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The Unisource Truck

Published on September 19, 2011

Cary Sherburne sits down with Ed Farley of Unisource at GraphExpo to ask, what's up with the truck?

Cary Sherburne:  Hi, I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com and I'm here with Ed Farley who is Senior Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications for Unisource Worldwide.  Good job.

Ed Farley:  Some days.

Cary Sherburne:  And we’re here at Graph Expo and what’s with the truck?  I saw this big truck out in the – down there.  What’s the deal with the truck?

Ed Farley:  About eight years ago, Unisource embarked on a strategy of moving to operational excellence.  And really in the last year after we’ve really achieved operational excellence, really with the foundation of our logistics programs, we’ve moved to a customer solutions in a global market.  And really what that is is providing a wide range of different solutions to customers, not only in Canada and the US but really across the world.  And we have resources in China, Indonesia, throughout Europe, Poland, Belgium, England.

Cary Sherburne:  Latin America.

Ed Farley:  Along with Latin America where we’re going to be developing resources in Latin America but we have alliances in Latin America.  So across the board with many, many warehouses and trucking facilities in the US and also in Canada, we have a very good network to provide solutions whether they be sustainable solutions, sustainable design solutions using our design centers.  A whole range of green products in the whole sustainability area, along with a host of online different services that we have.  Matter of fact, we’re coming out with a whole new internet site.  In a couple of weeks it’s going to be introduced.  It’s really going to highlight a lot of the things that we do, really focus on our customers.  But today it’s no longer good enough just to provide products.  You really got to go in and find out what your customer’s needs are and develop solutions around them.  So it’s really customizing the offering that you’re going to bring. And one of our strongest traits is that we’re not only international but particularly in the United States and Canada, we have a very broad breath of areas that we can service people.  One of the examples someone once told me is that you can be a small company making widgets in New Jersey and literally over night with our system we can make you a national or an international company providing product.

Cary Sherburne:  So you’re actually taking the infrastructure that you’ve built to move paper around and offering logistical services based on that infrastructure.

Ed Farley:  Not only paper but packaging and facility supplies too.  So they’ve almost become secondary to the total solution that we offer to customers.  And we spent a lot of time in the last number of months beginning to focus and building programs around the Fortune 3000 companies and going to those companies too.  Not only servicing our core customers but also looking for larger customers that may have solutions.  So a customer that is particularly good about manufacturing a specific product, we can also go to that customer and say look, we can take all the logistics, all the warehousing, all the 3PL, all the kitting away.  So a good example of that is Heidelberg.  Heidelberg came to us and said we need…

Cary Sherburne:  Oh, back to the truck.

Ed Farley:  Yeah, we’re right back to the truck. You thought I was going to forget about it.  But what Heidelberg came to us and said about a year, year-in-a-half ago and said we need some help in moving all our consumable products around for our good customers who happen to be many of them our customers too.  So we’ve worked out a very effective 3PL program that we can service 85 to 90% of their customers next day at a very competitive way to help them out.

Cary Sherburne:  So moving plates and that kind of things around.

Ed Farley:  And probably the next stage is that we’re going to be working with Heidelberg to find more solutions through us and them to their customers which is our customer and the printer.  And that’s going to be very exciting.

Cary Sherburne:  Great, so the other thing that you see happening, well not only in the paper industry but in the paper industry I think you guys were maybe a little ahead of the curve in terms of the consolidation that’s been happening because sort of right sizing the manufacturing capacity and so on because you were hit with the price increases and the commodities and so on.  So what’s happening there?  Do you expect to see more consolidation in the paper industry?

Ed Farley:  I think we will see more consolidation in the paper industry.  In some of the core segments in coded and uncoded, it gets a little bit difficult because there are very few players left.  But I think where you may begin to see some consolidations is in the distribution industry.  Obviously with fewer manufacturers there’s an awful lot of pressure on different distributors and they certainly need the size and scale to be effective.  And so as you have larger manufacturers, really the pressure gets on the distribution industry.

Cary Sherburne: So domino effect.

Ed Farley:  So I think we’re going to see some of it there along with what we’re already seeing with our customers is a lot of consolidation in the print industry and even in the packaging industry, so.

Cary Sherburne:  The packaging is still probably one of the bright points.

Ed Farley:  Packaging is a tremendous bright point.  In our company in terms of packaging is putting in an awful lot of emphasis and spotlight on packaging and not that we’re forgetting our facility supply friends or our paper friends but packaging is very important particularly sustainable packaging.  So we’ve done an awful lot, as I said earlier, work in that area particularly with our developing our design centers to help on not only design but also the sustainability of packaging.

Cary Sherburne: Well you solved the mystery of the truck and you’ve given us a whole lot of other information which we’re really grateful for.  Thank you Ed.

Ed Farley:  And if you’re good, we’ll give you a ride in the truck some day.

Cary Sherburne:  Ohh…

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By Pete Basiliere on Sep 18, 2011

Signs of the times . . . that truck was as big as the presses Heidelberg used to bring to Graph Expo . . . this year Heidelberg brought two offset Speedmasters, one Vutek wide format digital printer and one Ricoh digital press.


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