A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the (RPA) Forum



Like a lot of reusable packaging users past, present and future, I’m really looking forward to attending the RPA Reusable Packaging Users Forum April 28 and 29 in Chicago.

My only regret is that it wasn’t offered 30 years ago when I was first given the reins over a $1 million annual reusable pallet spend for my company.

The instructions from my boss were clear. The pallet spend had become out of control. Sure we were growing fast and the dynamics of the business were changing, but the spend should be down around $500,000 per year like it had been not that many years previous.

With those instructions and not much else, I began my first journey into the reusables wilderness. I asked a lot of questions, and was helped significantly by some of our vendors. I poured over ledgers, scrutinizing invoices and incoming shipments. I followed the pallets through the system to better understand how the front line touch points and decisions contributed in aggregate to how the reusables system performed. I talked to trading partners involved and established relationships. We managed to get that spend back down to the previous $500,000 level, and I thought I was really something special. This reusables thing wasn’t so difficult after all! But the truth was, by then a year into it, there were a lot of things I still didn’t truly understand that could reduce not only our reusable pallet spend, but that could deliver measurable savings in a lot of other areas as well.

It didn’t register that there was an opportunity to take another big chunk out of that $500,000 spend, while reducing compo claims, equipment damage, sanitation expense and transportation cost at the same time.  I did eventually figure a good deal of this out over the next few years, through interaction with my peers in other divisions of the company, introducing new products, studying the competition, and leveraging pooling opportunities.

That was just me, a long time ago. Wherever you are in your journey with reusables, from starting out like I had without a clue, to thinking about how to take your already world class program to the next level, you can’t go wrong by attending the Reusable Packaging Forum.

If you need ideas around preparing your business case to attend, why not follow the link above, or feel free to contact me directly.

See you in Chicago!