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Getting The Job Done

Logistics and information technology are hidden assets that pay big dividends at Glen Raven.

Jim Borneman, Editor In Chief

T wo pressing issues that confront companies around the world - and differentiate the winners from the losers - are the effectiveness both of their information technology and of other logistics in an international marketplace.

Moving Product
Glen Raven Transportation Inc. (GRT) is a hidden strength of Glen Raven Inc. With expertise in less-than-truckload service and truckload service to and from the Northeast, and from the eastern seaboard to California; as well as service to and from Laredo, Texas, and Mexico, Glen Raven offers services to internal operations, as well as to a broad range of commercial customers.

Transborder services for both Canada and Mexico are a strength of the company. In 1995, GRT opened a facility in Mexico City, followed by the Laredo facility in 2000.

"It is the type of business where you are always looking for new opportunities," said Charlie Edgerton, president and COO, GRT.

From a logistics standpoint, transportation has gone global as well, and GRT steps in to facilitate the demands of production planning. "We help execute Glen Raven Planning's game plan," Edgerton said. "We have contracts with major ocean shipping. We help with the face-to-face negotiating. You've got to be able to identify all the steps necessary to get product from point A to point B - inland carriers, sailing times, landing times, terms of sale, freight forwarders, brokers, letters of credit - making sure we are accurate on our terms of sale. The biggest challenge is getting all the parties on the same page and building up the relationships - focusing on quality, service and price."

Edgerton, head of GRT since 1995, has worked for Glen Raven since the age of 16. When asked to characterize the company, he said, "The word that means Glen Raven to me is 'fair' - they are the most fair people. It is a trait and a quality that, even as I deal with my associates and my world of logistics, I always try to emulate. They've instilled it in me - just be honest and be fair. I look at the decisions that have been made over the years - they study the decisions wisely and then execute, but not before a lot of blood, sweat and tears [have been shed] over making some very difficult decisions."

Mastering Information
"Whether it is an internal or external customer, our customer is king," said John Duncan, vice president, Information Systems.

Duncan, who has led the implementation drive of information systems throughout the company, personifies Glen Raven's approach to knowledge. Twenty years ago, he came to Glen Raven from a controller's position at a large textile company. By the late '90s, he was leading a cross-disciplined implementation team at Glen Raven. His knowledge and experience, and development of a system known for its reliability have given Glen Raven a competitive advantage.

"Whether it is someone on the manufacturing floor at 3 in the morning, or a customer in California coming into the system to check on a shipment, or a customer service rep checking status, we need to be there," Duncan said. "We currently, in some of our subsidiaries, let the customer come in [to the system] and release their own shipments. We do all the normal things, but customers also have access to testing information on individual lots, status of shipments and invoices. All of our associates have a desire to succeed and a desire to make our customers succeed.

"Whatever it takes to get the job done, I think we are willing to do it. It is not an 8-to-5 job - it is 24 hours a day if it is needed. Our associates feel like family, a completely different feeling from some of the other companies - it is a fun place to work.

"We have a technical side of the operation that we have to keep up and running seven days a week, 24 hours a day. When we have China up, it will be demanding, but we project being up 99.9 percent of the time. We have a reputation for being up and responding quickly," Duncan explained.

Embracing Change Is Critical
"In the mid-'90s, we addressed the [enterprise resource planning] process, and we did it with an Oracle database," said Allen E. Gant Jr., CEO. "And we had a team of people come in and access all of our subsidiaries. We made the decisions; the consultants came back and said, 'We have never met a company more embracing of change,' and that was all I had to hear. I knew we would be successful because I knew this was going to require huge change for the company."

Gant also spoke of the power of adaptability that is present throughout Glen Raven.

"Change to us is like death and taxes, and every time there is change, there is an opportunity. So instead of looking at change as a detriment, we look at change as somebody's changing the rules - somebody's rewriting the rules - let's rewrite the rules, and let's make them work for us."

June 2005