In April 2018, True Value Company transitioned from a co-op model to a pure-play wholesaler. As a distributor of hardlines (products that are literally hard, like electronics, appliances, and tools), we provide about 90,000 product SKUs to 4,500 True Value stores around the world.
Each store is independently owned and operated and carries its own mix of product SKUs. We’re investing $150 million to transform our supply chain into one that is flexible and adaptable, and will take us into the future. We’re about three years into the five-year program.
From Point to Point to Hub and Spoke
As part of our transformation, we’re moving from a point-to-point to a hub-and-spoke system that gives us the ability to grow. The spokes will stock the fastest-moving items, while the hubs will carry almost all SKUs. Our goal is to optimize our network and efficiently deliver the best service possible to our stores.
Investing in technology
In 2019, it took us just eight months to build a 1.4 million-square-foot facility in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, from the ground up. The new distribution center supports the entire northeast region of more than 1,000 retail locations. We’re also investing in a demand and fulfillment solution that uses advanced algorithms to better anticipate changes in demand.
In 2018, we went live with our new model in the Midwest; one year later, we went live in the Northeast. It’s going incredibly well. With the hub-and-spoke model, our fill rates in the Midwest, measured as first-time fill rate based on lines ordered, are topping 99%. Competitors tend to be in the mid-90s, giving us an advantage.
In fact, more than 600 retailers joined the True Value family during the past few years. They’re attracted by our global brand and lack of stock requirement.
A couple of factors have been key to our success in making these changes. One is a focus on our customers. We’re building a supply chain that can meet our customers’ needs today and is dynamic enough to handle changes, like those created by e-commerce, into the future.
And, in the end, the business case has to come together. Customers come first, and we also have to make sure we’re delivering a return.
I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs; my dad started and sold a sterling silver and china business three times. He also dabbled in antiques and commercial and residential real estate. That background sparked my passion for business.
On the Fast Track
At the University of Florida, I was able to earn a master’s and bachelor’s degrees in 4.5 years. That meant an extra season of football, and more exposure to supply chain education.
I started my career in IT, and then transitioned to a management rotation program, where I concentrated in supply chain. I love working in supply chain. It touches every aspect of the customer experience and always presents new problems to solve.
I also take a lot of pride in mentoring and developing my team. When I joined True Value, I focused on building a culture where people are proud and excited to come to work.
In my career, I have been positioning myself to pivot as needed and take risks. I haven’t had a linear path to success and I believe there’s no linear progression in a career. You create opportunities for yourself, whether lateral or otherwise.
Lyndsi Lee Answers the Big Questions
1. How would you describe your job to a five-year-old?
I make sure what you want is on the shelf when you walk into the store.
2. If you could speed the development of a supply chain-disrupting technology, which would it be and why?
We talk a lot about digitization. It’s still a bit of a buzzword, but I see incredible value in end-to-end, instantaneous transparency, and using analytics to deploy inventory where and when we need it.
3. How has the disruption caused by COVID-19 impacted True Value’s supply chain?
True Value remains focused on keeping our supply chain strong and reliable. Our distribution centers remain open and operating at full capacity at this time. We have implemented a number of virus protection and prevention steps to ensure the health and safety of our associates across our 13 distribution centers.
Lyndsi Lee is senior vice president of supply chain with True Value Company, a leading hardware and home improvement wholesaler.
Responsibilities: Drive end-to-end supply chain optimization, develop integrated planning and logistics strategies, and build best-in-class sourcing programs.
Experience: Division vice president, inventory management and global sourcing, also with True Value; principal, project leader, Boston Consulting Group; manager, merchandising operations, chosen for business leadership program, Home Depot.
Education: University of Florida, BS and MS, decision and information sciences, 2000; Northwestern University, MBA, 2008.
By Karen Kroll
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