PHOENIX -- H-E-B Grocery Co., San Antonio, is seeking to leverage its formidable logistics expertise in a new way: by offering its services on the open market.
The chain, acknowledged to be a leader in streamlining logistics and implementing information technology solutions, purchased exhibit space at the Productivity Conference here to unveil its new consulting division, Logistics Solutions.
The formation of the division means that supermarket distributors can, for a fee, tap into H-E-B's engineering and other logistics resources for help in enhancing their own operations.
The company will provide consulting services and on-site help in a wide range of areas, including warehouse facility design, vendor negotiations, radio frequency technology and materials-handling equipment.
"This gives us the ability to leverage our resources and build up momentum at H-E-B. We're taking our expertise and putting it to use outside our company to see if we can generate additional revenue," said Thomas Carpenter, manager of engineering in the distribution planning and research department at H-E-B.
"We're getting into this slowly. We want to feel out the market and then grow. We see a niche market out there for these types of services. We think there is value in it. We are also seeing what we can do to keep costs down in our company," added Bradley Alm, senior engineer at H-E-B.
Alm and Carpenter spoke to SN at the Logistics Solutions booth during the Productivity Conference, Oct. 22 to 25, sponsored by the National-American Wholesale Grocers' Association and 13 other trade associations. The event served as the venue for
the first viewing of H-E-B's new division.
According to a company brochure, Logistics Solutions will offer advice and help in analyzing and evaluating plans, integrating systems to enhance logistics capabilities and selecting decision-support tools. The firm will also be involved in evaluating site, facility and equipment needs and developing more efficient work force programs.
The division is being headed by Steve Habarka, director of H-E-B's distribution planning and research department. A total of 22 H-E-B staffers with experience in systems and engineering, inventory control, logistics, controls and planning and research are available to work on projects.
"We are going to be selling services and systems that we already have a lot of expertise in. We have an opportunity to expand our horizons for business purposes and help reduce costs at our company," Alm said.
"We are already involved in share groups with companies like Wakefern Food Corp. and Supervalu, so sharing our expertise with other companies is not completely new," Carpenter added.