I heard a speech by Simon Sinek many years ago that had a profound impact on my view of the modern supply chain. I’m loosely paraphrasing, but essentially he said “no one really knows how to manufacture a computer mouse. Many people know how to make pieces that create that mouse, but no one person actually manufactures a computer mouse from start to finish.”
This blew me away. And, honestly, I was disappointed in myself for not seeing this obvious truth before. It got me thinking, and in part, engrained a belief in me that there were major issues looming with the modern supply chain that we had yet to see.
Surely your toilet paper doesn’t have to come from four different manufacturing companies 5,000 miles away, right? Why does your plate have to travel on multiple tractor trailers and a freight liner to land in your kitchen? Have you ever thought about how many places around the world your everyday products have been? And why does no one actually know how to manufacture a computer mouse?!
This model is the equivalent of you going to a doctor for a general checkup, and being sent to 10 different specialists (in a few different countries) before getting your bill of health stating “you’re generally healthy but should probably exercise a bit more.” It’s ludicrous! So why do we operate this way in our product supply chains?
If we could implement supply chains that were localized, sustainable, and affordable, now THAT would be a homerun.
So, we embarked on that mission. My team and I have been working for more than six years to bring Tree-Free and petroleum free technology production to the region in which our products are ultimately consumed and discarded. It makes a lot of sense, and sounds pretty simple, right?
The problem is, it isn’t. Over the past 60 years, global supply chains have become so complex, that “no one person actually manufactures a computer mouse.” We overcomplicated one of the most basic premises of supply chain management. If the fastest way from A to B is a straight line, why are we driving all kinds of directions in between?
The supply chain effects of COVID-19 has simply exacerbated an issue that was already coming to the surface. The reality is, consumers want simple. They want truth and transparency. They want to support their local community, their city, and their country with their purchases. They want to know the location of the plant that built their computer. They want to know their meat was sourced and delivered sustainably.
It is time companies rethink their supply chains in a big way. And I don’t mean find a local source just to appease the small “farm to table” crowd. This crowd is now mainstream, and they want solutions fast.
Back to basics means retooling the supply chain of the last several decades and moving into a modern version of “local sourcing”. It means learning from the past and using the best of technology to bring us into the future. Companies that ignore this may regret it sooner than later.
Jaclyn McDuffey is Managing Director at Emerald Brand. Her goal as part of Emerald’s management team is to provide everyday disposables to companies and consumers that are healthy for people and safe for the environment, with a core emphasis on bringing production of Emerald technology to the U.S., putting U.S. farmers in a new industry and bringing manufacturing of sustainable disposables back to the U.S. market.