions serving our clients through logistics and transportation as well as consolidation and warehousing, but we continually are asked by suppliers to help them solve other issues arising in their businesses,” he said. “We are glad to do it, but tackling the same issues for multiple clients just didn’t make sense. That’s why we created technology-based application services that our customers can subscribe to as needed.”

Sanker said the division has launched five of eight different services. They are subscription-based and customers can chose from a menu or purchase the entire suite. Sanker believes the technology will help suppliers and their retail partners reduce inefficiencies that persist in the supply chain.

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The Miranda-TMS service is one example. It is an on-demand transportation management system that helps the user better manage transportation and its pricing. Sanker said Miranda gives suppliers a dashboard to look at the competitive rates of shippers which includes CaseStack’s transportation services.

“They might choose CaseStack’s logistics services but if they don’t that’s okay too because this service is designed to help clients get the best possible freight rates,” Sanker said.

With the move by Wal-Mart Stores and other retailers to push more products online, Sanker said there is a gap in services for small- to mid-size suppliers who don’t have the ability or finances to manage online retail. CaseStack’s Titania Analytics program provides that service, Sanker said.

“I recently met with a new client, and we noticed the packaging might be too small for conveyor belts in warehouses and therefore not ready for distribution,” he said. “Luckily they were in their early stages and had not already manufactured and packaged thousands of items. This type of preemptive analysis is part of the Titania Analytics service.”

FINDING THE TALENT
Sanker said recruiting talent for the growing technology services division has not been a challenge. He said the University of Arkansas has been a good source of talent, but he knows growing the tech staff to 40 won’t be easy.

“We want to hire genuine technology professionals, and right now we have been able to lure some good talent with the prospects they have to truly problem solve and also dabble in applying virtual reality where it makes sense,” he said. “We have found a few instances where that is true with our services.”

One in particular is when a company gets its product catalog up to date and needs to build a shipping pallet. In the case where packaging might be oddly sized, virtual reality allows for manually handling the boxes and manipulating them for optimal pallet design.

Sanker said some of the talent in the tech division has come from within its other business units, but that is rare given the technology prowess required. He is confident the company will be able to recruit the necessary tech talent.

“We have found that the developers we have hired said they like working on edgy concepts without the personal risks of working for a startup with edgy financials,” he said.

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