Supply Chain Now Episode 393
“We wanted to inspire confidence in everyone that, as leaders, we knew what we were doing and that we had a plan to help keep them healthy and safe when they came to work.”
- Rick McDonald, Vice President of Global Supply Chain Operations, The Clorox Company
The Clorox Company is a $6.3 Billion multinational company. They have associates in 25 different countries and distribute their products in a hundred different countries. Most people – especially in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic – are familiar with the Clorox brand, but the company also owns Burt’s bees, Brita water filters, Glad bags, Hidden Valley Ranch, Fresh Step cat litter, Kingsford charcoal, and a variety of other international brands.
Rick McDonald is the Vice President of Global Supply Chain Operations for The Clorox Company. His company has been affected more than most by the pandemic. Not only did they face the same kinds of employee and facility disruptions, demand for products spiked overnight – creating a fulfillment challenge and a question about when the volume of purchases would inevitably slow and return to normal.
In this conversation, Rick provides an operational update for Supply Chain Now Co-hosts Scott Luton and Greg White about:
- Some of the unique challenges this company has faced as a result of COVID-19 and how their leadership team stepped up to handle them, including managing inventory and cleaning their own facilities.
- The educational investment Clorox made to ensure that facilities and employees were safe, and to support the ability of individuals to keep them that way with information and supplies.
- How his organization learned to make quality decisions in an environment where “time is the enemy”
Intro – Amanda Luton (00:05):
It’s time for supply chain. Now broadcasting live from the supply chain capital of the country. Atlanta, Georgia heard around the world. Supply chain. Now spotlights the best in all things. Supply chain, the people, the technologies, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts.
Scott Luton (00:28):
Hey, good morning, Scott Luton and Greg white with you here on supply chain. Now, welcome to today’s show Greg, how are you doing? I’m doing great. I got up early today, Scott. So that’s good. Cause we have a big guest here today. Yeah. Global supply chain leader from one of the world’s most respected brands. We’re going to be discussing a variety of topics, including some of the innovative ways that this company has helped keep product on the shelves in 2020, very challenging years, everyone knows. So stay tuned for what will be a very informative conversation that will raise hopefully your supply chain acute. Hey, quick programming note, Greg, before we get started, if you enjoyed today’s episode, what do you encourage folks to do? Well, I encourage them to subscribe or go to supply chain now, radio.com and sign up and then subscribe. That’s right.
Scott Luton (01:21):
Find us and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from. All right. So with no further ado, let’s welcome in fortunately a repeat guest. We love a repeat guests. I want to bring in Rick McDonald, vice president global operations with the Clorox company, Rick, how are you doing? I’m doing great. Scott. Great to be with you guys this morning, Greg, how are you? I am doing well. Glad to see you. You know, it’s like every week we have an esteemed leader in supply chain last week, Sandra McQuillan this week, Rick McDonald I’m I don’t know. I’m like a kid in a candy store here. Yes. And you know, we cheated a little bit. We had a chance to catch up with Rick a week or two ago and, and kind of learn some of the lay of the land. You know, a lot of companies have really been challenged with this environment.
Scott Luton (02:08):
I can only imagine just how busy you and your team have been Rick. And we look forward to diving in some of those things that you’re doing all the hard work and, and the intellect and, and assessing and reassessing and an acting and reassessing. And it’s just been, it’s been a challenging environment looking forward to diving in with you about all of that. But Greg, before we get started, a lot of folks that they listened to the episode, I think last fall, uh, they were familiar with Rick story. We want to refresh that a little bit, that their Ricks and refresh our audience’s memory of who you are. So for starters, tell us where you’re from and give us a story or two from your upbringing. Well, first of all, I grew up mostly here in Atlanta. I went to Georgia tech, played a little baseball there, and that was quite the challenge combining the academics and the athletics, but I loved every minute of it. And I grew up a lot in the four years. I was Georgia tech.
Rick McDonald (03:00):
What position on baseball diamond did you play? I was catcher and I played first base a little bit as well. And you know, the most famous part of my Georgia tech baseball career was being an extra. I don’t think I told you guys this last time, but I was an extra, some of us were extras in a movie that Burt Reynolds made call Sharky’s machine. Oh yeah. And there was a scene in the outfield and the guys were the tech uniforms on, or my teammates. You can see a couple of them really clearly in the stadium scene. I’m a blurry blob in the background, but I know where I am at. So that’s pretty exciting for me because you were so fast, right? They couldn’t keep it focused on you. Something like that. Yes. Well, Hey, one more,
Scott Luton (03:37):
One more baseball question because, uh, we’re hoping keeping our fingers crossed, we’re going to see a season, right. And that’ll be a healthy departure from, from all the other issues that we face day in and day out. How confident are you that we’re going to see major league baseball here?
Rick McDonald (03:53):
You know, I believe they’re going to do everything they can to get some games. And I think right now it’s a 60 game schedule. The last I saw, um, I’m really hoping that that starts, uh, having sports in our lives will start to bring back some level of normalcy. And I think that’s really important for a, you know, physical and mental health.
Scott Luton (04:10):
All right. So you’ve already given, Greg has already given us a good a little bit and we didn’t hear about last time. What else about, you know, especially growing up, you said most of your time growing up was spent in the Atlanta area. What do you really remember and try to share with your children about how specialists grew up in a city like Atlanta?
Rick McDonald (04:28):
Well, I think just the, um, you know, the, the family atmosphere, everybody in the South is generally very friendly. It’s easy to make relationships. It’s easy to keep relationships and friendships. And that’s one of the best things that I remember from my time in the Atlanta area. I moved away after I graduated from tech and I didn’t move back until 10 years ago, but that sense of family and that building to easily make relationships is still a, is still a present everywhere.
Scott Luton (04:52):
He knows the Clorox company, right, Greg. I mean it just by saying it, I bet I can think about 17 different products. Um, what a lot of folks may not know is about the global footprint and just, just how many products that are in the portfolio. But, uh, Rick, if you could shed some limit line about the organization and in particular shed some light on what you do and your role
Rick McDonald (05:14):
And where you spend your time. Sure. So, uh, you know, Clorox, we’re a six point $3 billion multinational. We have associates in 25 different countries. We distribute our products in a hundred different countries and you know, most people are very familiar with, of course the Clorox label. What they may not know is that we also own Burt’s bees, Brita, water filters, glad bags, hidden Valley trash, freshed up cat litter and, and a variety of other international brands. So we’ve got quite the broad portfolio in a number of different categories. And given the summertime, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention King’s for charcoal, that’s a, that’s one of our most stout brands and, uh, something that I certainly enjoy as a, as a part time, uh, cooking enthusiast, grilling enthusiast.
Scott Luton (05:53):
Yes. I’ve burned lots of chicken and steaks and things on the grill myself. So as VP of global operations, I think a lot of folks that, that were there tuned in last time or whether they have a sense of, of, of what global operations leaders do, where do you spend your time and what’s one of your favorite aspects of your role?
Rick McDonald (06:13):
Well, I, I spend my time managing our global operations group, which is about 5,000 of the companies, 8,800 employees. And those folks are resident in 21 different countries. So I spent a lot of my time thinking about the engagement of our employees and, uh, and how do we help them continue to be, uh, well connected with the company from a strategic standpoint, as well as a tactical standpoint, one of the favorite parts of my job is getting to engage with people directly. So I’m a big believer in getting out to manufacturing, plants, distribution centers. It’s really hard to run a supply chain from behind a desk. And it is the thing that I have missed the most since we’ve all been in a shelter in place mode. We did have an event Friday at our offices in Alpharetta. Uh, it was in the parking lot.
Rick McDonald (06:59):
We invited all of our associates there to drive through in their cars for two purposes, one to say hi, but also to pick up some products. So we had a product giveaway at the same time and did that previously at our Kennesaw office. And we’ll do that from time to time, but it was, it was amazing to see how joyous people were at seeing their colleagues. So a bunch of us were out there giving away product and greeting people. And as people drove through the smiles on their face was, uh, was worth all the effort it took to put on that event. Money. If there’s anything I remember from our interviews, some months back, it was your attachment to your active and intentional engagement in the culture of the company and how we saw that play out through a lot of your people within the companies.
Greg White (07:43):
And, you know, that’s something we didn’t really mention at the outset, but I think that’s an important part of what makes Clorox the company that it is and Rick you, the leader than you are. So, yeah. So Greg and I’ll, uh, I’m going to touch on that a little bit later when we talk about, uh, you know, a couple of things that really have been important for us this year. Well, so let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about 2020 as painful as that month. Be obviously it’s been a real challenge for every one, every person and every company out there. So share with us a little bit of how 20, 20 shamed up for you. I think your story is a little bit unique, but I’d love for folks to hear kind of how 20, 20 shaved up and some of the unique challenges you face it here.
Rick McDonald (08:24):
You know, first I’ll, I’ll just start by kind of setting the stage as, as a health and wellness company. We at Clorox clearly recognize our role that our products play in, in stopping the spread of infection. We know how important they are. We knew how important they were, but, uh, with the advent of, uh, of COVID, they became really center stage. We actually began increasing FDS targets in a, in January. So we started taking inventories up, sorry, our R F DAS targets. So our inventory targets for, for each of our skews. So for all the cleaning and disinfecting
Rick McDonald (08:56):
Skews, we started building inventory. What that did was it helped start to ramp up our suppliers and our supplier suppliers that we were starting to increase our, our inventories. And we did that in January, really before COVID was a big thing here, but we have operations in Asia and we saw what was happening there. And I guess it was instinct or judgment, or maybe a combination of the two, but it just felt like the right thing to do to start building those, those inventories. Even though there was really no data available that said, this is, you know, this is something you should do. So we started doing that. We also went out and bought as much third party disinfecting white capacity as was available. So we bought all the line time that we could, again, with the idea that we were probably needed. We didn’t know for sure, but it was better to have it in the bank then wish we had had it in the bank later on.
Rick McDonald (09:45):
We also started ramping up our production and cleaning plants with those FTAs targets. We added shifts, we’ve hired almost 300 new production associates since we, um, you know, since we started this effort. So, you know, think about it kind of February forward, an additional 300 associates in our manufacturing plants. And, uh, that, that was really important because then March arrived, right. You know, we’ll just, we’ll use Clorox disinfecting wipes. As the example, you know, we make 21 million canisters every single month across our entire network, 21 million at the time when March arrived, we had 65 days of disinfecting wipe inventory between us and our customers. And essentially that cushion disappeared in the course of two weeks, 68 months, just over two months were gone in two weeks. Wow. On some skews we saw a 500% increase in demand. And those spikes are something that, you know, no supply chain is really prepared to handle.
Rick McDonald (10:42):
We sold more in one week, a couple of times, and we would sell them an entire month. So it was really an incredibly intense period of time. And you know, what we were trying to do is make sure that the products we produced were available for hospitals, healthcare facilities, and families. And in, in March, we produced 40 million more units March of 2000, 20, 40 million more disinfecting units than we produced in, um, in the prior year. So when you think about that, that’s bleach disinfecting sprays, disinfecting cleaners, and wipes, 40 million more units than the same time a year ago, real quick.
Scott Luton (11:17):
I think a lot of our listeners that are in supply chain, you know what you’re talking about in terms of this historic demand, they’ll understand and they’ll get, that’s why a big reason why we’re seeing some of the challenges and some of the retail conditions that we’ve seen for a few months, but there might be some listeners that just do not understand just how historic this surge is, whether it is in Greg, we’ve talked about it extensively. It’s not it’s folks, unfortunately, that are stocking their, their shelves or cabinets at home that are board pantry stuffing, I think is a, is a cliche. And to fair, that’s not
Rick McDonald (11:54):
Everything we’re seeing, but to also be fair, we’re talking historic, whether it’s 700% up and more demand for toilet tissue, whether is, uh, some of the man y’all have seen Rick from the wipes and some other products. I mean, this is, this is a level that we have never seen, right? So
Rick McDonald (12:12):
Unprecedented, it’s the, I don’t know if this is exactly the right analogy, but it’s really the supply chain equivalent of the 500 year flood. It’s not something that any of us had planned for anticipated. You know, we certainly know how to ramp up our production capacity. We know how to run our factories flat out 24 seven, which is what we’ve been doing since basically mid to mid to end of January. But the ability to keep up with this level of demand over such a long period of time has been very challenging.
Rick McDonald (12:39):
I got to thank Rick. When you were, when you, when you were pantry stuffing, when you ramped up the 65 days supply, you had to think, I can’t put another product in a warehouse or finance is going to come down on me or something like that. Right. I mean, you’ve had to have felt really good about that number of days supply as backstop for a surgeon demand, right?
Rick McDonald (13:03):
Yeah. So we, you know, we pay attention to working capital and certainly a finished goods. Inventory is a big part of that. Greg, we, we work with our CFO. I told him what we’re going to do and why are we going to do it? And we agreed. That was a prudent course to take, you know, it gave us probably an additional three to 4 million units of product to sell that we wouldn’t have had to wouldn’t have been able to sell. Had we not taken that action as we did in the, in January, but, uh, yeah, it’s always a challenge. My, my thesis on this is that, you know, if we’re not able to sell the product in the, in the next month, it’ll sell them the following month. We can ramp F DAS back down. It might affect one quarter. It won’t affect the fiscal year. And so we felt really comfortable taking, uh, taking those steps.
Rick McDonald (13:46):
I think that’s another really good point is it’s not that specifically. And not specifically when demand occurred that there was that much more demand. It was, people were pulling their demand forward, right? There was this panic buying where they thought if I don’t get toilet paper, or I don’t get Clorox wipes or whatever products cause Clorox wipes are, I think they’re uniquely American and European thing. Not every culture in the world can afford or thinks of them as the product, but whatever, if I need my disinfecting products, I better get them now while the getting’s good before those other people run in here and get them in. And what that really did was it hold that demand forward that will occur or would have occurred over the next 30 or 60 or 90 days. Right. That’s exactly right. You know, I think the big three
Rick McDonald (14:37):
Or hand sanitizers toilet paper and disinfecting wipes that demand got pulled forward and it left empty shelves and frustrated, frustrated consumers.
Rick McDonald (14:46):
Yeah. Which kind of exacerbated the problem a little bit as well. Then people who weren’t originally pantry stuffing started panic buying or pantry stuffing themselves. Right? Correct.
Scott Luton (14:57):
Blockchain now team was thinking ahead. So you can see from this apparatus I have on my head as folks come in and out of the studio, we’re constantly cleaning things down even before the pandemic environment. So Greg, I want to say we had a couple and we only use Clorox wipes. Of course, we had a couple of containers in the studio that at least gave us a little more lead time as we were working our way through the first half of the year. So, you know, Rick, you can never be enough prepared, but we saw that spill over as we’re all talking about across all consumers. So it’ll be interesting to see how, how the rest of the year plays out.
Rick McDonald (15:30):
Well, we’re starting to see it now really. I mean, Kroger just announced earnings and you too, there you, that just ended whatever that number is their quarter that just ended massive uptick in domain. And you can start to see the whiplash crack as shell bill and people realize they’ve got enough toilet paper or enough, or ox whites or whatever, hopefully Kingsford charcoal also rare for the next two, three months. Right. So we’re going to start to see that reverb and that’s an equal problem for your organization, because just about the time you get rammed up and get caught back up and yet demand yet product on the shelves, if demand craters, then back, if you, for you in production as well. Right. It, uh, it certainly can. And, uh, we’re, we’re watching that with, uh, with, with a lot of intense, um, you know, the thing that I didn’t mention in addition to our cleaning disinfecting products are our demand spike really across every single product line.
Rick McDonald (16:31):
It didn’t matter if it was charcoal or glad bags or cat litter, salad dressing. We saw unprecedented demand across all of our businesses. So it’s been a spirit of very intense, very intense for four and a half months. A lot of people knew they were going to have to eat at home. So we saw big, big shifts in grocery as well. Right. That’s right. Well, so tell us about, I mean, I know you’ve kind of shared some of the things that you did. Is there anything else you’d like to share that you did or are doing now to kind of deal with the impact? Well, one of the other things that we did just sort of early on, because we wanted to make sure we were getting disinfecting product to especially hospitals and healthcare centers, in addition to retail and, and, and, and families, we stood up a 55 gallon drum filling line and a couple of our plants and bleaches a, an incredible disinfect. And it’s actually the, the less convenient form of a disinfecting wipe if you will. And a 55 gallon drum of bleach has the ability to clean over 10,000 hospital rooms when it’s diluted to the strength. And so we made those drums available. We donated them to hospitals and healthcare facilities as they, as they requested them. So that was a, that was just one of those very interesting, you know, kind of spur of the moment. Let’s do something else to utilize our process capacity while we’re running flat out on our packaging
Rick McDonald (17:50):
Rick McDonald (17:51):
Wow. That’s fantastic. 10,000 hospital rooms out of the 55 gallon drum. Correct. Wow. That’s the power, isn’t it? That and tie dye. Thank goodness. All right. So let’s take another angle of this. So when you look at 2020, you’re a global supply chain and operations leader. I know you have to have a really unique perspective on this. When you look back at 2020, or you look at what’s coming in 2020, or what you’re facing right now, tell us a couple of leadership lessons, operational lessons that you’ve learned this year. Yeah. You know, Greg,
Rick McDonald (18:28):
Before I do that, let me, uh, let me backtrack a little bit and talk just a little bit about some things that we did to make sure that we were able to continue producing is that, is that, uh, do the very first thing that we started talking about my leadership team is how do we make sure that we take care and look after the health and safety of our associates? Um, I think I documented last time on, on the program, uh, we run very safe operations. We’re extremely proud of that. This is an entirely different aspect of, you know, safe employment. And so we really had to think a lot about, you know, the health and our facilities, the health of the associates coming to our facilities. We, uh, we took 14 discreet actions. I’ll tell you about, you know, four or five of them here really quickly.
Rick McDonald (19:11):
We started by educating our associates on the virus, everything that we knew, we shared with them about how it was transmitted, what they needed to do. We reinforced the idea of washing hands frequently, not touching face or nose or eyes. We started practicing social distancing with visual cues and the plants I have to tell you that was one of the hardest things for, for people to, to work through because we’re a very collegial operation. People are used to being like family and most of our plants. So social distancing was hard. The company set up a $1 million emergency fund for our associates. So in the case that they didn’t feel well, or they were caring for somebody who wasn’t well, they didn’t feel like they were compelled to come to work. We would cover their pay for that time period while they were, while they were not feeling well.
Rick McDonald (19:58):
We were one of the early adopters of non-contact temperature scanning and a health questionnaire at the door for every associate. Every shift, every day we took on increased sanitizing activities in our factories using third parties. And we developed protocols that we used when somebody said they were ill or, you know, went out and got tested, whether it was negative or positive. And then I put a third party epidemiologist on staff. This, this guy is very well connected with the CDC and we actually got him on retainer still. And he provides us with some fantastic advice to make sure we had a really healthy environment for our employees. What we were trying to do is really build confidence for people to continue to come to work day after day after day, in spite of everything they were exposed to outside the plant, we wanted to make sure they knew when they came to the plant, they were going to be healthy and safe at work.
Rick McDonald (20:49):
So how did that work? Because that was one of the lingering questions I had was you were trying to ramp up and keep up production. But one of the biggest hindrances is if you can get people to come to work. So did that comfort to your employees and get them comfortable with coming to work. That was a big part of it. I also have to say the leaders in our factories were incredible. You know, this is not the time to shy away from communications or be unclear, even though there was a lot of competing information about COVID-19, what it was, what it was and how it was transmitted and so forth. Our plant leaders just did an incredible job of continuing the engagement that they have with their employees, but kind of talking them through these scenarios, you know, depending on which plant we’re talking about, whether it was in Chicago or Raleigh Durham, you know, some of the early hotspots and ongoing hotspots, people were very, very concerned about continuing to come to work and through the efforts that we, that I just talked about, as well as the plant leaders were able to get people to continue to come to work and feel comfortable and safe doing that.
Rick McDonald (21:53):
Now, I can’t say that was a hundred percent, but we had, we had great presenteeism over that time period where our employees really took it upon themselves. They saw it as a mission to continue to come to work as part of the central business, rather than alone that word. I think transparency is the key at a time like this. You have to share everything, you know, take a position and make sure that everyone has information. So you avoid those negative fantasies that people might generate in the absence of information. That’s right. Real quick, Rick.
Scott Luton (22:26):
Yeah. We’ve spoken to a variety of whether they’re plant level leaders or they’re more enterprise level leaders. And a lot of them have spoken to the additional rigor that that managers have to put in place to protect the employees and, and, you know, all of them have not taken the steps that clearly all of you just outlined some of those, uh, you know, across your enterprise. Do you think in generally speaking folks really know about just how difficult it is to manage manufacturing, plants and distribution facilities and other sites and pandemic environments while protecting the employees and getting production done.
Rick McDonald (23:01):
I think they don’t Scott and, you know, there’s really no playbook for this, you know, my leadership team and I, we were working, you know, we weren’t working 24 seven, but it sure felt like that to make sure that we were trying to get a couple of steps ahead based on, you know, what we knew or what our judgment told us we should do. And with no playbook, you’ve kind of got to create things as you go. And that’s essentially what we did. You know, even our general manager, as an example, we used to have 115, we still do. We have 115 skews in the CDW portfolio, Chris hiders, the GM of that global business. And he said very early on, I want to make 15 of those just 15. And what that allowed us to do in the plant was to simplify operations, to get more through fewer changeovers, less, better material usage.
Rick McDonald (23:47):
And, and so, you know, from the business side, there were decisions made like that, that wasn’t in anybody’s script. There’s no playbook for that. But the fast decision making that, that the GM made helped us a lot, that disinfecting wipes area. And I think the other thing is, you know, we talk about, I’ve been talking about Clorox plants. I also want to give a shout out to our suppliers. They’ve been heroes as well. Their ability to follow us as we ramped up production was just phenomenal. And, uh, you know, again, they, they didn’t have this in their playbook either, but because of our long standing relationships with many of our suppliers, we’re able to ramp up very, very quickly. And they were able to get us the material we needed to continue to produce these essential products.
Rick McDonald (24:26):
Well, I think that’s something that we’ve heard a lot lately. One of the statements, I can’t even remember who made it, but we were talking about an article that said now is not the time to make brands, right? This is when you really realize that you have a good, or you don’t have a good relationship with your business partners. And if there’s any lesson that people ought to take away from this, it is one have a plan, a and a plan B, and to be good, the fair, right with your business partners and be communicative because that relationship is critical and it benefits you all the time, whether you see it or not, but it certainly benefits you in times like this.
Rick McDonald (25:06):
Yeah, that’s, that’s exactly right. All the, uh, hours and days and weeks and months, you spend developing those relationships. These are the times when you don’t know when they’re going to occur, but these are the times when they really pay off. And we had the same thing on the, uh, on the logistics side where our third parties were just, they were just phenomenal, whether it was carriers or our third party, our three PLS, they were just fantastic. And I just, I can’t say enough about how well they performed in such an uncertain time as well.
Rick McDonald (25:35):
It’s interesting. And you know, one of those things let’s, so one of those things that you can think of as a leadership lesson, right? So let’s, let’s go back to that. And, and is there anything else that jumps out at you that your team or you learned, or you taught during this difficult time? Yes.
Rick McDonald (25:53):
There, there are a couple of things. I mean, there were, there were tons of learnings, but two that I’ll, I’ll highlight. One is in this age of, uh, really instantaneous adjustments where a time is the enemy. This is a time where leaders have to be able to trust their instinct, to trust their gut, because there’s no playbook. In many cases, there’s not a lot of data to support decisions that you need to make now, but you need to act quickly and decisively with, with imperfect data. And it, it’s a very uncomfortable, very stressful place to be, but it’s hopefully what all of our professional training and education and whatever else we have inside us as has prepared us to do the January of ramp up for us and buying the extra line time. There’s no data that supported that, but our judgment was we needed to go do that, to make sure that we had done everything we could to have as much as possible.
Rick McDonald (26:44):
You don’t really have time to experiment and pilot and then decide, you’ve got to decide and act, and then adjust afterwards if you need to. And, you know, we probably, I mentioned the questionnaire that every employee takes before they come in our doors. We probably have adjusted that thing six or seven times as we learn more information refining the questions, but we didn’t wait until we had perfect questions before we started deploying that. We got it out as quickly as we could, because we knew it was going to help us potentially prevent somebody who wasn’t feeling well. It was caring for somebody who was not well from coming in the plant. And, and in fact it did. So that’s number one, you gotta, you gotta be able to trust your gut and make really quick decisions. Number two, and this is, gosh, I think, I think everybody, uh, you know, under understands this, but if you take care of your associates, they’re going to take care of your business.
Rick McDonald (27:31):
I’m just so proud of the 8,800 people we have in this country. And especially a company and especially the 4,400 production associates and their plant leadership teams. They’re, they’re really our frontline heroes. They have continued to show up every single day, 24 seven in spite of lots and lots of reasons to not do that. And, you know, they really do believe they’re on a mission to supply, to subtracting products as quickly as they can. I think it’s really a Testament to the culture we built as a, as a company. And again, you don’t know exactly how and when it’s going to play out, but this concept of discretionary effort, uh, we, we’ve seen just some phenomenal effort from associates across our company and, and, and across the various countries where we operate as well. And it’s a, it’s been really a cool thing to, uh, to be part of.
Rick McDonald (28:17):
It’s interesting how closely that aligns with the conversation we had when you were on the show before I’d really encourage people to go back and take a look at that episode. Maybe even you Rick and understand just how consistent your leadership is in times of normalcy and in times of crisis, because that in, in and of itself to me is a leadership lesson lead in times of crisis, as you would in times of normalcy and vice versa, you know, the old adage dig your well before. You’re thirsty, make sure that you have good processes. You have a good understanding, a great culture, an incredible appreciation that you clearly do for every worker in your company and, and make sure that everyone knows that. I mean, to me, look, I’m sorry that, that wasn’t a question that was more of a statement of admiration because I really appreciate your management approach. In that regard. It was one of the things that was left with both Scott and I after the, uh, interview that we did with you before.
Rick McDonald (29:14):
Well, I appreciate that, Greg. Thank you. It’s a, it’s one of those things where, you know, looking back, what we were trying to do was to set the standard, establish what it is we needed to do as a operations organization. We wanted to inspire confidence in everyone that, you know, as leaders, we knew what we were doing and that we had a good course plan and that we were going to help keep them healthy and safe when they came to work. And then that we were just going to praise them all that they were doing. And there were certainly some heroic efforts over the last four months. Some of those are pretty well documented, a lot on Martin own at all, except by us. But, uh, we’re, we’re just really proud of our, our production associates and their leaders
Scott Luton (29:54):
On that note. That’s a perfect segue
Rick McDonald (29:57):
Leave. Like it’s like he said, yeah. So
Scott Luton (30:02):
Look, we’ve known this for a long time. We’ve been an industry as Greg always likes to put it. A couple of decades have been in and out of over 300 plants and sites and distribution centers have worked in some and toured others. I love and I, and I mean this wholeheartedly, I love the people on the floor, making things happen. It’s are people unlike many other folks around the globe. There is a sense of comradery. There’s a sense of mission. There’s a sense of, Hey, we’re going to get this done together. And more society would be better off if they saw that firsthand. Like we’ve all been able to see. So with that said, I love also the fact that NBC and NPR went out at evidently. If they didn’t just interview you, they have gone out and met several members of your team. One in a plant out in California and the plant here in the Atlanta area.
Scott Luton (30:54):
And I want to share two of our favorite snippets and get you to react. And Greg would welcome your reaction as well. Carlton Mitchell, who is a department crewleader out at a site on the West coast, says quote. When I came to the Jew, when I came to work, it was a job I clocked out. I went home just entirely different. Now, though, when I come in, it’s not just a normal nine to five job anymore. It’s a mission. Now love that from mr. Mitchell. And then Larry Wheeler, a senior packaging operator from a plant in California. I’ve got these two gentlemen twisted up
Rick McDonald (31:31):
Carlton’s of our Atlanta main plant.
Scott Luton (31:32):
I can only blame my very poor handwriting here. My apologies to mr. Mitchell and mr. Wheeler. Alright, so mr. Wheeler talks about and I’ll paraphrase here. Uh, he was, uh, I guess coming off a 20 day straight campaign, you know, making the mission happen, getting products out, uh, and was stopped in a retail store, convenience store and was thanked by a couple of, of, of consumers for what he, what he and the team do. I guess he has maybe a Clorox company, a uniform home, and he talks about how special that is, and it’s never had it never happened to him and to see non-industry focused media and our, our, our friends and partners over there, give some attention to these folks. I love it. I hope we see a lot more of it, but what’s your take on that? Why is that special to you?
Rick McDonald (32:23):
Well, it’s, it’s special to me because it was direct recognition for three individuals in our plants representing, you know, for 4,400 people who are in the trenches, frontline heroes products every day that we’re getting out to hospitals, health care facilities and, and families through retail. And what I loved about it in the case and Jessica Matthews was the other person who was on the NBC nightly news story with the, with Carlton. And, um, what, what I love about it is it allowed those pieces, allowed them to give a little bit of an insight into their lives and what they were going through. And we don’t, we don’t spend a lot of time talking about, you know, production associates and the value that they bring to society and, um, and, and to our country, but in this case, uh, these three were, I mean, first of all, they just did a fantastic job. Um, not the easiest thing to do to be recorded. And in the case of Jessica and Mitch on camera, they did a fantastic job. And we’re really grateful to NBC nightly news and NPR for considering a sport. We don’t typically seek, um, a lot of media attention. We are, you know, we’re not trophy hunters. Uh, we just kind of go about doing our stuff and that’s, that’s the way, that’s the way our production associates feel as well. So it was really phenomenal. They have chance to tell, tell a part of this,
Rick McDonald (33:49):
Love that. And Greg love to get you to weigh in, uh, Carlton Mitchell, Larry Wheeler, Jessica Matthews ashes, three of the 4,400 folks are heard you’re right. That are in plants throughout the States. Greg, why is that important to you? We have talked through this whole pandemic about the people who are really on the front lines, who aren’t necessarily recognized. We’ve talked a lot about healthcare workers and they certainly deserve it. They were on the frontline, but people like, you know, the folks here, people in retail stores, they’re on the front line and in some cases, and especially early on without a lot of the protection that medical professionals have. And certainly without the knowledge, even despite the great efforts by Rick and the other management at Clorox and other companies there without the knowledge of how to deal with this and how to tackle it as wired in as a healthcare professional is so they’re taking an exceptional risk. They’re putting themselves out there to make sure that we get what we’re clamoring for it. Another thing that I think is really interesting, and I don’t know if everybody thought that Rick has a nickname for Carlton, he calls him Mitch. So he must know him. So when the global vice president of operations has a nickname for you, like you’re his best friend that also speaks to the culture of a company. Good point.
Rick McDonald (35:13):
Yeah. And you know, Larry, Larry and I I’ve known Larry for 25 years. I ran a sister plant in Los Angeles when Larry was at the Fairfield plant, I’d go to Fairfield often to see how they were doing things, just to try and learn from them. And Larry is one of the experts on the packaging line. So he and I have a, have a long history as well.
Rick McDonald (35:31):
It’s a great sign, great sign. And, you know, frankly, I’m not surprised after getting to know the company and
Scott Luton (35:38):
Now getting the Rick a couple of times having been in, uh, your, a forest park plant, uh, once or twice before, there’s just, there’s a different standard, uh, at companies like the Clorox company. And, uh, we appreciate that. Alright, you coined a phrase or really you improved and nothing too creative. We had, uh, talked about how this was this age of adjustments. And I liked Greg, if you called it, like how it, Rick added the age of instantaneous adjustments. And that’s just exactly what it’s been Rick really appreciate what you’ve shared, really appreciate your company’s commitment to protecting all of consumers and protecting the psyche. Despite the challenges is so important before we ask you about how folks can connect with you and how folks can connect with the Clorox company. Clearly having brought on 300 employees at the first part of the year, I imagine you’re still doing some hiring in these challenging times, any last word or comment or challenge you’d like to leave us with
Rick McDonald (36:34):
The challenge for us continues. So, uh, we, we don’t really foresee a let up insight for it, just infecting products. Uh, we’re, we’re very excited and, and, and, and humbled by that, to be honest, we’re not sure where this, uh, where this disease is gonna, it’s gonna go. But one thing we’re certain of is we’re going to do our very best to make sure that we’re producing all that we can, so that hospitals, healthcare facilities and families have all the disinfecting products they need. And that’s our commitment as a, as a world class health and wellness company. And you can count on that from Clorox,
Scott Luton (37:06):
Love that RIT, Greg, I’m ready to run through walls.
Rick McDonald (37:11):
We need to break McDonald on you. You know, what’s, what’s really inspiring. Rick don’t blush. What’s really inspiring. I have a feeling he’s not going through. And that’s part of, what’s really inspiring about Rick is that you feel like he can’t be rattled. We know he has a 17 year old son so that we, so we know that he can,
Scott Luton (37:30):
Rick McDonald (37:31):
Seen it. And it’s interesting that earlier in the discussion, Rick, you said, you know, you want to project that comfort, that that feeling of, um, you didn’t say control, but basically we’ve got this under control. Just hearing your voice makes me feel better about it, the level nature of how you approach things, the military precision with which you approach things. You talked about making decisions with an eight month in a snap with a lack of data that is precisely what military training does, right? You have to make an instantaneous decision without, or with flawed data, and you have done a great job of maintaining and recovering during this time. I think it’s a great model of not only leadership, but also operation for companies that have been going through this crisis. And I hope you guys at least write a white paper or something about it, maybe a book, but I think there is a lot that people can learn about leadership from you and about how to operate this you and, and
Scott Luton (38:36):
Your entire organization. Well, I appreciate those kind words. Um, I, I’ve got a really great team and we’ve just had our arms locked tight for a, for a long time. And, uh, it’s really, it’s really become even more important these last four months. And on we go, we’re not sure where the future, what the future holds for us, but, uh, we’re, uh, we’re ready for it. Outstanding. I feel better just cause he said that, Hey, we have been chatting with our friend and repeat guests written McDonald’s vice president global operations with the winter, only the Clorox company. Rick, thanks so much for your time, Scott. My pleasure, Greg, enjoyed it. And thank you very much for having me again. All right. On that note, Greg, we’re going to wrap as much as we probably would need to dive into, right. Well, Hey, we’ll have, we’ll have Rick and maybe, maybe next time Rick comes, he can bring Jessica or we can get Jessica or Larry or Mitch plugged into the conversation.
Scott Luton (39:28):
We’ll see if we call them metric, if it’s fine with him. That’s all right. So we want to invite our audience. Hopefully you enjoyed this conversation and this story and, and some of these lessons learned and best practices as much as Greg and I have stay tuned for a lot more, not only of our podcasts, but Greg, we’ve got an very interesting discussion coming up, July 15th, where we’re going to have a very Frank conversation around race and industry as part of our standup and sound off programming, more greatly to groups sharing their, their point of view and some suggestions on what ought to be done and interacting with the audience, right. That’s right. And that’s where the, the, the, the secret sauce is. We, you know, we, we feel certainly responsibility to help provide avenues to facilitate these conversations we have to have in order to, to move the needle and drive some of the change it’s gotta happen.
Scott Luton (40:15):
So check that out July 15th, you can check out all of our podcasts, really all of our programming, as Greg said on the front end supply chain now radio.com. And we’d welcome you to be a part of that on behalf, Greg of our entire team here at supply chain now big, thanks. Of course, the written McDonald and the Clorox company, we wish all of our listeners, nothing but the best. And we, we challenge you just like with challenge ourselves, Hey, do good give forward and be the change that needs to happen. And on that note, we’ll see you next time here.
Would you rather watch the show in action? Watch as Scott and Greg as they welcome Rick McDonald to Supply Chain Now through our YouTube channel.
Rick McDonald is the Vice President of Global Supply Chain Operations for The Clorox Company. In this role Rick has responsibility for approximately 5000 people in 23 countries in manufacturing, contract manufacturing, planning, logistics, engineering, quality assurance, safety, health, environment, security and sustainability. His team is responsible for delivering against commitments in the areas of Employee Engagement, Personal Safety, Product Quality, Customer Service, Cost and Enabling Growth. He is the Executive Sponsor of SE ABLE, Clorox’s Black Employee Resource Group. Prior to this role, Rick had an International Supply Chain assignment, reporting to the GM of the International Division. He was accountable for Volume and Profit results as well as Safety, Product Quality, Customer Service, Total Delivered Cost and Enabling Growth. He and his team (located in Atlanta, London, Toronto, Sydney and Hong Kong) interfaced between the business and the function, creating business strategy, current and future year financial forecasts, driving execution and assuring alignment of Supply Chain plans and business plans. Preceding this role, Rick was Clorox’s Vice President of Global Logistics. In this role he was responsible for Customer Service, Distribution Center Operations, Transportation Operations and Supply Chain Management. He owned the company’s Order to Cash process. Rick joined Clorox in 1992. He has held numerous Supply Chain roles from Sourcing and Planning to Plant Management and Logistics as well as several roles reporting to Division GMs. Prior to joining Clorox, Rick worked for Frito-Lay for 10 years in 5 U.S. salty snack food manufacturing plants. He is a former Board member of the Yuhan/Clorox Joint Venture (S. Korea) and served on the Supply Chain Advisory Board at Atlanta Technical College and at Clayton State University. He is a past member of the Chlorine Institute Board of Directors, serving on the Membership Committee and as co-chair of the Customer Stewardship Committee. He served on the Board of Directors for the Barbecue Industry Association and was elected Vice Chairman. An Atlanta native, Rick holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Industrial Management from Georgia Tech and lettered as a member of the GT baseball team. His hobbies include go karting and high-speed performance driving.
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