Director – Marketing and Business Development

16 years ago I was working a retail job and taking college classes, at night, and had never heard of the Material Handling or Supply Chain Industries.
I was only a few semesters away from graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and decided I needed to find an office job to gain some professional experience, so that when I graduated I would be in a better position to find “real” job. I went to a Temp Agency to help me find a professional position that would enable me to gain some experience. They sent me to a Company called Associated to interview for an Office Assistant Position. During the interview the HR Manager, at the time, explained to me that Associated was a provider of Material Handling Equipment. I remember leaving the interview thinking, what is Material Handling and why would I want to work in it?
As it turns out, I was offered the job and began working for Associated in January 2001 as their Office Assistant. Little did I know at the time that this was the start of a long career in supply chain! In the beginning I enjoyed the office environment and learning new skills but I also never thought this is where I would build my career. This was mostly because I has always wanted to be in Marketing and really though that an Advertising Agency would be a more exciting career path for me. However, that all changed once Mike Romano, our new President, and inaugural recipient of MHI’s Mentor Award, came to Associated in 2005.
Even though I was enjoying my time at Associated I did not see a future for me there and as such I had been looking for a new job where I could apply the Marketing knowledge I gained in school. In fact, I had found a new job around the time that Mike started. However, I was so impressed by his passion for the industry and his belief that Marketing could be a strategic function within the organization that I decided to stay and see what we could accomplish.
Under his mentorship I started to understand what a substantial impact Associated and the Material Handling Industry, as a whole, had on Supply Chain. I could not believe how this industry that impacted our everyday lives was virtually unknown by the general population! It wasn’t until I understood the size, breath and impact of this industry that I truly became passionate about what we do and how we help to improve the quality of life of people all around the world! This realization made me more determined than ever to help draw more attention to the industry and the strategic value we provide.
This new found determination was reflected in my work as we developed and implemented initiatives that were unlike anything the industry has seen. It is because of these efforts and a very talented support team that I was soon promoted to Marketing Supervisor, then to Marketing Manager and most recently to Director of Marketing and Business Development in 2015. Over this time, we have developed one of the most respected full scope marketing function in the Raymond organization and arguably our industry. We have taken a Marketing function that 15 years ago was essentially responsible for providing sales collateral, to one that now manages our corporate initiatives related to CRM, Social Networking, Customer Satisfaction, Brand Development, Advertising and Lead Generation/Management.
Additionally, because of my passion for this industry and the effects it has on consumers as well as the global economy I have taken a leadership position in providing more visibility to the industry and the vast career paths it offers, though my work as the Marketing Chair for the CSCMP Chicago Board, MHEDA’s Sales and Marketing Networking Group and Loyola’s Supply and Value Chain Center. These organizations have allowed me to continue to learn about this rapidly changing industry as well as to meet people from all spectrums of the Supply Chain.
I had always know that I had a love of Marketing but if you told me 16 years ago that I would be able to make a career of it in this industry I would not have believed it. Today, my commitment to this industry and all the value it provides is stronger than ever! I have learned a lot along the way and still have a lot to learn but I wake up every day excited about the endless possibilities available within the Material Handling and Supply Chain Industries!

Shari Altergott

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Working in the supply chain – something for almost everyone

When I started working in the supply chain, way back in 1982, I didn’t realize it was actually the supply chain! I thought I was simply entering the family manufacturing business. As long as I was focused on the happenings inside our “four walls”, I remained unaware of the role I was actually playing in the supply chain. Eventually it hit me – my company is one of many thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) that comprise this overarching industry we call the supply chain.

Companies directly involved in the transport of materials are more readily seen as supply chain participants. Transoceanic shipping, railroads, trucking companies, and the huge entities that move smaller packages all fit the profile. But my company makes industrial wheels, casters, and non-powered in-plant carts and trailers. Our products find their way to warehouses, factories, and distribution centers where they engage in the movement of materials inside large buildings. All of those spaces are part of the supply chain.

In our company, we have engineers who design the products we make, and frequently address special requirements by designing custom products. We also do extensive testing of wheels and casters. This involves operating different types of testing equipment, plotting results on graphs, and analyzing results to learn more about the products themselves. Design and testing rely on creativity as well as solid technical knowledge.

Others purchase materials for our products. It may sound simple, but getting the right materials in the correct quantities when they are needed can be a real puzzle. There are many material requirements and specifications. Our warehouse space is limited, so buying in vast quantities is not a possibility. Besides, that ties up too much cash. But we can’t allow ourselves to run out of anything, either. Hence, the purchasing challenge. Have enough of everything we need on hand, but not too much.

Our production departments use the materials to make our products. There are literally thousands of different parts, and then many different types of machinery used in the manufacturing processes. The science of welding and the technology of turning parts on lathes make every day interesting. There are always new developments in cutting tools to achieve maximum productivity with minimum tooling cost. Welding robots are also fascinating, and they demand very consistent parts to work properly. Finding or developing skilled workers is the latest hurdle in the production world.

Machinery and equipment looks to maintenance to keep it up and running. Just like the cars most of us use to get to and from work, we need our machines to run when we need them. Maintenance must be able to react quickly to the unexpected and also follow a strict system of preventive activities to minimize the unexpected.

Virtually every company has salespeople. We have some “inside” who work in the office every day. There are others, “outside” salespeople, who travel considerably. All of them are product experts, and are adept at listening to or observing pain points and then proposing solutions to resolve the pain. To be successful in sales, one must be a skilled communicator and a problem solver.

Production control in our company is like running a three-ring circus. Matching customer desires with production capabilities is an endless challenge. They must juggle shifting requests and expedites with production resources and available materials. Our production workers are human, and sometimes call in sick or take vacation. Production control must make adjustments for this, too.

For those who love to crunch numbers, our company has a financial component. It engages virtually every aspect of our business. From payables to receivables, from payroll to month end closeout, our financial team must stay on top of all the numbers.

Every company, and practically every household these days, has technology. We’ve come from days when some of our office staff shared a computer to the point where most now engage two or three screens simultaneously. Computers have become the lifeblood of business, and frequently are backed up with battery power and/or generators so they keep functioning even when the electricity isn’t. There are daily computer glitches, printer problems, and software issues. We call this function “information technology.” Whatever it might be called, it is vital.

Keeping our company name in front of prospective customers, and keeping tabs on the shifting demands of those customers by providing new products, belong to marketing. There is a website to maintain, blogs to oversee, printed materials to keep fresh, and industry trends to follow.

Today I find myself in management, responsible for everything that happens within our company. Through my career I have filled several of the positions described previously, and learned invaluable lessons along the way. I know we all have to work as a team to achieve success. I know that business is about people, and we must treasure them and their potential. I know that people skills are at least as important as technical skills, and that both are critical for success. And I know that no one should be bored working in the supply chain – there is seemingly endless variety in tasks and opportunities.

The supply chain is much bigger than most people imagine. Many who work in the supply chain don’t recognize it. There are innumerable types of jobs in the supply chain. Without us, not much happens commercially. In the case of my company, we make things that most people never notice. But without wheels and casters, much of the supply chain skids to a halt. In many ways, the supply chain is practically endless. So are the opportunities and challenges.

Dave Lippert

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Enter to Win the 2017 Face of Supply Chain

MHI invites you to represent the 2017 Face of Supply Chain by sharing your #iWorkInTheSupplyChain story. Let us know what you proudly do or will do in your career and how you got into the industry. Explain how a career in supply chain has influenced or will influence your company, family or community. Demonstrate the opportunity you have to make a difference and inspire us with your unique story!

Your piece will help showcase the supply chain’s impact on the economy and continue to promote the supply chain as a thriving, growing industry. We are looking forward to your entry to help connect, engage and inspire next-generation workers to pursue manufacturing and supply chain careers.

Participants must be employed in the supply chain field or must have ties to the supply chain (i.e. family, recently retired, in school for a supply chain career, etc.). To enter complete your blog or video entry here. Entries will be accepted through March 4, 2017. If you choose to submit a blog, don’t forget to include a photo of yourself!

The winner will be announced at ProMat 2017 and receive national recognition. For more information visit our about page.

Submit your story now!

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