Bradley Morris: Change Gets Under Your Skin
One thing that never changes for Brad Morris is the need to manage change. When he joined NuSkin Enterprises as warehouse supervisor in 1988, the company had annual revenues of $50 million, and shipped 150 orders a day, nearly all to U.S. customers. Today, NuSkin is a $1.1-billion enterprise with customers in 39 markets worldwide.
"Keeping up with the company's growth as it expands—both in the United States and in international markets—has been the biggest challenge over the years," says Morris, now NuSkin's vice president of logistics.
NuSkin Enterprises comprises three multi-level marketing companies: NuSkin, which sells personal care products; Pharmanex, which sells nutritional supplements; and The Big Planet, an online business with several product lines. Morris heads up warehousing, inbound and outbound transportation, and value-added services for the companies, primarily for NuSkin and Pharmanex.
Morris began working for NuSkin—his wife's employer at the time—to help finance his college education. "My wife doesn't let me forget that she got me my job," he jokes.
Morris earned his bachelor's degree while working full-time, then pushed on for an MBA to gain skills he felt the company would need as it expanded.
"I thought eventually the founders would need someone with advanced qualifications in charge of logistics," he says. "My focus has been to stay one step ahead of the company's growth."
Coping with growth has meant, for example, expanding from NuSkin's original 10,000-square-foot warehouse to a string of nine small facilities and, finally, to a single 200,000-square-foot building.
"Before consolidating, we filled orders and shipped out of two buildings, and did some light assembly and manufacturing in the third," Morris says.
The other six buildings were devoted to storage. "We hired anybody who had a pulse, just to keep up with the rapid growth of the early 1990s," he says.
Morris also managed the company's evolving transportation needs. When most of its business came from North America, NuSkin filled orders from its independent distributors by shipping directly to customers.
"In the past, everything was designed around a pick-and-pack operation—broken case picking and parcel shipping," Morris says. "Today, 60 percent of our volume is pallet-loaded and shipped—with truckload, LTL, and ocean containers—to our international markets."
A DC in each overseas market receives the loads, and ships orders to customers.
In addition to managing the company's day-to-day logistics, every 18 months Morris and his team face a special assignment—accommodating thousands of NuSkin distributors from around the world who descend on Utah for the company's annual convention.
"We set up a mini-warehouse and distribution center to handle the 10,000 to 15,000 people who come to try out new products," he says. "It's always a challenge. But by the end of the convention, I feel like I really earned my pay."
The Big Questions
What are you reading?
Digital Fortress, by Dan Brown.
I tell my managers to think of themselves as third-party vendors, and of our divisions as customers, and, despite the fact we all work for the same company, to give the level of service they would to partners outside the company.
Advice to people starting out in logistics?
Be flexible. Always use creativity when solving problems. And know that deadlines can and do get pushed back, but products still have to arrive on time. Be prepared to make that happen.
What's in your briefcase?
I carry what I need for meetings, and a book to read at lunch. I try not to take work home often, but occasionally something I'm working on—perhaps a business plan or some correspondence—goes home with me.
What do you do when you're not at work?
I like to spend time with my wife and children. We love to go backpacking and camping together. I have five daughters ranging in age from four to 15. I watch them participate in different activities, such as gymnastics and horseback riding.