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100 Great Supply Chain Partners

I hate to say it, but my teams have never won the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup, the MLS Cup or even made it to the NBA Finals. Hey … I'm batting a thousand! Oh, right - they've never taken the World Series either.

So, I've always had to watch other folks' triumphant gladiators back-slapping and high-fiving after taking the gold in their respective sport. But I must say, it can be contagious. Even when they're not "your" players, you have to feel good for them. When endurance and teamwork pay off, they're entitled to celebrate. And it's great to see that spirit.

In this, our annual 100 Great Supply Chain Partners issue, we acknowledge and celebrate winners of a different kind. Far from the gridirons, rinks, pitches, courts and diamonds, these players have engaged in their own rigorous and demanding teamwork. They may not have watched much, if any, film, but they have plotted, strategized and diagrammed their business game plans. They've matched roles to talents and strengths. They've learned how to work the clock. And in the unique world of supply chain management, they have learned who they can depend on, who the go-to folks are.

In other words, they have partnered up with someone, and in the end, the relationship has been a win-win for everyone involved. Because, like the champions of sport, they've achieved their goals as well: bumping up productivity, containing costs, boosting customer satisfaction. Whatever it is, they have come out on top, victors.

In a post-game world, gracious winners thank those who helped them overcome obstacles and meet their stated aims. The same is true in the 100 Great Supply Chain Partners issue. This is where we celebrate those companies that have been nominated by their partners as someone deserving recognition because their product or service has been of great value to them.

It doesn't matter if the partner excels in logistics, technology or consulting, these 100 nominees are being recognized because they have significantly enhanced and improved the supply chain management of their clients. The SupplyChainBrain editorial staff salutes them and their partners, the customer.

We received thousands of nominations this year, including many multiple nominations for the same company. That no one can compel anybody to take time from their busy workday to send a message to us in itself says something very important about the services these nominees provide: their clients appreciate what they do for them.

Obviously, we can't run all of these comments - compliments, I should say - but we have published quite a few in what we call Spotlights. Here are some examples: "They don't sit on their product but develop refinements continually." "They focus on understanding our culture in order to customize the approach to problem solving." This one's pretty direct: "They improved our S&OP process." But this one - this is money in the bank: "They allowed us to reduce our freight spend and come in under budget by $700K."

Yeah, high-fives all around for that one. But it's just typical of the gratitude that companies feel for the work their partners do for them.  And for themselves, it must be said. Because they are vested in each other's success, no doubt about it. That's what partnership is all about.

In this issue we have highlighted 10 such relationships with case studies. Some of these teammates were relatively new to each other in the beginning, others have partnered for some time. In each case, they worked to make their partners winners, and we think these short features show that.

As always, the scope of the 100 Great Supply Chain Partners issue is truly global. The nominations this year came from companies of every size and description, and the nominees are involved in every aspect of supply chain management. Some of these providers you've undoubtedly heard of, but certainly some will be new to you. Some have reach that far outstrips smaller companies. But here's the point: Each has strengths that it brought to bear on the needs and challenges of its customer. And each did its job so well that the customer clearly feels it emerged as a winner. Hence the nomination as a great supply chain partner.

Here are some specifics about the 100 Great Supply Chain Partners issue. It results from a six-month poll of readers in which logistics and supply chain professionals were asked to nominate providers whose products, services and solutions have made a significant impact on their company's efficiency, customer service and overall supply chain performance. If anything, the list is intended to recognize providers that have so impressed their customers that they deserve to be held up as examples for others in the industry.

Judging by the content of some of the nominations, many clients see this as an opportunity to publicly thank those partners that have helped them achieve better results, and to let the industry know who is making a genuine effort to be a top-notch supply chain partner. From your standpoint, we hope these comments are a useful way to point out services, technology, expertise and support that you can rely on in future.

A careful study of these nominations clearly reveals certain concerns. Take a look at them and see if they don't reflect things of paramount importance to you as well:

What Clients Want Most in Their Providers

1. Reliability - And why not? If your partner fails you, you lose. We see this concern listed first every year.

2. Excellence - Good, better, best. The best companies won't settle for a good provider; only the best will do.

3. Value -  Cost savings is always top of mind when buying any new technology or service, but the most important financial measure is value in terms of increasing sales, production or other revenue-related metric.

4. Expertise & knowledge base - Just how well do you incorporate best practices specific to your customer's industry or market or product? Indeed, how well do you know their business?

5. Problem-solving - Partners must step up, take responsibility and overcome issues that threaten the success of any venture. Failing that, they probably will lose the business.

6. Continuous improvement - Again, it's good, better, best. It's a progression, one that says you can't rest on your laurels.

7. Support - Nominating companies indicate that support is almost as important as the product or service they want from you. So, you had better be able to provide the backup they demand.

8. Positive attitude  - Never say 'It can't be done.' Find a way.

9. Global reach  - It goes without saying that companies looking to do business around the world need partners with a global footprint.

10. Strong leadership -  Why do customers monitor the leadership of their supply chain partners? Because they want long-lasting relationships.

Other points:

• The methodology for the 100 Great Supply Chain Partners nominating process is spelled out on this page. However, very simply, the companies listed here are entirely based on voluntary responses from readers. No one at SupplyChainBrain had anything to do with which companies were nominated.

• We have included 100 vendors simply because it is a manageable number. We actually received nominations for hundreds more. For better or for worse, the number 100 has become the standard for any list of this type.

Conclusion

We thank everyone who participated in this edition of the 100 Great Supply Chain Partners nominations. These vendors of products and services are true partners because they stood with you and helped you achieve your supply chain goals. By putting their names forward, you do more than simply cheer for them. You point out to everybody - especially their competitors - what you expect and require from a partner. That is truly a win-win for everyone in the industry. Thank you again, and we look forward to your participation next year.

Click here for the complete list of the Great Supply Chain Partners for 2011.

2011 Great Supply Chain Partner Case Studies:
C.H. Robinson Worldwide
Unilever
DuPont
Full Circle
StarKist/DSC
Dannon
SciQuest
GasGas
DTNA/Daimler
Prolimit

Methodology for the 100 Great Supply Chain Partners Nominations


The list of partners following this report is based solely on entries voluntarily submitted to SupplyChainBrain.com, where the official nomination form has been posted since early spring. Over the last few months, many readers received emails asking them to participate and directing them to the form. Other readers and users of the web site independently found a link to the official nomination form on the home page. Nominations could only be made using the official web-enabled form that required nominators to identify themselves, their position, their company, their email address and a phone number where they could be reached to verify their responses. For their nomination to be counted, the participants had to provide adequate identifying information to verify their identify and their legitimate role in the industry. Nominations from participants selecting their own companies or closely allied entities were disqualified, as were multiple nominations from the same customer company. Participants could nominate up to three companies and could support their nomination with as much or as little commentary as they wished. To provide more in-depth information for this report, some nominators were interviewed after they submitted their completed forms. We received thousands of qualified responses nominating over several hundred companies. The final list presented here includes the 100 companies that received the most nominations. In the case of ties, the nominations with the most detailed justification were selected.

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