GSCLG Leader Profile: Ed Collins

Ed Collins is Senior Director of Global Logistics for the wildly popular Crocs™
shoe company: www.crocs.com.
He is that rare breed of senior supply chain management (SCM) executive that has served as a mentor to many and led innovation for some of the most respected brands in the world.

After a 20-year career in manufacturing and distribution with IBM, Ed moved from consultant to UPS to VP Business Development for UPS Supply Chain Services. In 2001, he was one of the initial senior managers of iSuppli, applying market intelligence to electronic component sourcing and SCM. Later, he joined privately held OIA Global Logistics, best known for its innovative supply chain solutions for neighboring Nike Corporation. As Chief Operating Officer (COO) for OIA Global Logistics, Ed Collins instituted an SCM practice, delivering unique buy-move-sell processes for leading apparel and footwear clients sourcing and manufacturing in Southeast Asia and China. He serves on the Advisory Board of www.logisticsfinance.com, which innovated, financing for these solutions.

He holds a BS in Business Administration from San Jose State University, completed IBM's Executive Management Development Program through the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth College, is a highly sought speaker at major SCM industry events, (including GSCLG, CSCMP and APICS) and a co-holder of a US Patent on Logistics Cost Optimization Modeling.


How important is supply chain management (SCM) to your company's overall business strategy?

Extremely Important. Crocs, Inc. is extremely focused on the design, manufacture and distribution of our unique footwear products and accessories. Within SCM, that translates to emphases on implementation of 'next-generation' systems in Distribution, Logistics and Trade Compliance to handle our growth.

To what extent do these initiatives directly support your company's core strategy?

We believe that the distribution of the product is a competitive and margin value that other footwear companies of our size do not enjoy.

How has the amount of time/effort/money your company spends on supply chain initiatives changed over the past few years?

As you might expect, our investment in systems has increased in tandem with and response to, our growth over the past few years. The company grew quickly and our former model was a bit 'strained at the seams'. And we're continuing that investment, bringing in strong middle managers to ensure proactive response to continued growth and necessary systems and process capabilities to stay out in front. We're well on track with integrating WMS to TMS and ITLS systems to our ERP and CRM, now with the proper scope and capacity we will continue to invest in the right tools and team.

Are there initiatives to address the market's increasing focus on 'green' supply chain and reduced carbon footprint?

Yes, predominantly in sustainable packaging, our regional manufacturing strategy and our recently announced SolesUnited program. These initiatives are 'extremely important' within Crocs. Our master outer cartons and inner boxes are 90-100% post-consumer (OCC) recycled content throughout the world. We have also instituted regional manufacturing initiatives to shorten the distance products move to market. The SolesUnited program reclaims worn out Crocs™ shoes, which are then sorted, cleaned, ground into new material, and manufactured into new recycled shoes. Once manufactured, the shoes are distributed to those in need throughout the world. Our ability to reclaim and recycle Crocs™ shoes aids in reducing the number of shoes filling landfills.

How would you rate your company's SCM performance today? (vs. your vision of ideal?)

I'd rate our performance as 'Satisfactory' right now. We have very good relationships with our transportation and sub-contract suppliers. And our investment and work in systems will put us on track.

You mentioned a competitive advantage in distribution and logistics. To what do you attribute your success?

I attribute it very directly to strong, collaborative relationships with our service providers. With our size, scope and growth, obviously their performance is key to our success - and we've been quite demanding. We're very 'hands-on' with them, with multiple meetings every week with key providers. Then there are weekly reviews around systems and process initiatives. It's a very collaborative environment.

What are and what do you think SHOULD be your key SCM priority for the coming 2-3 years?

We're working on the right things and making good progress: systems installation, integration and training. Hiring and training key resources in the newer geographies. Managing metrics.

What do you think SHOULD be your key SCM priority for the coming 5-10 yrs?

It all boils down, short-term and long-term to systems and people, with clear metrics around all of it.

What do you see as the biggest challenge to achieving supply chain excellence?

The biggest challenge in achieving supply chain excellence is people. The US particularly, needs to take on the challenge of 'internationalizing the logistics workforce.' I serve on some academic advisory boards and am continually amazed at the narrowly domestic thinking of otherwise successful students… The systems, documentation, logistics requirements of an increasingly global economy dictate a need for global thinking and international understanding. Internationalizing the logistics workforce is the biggest challenge and biggest opportunity facing us.
March 2008
See the recipients of the 2009 Top 25 Supply Chain Executives Award.