Dec 16, 2020

In Person interview: Ed Bowersox of CJ Logistics America

This article was originally published on DC Velocity.

Ed Bowersox is CEO of CJ Logistics America, a third-party logistics service provider (3PL) and supply chain consultant. Formerly known as DSC Logistics, the company was acquired by South Korean giant CJ Logistics Corp. in 2018 and is now being integrated into the CJ Logistics family. In his capacity as CEO, Bowersox leads the company’s strategy and has executive oversight of its development and management.

Bowersox joined DSC as senior vice president, customer strategy in 2015. Prior to that, he worked for Kimberly-Clark, where he led global supply chain transformation initiatives and oversaw operating and manufacturing facilities. Bowersox holds a bachelor’s degree in packaging engineering and logistics from Michigan State University.

Q: How do you view the current state of the logistics market?

A: The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly underscored the criticality of logistics and supply chain. Our organization has long emphasized the importance of being out in front of dynamic change; we are focused on providing thought leadership and insights to inform strategies. We’re rethinking global supply chains, redefining supply chains. E-commerce is the most rapidly growing 3PL segment, and the industry is experiencing a very intense, constrained fourth quarter. Retailers and logistics providers are playing critical roles in keeping the supply chain moving and evolving through unprecedented times.

Q: Your company is going through a rebranding, moving to CJ Logistics. What are you hoping this new identity will provide?

A: We are coming together as one company, with all the brands aligned with our vision for a connected customer experience, integrated global solutions, and accelerated innovation. Our focus is on customer value creation and continuous improvement. Now, as CJ Logistics, we are able to provide expanded capabilities that truly span the supply chain from end to end and to integrate those services across the globe. Our ability to optimize sustainability, efficiency, and visibility are greatly increased. Further, we see this as a huge step in our continuing efforts to develop world-class talent, with an increased ability to provide robust global career-development opportunities for existing and new team members. Becoming one with “CJ Logistics, The SCM Innovator,” is also symbolic of our commitment to continue to invest in technology and information systems that translate into data-driven strategies. It’s a very exciting time.

Q: CJ Logistics offers a full range of supply chain services, including transportation, warehousing, logistics, and consulting. Are there advantages to providing customers with that full-service approach?

A: Yes, when you approach the supply chain holistically, you can be much more effective in optimizing the total system. When you only manage a myopic portion of the supply chain, there is always a risk of sub-optimization. In our customer engagements, even when we are only playing a singular role in a customer’s supply chain, we step back and attempt to model and consider as much of their total picture as we can, evaluating the impacts of our solution up and down the chain. Every solution has our customers’ broader goals and end-customer in mind. Whether customers are hoping to identify quick wins or design for total network optimization, we keep the big picture in sight and assist customers in mitigating risk and making key business decisions.  

Q: Supply chain capacity is very tight right now, especially in the midst of this holiday season. What effect has that had on operations?

A: On the warehouse side, attracting and retaining talent is more critical than ever. Our employees have shown tremendous dedication as we work to keep the supply chain moving, providing some of the food, medical, and consumer supplies that have been most critical throughout the pandemic. In view of the increased activity, we are focused on providing flexibility, recognition, and incentives to help sustain and retain our team members through this challenging period.

Regarding transportation, capacity and rising rates are a critical concern, and constraints are increasing across all modes. In this challenging market, our customers are starting to evaluate the feasibility of dedicated asset solutions and are receptive to more aggressive collaborative shipping consolidation programs to optimize existing capacity.

Q: You have been a proponent of lean. What are the main benefits that lean provides to operations?

A: Lean principles serve to help drive operational efficiency and accuracy, which in turn transforms business processes to reduce total cost and improve service. Our continuous improvement (CI) philosophy is much broader than lean, however. Our CI approach emphasizes accountability and empowerment to drive results. Our framework drives continuous improvement at the local operations level, at the customer network level, and across our North American enterprise. We apply our industry expertise to help our customers reach levels of performance they could not reach alone, leveraging innovative technology and business intelligence (BI) tools to enhance performance and calibrate results. We challenge ourselves to be out in front, adapting to change and advancing industry thinking and practices.

Q: What do you think is the most important thing that companies should focus on now in their supply chains?

A: Companies must focus on strategies for building robust, resilient supply chain networks that can respond quickly to dynamic change. It is time to accelerate plans and strategies focused on increasing visibility, innovation, and automation, and a high-performing, collaborative supply chain partnership can serve as a critical enabler to success in these areas.

Image via DC Velocity

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