Harry Miranda: The Paper Chase

Every time you pick up a copy of Inbound Logistics you’re touching the work of Harry Miranda. As director of logistics for St. Ives, South Florida, he is in charge of moving paper and ink into the plant where this magazine is printed, then for getting finished copies into subscribers’ hands.

Since August of last year, Miranda has run inbound and outbound transportation for the two south Florida plants of St. Ives, a large commercial printing business headquartered in the U.K. At the Hollywood and Miami locations, he oversees all ocean, air, and surface transportation shipments.

He also manages the two plants’ paper warehouses, and serves as liaison to U.S. Postal Service employees who work in the plants to facilitate St. Ives’ bulk mailing operation.

On top of all that, “I also teach other departments about logistics,” Miranda says. That means helping sales reps understand what delivery promises they can make to customers, and encouraging buyers to consider transportation costs when they negotiate purchases.

Starting with a weekend job unloading trailers when he was a teenager, Miranda has worked in transportation and logistics for most of his life. The Miami-born, bilingual son of Latin American immigrants, Miranda believes he was one of the first Spanish-speaking terminal managers to run a facility in Miami.

When he came to St. Ives, Miranda had to learn the special nature of printing logistics. “Delivery windows, for instance, are tighter because materials are not kept in stock; everything we print is on demand,” he says.

In addition, the logistics department often must bend to forces it doesn’t control. “If the press or bindery has a hiccup, for example, then my department faces added pressure to be able to deliver the goods at the promised time,” Miranda notes.

When it comes time to ship the finished publication, “it has to be wrapped and stacked properly,” Miranda says. “Because our products are so dense, we have to make sure we don’t overload the trucks.”

More than in many of the industries he served before, “printing involves a lot of detail, and many time-sensitive points that we have to cover to get publications where they need to be, on time.”

Miranda had barely settled into his new job with St. Ives last year when Hurricane Wilma ravaged South Florida, leaving the two printing plants in the dark.

“No power. No computers. No phone system,” he recalls. “Holes in the roof, and only a handful of brave and loyal employees who, despite the storm, showed up at the plant to assess the damage.”

Miranda located one phone/fax line that, because it didn’t run through the PBX system, could still make outside calls. He jumped on that line to find a third-party logistics provider to move customers’ unfinished jobs to other facilities—a St. Ives plant in Cleveland and competitors’ plants. He also dealt with completed jobs that needed to be shipped.

Once he found a service provider to do the job, he and his staff got out their flashlights and rolled up their sleeves. “We were at the plant for nine hours during the day, just loading trucks and locating jobs in the bindery,” he says.

It took two weeks to get the power on and bring operations back to normal. But, despite all the obstacles, “no job was loaded incorrectly; every shipment went to the right destination,” Miranda says. “I found that very satisfying.”

The Big Questions

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

I like to cook, both indoors—chili, spaghetti sauce, potato salad—and outdoors. I do a lot of grilling, and I smoke pork, chicken, whole briskets, sausage, vegetables, and fish.

Ideal dinner companion?

Myself, 30 years ago. I would give myself a whole lot of pointers.

What’s in your briefcase?

A legal pad, business cards, a postal rate data sheet, and two file folders—one for each plant I’m responsible for.

What’s your idea of a successful day on the job?

All of the day’s shipments and mail get out on time.

If you didn’t work in logistics, what would be your dream job? I would like to run my own barbecue restaurant.

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