The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 6 months ago

How to Consumerize the Industrial Supply Chain w/ Todd Leebow

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

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, but what you can do is you can consumerize the experience for those that are transacting within the business, and so you can make it more consistent with what we as 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 share about their successes and struggles, and you'll learn from B tob sales and marketing experts about how to apply actionable business development strategies inside your business. Let's get into the show. Welcome to another episode of the Manufacturing Executive podcast. I'm Joe Sullivan, your host and a CO founder of the Industrial Marketing Agency guerrilla seventy six. Stop and think for a moment about some of the best experiences you 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 business buyer. Don't you ultimately want the same kind of experiences there. Just because it's between the hours of nine and five, Monday through Friday, doesn't mean you're no longer a human being. Right. Today's episode is about observing the things that the best consumer brands do to give their customers a great buying experience and then applying them into your be tobe buying environment. I guess today is the 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 two thousand and twelve. A leading steel distribution company. The jestic was founded by Todd's father forty years ago. Todd is since set out to take the smartest elements of innovation from the retail and consumer sector and apply them to the industrial supply chain. Todd recognizes that while the consumer supply chain has been transformed by companies like Amazon over the last decade, the industrial supply chain has lagged due to 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 for customers to order stock and plan their inventory. Majestic is headquartered in Cleveland, with locations in Texas, Tampa and Las Vegas. Todd, welcome to the show. Yeah, yeah, thanks for having today. Awesome, will todd. We are smack in the middle of what's been pure chaos for many companies when it comes to managing the supply chain and is the leader of an organization that's at the center of the steel supply chain. I'm curious, from your perspective, how did we get here and how were we going to get through it? An cass a good way to put it. I think that obviously, and no one can plan for a global pandemic, but I think the pandemic actually exposed a lot of things. I think that there's a lot of blind spots throughout the supply chain that we didn't necessarily recognize and I think that a lot of companies, you know, have legacy supply chains that they've relied on for a long time and a lot of that was driven based upon history and price played a major role versus reliability. So I think coming out of this it's really a focus around reliability, reliable supply chains versus just price, and in prices what you pay, the costs, what you get when you receive 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 our supply chains and assess them and focus on more reliable supply chains. The other thing is technology. Technology creates transparency and visibility and in the industrial marketplace and steal specifically, there's not a lot of that. So you don't necessarily know where your product is when it's arriving. There's a lot of back and forth to 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, that allow 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 the the Bab space and I think we need to, you know, adapt and 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 of this is really, you know, one assessin your supply chains and looking at it from a reliability and total cost of ownership and then to technology having the right 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 perspective on this idea of consume rising the industrial supply chain. You know, if you I read that in your bio, the intro that that we read at the beginning of this but can you tell our listeners more about what you mean by that? Yeah, I mean consumers. Right, you're making a decision on behalf of yourself. So typically you adopt something a lot faster than a business does because within a business, I mean there's many people that are involved in making that decision. And so, from a consumer perspective, you think about how we have evolved in terms of how we communicate, how we get information 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 than what we're doing daily within our businesses. However, we're all consumers, no matter where you are in the organization, whether you're on the procarment side or you're in the plant or you're the executive side of the business. So I think that what we need to be thinking about is how do we learn from that, and I think that as the next generation continues to come into the workforce, they're going to expect that. So they're going to challenge kind of conventional ways of doing business and they're going to expect to be able to do things at their fingertips. You look at the work environment and how it's been disrupted 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 you can consumerize the experience for those that are transacting within the business and so you can make it more consistent with what we as individuals are doing on a daily 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 than a 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 content and data as a currency versus, you know, just our product that we're we're transacting? So I think that taking kind of that thought process and instilling into the the business process. Now, obviously, the the the workflow processes are different. So you know, you have to solve for four different aspects than the consumer marketplace. Yeah, you know, it's something I talked about in my own business a lot as marketing guys is like you, you need 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 your business 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 the you know, the way you just act and behave as a consumer into Your Business World? Is it just makes a lot of sense, but I think maybe 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 the day people do business with people and will never fully replace the role of an individual within a business. But what technology can do is they can create greater efficiency, it can create greater visibility of the decisions that you're making so that you, you know, have better information real time at your fingertips to make decisions. I mean, in reality, the individual should be doing things that are more strategic and things that can be computed through technology should be, you know, handled through technology. So the answers both in that regard. I mean, you look at tech companies, they're not just tech companies. They hire a lot of people and they require...

...some traditional aspect of their business support technology 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, you know, different perspectives and and different industries to apply the success that they had to 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 on this podcast one way or another, and I think you've got sort of a unique perspective on recruiting talent. I heard you say in a previous conversation that the steel industry used to attract America's greatest talent and I know you're passionate about recapturing that. And I know you've also taken the approach at majestic of looking outside the industry to bring in talent from elsewhere. Tech companies, consumer product companies, talk to me about, you know, why disbelief in diversifying talent sources 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 with such an attractive industry to be in at that time, because, I mean we were industrializing and manufacturing was at the forefront of everything that we did and still 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 in terms 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 learn a language. The common language is business and I'm a big believer in diversity of thought and diversity of perspective and experience. And you know, experience takes time and so when you get people that maybe are not as familiar with steel or manufacturing but are familiar with other industries, they could bring that diversity of thought and 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 and at 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 being able to go outside the industry and look at it through a different Lens where maybe, 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 had in terms of, you know, marketing and how they've marketed to their customer base and not just a single thread but multi thread relationships and and so taking some of the successes in those other spaces and applying it to how we think about our business I think is critical and not just kind of the traditional way of 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 that way, and I think that there's an opportunity to bring in diversity of thought and perspective and experience to challenge convention in our businesses as well. There any examples you have from your own business of, you know, when you specifically went out and then, you know, sought talent from this industry or this industry 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 and we'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, we kind of sit in the center of the supply chain, connecting product with users that that need that product to manufacture, habricate or construct, depending on what their business is, and so that to me is is not limiting. And you know, you look at, you know, the world that we're in today in terms of content, in terms of data, in terms of supply chain, from that perspective, the product can be somewhat interchangeable to a degree. And then, you know, understanding the specifics around our product in the market and how it works is is obviously...

...something that can can be learned or applied 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 of how do we use content as a value creator to our customers to give them real time information and, you know, how we see things, so that then they have, you know, information to make decisions rapidly. You know, how do we use data? How do we develop product that is not just in a transactional way, but to be able to use technology as a differential to make it easier for buyers, versus having to go through the traditional loops, to to manage their supply chain. So we also want, you know, we have a mode of majesty, keep building and we want, you know, our customers to keep building. And how do you do that? You keep manufacturing, you keep constructing and you keep doing those things and we want them to focus on that and not get caught up in having to do 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, which I thought was was really interesting. You know, you guys are in the steel business, but think of yourself as a tech company. I can't imagine those 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 so important that companies think of them so of that way. Yeah, I mean if the technology sectors and a great job branding itself as a sector. But if you actually think about it, technology is really a vehicle within your business to 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 technology to advance our businesses. And so if you think about, you know, some of the big you know house named tech companies, there's a lot of traditional aspects to those businesses today. Right they build distribution centers, they have logistics aspects of their business. Will mean that's no different than in our business, you know, we have distribution centers, we have logistics and we're responsible for for moving product. And so they're considered a tech company because they were born out of, you know, technology where they've been able to provide an interface to be able to either manage the INS and outs of their business internally for efficiency purposes, or the relationships with customers and vendors. So I think that, you know, it's critical today that if you're not a tech company, there's going to be someone that comes into your space and is going to disrupt it. And so obviously, you know, if you're in the manufacturing space we're dealing with. You cansible product and in reality, manufacturing is technology. So in terms of, you know, equipment and understanding, you know how your commits running and data on that to create greater efficiency through your plants. So you know, in my opinion, every company needs to think in Athlec a tech company. It for verses you to innovate faster, forces you 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 embedded a 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 terms of the internal efficiencies, but then also the externo relationship with our customers and other stakeholders. So if you're not a tech company today, you're not going to attract the talent and you're not going to move fast enough in terms of how you are thinking about Your Business and Growth and innovation. Can you get specific in terms of what you guys have done at majestic, specifically, whether it's tools you've built out or, you know, technology you've installed inside the company? What have you done to really make yourselves different from, say, the typical more old school industrial supplier. Yeah, so when I started the company I actually started off in inventory management and I recognize that within the inventory management part of the business there's a lot of inefficiency, not only within majestic but 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 the disruptions that we've dealt with in our supply chain on both the supply side and the 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 meant the end of the day, the core to our business is invent for our management and so getting greater visibility and building tools internally to manage our inventory more effectively and be more agile in that process. And that starts with data and really being able to see your business through and through on a daily basis, on a real time basis, and so we built tools. Mean in the beginning, you know, it was kind of taking what we had an inventory position port and then evolving that to a database and then creating something that we call the pulse and and now we have, you know, the Mash, and so we've iterated in terms of how we manage inventory, what we're looking at on a daily basis to track that, and really that just evolved to then developing more web and mobile applications to manage the internal business. We have different hubs within majestic, so our production hub, our freight hub, our supply hub. That allows our internal teams to really see inside our business, and then translating that to the customer, so creating m hub, which is our customer facing tool that gives customers the ability to manage their business real time at their fingertips, attract their orders, be able to see their history, be able to release material and do things like that. And then, you know, Mike's, which is majestic inventory control system, is the acronem there where 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 in terms of costs and and and availability, and so giving them the tools to have greater visibility and to manageing their inventory and it's you know, it's an evolution process, and so we continue to attract talent and and iterate on these products, no different than, you know, you get an update for apps on your phone, for a lot of the you know, APPs that we might use in our daily basis. There's no reason why that we shouldn't be doing that from a business perspective to provide that value to our associates as well as our stafolders and customers side. You've told me that, I think, majestics growing a hundred percent, oh, year over year right now, which is 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 kind of keep moving forward and growing? Yeah, that's a tough trajectory of growth to maintain. So we're doing our two thousand and twenty two planning right now and obviously looking at what the future holds. It's a few things right. So one, during the early stages of Covid you know, we all went through a setback and all of our businesses were disrupted and we had to think differently in terms of how we manage them. But what we did as a leadership team. As we rallied, we prioritize, obviously, the wellbeing and safety of our associates first, but we saw it as an opportunity. So we use the crisis as an opportunity to invest in a position ourselves. You know, we didn't think that this would last forever and we thought that demand would recover. Didn't necessarily see exactly, you know, where it would go. So we use as an opportunity to position ourselves. So as we started the 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 we weren't, you know, using the pandemic as an opportunity to cut costs or or to pull back. We use as an opportunity to position ourselves. And in beast, we also acquire two companies during that time. So we acquired a company into Bada. We acquired a company that has locations in California and and Washington State. So while we've been a national player, we haven't had a stronger presence on the west coast. So that gave us a stronger presence on the west coast to be able to service all of the US and North America with what we believe is a reliable supply chain solution to the market and then the steal them demand and market has...

...been very strong. So I think it's all those factors combined that has led to the growth that we've been able to 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, you know, strive to do at majestic, and so it's it's positioned us well coming out of the pandemic and in two thousand and twenty one, and we know we're a high growth organization. So, you know, we focus on growth and innovation as our as our vision statement within the company, which is critical to, you know, who we want to be, and we're in a mature industry. So you got to do that through value creation and differentiation in the marketplace. Time. Is there anything you want to add to this conversation that I didn't ask you about? No, I mean I think just open into Uja. I mean, you know, you have a unique perspective in terms of marketing the B tob space. Versus the B Toc Space, and I think that you know it's critical. I think sometimes when you look at the industrial space and you think about marketing budget so you think about technology budgets or, you know, talent development, to think that you know, those are 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 really understand your customers and how you engage with them and utilizing tools today. So I 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 you focused on the the industrial and manufacturing space, and I just think that it's an opportunity to really reposition how manufacturing is viewed. Other than that, I mean, you know the steel supply chain specifically, I mean it's kind of the first inline in terms of manufacturing. You know, I call the steel industry is is kind of like, you know, the the godfather of manufacturing in terms of if it wasn't for steel, we wouldn't have the industrialization that we had the last hundred and twenty five years and what it's led to in terms of, you know, cars, washers, driers, heavy equipment, agriculture, construction, HBAC and you name it. And so I think a lot 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 think just kind of under standing that and the importance of manufacturing in America and manufacturing in general is critical as we kind of are going through this global shift in the world that we're in today. So I think there's a great opportunity to kind 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 things like investing in technology and people and in marketing or ways to really grow your company for the future. It's tough because it's a chicken egg situation for a lot of companies. They've, you know, they're trying to meet certain budgets for a 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 them wisely. But if you don't, you can't really expect it to keep growing and moving forward. So yeah, I think you've hit on some things today that are really important when you think about the long term viability and growth of your company. Appreciate the time. Anything else on you're in now. I I'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 guys have a podcast called keep building yourself correct and so talk about all that a little bit and where people can learn more about what all all the things you're up to. Yeah, you can reach me through, you know, linkedin directly 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 information about what's going on, whether it's in the steel market or the broader industrial manufacturing space. And so, you...

...know, we believe in manufacturing, we believe in the future of manufacturing, and so it's really an opportunity for us 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 of for time and how we manage our time, and so we want to provide valuable content. To mean, sitting fifty yard line in the supply chain gives us a unique perspective in terms of what we're able to see and we want to share that with our audience. Great well, Todd, I appreciate you doing this today. Man, appreciate you having me. Awesome and as for the rest of you, I hope to catch you on the next episode of the Manufacturing Executive. You've been listening to the manufacturing executive podcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. 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 for bedb manufacturers at Gorilla Seventy sixcom learn thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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