February 2003 | Case Studies | Reader Profile

Alex Reizinger: Stretching His Wings

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When Sandy Reizinger first went to work for Ryder Supply Chain Solutions three years ago, he had barely a moment to breathe. Reizinger was part of a team managing transportation for Nortel Networks at its "systems house"—a final assembly and distribution center in Montreal. As logistics coordinator, he built 10 to 12 daily trailer loads, which a dedicated fleet of Ryder trucks carried to Nortel customers across Canada and the United States. He also made sure the freight documentation was correct to avoid delays at the border.

Freight moved out 24 hours a day, virtually non-stop. "If you didn't move it off the floor and into a truck, you were going to be at capacity in a couple of hours," Reizinger recalls. "It was amazing how fast the freight came and went and just continued for months and months."

That was during the technology boom, when Nortel's stock rose to more than $80 per share. Last year, the per-share price sank well below one dollar, reflecting much lower sales. "We went from shipping 10 full truckloads per day to maybe shipping five full truckloads a week," Reizinger says.

But the drop in demand for Nortel's telecommunications equipment had an upside, at least for Reizinger. Ryder cut staff at the facility, and that gave him a chance to stretch his wings.

"I was asked to be cross-functional and handle line haul dispatch and local dispatch, as well as load building," he says. Training for these tasks while maintaining service levels "was a lot of work, but now I have experience in various functions and I'm more diversified."

In Montreal, Ryder picks up goods from Nortel's manufacturing facilities and outside suppliers, bringing them to the systems house for final assembly. Employees from a second 3PL, USCO Logistics, pick, pack, and stage orders for shipment. Ryder then transports the goods to customers.

Reizinger reports to a logistics manager and an operations manager. He supervises drivers and data entry staff, and helps coordinate the facility's crossdock, although the workers there are USCO employees.

Interacting with USCO can become an exercise in diplomacy, Reizinger says. "We've got to work hand-in-hand with a 3PL that in some instances is our competitor."

Both 3PLs also depend on Nortel's manufacturing staff to feed them goods to fill customers' orders. This arrangement, he says, allows the 3PLs to concentrate on their core competencies while maintaining a seamless operation.

Fluctuations in order volume tend to magnify the challenges. Nortel's sales force makes "a heavy push toward the end of every month and the end of every quarter" to book orders, prompting spikes in outgoing freight. "You never know from one day to the next how much freight Ryder will need to get onto trucks," Reizinger says.

Reizinger knows it's a successful day at work when "the operation is running on all cylinders." That's a day when Nortel comes through with all the product needed for current orders, salespeople provide correct delivery information, USCO prepares the shipments, Reizinger books drivers and equipment and designates and coordinates load sequencing, and trucks cross the international border without a hitch.

"It might be a day when Nortel's customers, and in turn Nortel, ask us for the sky and the moon," Reizinger says. "And within 24 hours, including nine hours of driving time, a 48-foot trailer full of product is delivered to the customer's doorstep—even when the doorstep is a New York City skyscraper."

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