CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
October 24, 2018

How the discipline came of age

In this excerpt from Episode 1, supply chain pioneers Joseph Andraski, George Gecowets, Roger Kallock, and Mark Richards discuss how the discipline evolved from physical distribution into supply chain management.

How did the discipline of supply chain management come to be? Four individuals instrumental in shaping the profession—Joseph Andraski, George Gecowets, Roger Kallock, and Mark Richards—came together for a panel discussion on how supply chain management has evolved over the years. Their experience in the field and their decades-long involvement with CSCMP provide them with a valuable perspective on the way companies have viewed what we now know as supply chain management.

Active in CSCMP since 1976,Joseph Andraski is president of the consulting firm Collaborative Energizer. He has been the president and CEO of the Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions (VICS), and prior to that held executive positions in logistics and supply chain at Nabisco. He received CSCMP's Distinguished Service Award in 1995.

George Gecowets joined CSCMP in 1964, one year after its formation. He later became the organization's first full-time executive director. At the time of his retirement in 2001, Gecowets, the 1988 recipient of CSCMP's Distinguished Service Award, held the position of executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Roger Kallock served as U.S. deputy undersecretary of defense for logistics and material readiness from 1998 to 2001. Currently chairman of Chagrin Consulting, he has worked in both consulting and in industry. A member of CSCMP since 1968, he received the organization's Distinguished Service Award in 1990.

Mark Richards, currently vice president of Associated Warehouses Inc., has been very involved in CSCMP since he began his career in the field some 34 years ago. His first job was with the public warehouse company Distribution Centers Inc. He later went on to work for such companies as Nabisco, Gillette, and Oral-B.

The interview was conducted by CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly Group Editorial Director Mitch Mac Donald.

What were some of the events that led to the formation of the association in 1963?
Andraski: In the late '60s and early '70s we had a transportation discipline, a warehousing discipline, and inventory management. Thought leaders said warehousing and transportation should really come together. We called that physical distribution. Over time we began to have control of the product and the ability to work with customers. It wasn't as though somebody came up with a great idea that we need to have this holistic organization.

Gecowets: We really didn't have a profession back then. As I look back on what happened in each decade, we really created a profession as well as built a profession. Most of the people in [CSCMP's] founding group had a marketing background, and as marketing people they happened to be the person who was responsible for the movement and storage. They didn't know what to call it. Even traffic and transportation, which wound up being the big dollar area in logistics, was not well organized back then.

When you look back, it looks like all this was well planned and everything fell into place. It didn't. There was an awful lot of confusion. We didn't know what we didn't know. We didn't know what made a professional association. Fortunately, the executive committees that I have worked with in all the years right from the very beginning were highly professional.

Kallock: My first annual [CSCMP] conference was in 1968 in Chicago. Having come from Procter & Gamble and having joined A.T. Kearney in Chicago, I had no idea how the experiences that I had at P&G would fit into a broader consulting environment, but the people I met at the meeting allowed me to quickly develop a network of people I could trust and work with.

Richards: In many regards you could say I am a product of this organization, because my father was actively involved, and while I was still in school I went to an association meeting. Even when I went to that event, I had no plans to get into this profession. But it was that couple of days' experience that I had tagging along with my dad as a college student that made me decide to get into it.

Did the events of the '80s, such as the deregulation of transportation, change the dynamic of the profession?
Richards: It sure did. I was very new to the profession at the time and was working for a third party. My focus was more within the four walls, but what you started to see were people—manufacturers, for example—that were getting very creative with how they dealt with transportation, through things like consolidation. That is really when it started. People were collaborating. We were saying, let's share resources and as a result we would all benefit, including the customer. Again, being new to the profession, I thought this was exciting.

What were some of the visions and aspirations of the early founders?
Gecowets: We wanted early on to get to know each other. Then later on we wanted others in the corporation to get to know us. ... Incidentally, the founders were primarily interested in transportation, and I don't think we even met a warehouseman until we were in it about two years. Then, strangely, the warehousemen came in and provided the strong leadership of the organization very early on. Then we added the other functions. I think from the '70s to the '80s we started bringing in our peers from the marketing department. ... So we started in the '80s to work with our counterparts throughout the corporation.

When did we first start seeing job titles with the word "logistics" in them becoming more common?
Gecowets: I think we caused that. When we changed the name [from the National Council of Physical Distribution Management to the Council of Logistics Management in 1985] and moved from distribution to logistics, the demand for coalescence was there.

Kallock: The word "logistics" first started to appear on motor carriers' trailers. The company's name was "So and So Logistics Company." It was a military term at that point.

Gecowets: At first, "distribution" was more appropriate for what we were really doing, and logistics seemed kind of like a foreign word. I knew what it meant but I didn't know whether we could get others to know what it meant. It caught on so much faster than I thought.

Kallock: The hallmark of the organization was deeper than worrying about what it was called or what the title was. It had progressed through the '80s to become an amalgamation of individuals who respected each other and who were creative enough to try new technologies that were rapidly becoming available, and to put that in the context of what they as practitioners saw to be the challenges, not of today but of tomorrow.

For example, take distribution planning. Models were static. They assumed everything happened at a point in time versus the dynamic processing of orders and the real-time interaction between consumers or customers and the supplier. [Because it gave us] that opportunity to coalesce around what the needs of tomorrow were going to be in supply chain management, respect for then-CLM [Council of Logistics Management] as being a safe haven for sharing ideas across the supply chain and across industry grew pretty rapidly.

Andraski: We also have to recognize that senior management began to invite the logistics people, the supply chain people to talk with customers. It was important to have that representation so that when the customer was talking about service requirements and service failures, you had someone there who had the [relevant] knowledge and the understanding.

Richards: That has been one of the keys to the [success of the] organization. This organization helped to elevate the profession through research and through education, so that the C-level did say, "Wow, we need to have these folks involved." So again, it is the organization not being a lobby but being an influencer. There is a big difference.

Kallock: Going back to my experience at Procter & Gamble, we were moving from an organization that was focused on getting shipments out the door, to an organization that was dedicated to the education of people who thought the customer's point of view relative to how well the company was performing was very important. We moved from the supply side to the demand side, and then we put energy around carrying that message from the customer's perspective, from the consumer or the customer supplying the consumer back through the supply chain. And that is that way I look at it today.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you're not already logged in, you will be asked to log in or register.

Want more articles like this? Sign up for a free subscription to Supply Chain Executive Insight, a monthly e-newsletter that provides insights and commentary on supply chain trends and developments. Click here to subscribe.

We Want to Hear From You! We invite you to share your thoughts and opinions about this article by sending an e-mail to ?Subject=Letter to the Editor: Quarter 2013: How the discipline came of age"> . We will publish selected readers' comments in future issues of CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly. Correspondence may be edited for clarity or for length.

Want more articles like this? Subscribe to CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly.