April 2012 | Case Studies | Reader Profile

John Snider Does It Best

Tags: Education & Careers

John Snider

John Snider joined Do it Best Corp., Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1985, and has served as vice president of retail logistics since 2000. A buying cooperative that serves more than 4,000 independent member stores in the hardware, lumber, and building materials industry, Do it Best offers approximately 67,000 items.

Responsibilities: Warehousing, inbound and outbound transportation, order entry, print and mail services, and several other support functions.

Experience: Sales representative and management trainee, Burroughs Corp.; several positions culminating in branch manager, Fort Wayne National Bank; sales representative, Commerce Clearing House; accounts payable supervisor, accounting manager, vice president of finance, vice president of marketing, vice president of information technology, Do it Best Corp.

Education: Notre Dame University, B.S. in business management, concentration in finance, 1977.

 

Do it Best Corp.'s supply chain network includes eight retail service centers—our distribution centers—in various locations throughout the United States. We also lease two import facilities, which are managed by third-party logistics companies—but my team controls the relationships with those partners.

One interesting element of my job is how the company's separate operations have become interconnected. In the past, if my division was considering implementing a new software solution, that change would primarily affect our division. But now nearly every enhancement is an enterprise issue, which requires a lot more coordination.

For example, we worked with Sterling Commerce to implement a supply chain visibility solution. Because the retail logistics division was concerned with the extended supply chain, we collaborated with the merchandising group to identify software requirements.

When you involve more than one division, the wishlist starts to grow. For instance, in retail logistics, we want to know exactly when a shipment will arrive. Merchandising wants to know exactly what items are coming—not just which purchase orders, but the exact SKUs. They need that data to ensure we provide the highest level of service to our stores with as little inventory as possible.

To meet all those requirements, we needed a custom solution. That was not my preference, because custom solutions take longer to get up and running.

I'm proud of my ability to strike a balance between advocating for the team I lead and for the company as a whole. As we negotiate and make decisions to keep projects moving along, I have to coordinate, communicate, and build trust.

One occasion when trust became very important arose when I joined retail logistics. I inherited a team that had a lot of experience and was extremely focused on taking care of our member-owners. But they were operating in a manual environment, and I could see opportunities to enhance our operations by introducing technology.

That posed a change-management challenge. Some workers had never owned a computer, and didn't want to use one, or didn't want to use handheld scanners.

But as we developed a warehouse management system in-house and implemented a voice-picking system, we enlisted our retail service centers' team members to help us design and test the software.

After we installed each system in our pilot facility, we sent a team to train employees in a second center. Then a new team, drawn from both facilities, trained front-line employees in the other six locations.

As we designed our software, team members always felt their input was not only valued, but key to the ultimate solution. As a result, they owned the rollout process.

Despite some initial apprehension, we lost no employees during the transition, and we've had 100-percent adoption of these technologies.

I'm extremely proud of the way we involved those teams.

 

The Big Questions

How do you recharge your batteries?

I serve on the boards of nonprofit organizations in my community. I also enjoy reading.

Alter ego dream job?

Teacher. Having volunteered with Junior Achievement programs for many years, served as a youth group counselor, and taught youth Sunday school, I've found that a lot of what you end up teaching doesn't come out of a book.

Scariest career decision?

Becoming vice president of IT during the lead up to Y2K. Luckily, our company started working on that challenge early on, but I had to keep us focused on completing the work in time.

Do you have a hidden talent?

I played the trumpet in my high school and college marching bands. When our college band has a reunion every few years, I enjoy the opportunity to get out my trumpet and play again.