Shaun Bunch: Best of the Bunch

Shaun Bunch: Best of the Bunch

Shaun Bunch is senior vice president of supply chain with Northern Tool + Equipment, which offers more than 100,000 tools—from air compressors to welding tables—through 130-plus stores, catalog, and website.

Responsibilities: Oversee distribution, fulfillment, network design, inventory and demand planning, forecasting, transportation, logistics, safety, and facilities, among other functions.

Experience: Vice president, logistics and inventory management, Sleep Number Corporation; vice president, fulfillment and final mile, Ashley Furniture Industries; senior director, online operations and fulfillment, Sears Holding; director of distribution and logistics and logistics manager, Coca-Cola Consolidated, and senior operations manager, Amazon.

Education: M.B.A., Sullivan University; B.S. Business Administration, University of South Carolina.

While interning with Walmart, I visited a distribution center in Monroe, North Carolina, and immediately knew this was where I wanted to be.

There was so much going on: high-tech conveyors and de-palletizers, trucks coming in and out, people working on different things. I was hooked.

Then, early in my days at Amazon, I learned the importance of being able to quickly change and try new things. As part of an operations team that launched multiple new buildings, I had the opportunity to teach and train new employees, open new facilities, and implement technology to go faster.

As I grew in my career, I learned different aspects of the distribution network, including transportation, inventory management, and e-commerce operations. I got into network design and the engineering that goes into figuring out not just where you’re at, but how to skate to where the puck is going and build a network for the future.

When I joined Ashley Furniture, we worked on the customer experience from a customer lens, and not just an operations lens. We focused on enhancing the experience once the drivers and furniture arrived at customers’ homes. When you cross into somebody’s home, the experience is not just important; it’s sacred.

At Northern Tool + Equipment, our customers are the ones who do the tough jobs. They kept the country running during the pandemic. They’re professionals and serious DIYers, who want pro-grade tools.

We aren’t just a store trying to sell goods. We’re anchors in our communities and we keep the people who do these jobs working.
I’m proud of our ability over the past few years to not just adjust, but also to be agile. We’re not a small ship, but we’re much smaller than the biggest ships. Those ships can weather some storms, but they’re also hard to turn.

We’re strong enough to weather the storms, and we also can make agile cuts and invest in supply chain initiatives to make us stronger and better. For instance, we’re implementing ship-from-store technology for customers using our direct channel. Utilizing store inventory gets us geographically closer to the customer and normalizes inventory.

We launched with an alpha site. We try and fail, and hone the system before we plug it into place. The patience to do that is not easy, especially in a violently changing supply chain environment. But once you get it nailed down, you can execute fast. That has been key to the success of this program.

We’re growing and investing in new facilities and systems in an environment where everything is scary and up for grabs, and a lot of folks are trying not to collapse. I’m grateful for the growth of my team as we’ve done this.

Shaun Bunch Answers the Big Questions

1. What activity makes you better at supply chain management?

I’ve coached my three teenagers in basketball at all levels. Coaching basketball is one of my passions and it plays into my obsession with supply chain. Basketball is a sport of orchestration and adjusting to the dynamics of the other team. You have to have good plays and training so each individual can harmonize as a team, and then respond to the other team.

2. If you could speed the development of a supply-chain-disrupting technology, what would you choose?

Better technology around the movement of big and heavy goods.

3. Who are your heroes?

My grandfather is one. His ability to lead our family and in the community, his work ethic, his kindness, his business savvy and smarts, and his ability to unite—I strive to be like him every day.

Professionally, I love risk-takers; people who charge in with a vision, not knowing exactly how to get there. But they charge anyway because they know it’ll work. Jeff Bezos gets a lot of bad press, but Amazon started out like everything: an idea. His ability to be fearless in building it was monumental. It taught me if you have a vision and you’re passionate about executing it, anything’s possible.