Paul Nugent: Feed the Flow

Paul Nugent: Feed the Flow

Paul Nugent is director of logistics for Kitchen and Bath Americas with Kohler Co. While Kohler is best known for plumbing products, the company also manufactures furniture, cabinetry, tile, engines, and generators.

Responsibilities: Create and execute distribution and fulfillment operational strategies for manufacturing plant warehouses, logistics centers, and customers. Also responsible for operations, network design, and transportation planning.

Experience: Director of Operations with Exel (DHL Supply Chain); senior vice president, head of Malaysia, IDS Logistics; various operations management roles with UPS.

Education: MBA, Ohio Dominican University, 2007; B.A., English, with Honors, with Distinction, magna cum laude, Ohio State University, 1996.

Kohler Kitchen and Bath is a dynamic business: Every day we ship thousands of orders via all modes domestically and globally. Our distribution network in Mexico, Canada, and the United States is growing as we seek to get closer to our customers.

Most of our network runs on a legacy warehouse management system (WMS). In 2016, we went live with the first location of JDA’s Tier 1 WMS. We will deploy more sites this year.

To optimize the rollout, we redesigned the warehouse by standardizing sight lines and aisle widths for a safer, cleaner environment. We added several hours to our cutoff times, because we have more visibility and flexibility into the system and can prioritize work. Automation and associated visibility tools let us limit bottlenecks and more efficiently move associates.

We’ve spent a lot of time on change management. We held roundtable discussions with associates and key leaders. A few growing pains at the beginning taught us the value of patience and resolve. I’m proud of my team and our partners. We continue to optimize as we get ready for our second implementation.

Long term, we’ll transform our entire network with a paperless work environment. We’re also deploying a more robust infrastructure that includes pick modules, and automated sortation and retrieval systems.

I earned an undergraduate English degree at Ohio State and thought I’d end up an English professor. During school, I ran Boss Doggs, a concession company on campus. UPS asked if they could brand our napkins, so students would see information about employment opportunities. That was my entry into the supply chain world.

I went to work for UPS loading package cars, just to earn the benefits. I loved it despite the 4 a.m. start time. It was fast-paced, physical, and urgent. This was before UPS was automated, so we had to memorize ZIP codes, sortation lanes, and in what order to load the package cars. I embraced that challenge.

Within a few months, UPS asked me to join its management team. I worked every position in the hub and enjoyed them all. Every day was a new day.

After several years, a mentor of mine left UPS and joined Exel (DHL Supply Chain). I followed him and learned about third-party logistics and warehousing.

I left DHL and spent one year in Malaysia, where I was responsible for in-country logistics for IDS (now a part of Li and Fung). Most people were multilingual, but I spent the first 30 days talking too fast. A teammate finally told me, "People are just nodding. You’ve got to be deliberate, concise, and clear because English is not their first language." The experience was an eye-opener, remarkable and humbling.

After that, I wanted a chance to work upstream in supply chain. Coming to a leading manufacturer and strong brand like Kohler provides visibility into new concepts and experiences.

I enjoy learning to understand the broader supply chain, and realize the importance of my team. I’m blessed to work with so many bright, talented people who want to win every day.

The Big Questions

What author has had a big impact on you?

I love to read; my English degree never left me. One favorite author is Neal Stephenson. He has written fascinating books about what our future might look like.

Describe an ideal day off.

I would play some Destiny on PS4. I might take the family to a museum, ideally one with a Mayan art collection. I also love the Field Museum in Chicago. There’s always something new to see.

If you could have dinner with anyone alive or from history, who would you choose?

Thomas Jefferson or Michelangelo. Each had a vision and was able to execute it.

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