60 seconds with Paul Evanko, St. Onge Company

Modern spends 60 seconds talking with Paul Evanko, senior vice president and principal at St. Onge, about the biggest issues facing the materials handling industry.

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Paul Evanko, St. Onge Company
Title: Senior vice president and principal
Location: York, Pa.
Experience: More than 40 years in the industry, including 24 years with St. Onge
Primary Focus: Managing partner and project leader in complex distribution and strategic initiatives

Modern: What are the most important changes you have seen over the last 40 years?
The most important has been the recognition that materials handling as an industry is the backbone of the supply chain.

Modern: That wasn’t always the case, was it?
Quite the opposite. When I started out in distribution operations, there was very little interest in automation and no interest in looking at distribution beyond the four walls of the warehouse.

Modern: If you think about the projects St. Onge has been involved with recently, what do you think will be important to your customers over the next three to five years?
I see three big things. First, on the strategic side of the business, there is a merger of inventory optimization with network optimization and design. Companies recognize that bringing those two together is the best way to manage capital and the assets of the supply chain. The second is the ability to do strategic planning for a multi-channel environment, including inventory optimization, with complex distribution going to retail, e-commerce, and business-to-business. That’s the multi-channel effect. There’s an absolute demand for that right now. The third is the design of facilities that can execute a multi-channel strategy. The result is that there’s a lot more automation along with the use of advanced technologies and systems.

Modern: With that in mind, are there any important trends you’re watching?
At St. Onge, we’re watching technologies related to piece picking, which goes to the multi-channel effect. Our customers want solutions that are productive and will allow them to manage seasonal peaks without adding a lot of temporary labor to handle the Black Friday syndrome. We’re looking all over the globe.

Modern: What do you think are the biggest issues facing the industry and users of our solutions?
Labor is the biggest challenge. The ability to control and manage that expense with systems and technology will be increasingly important. Related to that is having a labor force with the skill sets to work with computers, to understand the basic mathematics in inventory control and customer service and not be afraid of them. You can’t have one without the other. And you can’t underestimate the impact of fuel costs on the network design and sustainability issues that companies are trying to face. Those are things companies need to do if they’re going to be successful.

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

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