Logistics More Than Shipping A Lot More
ZEELAND — Bob Koerner says most people are a little hazy about what the word "logistics" means and, he added, that even includes people who are in the logistics business.
But, he said, that's not the case with folks in the firm Total Logistic Control (TLC), which he joined last year as president and chief operating officer.
Koerner made the remark in a Business Journal interview last week after TLC announced that last autumn it acquired The Pro Source Group, of Aurora, Ill., and, with it, Koerner himself.
The 50-year-old officer said the Zeeland firm is well-named for it does everything from taking raw materials to a manufacturer to putting the product in the hands of the distributor, and just about everything — or anything — in between.
"TLC is the only company I know of — there may be others, but it's the only one I'm aware of —which really work all the way up and down the supply chain."
By way of example, he noted that TLC recently was approached by a firm with outlets throughout the Upper Midwest, which finds itself sinking in the morass of details in keeping all its outlets supplied.
"What we did is get together with them to model every single step from A to Z," he said.
"We show them where they needed warehouses.
"We design the warehouses.
"Then we build the warehouses and we run the warehouses for them."
That way, he explained, the deli chain with 43 outlets can employ its core competency in the business it knows best while leaving to TLC the logistical problems that are its core competency.
And in the past six months, Loerner said, more and more major brand names are making exactly the same decision.
"For the longest time, you'd talk to Heinz, or to Nestles, or Sara Lee, and there was no way they were going to do anything different. 'Nope,' they'd say, 'we'll take care of that ourselves.'
"But in the past six months, all three of them have decided that, 'Hey, we're marketing firms with a brand name. We don't need to make ketchup. We're going to focus on our core competency: owning and promoting. Someone else can make the ketchup. Someone else can ship it and warehouse it."
In some cases, TLC makes as well as shipping and warehousing the ketchup.
Accordingly, Koerner said TLC is able to do just about anything anywhere and anywhere up and down the supply chain.
"If you buy ice cream at a Meijer's in this part of Michigan," he explained, "it came from our cold warehouse and it came in our truck. It may have had 'Meijer' on the side, but it was our truck.
"If you're in Illinois and you buy any product from a Meijer store, it arrived in our truck."
And if you happen to buy a bottle of Guiness Stout, no matter where you are in the United States, Koerner says TLC took it from the ship at the dock to a TLC warehouse in New Jersey or Maryland and delivered it to the distributor who, in turn, put it on the shelf at a local D&W or the Bit 'o Erin Tavern.
Koerner said TLC has 11 other warehouses on the east coast and in the Midwest and now plans to develop a more permanent presence on the West Coast. The firm employs about 1,000 workers all told.
If the firm tends to think in national terms, that's probably one reason that Koerner was attractive to them. Though he has his bachelor's in electronics from the University of Louisville, he started his career in a joint venture with his father. The pair bought a tractor and hired a driver. Then one time Koerner went along for the ride, and wanderlust apparently struck him.
He sold his share of the business to his father, bought his own rig and worked as an independent for two years. One of his clients was a warehouse manager who enticed him into the business.
That was 27 years ago.
Since then he was worked up and down the supply chain from coast to
coast as well as in the development and operation of third-party manufacturing and distribution facilities.
In 1998, he co-founded Pro Source, specializing in the design, construction, and ongoing operational management of logistics and manufacturing facilities throughout the world.
According to Koerner, Pro Source clients rank among the top tier in their respective industry, including Kraft, Unilever, Hewlett Packard, Sam's Club and Wal-Mart.
Prior to Pro Source, Koerner managed 16 similar outsourcing facilities in the US, Mexico and Europe for the Power Group.
Terms of the acquisition, which became effective Sept. 1, were not disclosed. Koerner is relocating to West Michigan and he and his wife are building a home in Holland. Pro Source will continue to operate from its Aurora headquarters west of Chicago, as a division of TLC.
In a statement released last week, TLC's chairman and CEO, Gary Sarner, said "This is an exciting time for TLC.
"First and foremost, Bob's leadership and vision is a great asset to our organization. He is a seasoned professional whose knowledge and experience will help keep us on the aggressive growth plan we have set in place.
"Secondly, the addition of The Pro Source Group to the TLC family provides ideal complementing strength in service offering and markets served. TLC is now in a position to provide an outsourcing solution unmatched in the market today, and the synergy created should prove valuable in developing logistic strategies for our exisiting and potential clients."
TLC claims to be the nation's only third-party provider offering a all logistics services: warehousing, trucking, freight forwarding and carrier management across all temperature ranges: dry, refrigerated and frozen.
The company is headquartered at 8300 Logistic Drive, just off Chicago Drive.