With just over 2 weeks until ArrowStream’s re:Supply Innovation Summit, we’re delighted to present an interview with Andy Long, Vice President of Supply Chain at Performance Food Group. Andy has worked in logistics since 1989 and now has over thirty years of industry experience. He will be part of the panel discussion on ‘Rethinking Data Collaboration’ in which suppliers, distributors, and operators will discuss the pluses and minuses of data collaboration in foodservice supply chain.
1. Could you tell us about yourself? How did you get into the foodservice and how long have you been in the industry?
I am the Vice President of Supply Chain at Performance Food Group, and I've been with them since about 2009. My focus is around inbound logistics, so moving products from points of supply to our various distribution centers across the country. I’ve worked in logistics since 1989 when I first started with a small systems distributor, and I've worked in logistics on and off over most of that time. I’ve also spent a short period of time in manufacturing.
2. What has changed about the foodservice industry since you started?
Since I started, the changes are more focused on trying to close the time windows. It’s become more important to reduce the time between when somebody has a request or an idea for a product that they want to sell, promote, or offer through their system, to the time that we're able to deliver it to the stores. Before there would be some sort of a calendar. They would say at the beginning of the year that they're working on specific items for the second half of the year with the manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors. Throughout my career I've seen that time window continuously shrink to the point where we have literally just a few weeks, maybe even one week’s notice. In the last couple of years, during the pandemic, not only are timetables tight, but there’s a risk that the supplier won’t have the product, even if they confirm your purchase order. You may show up and they don't have labor in their warehouse to load the trucks, or they're behind schedule with loading trucks that were there before you. Carriers are dealing with all kinds of issues so when you order a truck, it may not be available at the time that you expect it to be there. You run into issues, even in your own facilities at times. There are labor issues especially if you have an outbreak of Covid.
3. How do you think technology has impacted the industry?
The first is just the data itself, being able to understand and make sense of what it's telling you, what's available in terms of product, and having visibility into your supply chain. The second thing is what you can do with it, what actionable steps you are able to implement to change your business for the better. Technology has allowed for a heightened visibility of business processes and the ability to use this information for improvement.
To hear more from Andy and learn from his experience, request your invite to re:Supply here.