June 2010 | Case Studies | Reader Profile

Gregory Cross: Keeping the Wheels Turning

Tags: Education & Careers

Gregory Cross

NAME: Gregory Cross

TITLE: Director of Logistics and Operations

COMPANY: USA Cycling, Colorade Springs, Colorado

PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: Freelance graphic designer and photographer; mechanic, NYC Velo; mechanic for Team Lipton, Velocity Sports Management; service course mechanic for Team Lipton and Navigators Insurance Pro Cycling Team, EDJ Sports.

EDUCATION: Virginia Commonwealth University, BFA in communications arts and design, 2000

 

To most of us, "cycle counting" means taking stock of a portion of the goods in a warehouse. To Gregory Cross it means, literally, counting bikes.

Cross is director of logistics and operations for USA Cycling, the official governing body for all competitive bicycling in the United States. He tracks how many bikes he has on hand at the organization's headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., at its two training centers in Italy and Belgium, and at races around the world. The same goes for a slew of other gear—from wheels and spare parts to sponsor-provided riding clothes, sports drinks, and energy bars.

His job encompasses the whole racing supply chain, starting with suppliers—in this case, the companies whose logos adorn just about every product athletes take to a race. He also makes the arrangements for participating in World Championship and Pan American racing events and ensures that the right equipment arrives at the right race at the right time. Cross and his warehouse manager oversee inventory in Colorado Springs, and he also plans for future equipment needs.

Compared with a commercial operation, USA Cycling manages a small inventory. It supports about 150 racers each year, spread across five sports: road, track, mountain bike, BMX, and cyclo-cross. The Colorado warehouse is "the size of a large, three-car garage, on two levels," Cross says. But the logistics are complex enough that Cross recently implemented an inventory and warehouse management system (WMS) from San Francisco-based SmartTurn (recently acquired by RedPrairie) to gain a better view of the organization's equipment.

The big inventory challenge springs from the intricate flow of products around the world. "There are always shipments moving in different directions, and riders who come and go throughout the season," Cross says. Some items, such as clothing, are meant for riders to keep. Others, such as bicycles and spare wheels, are fixed assets that USA Cycling expects to get back.

Like his counterparts in the commercial world, Cross also must constantly balance the need for speed with the need to cut costs. Often, sponsors ship jerseys, helmets, gloves, and other gear directly to the race site. When that's not possible, it can be tricky to transport kits to riders without racking up big costs.

One recent new tactic was positioning some gear in Europe using an ocean carrier. "We worked with a few carriers this season to create pallets of packed equipment and ship them to our training center in Belgium," he says.

Now that he has the WMS configured to his needs, Cross plans to take better advantage of the technology. He wants to explore accessing the Web-based system through a smart phone. He'll also investigate the use of bar codes in the warehouse and bring new employees in Europe up to speed on the system.

"Training and optimization are our goals this year," Cross says. "We'll tweak the WMS to do even more, while requiring less work on our part."

The Big Questions

What do you do when you're not at work?

I spend time with my wife and daughters and tackle a lot of home improvement projects. I commute about seven miles to work by bike and sometimes get out to ride on the weekends. I also hike, ski, and spend as much time outdoors as possible.

Ideal dinner companion?

Eddy Merckx, one of the top pro cyclists of all time. It would be great to hear his take on competition in cycling.

What's in your backpack?

My laptop, lunch, some spare clothes, a notebook, a bike toolkit, and a bike lock.

If you didn't work in supply chain management, what would be your dream job?

Travel and outdoor photography.