May 2016 | Case Studies | Reader Profile

Dave Christensen: A Spirited Approach to Supply Chain Management

Tags: Distribution, Logistics, Supply Chain

Dave Christensen is vice president of supply chain with Glazer's Inc., a Dallas-based distributor of alcoholic beverages. He has been with Glazer's since 2004.

Responsibilities: Demand planning, replenishment, logistics, and master data management.

Experience: Supply chain consultant, Accenture.

Education: BS, industrial engineering, Purdue University, 1998.

Dave Christensen: A Spirited Approach

Growing up, math and science were my strengths, which led me to pursue an engineering degree. As a Minnesotan, I wanted to attend a Big Ten school with a strong engineering program. I also wanted to break away and be in a situation where I didn't know anyone. Purdue University in Indiana met those criteria.

During college, I did a summer internship with UPS. For one project, I stayed up all night to observe a box slide operation for packages with incorrect addresses. I spent the next two months working on a design to minimize the steps clerks had to take to research and apply the correct addresses. I finalized the design and sent it to engineering, which received approval to implement the changes. As a college student, it was cool to identify an issue, and take a solution from design to implementation in one summer.

After college, I joined Accenture, where my first project was a supply chain software implementation for Caterpillar, the Peoria, Ill.-based construction equipment manufacturer. After that experience, I was hooked on the supply chain.

On a subsequent project for electronics company Ricoh, I focused on improving the end-to-end supply chain. I gained a better feel for how to understand a supply chain and look for opportunities in every segment to redesign and improve it.

In the early 2000s, Accenture shifted my focus to Manugistics, the supply chain software that's now part of JDA. I implemented and updated supply chain systems for Lorillard and Solo Cup. From there, I moved to Glazer's to help with its Manugistics implementation. We were the first alcohol distributor to use the system.

Because of differing regulations, we had to implement Manugistics in each state individually. As a first step, we converted buyers to demand analysts and gave them responsibility for managing forecasts. Then we centralized the replenishment and logistics functions.

It took strong leadership and a proven track record to make these changes and implement the software. As we rolled out more states, we gained momentum.

With the implementation complete, I moved into a supply chain strategy role, and focused on improving the processes we'd recently rolled out.

In 2011, Glazer's asked me to join a SAP implementation. I initially led the supply chain part of the project, and then became deployment lead as we rolled out SAP to new states. I led the entire implementation in Oklahoma. It was a small team, and the highlight was implementing SAP on time and within budget.

Part of the excitement of my job is being able to look at a project and say, "We did it!" One challenge is continually trying to get people to understand the value of an effective supply chain and how it helps the company and the bottom line. At Glazer's we prove that value through both words and our track record.

The Big Questions

What's your idea of the perfect day off?

I put a lot of energy and passion into my work, so I like to chill and spend time with my family outside of work.

What are your favorite sports teams?

I'm a big Vikings fan, for better or worse. I also love the Cubs. Like they say, "Wait 'til next year." And I'm still a Boilermakers fan.

With whom would you like to trade places for a day?

The Dalai Lama. He's compassionate, a teacher at heart, and a world leader.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

Don't always take the safe, easy, comfortable path.

What's your favorite drink?

Crown Royal.

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