Archives for December 2010

Greater West Town – Basic Supply Chain Training

By Herb Shields | 12/17/2010 | 7:48 AM


I have been a member of Greater West Town’s (GWTP) Shipping and Receiving Program Advisory Committee for several years.  For me, supporting GWTP is a year round opportunity to give something back to our profession and the community at large.  It also is a good blog topic during the Holiday Season.


Greater West Town Partnership is a not-for-profit organization located in Chicago that offers a variety of services to citizens who need assistance in developing their potential as productive members of society.  The Shipping and Receiving program trains approximately 60 people every year in the basic skills needed to qualify for employment in a warehouse, distribution center, or manufacturing company.


Bob Fittin, Director of Training at GWTP, had this to say about the selection process used to qualify people for each 12 week training program: “Each person seeking admission into training will visit the facility at least three times prior to being accepted. The first will be for a general orientation including a basic quiz to assess general industry knowledge and matching ability, completion of an application, and a brief exit interview. The second will assess the applicant’s reading and math skills. The third will be a full interview with two staff members. Those selected will then take a drug test, and if negative, will be accepted into training. We’ve worked closely with our Program Advisory Committee, composed of our business partners, to structure a process that will enable us to train the type of individual who will be motivated to succeed when hired. Since we are outcomes’ based it is critical that graduates retain their employment. This also benefits the program as businesses will look to GWTP for their next hire.”


GWTP’s funding is based on placement of graduates.  In recent years they have had great success and placement rates have consistently been near 90% of each class.  Over the years, many well known people including President Obama, Treasury Secretary Geithner, several  Illinois governors, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and other elected officials have visited GWTP.  But like most not-for-profit organizations that make great contributions to society, GWTP remains largely invisible to most business people.


2010 is ending on a very positive note for GWTP.  They have moved into a restored building in Chicago which provides more useable space and has been certified as a LEED’s facility through the efforts of the entire staff led by Janet Sebahar, GWTP’s facility manager.  The building dedication took place on December 9th.


If any of my readers are aware of similar organizations that support the development of the supply chain workforce, I would be happy to hear from you.  Importantly, if any of you want information on hiring GWTP graduates, send me a message or e-mail Bob Fittin directly at bfittin@gwtp.edu.

Sustainable Packaging - From Trend to Standard

By Herb Shields | 12/10/2010 | 11:55 AM


Most DC Velocity readers are very familiar with the subject of sustainability.  This post will discuss some of the latest thinking about sustainable consumer products packaging.  I spoke with a good colleague of mine – Ron Farnum, President of Damen Jackson.  The firm does package design and development work for many CPG companies, including a start-up venture that I was involved in during 2007/8.


As in many consumer product areas, Wal Mart’s sustainability mandate made sustainability a real factor for manufacturer’s of consumer products in all categories.  While consumers are not yet making sustainability the primary “reason to purchase”, awareness is increasing and people are responding to truly innovative sustainable packaging, usually in a positive way.  However, they will not pay more to feel better.


Damen Jackson worked with Fisher Nuts’ marketing team to develop a see-through plastic package to replace the traditional composite cans used in the snack products for many years.  The can is recyclable or reusable and allows the consumer to see the product on shelf.  The new package should be in stores within the next several months.


Another recent package change that was consumer-friendly and a cost savings to the manufacturer is the clam shell plastic container that is used by First Alert for residential smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  Damen Jackson created a new design with a universal back made from recyclable PET plastic that is now used for all First Alert  detectors.  This saved tooling cost and gave First Alert greater leverage in the purchasing of plastic containers.


From Trend to Standard


Virtually all RFP’s in consumer packaging now mention sustainability, right-sizing, recyclable materials.  However, there is not yet a set of standards that provides the definition of those terms and the many others – green, natural, etc.  Companies that have adopted a sustainable approach to their products and processes are seeing benefits that impact their profitability including less material and transportation cost and less waste going to land fills.


Not every new package has been accepted outright.  Frito Lay introduced a new Sun Chips package that had a new look, but was too “loud” when handled by consumers.  Bottled water companies have experienced negative feedback when the light-weighted bottles lose their shape when handled.


It will be interesting to watch as sustainable packages become the standard in more CPG categories.

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Herb Shields

Herb Shields

Herb Shields has run Chicago-based HCS Consulting since 2000, helping clients across multiple industries and in higher education improve their supply chain strategy and execution. Shields has more than 30 years as an operations executive for capital equipment, automotive, electrical machinery and consumer products companies. As vice president of materials management at consumer goods company Helene Curtis, Shields led the supply chain organization that helped Helene Curtis win "Vendor of the Year" awards from Wal-Mart Stores and Target Corp. Shields has a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Clarkson University and did graduate work in business at Bowling Green State University.


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