Forty years ago people ordered goods from catalogs. The corduroy sports coat or flower patterned pinafore you couldn’t wait to get your hands on would arrive at your doorstep … eventually. Then a man named Fred Smith came along and changed the industry. Smith, the CEO and Founder of Federal Express, interrupted the game with the brand promise, “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
“From that point on, the world changed,” said Mike Schneider, Vice President of Operations at DCL Logistics — and a 38-year veteran of the supply chain industry. “Now people expect their packages overnight. UPS knew they had to compete and got into air freight. Then other companies like Amazon came along with much better services — free two-day shipping. It changed the whole industry as we see it today. Customers expect so much more and we have to give them what they want now.”
At DCL Logistics, Mike oversees the four facilities and ensures that we maintain the efficiency and nimbleness customers expect in the pick, pack and ship process.
“We’re a unique third party logistics company (3PL) — one that provides a boutique feel with enterprise scalability,” he said. “One of the reasons customers work with us is because we react and maintain quality. I’ve been in large operations and customers get lost in the mix. Our warehouses are just large enough that we can still give a personal touch to our customer and their customer.”
In an age where speed and economy are key, automation has become an important consideration in order processing. Mike says that for some of its higher volume clients, DCL Logistics is now using an automated picking system that simultaneously picks, kits and verifies.
“Rather than having one person to pick, another to kit and a third person to verify, the automated system lets us process orders more quickly,” he said. “We recently began using the automation in our Louisville warehouse and will be adding it throughout our facilities in the next couple of years. We are also experimenting with a number of operational projects that will continue to drive automation at DCL for the next decade.”
Other efforts to improve efficiency have required sweat equity and a team effort. When DCL needed more room in its Los Angeles facility, Mike and other operational leadership saw to it that the wide aisle storage was changed to very narrow aisle racking. Doing so gave the facility 30% more storage capacity and room to grow for the foreseeable future.
“It’s all about maximizing space while exceeding our operational metrics,” Mike said. “As the customer’s order activity grows, they know we’ll be able to get it out the door. The more efficient we are the more we’re able to serve the client.”
Outside of trekking from one of DCL’s four warehouses to the next, Mike’s traveling shoes are well worn. To date he has visited 47 states in the U.S., and has journeyed through Asia, Europe and Canada. Mike also has a home in Mexico where he likes to get away for fishing excursions and scuba diving in the coral reefs.