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Reshoring Gains

Posted by lisaanderson Mar 30, 2017

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According to Industry Week and the Reshoring Initiative, after two decades of job losses, we have turned the corner. In 2014, we had a net gain of 10,000 reshored jobs. And, clearly, this is picking up steam especially as we are in the thick of 2017. 


According to the article, South Carolina is the top winner thus far, followed by Michigan and California (surprising; however, since Boeing is the 3rd largest reshoring company, it makes sense), Kentucky and Texas. Walmart and Ford were the top two reshoring companies. There is certainly a buzz with reshoring and near-sourcing.



We've received calls from several potential clients who are evaluating and/or have decided to bring back manufacturing. And, according to my newly released outsourcing/near-sourcing/in-sourcing research study, 70% of executives expect near-sourcing to increase. Stay tuned for the executive summary of the results of this study. In the interim, are you evaluating what makes sense for your supply chain? And, are you preparing for growth in a flexible and agile way?


What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?


If you are interested in taking advantage of this rare opportunity, you must be prepared! Of course, we would not advocate hiring across-the-board in anticipation of potential new volume; however, do you know which of your customers are thinking of bringing manufacturing closer to customers? If so, will your business increase? If not, why not? What can you do to position yourself so that you reap the benefits? Do you know if this will have an impact on your mix? What is it? Start with your customer.


On the supply side, build flexibility and capabilities into your organization so that you can ramp up capacity rapidly to meet changing business conditions profitably. Get your team together and start thinking through these topics. And contact us if you'd like to gain the experience of a manufacturing business transformer who can partner with you to focus resources and attention on those priorities that will drive dramatic results.

effective leadership.jpgThe 80/20 of business success stems directly from leadership. The best leaders can make even the worst-performing teams excel and, unfortunately, the weakest leaders can drag down even the best of teams. A few questions to ponder include:

1.  Does your culture encourage empowerment? Regardless of what you say, do people believe they will be rewarded for empowering employees?


2.  Do your managers jump to answer questions or give their employees a chance to shine?


3.  Do you communicate empowerment but would get upset if your employee made an empowered decision that created a month-end shipping crisis? 


4.  Do your employees understand the guidelines within which they can make an empowered decision?


5.  Are you willing to live with and vocally support an empowered decision that doesn't align with how you would have handled the situation? 



Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to Profit Through People:

Empower Your People to Grow

Develop a Talent Edge

winning students.jpgThe APICS Southwest District recently hosted 23 teams in San Diego from the Western United States, Hong Kong and Mexico in a student case competition to solve computer-simulated supply chain problems, provide analysis and present their recommendations. Undergraduate team Harvey Mudd College won the top spot representing the Southwest District in the national competition in San Antonio, Texas. These simulations challenged students, most with backgrounds in operations management, supply chain management, business management, industrial engineering, or MBA students, to create solutions to the problems posed and provide the rationale for their recommendations. Their work cumulated into judged presentations explaining their strategies and proposed outcomes.


“I am always impressed with how well the students perform, and this year was no exception – in fact, they raise the bar higher every year,” explains APICS West Coast Student Case Competition co-chair Lisa Anderson of LMA Consulting Group, Inc. “This is such an excellent opportunity for students to showcase their supply chain and business management problem-solving talents and presentation skills to their peers, professors and potential employers. I am especially thrilled because Harvey Mudd is an APICS Inland Empire Chapter student team.


Winning team member Katherine Shim of Harvey Mudd College was thrilled with the outcome, stating, “It was exciting to see the theories we learned at school working. It was a great opportunity to experience the power of teamwork and the effectiveness of a rigorous technical approach. Harvey Mudd College educates their students to become creative problem solvers who also effectively communicate with others as leaders.”


As in previous years, there were two separate divisions – a Graduate and an Undergraduate division. Ten teams competed in the graduate division, and 13 teams in the Undergraduate division. Arizona State University took first and second place in the Graduate division. Undergraduate division winner was Harvey Mudd College with second place awarded to San Diego State University. Harvey Mudd College received the highest overall score and will be invited to compete at a case competition at the APICS International Conference & Expo in San Antonio, TX in October, representing the Southwest District.


“The opportunity to apply supply chain principles has helped me achieve a deeper understanding and gain confidence in my skills,” shared Harvey Mudd student Joe Sinopoli. “I appreciate the resources that APICS provided to help us prepare. The environment of the competition was collegial, welcoming, and wonderful for networking. The shared knowledge and opportunity to hear ideas from students at other institutions has benefited my education.”


Saagar Anand, of Arizona State University, felt the competition provided valuable practical experience. "The simulation called for a deep understanding of what it takes to make a business profitable. We focused on getting to the root cause of the problem and used data analytics to make our decisions. The competition was one of the best I have attended as it simulated a real-world business situation by making us present to the Board of Directors. We had to explain the decisions we made and answer questions. It also fostered a good learning environment as one could see what other teams had done differently.”

Fellow ASU student, Moose Fritz, agreed, saying "The APICS West Coast student case competition was a tremendous experience which built upon the traditional analytical requirements of a simulation competition, demanding both teamwork and communication skills. This holistic learning system, combined with the chance to meet and network with professionals in the field, made this one of the most valuable experiences I have had at any level of education.”


Judging was provided by APICS professionals with extensive experience in supply chain and operations management with 50 percent of the final score focused on the return on investment results from their computer-simulated exercise and the other 50 percent graded on presentation effectiveness.


"Student case competition is about leadership, decision making, strategic thinking and communication. What a great experience for the students!” Prof. Kash Gokli, Professor of Manufacturing Practice at Harvey Mudd College.


The annual competition provides students with experience working as a team to solve supply chain issues that take place in companies today. Participants are able to showcase their talent for fellow students, professors and future employers. The event was coordinated and chaired by the APICS Southwest District Student Case Competitor Chairs APICS-IE and LMA Consulting Group president, Lisa Anderson and The ACA Group’s Ellen Kane.


For more information on the competition, visit the APICS Southwest District Webinsite.




Recently, when I was in New York, I had the opportunity to walk down Times Square (pictured below). The people, the buzz and the lights are amazing — almost no matter what time you take a stroll. There is a certain appeal of the advertisements. TV shows that you didn't care about previously look more enticing as they flash by on nearby buildings. Store advertisements seem more appealing than they do in print, on-line or on TV. Do you wonder why? There is a marketing appeal to walking in Times Square. How can we create this with our companies?


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One tip to implement this week:


No matter our job, we are all in the marketing business. Who doesn't want their product, services, projects or even their own image to be attractive? It is why there are so many marketing resources working to help create the "right" image. It is also why services such as LinkedIn are so popular. What can you do to create the best image?


Start by getting clear on what benefits/outcomes your products, services, projects and people achieve. People do not care about what you want to convey; they care about what is in it for them — of course. So, how can you help them? Or how can you make them feel good? Times Square makes many people feel energized and excited. How can you create that sort of excitement about your product or service? Or, how can you make a potential employer or customer feel like they would be fortunate to do business with you? Simply start by getting clear on 1, 2 or 3 reasons. Then, you can move on to how to convey those reasons in a compelling manner.


Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”



Earlier this week, I participated in the CEO Summit hosted by the University of La Verne. I moderated a session on leveraging the supply chain for growth and profitability (see one shot of us below), and I am a Board member for the College of Business and Public Management, and this is our key event of the year. The keynote speaker, Karen Caplan, CEO of Frieda's Specialty Produce started her speech off by noting the power of connections. She attributed her connections and networks as significant to her success. How does your network stack up?


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I can personally attest to the power of connections. When I started my business 12 years ago, I had few connections — high quality and vital but few in numbers. Thank goodness as they are the reason I'm here today — thank you Vicki, Sandi, Debra, Brenda, Mike, Dave, Paul, Liz, Keith, Bill, Jolene, Ann, Kathy and a few others. Beyond the first few years, I would have failed (as do the vast majority of small businesses) if I hadn't valued the power of connections. Fast forward 12 years later, and I have a vast network of high-quality people from several different affiliations, clients and colleagues that seems to grow every day. In looking at my webpage, I see I have a few more updates — the Drucker School and the University of La Verne. I can attest that my success is derived from these connections.


One tip to implement this week:


No matter how few or how many connections you have currently, you should ALWAYS be thinking about seeking out a few more high-quality connections. Even if you believe you have none, it isn't a problem. Find someone you think you could add value to from a business perspective and start a conversation. You might find that there are synergies there. 


It is NOT all about the numbers; quality is more important than quantity. Take your time to develop and maintain relationships with your high-quality connections. When I first started, there is NO way I could have succeeded even if I had 1,000 connections if they were not high quality. Look for quality. And, remember, it isn't all about you. What can you do for them?


Lastly, take time out of your day to focus on these relationships. They will not maintain themselves. I realize we are all "too busy" but we never can be "too busy" for our key relationships. Make it a priority.



Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”

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According to CFO, Duke University and CFO Global Business Outlook Survey suggests strong optimism! In fact, the survey's optimism index for the quarter jumped to 69 (on a 100-point scale) which is the highest level in 14 years. This is also significantly higher than the long-run average of 60. Businesses are optimistic.


61% plan to increase their payrolls this year and 4% wage hikes are expected. Even more noteworthy is that capital spending is expected to increase by 6% vs. a median of 3% and a flat/negative spend in 2016. Are you ready?

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What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?


Good news abounds. However, the tricky part is that the vast majority of our clients struggle to sustain successful growth (profitable, high service levels etc.). We don't enjoy layoffs and recessions but they can be simpler to manage. Are you ready for growth?


Our most successful clients prepare for growth. They invest in infrastructure with enough lead time to implement successfully BEFORE they must have it. This could refer to systems, technology, people, training and development, process improvement techniques, culture and change initiatives and more — of course, it depends on your business. Undoubtedly, this is easier said than done! One of these initiatives that is geared especially well to growth is SIOP (sales, inventory, operations planning). SIOP programs are focused on forecasting demand, collaborating with customers and aligning with staffing, capacity, systems and process infrastructure, training and development and so on. If you'd like to talk about preparing for growth, contact me.



enterprise resource planning.jpgERP systems often fail to live up to their promise — even in the best of circumstances. It is a tough environment — software suppliers are consolidating, the smaller ones can disappear or get gobbled up in a moment's notice, good resources are hard to find, and the list goes on. Yet there is no choice but to proactively address this topic to have a scalable business and to meet customer expectations as you get to a certain size and complexity. Thus, it is worth-while thinking about whether you are prepared:

  1. Do you fully understand your business requirements and specifically your critical success factors (from a company, industry and ERP functionality perspective)?
  2. What safeguards do you have in place to avoid getting excited about non-essential bells and whistles that seem important at the time but are not critical to your growth and profitability? Be honest!
  3. Do you know what questions to ask to dig deeper into down-the-line impacts of functionality options? Overlook this step and it is likely you'll be gravely disappointed later.
  4. Do you have software and implementation cost estimates for what you can expect for your software tier? Would you know if your deal sounds "too good"?
  5. Do you know the qualities to dig into to be assured that your implementation resources are best suited for success?



Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:


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According to Industry Week, the Fed's survey of the economy expressed optimism; however, it also noted that labor markets are tightening. Since I'm also embarking on refreshing my 2013 Skills Gap research report, thus far, I've noted the same concerns for high-skilled positions.


I hear far less conversation about lower-skilled positions when it comes to availability (instead I hear about minimum wage concerns); however, the vast majority of my clients require higher-skilled positions. In these cases, it is not always easy — or even attainable — to find the resources needed on a timely basis. What are you doing to get ahead of this curve?



What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?


As we've discussed previously, if nothing else, manufacturing is in the news on a daily basis. There is a buzz! And, companies are promoting when they make a decision to source in the U.S. Additionally, regardless of policy changes (taxes, regulation, border tariffs), manufacturing was already coming back to the U.S. and nearby geographies (near-sourcing) because the total cost of non-commodity products is coming into closer alignment AND customers are demanding rapid deliveries, customization and flexibility. Lastly, automation and technology are on the rise; thus, high-skilled positions are in demand!


To thrive in this new world, we must get ahead of this curve. Finding, retaining and developing top talent must become a strategic priority. There are plenty of ways to achieve ALL THREE. Focusing on 1 without the others will no longer be sufficient. Those who pursue innovation, strategic partnerships, alliances and programs will be the ones to succeed. Get your head out of the sand, get your team together and take action if you want to be one with the resources to thrive in 2020.

customer service.jpgIn almost every client, trade association and trusted advisor meeting I attend, service emerges as a hot topic. In today's Amazon-impacted world, our expectations are high. Although we might not complain, good service is no longer sufficient.


If you don't meet and frequently exceed expectations, you will lose customers. There are countless options available and loyalty runs only so deep. Thus, it makes sense to put aside time to think over key questions with your team:


1. Who is responsible for customer care in your organization? Are they able to impact service?

2. How do you measure servicing success? And how does it align with how your customers measure it?

3. Are your employees empowered to handle requests without annoying approvals that delay the customer?

4. Do you view ALL people who interface with the customer as key to customer satisfaction? For example, the truck delivery personnel, the technician and the doorman?

5. Do you know what your customers value — delivery on-time, in complete, quick turnaround, frequent communications, suggestions that aid the customer, etc.?



Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to be the Strongest Link in your organization:


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Earlier this week, I participated in a manufacturers' roundtable and tour at Combustion Associates as an APICS Inland Empire chapter event. It was an enlightening conversation and tour since the products and services are quite unique and the power of collaboration shined through at every point in the process. See a few of APICS-IE Board member colleagues pictured below. (Tony, we missed you for the photo!)


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Not only did Kusum Kavia (EVP of Combustion Associates) make sure it was an interesting event, she invited a wide variety of colleagues from international resources to government officials to local manufacturers to participate with our APICS-IE members. They showed a clip of former President Obama talking about Kusum, and it spoke to her amazing power of collaboration and partnership. Are you thinking about what partnerships can do for you?


One tip to implement this week:


Collaborating can be one of the simplest of goals and one of the hardest at the same time. Somehow, collaboration seems quite simple yet is rarely achieved to a significant degree. Just as Kusum has shown with her participation and support of countless collaboration partners, we should pursue the power of collaboration.


Start with your top collaboration partners. Who is important to your success? Who should you be appreciating? Think about all of your collaboration partners and pick your top few. Next get in touch. Don't send an email. Pick up the phone and ask to get together. Start your new approach to collaboration by meeting in person. Listen to what your collaboration partner wants to achieve, and think about how you can help him/her. For now, just focus in on how you can add value to your top few collaboration partners. This alone will go a LONG way.


Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”


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Well, let's start with a definition of digitization. According to, McKinsey defines it as technologies that virtualize and automate products, services and supply chains. We certainly hear about digitization in the news frequently; however, according to McKinsey, even though CIOs embrace it, digitization is a slow-moving process.


On the other hand, don't see this as an opportunity to take a break. According to McKinsey, 49% of the leading companies are investing in digital more than their counterparts do, compared with only 5% of digital laggards. Perhaps it is an opportunity to leapfrog the competition?



What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?


Digitization isn't going to take over our day-to-day operations anytime soon; however, if we want to lead in our industry and provide exceptional service to our customers, we better get ahead of this curve, no matter how slow-moving at the moment. If Amazon has proved anything, it is that everything can change in a heartbeat. Thus, we should get our strategy going and think about what digitization would make sense in our industry. What would help us provide a superior customer experience? I find that is always a good place to start to spur thinking.


It also makes sense to research the best practices in digitization (regardless of industry). After all, if it is a slow-moving process, we cannot rely on our competition and colleagues to be on the leading edge to push us to innovate. Instead, we need to explore what's working for completely different industries and think about how it could apply these ideas to our industry. With that said, be selective and smart. Do your due diligence but don't get overly excited about digital technology that won't provide a competitive advantage or significant value for your organization. Empower your people to open their minds and ideas will flow. You'll find a gem out there somewhere.


collaboration.jpgCross-functional collaboration can make or break success. No matter how well a particular department or team performs, it is largely useless if done in isolation. Just like a car won't go if you press the accelerator and the engine isn't connected properly, a company won't achieve results if the units and people aren't connected properly.

Here are a few questions to ponder: 

1.  On a cross-functional project with two department teams, can one team/department be viewed as successful if the other one      isn't? 

2.  Do your teams attempt to talk in the other team's preferred style or in their own?

3.  Do the teams understand the objective and why cross-functional collaboration is required?

4.  Are team members rewarded for individual success or for cross-functional success?

5.  Are there opportunities provided to learn collaboration and communication skills?


Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to strengthen your Eagle Eye:


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The Hidden Benefit of Observation



Earlier this week, I went to Carmel, California for a strategy session. While there, I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and saw the California beauty after a winter season of a lot of rain (see the picture below for one of the fabulous views).


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Do you take time out of your busy schedule to think about the future? It helps to get away (even if you just leave the office for the day) to empty your mind for strategic thinking. Have you been able to do that lately?


One tip to implement this week:


If you are a leader, schedule time for your executive team to get away and put time into strategic thinking. These days, you'll be fortunate to think of strategy a year out as the world is changing at an increasing rate. However, because we are so overloaded only a daily basis, it also is more important than ever to take time to think about your business so that you are leading the business instead of the business leading you. It is hard to take leaps forward if you don't take time to think about them. And, if you aren't growing, you are declining.


If you are an employee, you can take time out at lunch to sit in a park or get away for a weekend to think. I bet you have far more control than you realize. Bring ideas to your manager, sketch out plans and run them by peers. You never know what you could accomplish. And, you are ALWAYS in charge of your career. What else would you like to learn? What experiences would you like to have? Pursue them.



Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”

Trump has proposed a rather dramatic increase in defense spending. His proposed $20 billion boost in military spending isn't pocket change and will have a dramatic ripple effect on manufacturers across-the-board. It doesn't matter what gets approved in the end — the direction is clear.


How will defense spending impact your business? Waiting for final approval before considering how to leverage this opportunity seems foolhardy! FYI I love the picture below as it reminds me of one of my all-time favorite shows, JAG.


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What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?


When military spending increases, defense-related manufacturing booms. It isn't rocket science to figure that out; however, it can be tempting to wait too long for confirmation of orders. Instead, what should you do to position yourself effectively to gain potential government contracts? Find out. Start putting those pieces in place.


If you are in the supply chain, find out how well-positioned your supply chain partners are to gain volume. Collaborate to help them gain the business. Prepare for success. Even if your partner doesn't gain the business, perhaps others will come to you if you are ready to MOVE rapidly.


Also, think about your down-the-line supply chain partners. Get them up-to-speed on the opportunity. Make sure they are thinking about how to support your growth. Evaluate capacity and perform readiness assessments as needed to make sure your supply chain is ready to deliver. Don't forget about other partners such as logistics and financial partners. There is no downside in being proactive. The worst case is you'll have to find new opportunities. I find that my clients that plan for success CREATE success. Start thinking big and give it a go.

raised hands.jpgSituation: Our client had a select few high performers in their organization amidst a sea of average performers and a few non-performers. As is typical, all the attention went to resurrecting the non-performers as problems followed them wherever they went. Angry customers. Lost profit. Etc. At the same time, the high performers were frustrated by the slowness of progress and concern for their future.

Path Forward: The solution can be quite contrarian to what 80% of leaders follow. Forget about your non-performers. Stop spending time trying to resurrect poor performers. Give them tools to perform, hold them accountable and move them out if they don't rise to the occasion. Do NOT be skittish about confronting reality, coordinating with attorneys and the like. 

Instead, provide a generic level of attention to your average performers and utilize techniques like train-the-trainer (that do not require significant personal attention) to give these folks opportunities to rise into the high performer range. 

Instead, focus your attention on your high performers. Ask questions. Listen. Provide tools and support. Pay attention. Make sure they know they have high potential and that you have high expectations. Soon, your results will move at a pace you didn't think was possible.


Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to Profit Through People:


Empower Your People to Grow


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