Reprinted from U.S. BUSINESS REVIEW, May, 2005

Always Prepared
DSC Logistics plans for change. Through close collaboration and leading-edge systems and processes, DSC is able to service clients and help them grow.

As a leading logistics and supply chain management company, DSC Logistics operates with a "sense-and-respond" strategy. CEO Ann Drake explains this approach focuses on anticipating and responding to clients' needs.

Since its inception more than 40 years ago, DSC has undergone significant changes in order to better meet changing client demands and market conditions. "It's always been an interesting business," Drake says. "Doing business today—any kind of business—is dramatically different from what it was a year ago or a month ago or even yesterday. With the dawning of e-commerce, distribution channels and the supply chain are rapidly, profoundly and constantly being altered. Today, consumers expect to get whatever they want, whenever and however they want it. And logistics makes it happen." DSC not only embraces change, she stresses, the company works closely with clients and partners to facilitate change. By finding creative solutions to complex problems and managing information in the supply chain, DSC helps its customers reach their business goals.

Drake says more companies continue to outsource their logistics needs, which means the industry is rapidly growing. "This means there are new opportunities, new customers, new industries and bigger markets for us to work with," she says. "Preparing for growth is something we must always focus on. We work on our business process integration and refine our operations so we can efficiently and effectively handle growth—especially when working with a new customer."

DSC has specifically developed a team to work with new clients. It consists of the company's most skilled employees in each field, including customer service, processing, management and inventory control. "When we need help with a new customer, this team is called upon to manage the project," Drake explains. "This way, we know we have our best people working with the new business."

Once the process has begun, DSC works with clients to help them improve their processes. Internally and externally, Drake says, DSC has made growth and change its specialty.

"As our slogan says, we have to be ‘ready for anything!' which is a tall order, if you think about it," she jokes. "Because we're in the service business and because our customers' needs change, we have to foster a responsive and prepared culture—with excellent process management nationwide."

Operating more than 30 warehousing and distribution facilities nationwide, DSC provides warehousing, transportation and packaging services for clients in a variety of industries.

The process begins in the solutions stage, Drake explains. Here, DSC collaborates with potential clients to determine their problems and needs. "We continue discussing and collaborating into the startup or business integration phase," she continues. "

During this stage, we continue meeting with the customer to learn even more about the functions of their organization and their requirements." During the continual improvement stage, DSC's customer care manager works to ensure process improvements are repeatedly met. A meeting schedule and communication plan are established with the client to determine what and how often information is reported. A typical meeting schedule, Drake says, involves an annual executive meeting, monthly or quarterly operational reviews and daily measurements.

"Many major corporations turn to third-party logistics providers so they can focus on their core business," Drake explains. "We work with companies such as Turtle Wax, Kellogg's, Kimberly-Clark and Yamaha, who want to turn their logistics over to someone with an integrated infrastructure."

DSC actively seeks strategic alliance partners with visionary organizations. Most recently, DSC partnered with Bigston Corp. and Supply Chain Services Inc (SSI). Located in Elk Grove Village, III., Bigston offers customer returns processing, refurbishing and repair services to the consumer electronics industry. SSI, based in Lombard, III., provides electronic recycling and reverse-logistics services.

"Through this partnership, electronics companies can receive from one source the new equipment they need, supply chain solutions and the equipment reuse and refurbishing services, "Drake explains.

Last year, DSC opened a new logistics center in Joliet, III., in a growing intermodal park. Products made overseas arrive directly to the facility. DSC is even applying for foreign trade zone status. "So many customer products are made in Asia," Drake says. "The intermodal park is a huge benefit to customers who want to bypass congested ports and go through customs in Chicago. I've started calling it the third coast. It's very exciting.

Primera Companies
"We are proud to have DSC as a tenant in our Arlington, Texas facility since 1997,"says Ralph Heins, principal of Primera Companies, an owner-managed industrial real estate company in Dallas, holding 3 million SF of class-A distribution centers.

Being privately run, DSC and Primera have a similar business philosophy, "Heins says. "At every end of the logistics business regardless of being a 3PL company or a landlord/developer, a flexible and transaction-oriented culture provides a distinct competitive advantage."

© Copyright US Business Review June 2005. Hanna Aronovich. All rights reserved.

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