Supply chain connects the Miami Valley

Chicago is ‘my kind of town.’

Years ago, my dad occasionally had business there (all legal of course, you know, the organized crime stuff) and would bring the family along always staying in The Loop at the Executive House.

It still exists after many a name change, but it was all coming back to me this past week while working “ProMat 2017” at McCormick Place, which if you think of our convention center in downtown, it’s times 10 here. Yuge!

The event gathers some 50,000 folks over four days with hundreds of vendors showcasing conveyor systems, fork lifts, drones, wrapping devices, scanners, containers … on and on.

Wait, you’re saying, aren’t you Buchtvguy? Yep, but on top of being a TV spokesperson, ad agency, emcee, and urinal cake replacer, I also act as a moderator which is what I did for Softeon, a software industry leader in supply chain technology.

And like TV news stories from my past life, I had to cram like a final to know “a little about a lot.”

So, supply chain is explained this way: You go on-line, order stuff on Amazon and it arrives hopefully lickety-split.

But what goes on behind the scenes to get your package from point A to B, plenty.

Yep, the future is here.

With e-commerce killing brick and mortar stores, eventually this is where everything will go, and if the aforementioned B&M’s don’t begin changing with the times, they’ll be out in the cold retail waste land.

We’re already seeing it with Sears and other retailers closing stores or downsizing. Just look around … more to come.

Back here in Dayton and the Miami Valley, some companies are all over it. They want to be at the top of the food chain in the supply chain.

Nate Bucher is with Growth Dynamics Inc., in downtown Dayton. The company primarily deals with sales organizations of packaging, material handling, tool cutting, automation, and even the technology manufacturers that connect all of those systems.

By the way, truth in disclosure, Nate is my third cousin, so nepotism is alive and well. He says, you think it’s a small world now, look out.

“The world is moving toward being completely connected,” he said. “To me that means we will be even more conditioned to instant access and gratification. I have come to learn that Amazon is a dirty word for a lot of people in this industry. But look at what they are doing with drones and instant delivery. This platform works in theory with almost every distributor across many industries.”

Remember a time when Amazon was a possible flash in the pan? Well, turns out they were the fuel for the fire.

“I could see larger distributors centralizing inventory like a large Amazon warehouse, yet still being able to deliver in the same or faster amount of time, and once companies can harness the technology of ‘blockchain’ they will be the leaders across the industry. It has been said to be the largest disruption in every industry over the next couple of decades, more impact than social media, AI, and robots,” Nate said. He obviously received my “smart” genes.

He also shares the middle man could be a thing of the past.

“Manufacturers are setting up their own e-commerce online to try and compete with the other channels. To me this is just the beginning. We will see a massive change over the next five 5 years. Companies will need to adapt. My advice is to entrepreneurs and companies is to create Nextflix not Blockbuster,” Bucher said. (Nate, not Jim.)

Phil Hoffheimer, owner of Revo-Products, LLC in Dayton, was here at ProMat to speak with cart manufacturers about his product.

He said this is mind blowing stuff, but whoa there pardner, don’t write off your neighborhood retail store quite yet.

“This will be useful in the future, but companies have to invest in training to make sure employees can maintain them. The Dayton area is primed to make and maintain this technology, with the Air Force Research Labs and the universities there could be a lot done. However, if they don’t work together well there will be lost business/money. E-commerce has grown tremendously, but 93 percent of retail is still done in-stores, people want an experience and stores want the random buys and up-sells.” Phil said.

Nate respectfully disagrees, “If your dream is to be in retail you may find yourself living in a densely populated city that can withstand the disruption. We are accustomed to convenience and for me I will have it delivered.”

Speaking of, gotta go. My drone is here with my pizza!


Jim Bucher is a freelance columnist for Greene County News.

Jim Bucher is a freelance columnist for Greene County News.