January 2012 | Case Studies | Reader Profile

John Hodge: Feeding a Need

Tags: Education & Careers

John Hodge is director of supply chain at Prince Agri Products, a global manufacturer and marketer of trace minerals and specialty feed ingredients to the animal nutrition industry. Based in Quincy, Ill., Prince Agri, a division of Phibro Animal Health Corporation, serves manufacturers, large integrated producers, and distributors/blenders in the livestock, poultry, and pet food industries.

Responsibilities: Logistics, customer service, and materials management.

Experience: Logistics and warehousing, Frito Lay; logistics manager, North American Salt; director of logistics, Zemex Industrial Minerals; senior logistics group manager, Roquette America.

Education: Michigan State University, B.A., advertising and marketing. 

While majoring in advertising and marketing in college, I earned money by unloading trucks and stocking shelves in a warehouse. After graduation, I worked in advertising briefly. Then I heard the supply chain calling, and I returned to that field. I like the fact that in supply chain management you actually make things move—it's exciting.

Prince Agri Products hired me in 2010 to align its logistics, customer service, and materials management operations. My mission is to create organizational efficiencies, reduce costs, and optimize materials flow. Our supply chain organization is committed to providing best-in-class fulfillment, delivery, quality, and service to our customers.

In early 2011, my team faced the challenge of helping the company close a production plant and increase capacity at two other plants: state-of-the-art facilities in Quincy, Ill., and Omaha, Neb. This project required meticulous attention to detail in materials sourcing, logistics, and carrier base modification.

At these plants, we receive minerals that the company sources globally with rigid commitment to quality and food safety regulations. We resell or repackage some of those minerals, and blend others to produce our nutritional solutions.

We ship the finished ingredients through a network of warehouses throughout North America, and from there to customers around the world.

Another current project involves looking for ways to gain maximum value from our enterprise resource planning system.

We're also researching transportation management systems, and working to expand our distribution to reach farther and move product more cost-efficiently. One improvement that will help is a new rail spur at the Quincy plant.

Some of my team's top achievements were restructuring our truckload and less-than-truckload carrier base to improve costs. Another cost savings initiative involved maximizing truck weights on inter-plant moves.

We also established metrics for benchmarking performance and promoting continuous improvement. And we implemented a methodology for tracking innovative optimization projects and their impact on our bottom line.

In 2011, Prince Agri's supply chain organization led a cross-functional team called the Supplier Excellence Taskforce. The team reviewed two comprehensive, independent customer-perception surveys of our customer base and competing suppliers.

Based on what we learned, the team developed strategic focus areas and action plans to take advantage of Prince Agri's strengths. Our goal is to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace and increase customer satisfaction.

I learned one important lesson in my work from Peter Goodwin, president of Zemex Industrial Minerals, when I worked there as director of logistics. Peter taught me not to be afraid of leaving my comfort zone or relying on the support of others to succeed.

Peter was confident that I had the project management and analytical skills to lead the company's energy purchasing consolidation project. Ultimately, I was able to budget, forecast, and reduce costs while identifying plant efficiency opportunities.

I still check energy prices and futures on the Web every day. Energy will forever be a key component of logistics management.

 

The Big Questions

What would be your dream trip, and with whom?

Surprising my wife with a trip to the U.S. Open.

Hidden talent?

I play lead guitar in a band almost every weekend and have recorded three CDs with various groups and artists. My music ranges from rock to blues to Americana.

Alter-ego dream job?

Radio DJ or barbeque joint proprietor.

Worst job you've ever had?

When I was in grade school, I had a Detroit News paper route. I delivered the papers on a bicycle, and it always seemed to be raining, snowing, or sleeting—but I never missed a delivery.

Guilty pleasures?

Fine dining and fine cigars.