(To read our CHEP Automotive interview with Evi Schulz from the beginning, click the link above.)
5. Tell us about CHEP Automotive’s approach in North America. I understand that you are managing reusables for GM. Is management of a proprietary pool of assets something new compared to your European experience. More broadly speaking, is it something a little different for CHEP overall?
Yes, we are proudly managing reusables for GM, both in Europe and in the United States. The management of a proprietary pool of assets is a unique venture for the U.S. CHEP Automotive team, but only in regards to the ownership of the containers.
Historically, CHEP grew very quickly on a standard wooden platform on the pallet side. We’ve learned quickly there are a lot of unique complexities in the automotive space which require custom solutions based on the needs of Auto OEMs and tiered suppliers. To cater to this need, we started breaking up our standard suite of solutions to surgically address specific requirements and pain points. If the OEM does not want to change ownership for their existing pool, we have developed our Container Management Solution to offer all of the operational efficiencies of utilizing a standard pool while still utilizing customer-owned assets. We strive to be a large company known for taking an entrepreneurial approach.
6. What about pooling opportunities in North America, domestic or offshore/international. What is in place now, and what might we look to see in the future?
Aside from our existing business with OEMs and Tiered suppliers, we are working on expanded opportunities within the automotive market. In addition to an international pooling model, we have extended our service portfolio with custom packaging design and new products to match a universal footprint. We have large pieces of business secured with flows across the ocean.
With this array of service options available, CHEP has taken aim to become a one-stop-shop provider for the global automotive supply chain. Outsourcing allows our customers to reduce their costs, but also can support them in meeting and exceeding their sustainability targets, while enabling them to focus on delivering the best customer experience possible and creating more value for their customers.
Our primary aim is to ensure that we meet the needs of our customers from an operational perspective and while I am extremely pleased with our performance in this area, we are always looking for ways to create additional value for our customers as the market evolves over time.
7. What makes you most proud about working for CHEP, and working in this field of reusable packaging?
I am very passionate about continuing to foster an entrepreneurial approach toward creating customized container management solutions. Being a small part of a growing team and seeing the success of that team has been very rewarding. Although we come from a large company like Brambles that employs over 14,000 people across 50+ countries, each person on our team plays a key role in creating customer success stories.
8. Do you have any advice for people who might be thinking about entering the business of reusable packaging and pooling/management?
Standardization is key if you want to pool assets. Every reusable also has to be managed correctly, otherwise there is a high risk of loss and misuse. This point brings me back to my latest blog publication on the topic of software as it relates to reusable packaging; although software greatly increases automation and flexibility, it does not fix all issues related to managing reusables. I believe that the right people and processes must be in place to make the software effective enough to strive for a zero-loss program.
CHEP manages half a billion assets across multiple continents, and since we focus on this every day, it is our core competency. This allows us to lift these responsibilities from the shoulders of our customers.
9. What do you like best about the U.S., and what do you miss the most from home?
Orlando has a German community and every year they have a German style October Fest. It’s really funny to see both nations dressed up in the traditional German “Dirndl” or “Lederhosen” and having a great time together. It is always a very emotional moment when they play the national anthem from both countries and I do like to watch the pride Americans feel about their country.
What I miss most is, of course, family and friends; as well as a few good things to eat which I can’t find here (like the white asparagus which is the most delicious veggie in Germany, and it has a different taste depending on the soil in which it grows).