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Distribution: Haines’ secret to success

November 6/13, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 11

By Ken Ryan


Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 9.58.47 AMFor Haines, the industry’s largest distributor with $490 million in sales, 2017 has been a year of transition and transformation under Michael Barrett, who was appointed president and CEO on Jan. 1.

For Barrett and his new executive team (which includes Hoy Lanning, senior CEO advisor; Reid McCarthy, CFO; Bill Rothenback, chief human resources manager; and Doug Drews, chief supply chain officer) the year started by re-establishing relationships with customers, its supplier network and 600-strong Loyalty Club members.

“We have traveled the entire network, listened to what their thoughts were on how we can be a better service provider,” Barrett told FCNews. “I know I have spent a lot of time in airports this year but it is well worth it.”

Lanning said it was the new CEO’s desire to meet with Haines’ constituents on their turf. “We were welcomed by the retailers. They really appreciated the commitment Mike has made to being with his customers and listening to their concerns. In our industry, there are not that many businesses that would go around to their customers to the extent we have and ask what we can do for them. I think it makes us unique. It is about the customer, after all. They are our livelihood.”

Barrett and his team take over a distributor that has finally absorbed the acquisition of CMH, which at the time was a top 5 wholesaler. Haines’ nearly $500 million in revenue dwarfs the No. 2 player in the field. Its geographic coverage encompasses the East Coast from Pennsylvania and New Jersey to the southern tip of Florida, Tennessee and West Virginia. Today Haines operates 25 supply centers and nine warehouse locations and is about to open a 500,000-square-foot central hub in Concord, N.C., which has the capacity to expand an additional 100,000 square feet.

Barrett, whose background is in operations and logistics, wants to transform Haines into a large-scale distributor that is also nimble in its market approach. “Our East Coast footprint and the service model that is being established will further differentiate our company in the future,” he explained. “We continue to look for ways to deploy technology that is additive to our service model and gives us the ability to successfully run the company. This, combined with a powerful logistics model that is continually evolving and improving, will be key to our ability to provide uncompromised service.”

During 2017 Haines outsourced the shuttle network that moves inventory from building to building, and it outsourced its delivery fleet component to JB Hunt, a Fortune 500 transportation company. As Barrett explained, “We are not a trucking company; we sell flooring—that’s what we do. JB Hunt will provide the logistical and transportation excellence to support us.”

JB Hunt’s Dedicated Contract Services unit (DSC) provides Haines with a host of outsourcing solutions to enhance efficiency. One service—dynamic routing—creates routes from scratch, typically for the coming hours or days using a given set of orders instead of using static/master routes. “It just makes sense to partner with someone with JB Hunt’s capabilities since they already have the software and the people with the engineering knowledge,” Barrett noted.

In 2018, Haines will deploy a customer-facing analytics technology called Predictive Delivery that provides customers with real-time information on estimated deliveries. Other technology enhancements designed to improve the supply chain will be rolled out in the coming months.  “We’re using technology to maximize efficiency,” Barrett explained. “We want to be good and fast.”