The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 3 weeks ago

How to Consumerize the Industrial Supply Chain w/ Todd Leebow


Consumers adopt technology faster and adapt their behavior more readily than businesses do. How can we bring those positive consumer traits into manufacturing?

In this episode, I interview Todd Leebow, President/CEO at Majestic Steel USA, about consumerizing the industrial supply chain.

Join us as we discuss:

- Traits of consumers that manufacturing should adopt

- Why convention is the antithesis of innovation

- What changes when we recognize that manufacturing is technology

- Supply chain opportunities exposed by COVID

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Obviously you can't mobilize manufacturing, butwhat you can do is you can consumerize the experience for those that are transactingwithin the business, and so you can make it more consistent with what weas individuals are doing on a daily basis. Welcome to the manufacturing executive podcast,where we explore the strategies and experiences that are driving midsize manufacturers forward.Here you'll discover new insights from passionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories to shareabout their successes and struggles, and you'll learn from B tob sales and marketingexperts about how to apply actionable business development strategies inside your business. Let's getinto the show. Welcome to another episode of the Manufacturing Executive podcast. I'mJoe Sullivan, your host and a CO founder of the Industrial Marketing Agency guerrillaseventy six. Stop and think for a moment about some of the best experiencesyou have as a consumer in the world. What makes those buying processes so positive? Great Customer Service, Availability of information, maybe transparency about pricing,a simple and fast buying experience. Now go to your world as a businessbuyer. Don't you ultimately want the same kind of experiences there. Just becauseit's between the hours of nine and five, Monday through Friday, doesn't mean you'reno longer a human being. Right. Today's episode is about observing the thingsthat the best consumer brands do to give their customers a great buying experienceand then applying them into your be tobe buying environment. I guess today isthe CEO of a steel distribution company that's growing rapidly by doing exactly that.Let me introduce some Todd Leibo took over a CEO of majestic steel in twothousand and twelve. A leading steel distribution company. The jestic was founded byTodd's father forty years ago. Todd is since set out to take the smartestelements of innovation from the retail and consumer sector and apply them to the industrialsupply chain. Todd recognizes that while the consumer supply chain has been transformed bycompanies like Amazon over the last decade, the industrial supply chain has lagged dueto lack of investment in digitization, technology and talent. Under todd's lead,majestic has developed a variety of inhouse innovations that make it quicker and easier forcustomers to order stock and plan their inventory. Majestic is headquartered in Cleveland, withlocations in Texas, Tampa and Las Vegas. Todd, welcome to theshow. Yeah, yeah, thanks for having today. Awesome, will todd. We are smack in the middle of what's been pure chaos for many companieswhen it comes to managing the supply chain and is the leader of an organizationthat's at the center of the steel supply chain. I'm curious, from yourperspective, how did we get here and how were we going to get throughit? An cass a good way to put it. I think that obviously, and no one can plan for a global pandemic, but I think thepandemic actually exposed a lot of things. I think that there's a lot ofblind spots throughout the supply chain that we didn't necessarily recognize and I think thata lot of companies, you know, have legacy supply chains that they've reliedon for a long time and a lot of that was driven based upon historyand price played a major role versus reliability. So I think coming out of thisit's really a focus around reliability, reliable supply chains versus just price,and in prices what you pay, the costs, what you get when youreceive it. So it's not the price is not important the competitive market,but I think that to get out of this we have to look at oursupply chains and assess them and focus on more reliable supply chains. The otherthing is technology. Technology creates transparency and visibility and in the industrial marketplace andsteal specifically, there's not a lot of that. So you don't necessarily knowwhere your product is when it's arriving. There's a lot of back and forthto get that information and so it's not efficient and we need, you know, tools that allow us to have greater...

...visibility into the supply chain, thatallow us to operate more efficiently and in a modern way. I mean,you know, we do that as consumers, but don't necessarily do that in thethe Bab space and I think we need to, you know, adaptand evolve in many ways that we've seen the consumer doy that we're all consumers. We experience that daily. So I think that how we get out ofthis is really, you know, one assessin your supply chains and looking atit from a reliability and total cost of ownership and then to technology having theright tools and visibility and transparency to understand you know where things are and when, when they're going to arrive and how you're managing that to create greater efficiency. Something that caught my attention when you and I first talked was your perspectiveon this idea of consume rising the industrial supply chain. You know, ifyou I read that in your bio, the intro that that we read atthe beginning of this but can you tell our listeners more about what you meanby that? Yeah, I mean consumers. Right, you're making a decision onbehalf of yourself. So typically you adopt something a lot faster than abusiness does because within a business, I mean there's many people that are involvedin making that decision. And so, from a consumer perspective, you thinkabout how we have evolved in terms of how we communicate, how we getinformation today, how we purchase things, how we track that throughout the process, and the way that we behave in a consumer market is very different thanwhat we're doing daily within our businesses. However, we're all consumers, nomatter where you are in the organization, whether you're on the procarment side oryou're in the plant or you're the executive side of the business. So Ithink that what we need to be thinking about is how do we learn fromthat, and I think that as the next generation continues to come into theworkforce, they're going to expect that. So they're going to challenge kind ofconventional ways of doing business and they're going to expect to be able to dothings at their fingertips. You look at the work environment and how it's beendisrupted during covid and you know, things are more mobile and what not.You know, obviously you can't mobilize manufacturing, but what you can do is youcan consumerize the experience for those that are transacting within the business and soyou can make it more consistent with what we as individuals are doing on adaily basis. And so that's really the idea there is, you know,the consumer adopts things the fastest and is willing to change their behavior quicker thana business. And now how do we do that within the business world?How do we make it easier to transact, to track, to then use contentand data as a currency versus, you know, just our product thatwe're we're transacting? So I think that taking kind of that thought process andinstilling into the the business process. Now, obviously, the the the workflow processesare different. So you know, you have to solve for four differentaspects than the consumer marketplace. Yeah, you know, it's something I talkedabout in my own business a lot as marketing guys is like you, youneed to remember that the people you're talking to are just human beings to right, and we we tend to forget that sometimes with when you put on yourbusiness hat and it's like, nope, this the person on the receiving end, is just another person. And so how do you bring elements of theyou know, the way you just act and behave as a consumer into YourBusiness World? Is it just makes a lot of sense, but I thinkmaybe a lot of companies aren't thinking that way. Yeah, I think that, like you said, I mean we're just people and at then in theday people do business with people and will never fully replace the role of anindividual within a business. But what technology can do is they can create greaterefficiency, it can create greater visibility of the decisions that you're making so thatyou, you know, have better information real time at your fingertips to makedecisions. I mean, in reality, the individual should be doing things thatare more strategic and things that can be computed through technology should be, youknow, handled through technology. So the answers both in that regard. Imean, you look at tech companies, they're not just tech companies. Theyhire a lot of people and they require...

...some traditional aspect of their business supporttechnology that they're they're taking the market. So I think that, you know, that's that's the biggest thing is, how do we learn from, youknow, different perspectives and and different industries to apply the success that they hadto a more industrial marketplace? Let's talk about people for a minute here,todd this is a topic that weaves its way into most conversations I have onthis podcast one way or another, and I think you've got sort of aunique perspective on recruiting talent. I heard you say in a previous conversation thatthe steel industry used to attract America's greatest talent and I know you're passionate aboutrecapturing that. And I know you've also taken the approach at majestic of lookingoutside the industry to bring in talent from elsewhere. Tech companies, consumer productcompanies, talk to me about, you know, why disbelief in diversifying talentsources is so important to you. Yeah, those that are from the Midwest,you know, you talked to your grandparents and they have, you know, either they or a relative that worked in the steel industry and steal withsuch an attractive industry to be in at that time, because, I meanwe were industrializing and manufacturing was at the forefront of everything that we did andstill do and required to build and create in the modern world as well.And then the revolution of industry. You know, you've seen things evolved interms of the the technology side of it and I think that, you know, from my perspective, steel and manufacturing it's a language and anyone can learna language. The common language is business and I'm a big believer in diversityof thought and diversity of perspective and experience. And you know, experience takes timeand so when you get people that maybe are not as familiar with steelor manufacturing but are familiar with other industries, they could bring that diversity of thoughtand perspective to our business and our space wall. Then you know,we obviously have a lot of people that have been in the steel industry andat majestic a long time that know that side, and so you need both. You know, you can't have one without the other. But really beingable to go outside the industry and look at it through a different Lens wheremaybe, you know, content was their currency or data was their currency,or how they enge aged with their customers was different, or success they'd hadin terms of, you know, marketing and how they've marketed to their customerbase and not just a single thread but multi thread relationships and and so takingsome of the successes in those other spaces and applying it to how we thinkabout our business I think is critical and not just kind of the traditional wayof how we've always done things. I think that's kind of, you know, the antithesis of innovation is just doing it because we've always done it thatway, and I think that there's an opportunity to bring in diversity of thoughtand perspective and experience to challenge convention in our businesses as well. There anyexamples you have from your own business of, you know, when you specifically wentout and then, you know, sought talent from this industry or thisindustry for a reason, or has it been more that you've just said,hey, we're not just going to look inside of steel or even manufacturing andwe're just going to kind of open this up, open up the talent pool. Yeah, I mean I've looked at it in terms of, you know, we are a supply chain business at our core. You know, wekind of sit in the center of the supply chain, connecting product with usersthat that need that product to manufacture, habricate or construct, depending on whattheir business is, and so that to me is is not limiting. Andyou know, you look at, you know, the world that we're intoday in terms of content, in terms of data, in terms of supplychain, from that perspective, the product can be somewhat interchangeable to a degree. And then, you know, understanding the specifics around our product in themarket and how it works is is obviously...

...something that can can be learned orapplied or we have, you know, ton of of experience in that.So now how do you go and find people that can help in terms ofhow do we use content as a value creator to our customers to give themreal time information and, you know, how we see things, so thatthen they have, you know, information to make decisions rapidly. You know, how do we use data? How do we develop product that is notjust in a transactional way, but to be able to use technology as adifferential to make it easier for buyers, versus having to go through the traditionalloops, to to manage their supply chain. So we also want, you know, we have a mode of majesty, keep building and we want, youknow, our customers to keep building. And how do you do that?You keep manufacturing, you keep constructing and you keep doing those things andwe want them to focus on that and not get caught up in having todo things that we can help them solve for and make it easier. Tied, you told me in the previous conversation that everyone should be a tech company. Was, I think, the quote that I heard from you, whichI thought was was really interesting. You know, you guys are in thesteel business, but think of yourself as a tech company. I can't imaginethose are common words coming from leaders of businesses along the industrial supply chain.So talk more about what you mean by that and why you think it's soimportant that companies think of them so of that way. Yeah, I meanif the technology sectors and a great job branding itself as a sector. Butif you actually think about it, technology is really a vehicle within your businessto manage your business and manage your relationships with your customers or your vendors.So from that perspective, we all need, you know, and rely on technologyto advance our businesses. And so if you think about, you know, some of the big you know house named tech companies, there's a lotof traditional aspects to those businesses today. Right they build distribution centers, theyhave logistics aspects of their business. Will mean that's no different than in ourbusiness, you know, we have distribution centers, we have logistics and we'reresponsible for for moving product. And so they're considered a tech company because theywere born out of, you know, technology where they've been able to providean interface to be able to either manage the INS and outs of their businessinternally for efficiency purposes, or the relationships with customers and vendors. So Ithink that, you know, it's critical today that if you're not a techcompany, there's going to be someone that comes into your space and is goingto disrupt it. And so obviously, you know, if you're in themanufacturing space we're dealing with. You cansible product and in reality, manufacturing istechnology. So in terms of, you know, equipment and understanding, youknow how your commits running and data on that to create greater efficiency through yourplants. So you know, in my opinion, every company needs to thinkin Athlec a tech company. It for verses you to innovate faster, forcesyou to feel like you know there's there's always something chasing you, to always, you know, continuously improved. So majestic, I mean we really embeddeda technology culture and a technology company within our organization. We have product managers, we have engineers and thinking about how then that impacts our business in termsof the internal efficiencies, but then also the externo relationship with our customers andother stakeholders. So if you're not a tech company today, you're not goingto attract the talent and you're not going to move fast enough in terms ofhow you are thinking about Your Business and Growth and innovation. Can you getspecific in terms of what you guys have done at majestic, specifically, whetherit's tools you've built out or, you know, technology you've installed inside thecompany? What have you done to really make yourselves different from, say,the typical more old school industrial supplier. Yeah, so when I started thecompany I actually started off in inventory management and I recognize that within the inventorymanagement part of the business there's a lot of inefficiency, not only within majesticbut across the supply chain, and the...

...key to forecast and is frequency.Right, we can't necessarily predict everything that's going to happen in terms of thedisruptions that we've dealt with in our supply chain on both the supply side andthe demand side of the market, and we see an experience more of that. So it's started there, right in the center of our business and meantthe end of the day, the core to our business is invent for ourmanagement and so getting greater visibility and building tools internally to manage our inventory moreeffectively and be more agile in that process. And that starts with data and reallybeing able to see your business through and through on a daily basis,on a real time basis, and so we built tools. Mean in thebeginning, you know, it was kind of taking what we had an inventoryposition port and then evolving that to a database and then creating something that wecall the pulse and and now we have, you know, the Mash, andso we've iterated in terms of how we manage inventory, what we're lookingat on a daily basis to track that, and really that just evolved to thendeveloping more web and mobile applications to manage the internal business. We havedifferent hubs within majestic, so our production hub, our freight hub, oursupply hub. That allows our internal teams to really see inside our business,and then translating that to the customer, so creating m hub, which isour customer facing tool that gives customers the ability to manage their business real timeat their fingertips, attract their orders, be able to see their history,be able to release material and do things like that. And then, youknow, Mike's, which is majestic inventory control system, is the acronem therewhere where? Really it's how we help our customers manager inventory. You know, maybe you have material coming from multiple suppliers, you have multiple facilities,you're up and the multiple systems, you're dealing with volatility in the market interms of costs and and and availability, and so giving them the tools tohave greater visibility and to manageing their inventory and it's you know, it's anevolution process, and so we continue to attract talent and and iterate on theseproducts, no different than, you know, you get an update for apps onyour phone, for a lot of the you know, APPs that wemight use in our daily basis. There's no reason why that we shouldn't bedoing that from a business perspective to provide that value to our associates as wellas our stafolders and customers side. You've told me that, I think,majestics growing a hundred percent, oh, year over year right now, whichis incredible. You know, obviously you're doing some things right over there.What advice can you give to our listeners during a time like this to kindof keep moving forward and growing? Yeah, that's a tough trajectory of growth tomaintain. So we're doing our two thousand and twenty two planning right nowand obviously looking at what the future holds. It's a few things right. Soone, during the early stages of Covid you know, we all wentthrough a setback and all of our businesses were disrupted and we had to thinkdifferently in terms of how we manage them. But what we did as a leadershipteam. As we rallied, we prioritize, obviously, the wellbeing andsafety of our associates first, but we saw it as an opportunity. Sowe use the crisis as an opportunity to invest in a position ourselves. Youknow, we didn't think that this would last forever and we thought that demandwould recover. Didn't necessarily see exactly, you know, where it would go. So we use as an opportunity to position ourselves. So as we startedthe come out of COVID and and demand for steel skyrocketed, you know,we were well positioned in terms of being able to support it. So weweren't, you know, using the pandemic as an opportunity to cut costs oror to pull back. We use as an opportunity to position ourselves. Andin beast, we also acquire two companies during that time. So we acquireda company into Bada. We acquired a company that has locations in California andand Washington State. So while we've been a national player, we haven't hada stronger presence on the west coast. So that gave us a stronger presenceon the west coast to be able to service all of the US and NorthAmerica with what we believe is a reliable supply chain solution to the market andthen the steal them demand and market has...

...been very strong. So I thinkit's all those factors combined that has led to the growth that we've been ableto experience, and I think that's the biggest thing. Is, you know, you got to make sure that you're managing for the present but always,you know, building for the future, and that's what we always, youknow, strive to do at majestic, and so it's it's positioned us wellcoming out of the pandemic and in two thousand and twenty one, and weknow we're a high growth organization. So, you know, we focus on growthand innovation as our as our vision statement within the company, which iscritical to, you know, who we want to be, and we're ina mature industry. So you got to do that through value creation and differentiationin the marketplace. Time. Is there anything you want to add to thisconversation that I didn't ask you about? No, I mean I think justopen into Uja. I mean, you know, you have a unique perspectivein terms of marketing the B tob space. Versus the B Toc Space, andI think that you know it's critical. I think sometimes when you look atthe industrial space and you think about marketing budget so you think about technologybudgets or, you know, talent development, to think that you know, thoseare areas that are easy to cut, especially in a highly competitive space.But you know firsthand in terms of the value of marketing and and reallyunderstand your customers and how you engage with them and utilizing tools today. SoI think you know that's critical and and so I think that you know,appreciate, obviously all the the content that you put out there and how youfocused on the the industrial and manufacturing space, and I just think that it's anopportunity to really reposition how manufacturing is viewed. Other than that, Imean, you know the steel supply chain specifically, I mean it's kind ofthe first inline in terms of manufacturing. You know, I call the steelindustry is is kind of like, you know, the the godfather of manufacturingin terms of if it wasn't for steel, we wouldn't have the industrialization that wehad the last hundred and twenty five years and what it's led to interms of, you know, cars, washers, driers, heavy equipment,agriculture, construction, HBAC and you name it. And so I think alot of times it gets overlooked in terms of its importance. But without it, you know, we don't necessarily have the manufacturing base. So I thinkjust kind of under standing that and the importance of manufacturing in America and manufacturingin general is critical as we kind of are going through this global shift inthe world that we're in today. So I think there's a great opportunity tokind of refocus on industrial innovation and and that starts and stops manufacturing. Yeah, I agree with you. I mean I think it's you look at thingslike investing in technology and people and in marketing or ways to really grow yourcompany for the future. It's tough because it's a chicken egg situation for alot of companies. They've, you know, they're trying to meet certain budgets fora given year and there's risks. There's always risk involved in growth,right, and you got to choose where to make those investments and make themwisely. But if you don't, you can't really expect it to keep growingand moving forward. So yeah, I think you've hit on some things todaythat are really important when you think about the long term viability and growth ofyour company. Appreciate the time. Anything else on you're in now. II'd love to hear from you where our listeners can get in touch with you, where they can learn more about majestic steel, and I know you guyshave a podcast called keep building yourself correct and so talk about all that alittle bit and where people can learn more about what all all the things you'reup to. Yeah, you can reach me through, you know, linkedindirectly or also, you know, email, at t leve of majestic stillcom.We want to engage with our audience. We want to provide, you know, value content to our customers, perspective, customers and the whole market, and so keep building is really about, you know, providing real time informationabout what's going on, whether it's in the steel market or the broaderindustrial manufacturing space. And so, you...

...know, we believe in manufacturing,we believe in the future of manufacturing, and so it's really an opportunity forus to provide a vehicle to our customers and our audience in terms of,you know, what's going on on. How we see it, you know, there's a lot of content out there today and we're all fighting kind offor time and how we manage our time, and so we want to provide valuablecontent. To mean, sitting fifty yard line in the supply chain givesus a unique perspective in terms of what we're able to see and we wantto share that with our audience. Great well, Todd, I appreciate youdoing this today. Man, appreciate you having me. Awesome and as forthe rest of you, I hope to catch you on the next episode ofthe Manufacturing Executive. You've been listening to the manufacturing executive podcast. To ensurethat you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcastplayer. If you'd like to learn more about industrial marketing and sales strategy,you'll find an ever expanding collection of articles, videos, guides and tools specifically forbedb manufacturers at Gorilla Seventy sixcom learn thank you so much for listening.Until next time,.

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