Supply Chain Now Episode 319

Prefer to watch the podcast in action rather than just listen?  Watch Scott and Paul Noble as they welcome Rick McQuatters to the Supply Chain Now booth at the DMSCA Conference.

On this episode of Supply Chain Now, Scott is joined by Paul Noble and broadcasts live from DMSCA, welcoming Rick McQuatters to the Supply Chain Now booth.

[00:00:05] It’s time for Supply Chain Now Radio. Broadcasting live from the Supply chain capital of the country, Atlanta, Georgia. Supply Chain Now Radio spotlights the best in all things supply chain the people, the technology, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts.


[00:00:29] Hey, good afternoon, Scott Luton. Back with you again here on Supply chain. Now welcome back to the show. We aren’t broadcasting live today from Atlanta. We are in beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona, home of the Manufacturing Supplier Development Conference put on by the good folks over at Dimka, which stands for the Diverse Manufacturing Supply chain Alliance. It is acronym City Here to Learn and a bunch of supply chain in general. That’s right. That’s right. But it Dembski is not on your radar. This is this is our first time here at the conference. Check it out. You can learn more at Deum SCA. Got us a lot of good stuff going on here. All right. So before we get started, quick programing note. You can find our podcast wherever you your podcast from Apple podcast, Spotify, YouTube, you name it. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss a thing. Want to welcome in our special co-hosts here today, Mr. Paul Noble, founder and CEO, Verusen Paul. He doing? I’m doing well. This has been a lot of fun today. It had many great conversations here. Yes. With unexpected turns. Yeah. But but very meaningful dialog. Got a ton of thought perspective out and looking for to continue that. They were our guests here. But real quick, before we introduce our guests today, we appreciate Verusen sponsorship of all of our coverage here at the Dan Solla event. And in in a nutshell, Verusen is out there fighting the good fight. Leading a ad driven data harmonization. Right now we’re building the intelligent, connected Supply chain and I that big, big, big work to do out there. Big factory in Atlanta doing it. So love to see that you can learn more at Verusen dot com. So let’s dove right and report and talk a lot more about Dembski throughout the episode and in the coming interviews. But any one more observation from from these conversations we’re having with these of these various leaders from different sectors and whatnot? What are you going to take home with you to Atlanta?


[00:02:30] Yeah, a lot of great new friendships and relationships is one thing, and a greater involvement within Dembski, I think is on the horizon. A lot of great takeaways here. I love the collaborative nature then between the suppliers, key suppliers and customers here.


[00:02:53] And that’s that’s really for us corda our vision and to see it here in action. And here here are the ways they walk.


[00:03:02] The walk, I think is a it’s it’s really inspiring. So a lot of camaraderie as well. A lot of good takeaways. That’s right. OK.


[00:03:10] So let’s welcome in our featured guest here today, Rick McWatters senior vise president at Turtle and Huge.


[00:03:16] Rick. How you doing? Doing well. Doing well today. Long, day long. A lot of meetings today, a lot of learning.


[00:03:23] Well, you know, you were one of the first folks we met as we came in for the arrival. Get together. What have you really enjoyed meeting you? We’re going to dove in to your story and what Turtle and Hughes is doing. But before we do that, let’s get to know you a little bit better, Rick. So tell us about where you’re from and give us a couple anecdotes of your upbringing.


[00:03:45] Well, I’m I’m from Syracuse, New York, there in snow country, if you will. Glad to be in Arizona. Rare, but that I’ve lived there my my whole life. My family is there. And. And basically, it’s been home turtle and is actually located in Linden, New Jersey, is our headquarters. But most of what we do is traveling are our businesses throughout North America. So from my perspective, as long as I’m near an airport, I can I can work from Syracuse and it works out very well. How far is Serik? Roughly Syracuse to be said Linden and EDS in New Jersey, about four hour drive. OK. And I mean, I’m I go in the office probably about every other week for a few days. But most of the time I’m I’m flying around the country. Oh, so our customers and our clients. All right. I think so. So grown up in snow country. You like to scan? Yeah. Well, when I was younger when I was younger, I did a lot of skiing. If you’re if you’re going to live in snow country, you got to do what snow allows you to do, like skiing and snowmobiling. Ice fishing and so forth. Yeah, but as you get older, some of that stuff can goes by the wayside. But always been a surfer. I went to Syracuse University, always been a Syracuse University sports fan, if you will. So following a lot of their teams, basketball, football and lacrosse is the big one. And of course, Jim Boeheim, Jim Wright, legendary basketball coach. Before we went live here, we’re talking about some kind of famous restaurant where you saw the coach. What was the name of this place? The Brooklyn Pickle, the Brooklyn pick on this new one for me.


[00:05:15] I’m up there. We left Atlanta. I think it was about 65 degrees landed in Syracuse. It was about six degrees.


[00:05:23] And I was having lunch. I was at the time working for Sharon Williams, went out with my rep. We stopped at the Burke and Pickle. And look who’s behind me.


[00:05:33] Jim Boeheim. Good game yesterday, coach. All right.


[00:05:40] Good stuff. UPS took out the Brooklyn pickle whenever I’m on the way up there. All right. So, you know, Paul, we like to kind of learn more about professional journeys here on a Friday.


[00:05:50] Right. Yeah. Now, so I’ve been really excited since we met yesterday because I grew up in MRO. And so not many people know about that specific part of the supply chain and the importance of it and making things go. And yeah, would love to learn more about how you got into things and started working for Turtleman here.


[00:06:13] Well, I you know, I mean, it’s it’s kind of a coincidence as most people’s careers are. But I mean, I went to school to be an accountant. I learned soon after doing that for a couple years. That’s not really what I wanted to do. So I basically gotten involved in inventory and asset management and I’ve been doing that for about 40 years. And basically. And when I got approached by turtles to come to work for them in as far as they are through integrated supply division goes, which is really all about managing the MRO space for most of our clients. And so I’ve been doing that for for quite a while now. I led the organization for a couple of years. I’m now supposedly on my my downward trend. I’m I’m now mentoring the new players and working in business development, trying to, you know, secure more and more business for Turtle and Hughes. So I’ve been I’ve been doing inventory and asset management for quite a while. Like I go back to two prior to even computers, I go back to old card systems and so forth, showing my age. But it’s always been a real interest of mine. And so I’ve gone through that whole that whole gyration, if you will, from them, from the manual to trying to computerize things to the whole, bringing in the A.I. and all the rest of it. Now they’re all trying to deal with. Which is great potential right now.


[00:07:31] Henschel, fascinating. All right. I agree. Mm hmm. And their digital transformation is an important thing at Turtle. He’s may touch on that momentarily. But but first, let’s make sure that our our audience knows what the company does. Talk more about the company.


[00:07:47] Well, turtle music has been in business since 1923. It started as an electrical distributor in Manhattan, expanded into the Industrial business. It’s a family owned business, privately held family owned business by the Malard family. Jane Malard, our CEO, is the the third of of a women owned it’s a women owned company and it’s women led by Jane, her. Her mother before her led the company and her grandmother before that led the company started by her her father. She’s one of the turtles, her grandfather. Great great grandfather, I guess. And so we’ve been we’ve been involved in that space from a distribution perspective for for almost 100 years. Now we’re getting ready to start preparing to celebrate 100 anniversary. Wow. But up about 25 years ago, 25 to 30 years ago, they started to really expand into the Industrial marketplace. And that gave birth to the integrated supply division, which basically is is basically working with with major manufacturers at their premises, procuring material for maintenance, repairs, operations, that kind of thing. And that’s the that’s the part of the organization that I work with. Is the is the MRO an integrated supply aspect of things?


[00:09:02] All right.


[00:09:02] So with MRO, as Paul and I were welcomed back and forth, arriving at the venue and leaving the venue, he was giving me a lesson on MRO training me up because I you know, I’ve been around it before from a manufacturing standpoint. However, for folks that may not know that are listening, what MRO is. Rick, how would you describe that?


[00:09:26] Well, it’s basically what keeps the manufacturing plants running. It’s it’s not direct material that making the product. It’s everything that’s kind of indirect. So it could be anything from light bulbs to spare parts for machinery. So our basic premise is to keep that plant running, keep the machines all than the lines running so that there’s no downtime. And we do it from the perspective of what we come on site. We actually manage their stores, making sure they have the inventory. They need the right inventory. Making sure we optimize what their inventory is and making nature and it’s it’s growing, it’s a it’s a growing environment in a great supply moving into some new areas, but in general is providing those materials to keep the plant running. So the facilities and the machinery.


[00:10:16] All right. All right. So let’s shift gears. You’ve already kind of laid out where you spend a lot of your time.


[00:10:23] And I admire how well rounded you are. You know, from where you started to what you’re doing now and you’re doing including some mentoring. So no wonder, like the tribal knowledge you’ve accumulated over your time. How valuable that is. You know, so many companies don’t take the time to set up formal programs so that we can tap in to and pass along a lot of that knowledge. So but let’s talk more about when you look at the global. So in the end, supply chain industry. Right. And what’s taking place there? I know in the pre-show we were we were kind of talking about digital transformation. And that’s a as a big topic, but as big of it, isn’t it? What are some of the things you’re tracking more than others when it comes to trends or developments or what have you?


[00:11:10] Well, from a from a total MRO perspective, if there’s really a what I would call a significant change taking place in the last few years, it used to be all about price.


[00:11:21] The cost of material, just trying to get it for less money type of thing. And we still do a lot of that. You know, where we leverage our spend for all our customers and that kind of thing. But companies are becoming much more aware of the fact that there’s there’s significantly, if not even greater savings to be generated through through optimizations of inventory or Technical capabilities, that kind of a thing. So it’s really expanded beyond just the procurement of materials. It’s really a matter of how we manage those materials, how we how we make it work most effectively for that customer and more and more in the MRO industry. People are looking beyond just the item they want. They need to make sure it’s the right item. There’s all kinds of all kinds of concerns about that, that the item itself meets the specs, the regulations, whatever it may be. And so that’s becoming a bigger, bigger play in today’s manufacturing world. Unfortunately, MRO spend typically for for most manufacturers is a small percentage of their overall spend. Depending on which surveys you believe it could be anywhere from four to seven percent of the of the total spend. So in the past, a lot of the MRO was was basically relegated to very little effort and time, if you will, because it wasn’t a big number. I think that’s beginning to change a little bit. I think a lot of companies have turned to companies like Turtle and used to manage that for them because that’s where our expertise is in managing that product. It’s typically high volume, low dollar items, if you will, highly transactional. And that’s the kind of things that we specialize in.


[00:13:04] Outstanding, very important aspect that Rick touched on, too, is the importance of keeping the operations up and running. So while it’s.


[00:13:17] No offense to our Reds redhead’s out there. You know, kind of the red headed stepchild of materials management and and and the like, but I wasn’t exactly sure where you’re going.


[00:13:26] Yeah, right, right, right. And I can’t speak about her, uh, the interests.


[00:13:33] You know, the affect on being able to trust that, um, you’re gonna have the material that you need when you when you need it, where you need it and not. Experience more costly downtime. It is really that that trusted aspect that really is, I think, the. The point that most organizations we work are looking to strive for words, that optimal point because we’re looking at this huge insurance policy of spares, then you’re managing across a complex network and it’s it’s a lot less about just, you know, buying and piece price. There’s a there’s a science to it, for sure.


[00:14:17] Absolutely. What? Here’s a data scientist. Everything these days, you get it, you know. For some our listeners, that may still be looking to kind of understand what this might mean. I want to give an example that really resonate with me years ago. One of the large tractor manufacturers that builds large mining trucks. Right. For for this. In this case, they had a picker procurement leader telling us about big trucks they had in goldmines mines. And I think they were in South America. I’m not sure. And, you know, we’re talking about mining trucks where the tires alone are probably a 16 or maybe a 20 foot diameter. These are huge, massive trucks. And they were already using them, I think, autonomously. And this is probably eight years ago or so anyway. So as a truck goes down for every hour that it’s not on this regular circuit. Right. Of of getting the gold or whatever, whatever mineral it was in this mine and, you know, dumping it wherever. On the on the circuit for every hour, it was like five hundred thousand dollars. They were losing. Right. And so he was using that real life example with with a real cost to illustrate just how important it is that when these trucks go down and you all know more than I do about how many safety stock of certain spare parts I would have locally, they’ve got to get the part from the states to the mine ASAP. And it really for for for my MRO standpoint, it really got my attention special. Just how practical anyone can understand that. Right. Yeah, but I know there’s also pharmaceutical plaisir. There are other sectors that when the production line. You were speaking to when it goes down or you don’t have what you need to get that out, get the product out to the customer. There are huge costs there. Yeah. All right.


[00:16:10] Absolutely. Huge risks. And, you know, I think that there’s. Aspects of it that make it very difficult to do so.


[00:16:20] And there I think every company that you probably work with, the ones that I have, have a story of when something went wrong. You know, when when the line went down. When the legendary story. Hopefully it’s way back. Yeah, exactly. And when the plane was chartered to fly the bearing from Georgia to California, they get the line back up. And then. But if we could have just seen into our inventory a little better, maybe we could could have planned better. So there’s there’s a lot of opportunity there. But a high level of importance that from a smart perspective, isn’t always accounted for and well into your come in earlier.


[00:17:02] But trends in the injury. I mean, one of the things that we really see now is much more emphasis put on the data because unfortunately in the MRO space, for most companies, their data is not very good. So which bearing it is they need or is the right one on the shelf is suspect at times. So one of the things that we see as a trend in the industry now is a lot of basically data enrichment, data improvement Tomlin’s or a cleansing of the data to make sure the data is good. Because in the MRO space, in general terms, the MRO space, it’s it’s pretty weak for for an awful lot of companies.


[00:17:38] Good grip on a mentality of like every plant for themselves and a lot of duplication and makes it difficult to support. And you’re in your seat, Rick, and then actually utilize and manage some good points.


[00:17:53] Ok, so before we shift gears and talk, Dembski, what brings you here?


[00:17:57] Anything else from a trend standpoint that you’d like to share things you’re tracking?


[00:18:02] Well, I mean, I think in general, another major trend is, is basically the whole e-commerce solution type of a thing. And that can go a lot of different directions. I mean, we’re we’re actively building catalogs and e-commerce solutions for our customers, make things a little bit easier forum. It’s not an easy task in the MRO world because in the MRO world, the number of SKUs is just phenomenal. It’s not like, you know, there’s only, you know, a thousand SKUs. I mean, there’s there’s millions of SKUs. So it’s hard to build catalog. But that whole e-commerce platform is another major trend. Love it in the MRO world.


[00:18:38] I love I love how you’re you’re basically taking the Amazon effect and building it for your customer base, right? Exactly.


[00:18:48] Well, and also authorities Gable’s and it wouldn’t be an MRO discussion. I’m sure it’s on your radar. You know what? What impact does that had on your business with Amazon business and targeting industrial and scientific?


[00:19:01] It’s definitely there. It’s a fear. Yeah. You know, our our position is that we provide the technical assistance and so forth that you don’t get Ijames. So the value add up is really our approach to that. Sheer, you know that obviously Amazon has a significant platform they’ve put together in very high tech and so forth. They’re easy to use, but you know, we try and in a sense mirror that give it the easiest approach is possible within the catalogs and the camera’s platform. But what’s really key for us is, is the support of the technical support to the products. We still especially on the integrated side. I mean, we still have our our technical people on the sites that it’s easier it’s easier in a simpler purchase for most of the maintenance folks at the site to come and talk to our person.


[00:19:51] So that was know exactly what it is they need rather than them wasting time in a platform or searching the Internet. That’s a costly thing for a maintenance person to be.


[00:20:02] Yeah. Leveraging your expertise and they’re done been around a hundred years, you know, to do. And, you know, if Greg White were here, you know, he would absolutely at this point in the conversation talk about a B.A., anyone but Amazon is Greg’s acronym. And what’s interesting is, as as you know, look, we all admire the things Amazon has been doing for years. But there’s there’s this counter movement of companies that aren’t Amazon that are finding different ways to compete and and and do well. And it is a fascinating thing to study and watch and read the latest news developments and talk with some of these folks on our show. But, you know, I admire what you are doing and the success you’ve had through. I think you said five generations, right? Five generations. Yeah. OK. All right. So let let’s shift gears and let’s you want to touch on a baby. Usually it’s a hot potato. Everyone know it passed around.


[00:21:01] Now, obviously, Amazon’s done many great things, an incredible company. And I think that there’s a significant place for organizations that. Our specific, as you know, certain industry is right, and it’s the knowledge that an organization like Turtle and Hughes and some of the Industrial distribution companies, I think that there’s a significant competitive advantage that they offer through the expertise and knowledge that I think combined with the right technology, leveraging the relationships like we see here at Debusk, the alignment of key suppliers with their customers as partners and supporting that through the right data can can be very, very powerful. Agreeto against against Amazon.


[00:21:55] Yeah. And you know, it’s natural in entrepreneur environment when you see someone doing so well, finding a different niche and finding a different opportunity. So anyway, it’s a great space.


[00:22:05] And yeah, there. That’s why they’re looking at it. That’s right. Great point.


[00:22:09] Ok, so let’s shift gears. You mentioned Dembski again. That’s what we’re here. The backdrop again to our audiences here in Scottsdale. We are about to wrap up the first full day of the conference here. Rick, what brings Turtle and here?


[00:22:24] Well, basically up we’ve come to the conference as a as a diverse supplier being woman owned. And a lot of a lot of the manufacturers out there, a lot of companies have a have a goal to reach out to minorities. And so this conference is really to use Bawls where collaboration is really what it’s about, trying to work together. So our goal here is, is to visit with some of our current customers, maybe some potential customers, and see what we can do to accommodate them as a diverse supplier. Love it.


[00:22:55] Okay. And the first full day, you know, is going it’s been a full day, but lots of intriguing conversations on your end. And what I found kind of conversations between the presentations, between the conversations. That’s why I’ve picked up a lot of great nuggets here.


[00:23:12] Yeah, yeah. Really good. Really, really a fine group of people. I mean, they really are. The collaboration is fabulous. The transparency, the sharing of information. I found that very impressive. Nobody’s really holding anything back. You know, just this is what it’s all about. So we’re all trying to basically achieve the same goal. I mean, and basically, you know, we’re two suppliers are trying to provide quality product, if you will, two to a manufacturer who’s trying to put out a quality product. Right. So, I mean, I really think this is this event different than a lot of conferences, has a collaboration factor that you don’t typically see. And that’s been very impressive to me.


[00:23:52] I completely agree. A lot of fellowship, kindred spirits. Yeah. Okay. So I love your Web site and the simplicity of the Oreo. So how can folks learn more about turtle news? Basically, turtle dot com. Very simple. Just like that. Just like the animal matterto every week. And you can see we we we promote that. So just turtle dot com turtle, MRO dot com as well.


[00:24:15] Yeah, but bass basically that and then you know they can they can reach out through there through our Web site. That’s probably the easiest way to get the message to us and we’ll reach we’ll reach back out to them.


[00:24:27] Okay. Easy enough. We’ll look forward to the next days as the conference moves. And they too. Rick McWatters senior vise president with Turtle and Hughes, thanks so much for your time here today. Thank you. Appreciate the opportunity. You bet. All right. So, Paul, we’re going to run this down. Another good conversation right up especially. I know you’re you’re right. If I call myself a podcast nerd, so can I call you an MRI owner? Sure.


[00:24:52] I’d love. I’m happy with this thing. I really enjoyed it.


[00:24:57] I know this is really up your alley and you know, it’s a good one way to book. And they won. Yes. Agreed. Okay. Again, thanks for both of your gentlemen’s time here today. To our listeners, stay tuned for more programing, programing and coverage of the Dean Dembski conference here. The diverse manufacturing Supply chain Alliance conference. Be sure to also check them out. You know, you’ve heard some of the unique dynamics that make up this organization. And this is our first time here. I don’t know if we said that on the front end. So it wasn’t on our radar. It’s a shame on us. So check out DRM SCA, dot us for more information on programing here. And you can can be a part of exactly what you heard us describe. Secondly, we’ve got a variety of in-person and digital events coming up with some global partners, folks from f_f_t_ Reuters events to the Automotive Industry Action Group mutex Rasyid Resilience 360 Trusted at seven time straight. If you can’t find something on our events tab or our webinar tab at Supply Chain Now Radio dot com shoot are CMO and email at Amanda at Supply Chain Now Radio dot com and we’ll serve as a resource for you. Again, thanks again to our guests. Rick McWatters with Turtling Hughes, my legendary co-host, Paul Noble, founder and CEO. Thanks for let me sit in. Greg, very, very upset of a half the entire team here. Scott Luton, wish you a wonderful week ahead and we will see you next time on Supply chain out. Thanks, everybody.

Rick McQuatters has 40+ years of inventory and asset management, specializing in MRO. 25 years experience in MRO Integrated Supply. Led Turtle & Hughes’ Integrated Supply (THIS) now playing a supportive role in Business Development.

Paul Noble is Founder and CEO of Verusen, a technology firm that uses AI to predict inventory and harmonize data organizations in a variety of industries. Verusen automatically integrates to your ERP and disparate data sources — single or multiple systems, one or many locations. Then, the platform’s Artificial Intelligence learns from your own inventory experts and encodes their knowledge to provide seamless inventory harmonization. With Verusen, you get automatic naming and categorization with 99% reliability at scale — a true material master. Paul’s passion for entrepreneurship has always shaped his approach for go-to-market strategies and tools, which was the driving force behind pursuing his dream of launching Verusen to improve the availability of easy-to-use technology for optimizing the supply chain for materials and MRO. Learn more about Verusen here:


Scott W. Luton is the founder & CEO of Supply Chain Now. He has worked extensively in the end-to-end Supply Chain industry for more than 15 years, appearing in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Dice and Quality Progress Magazine. Scott was named a 2019 Pro to Know in Supply Chain by Supply & Demand Executive and a 2019 “Top 15 Supply Chain & Logistics Experts to Follow” by RateLinx. He founded the 2019 Atlanta Supply Chain Awards and also served on the 2018 Georgia Logistics Summit Executive Committee. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and holds the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential. A Veteran of the United States Air Force, Scott volunteers on the Business Pillar for VETLANTA and has served on the boards for APICS Atlanta and the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance. He also serves as an advisor with TalentStream, a leading recruiting & staffing firm based in the Southeast. Follow Scott Luton on Twitter at @ScottWLuton and learn more about SCNR here:


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