Category Archives: REO News

REO Logistics Executives Discuss 3PL Issues with U.S. Senator Joe Manchin

On Friday, September 28, 2018, Joe Manchin, United States Senator for West Virginia, visited supply chain solutions provider and International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA) member REO Logistics. The visit included a tour of the company’s 480,000-square-foot chemical processing facility in Parkersburg, during which time Senator Manchin was able to meet a number of employees. The visit included a roundtable discussion with REO Logistics’ key executives to discuss a number of hot button issues impacting the industry and region today, including recently enacted tariffs, driver shortages, transportation infrastructure legislation and employing veterans and other underserved populations.

REO Logistics, which employees 260 people, struggles, along with others across the nation, to employ enough truck drivers. During the visit, CEO Rebecca Polan asked Senator Manchin for his support of legislative actions designed to help ease the nationwide driver shortage by expanding interstate trucking opportunities to former military personnel and by dropping the age restrictions to 18. Ms. Polan, along with her key executives, also briefed the Senator on the negative impact recently enacted tariffs have had on many of their international customers and discussed constructive steps the company, and others like it, can take to help customers weather today’s volatile business landscape.

“Senator Manchin’s commitment to working with West Virginia businesses, to learning about both their successes and their challenges, and helping them connect with practical real-time resources to overcome those challenges, is a real testament to his dedication to the State and his constituents,” remarked Ms. Polan. “This was a positive and constructive meeting with Senator Manchin.”

A 3rd Party Logistics (3PL) and chemical processing company, REO Logistics maintains operations in West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Texas and Louisiana. The company provides food and pharmaceutical grade, hazardous materials, and contract warehousing; asset-based and brokerage transportation; and toll processing and contract manufacturing services for chemical and large industrial manufacturers.

REO Logistics Reorganizes As a Result of Strategic Growth

REO Logistics, a 3rd Party Logistics Company headquartered in Huntington, WV that specializes in building comprehensive warehousing, transportation, and toll processing solutions for chemical and large industrial manufacturers, has just announced a strategic reorganization to better position the company to take advantage of growing opportunities in the US Manufacturing industry. Further, these changes have been designed to make the company more agile and better able to focus on its growth strategy.

REO Logistics has doubled in size in the last 3 years and has plans to double again in the next 3 years by honing in on developing its people, building its operational expertise, and investing on enhancements to its customer experience. The company is shaping its future by focusing on key areas of opportunity with an innovative network of cross-functional teams and task forces that have been designed to rapidly deploy to address key strategic priorities.

The new structure organizes all its operations under the leadership of Chief Operating Officer, Michael Carroll, and all sales, marketing and customer service efforts under Chief Business Development Officer Clayman Edwards. This reorganization converts REO’s company structure from a traditional service specific siloed structure to a functional structure designed to standardize and streamline the customer experience and yield operational efficiencies.

According to Rebecca Polan, Chief Executive Officer for REO, “We are focusing on long term profitable growth, homing in on the pieces of our business that we have targeted for further investment and expansion and increasing our emphasis on the customer experience we deliver.”

“We have spent the past two years focusing resources on the development of a company culture that is built around our core commitments to innovation, quality and integrity. This reorganization is the next logical step in our transformation. It will allow us to position ourselves to capitalize on our chemical toll processing and transportation expertise while we work to integrate new acquisitions,” says Carroll.

REO has added 100 new positions to the company over the past 18 months and has plans to add 15 more by the end of 2018. Named a “Five-Diamond Employer” by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, these newly announced changes represent an ongoing commitment to excellence.

REO Logistics Named 5 Diamond Employer by West Virginia Chamber of Commerce

REO Logistics has been named a 5 Diamond Employer by the WV State Chamber. This honor was great appreciated as REO Logistics was one of only 16 companies in the state to be awarded this designation.

The Five-Diamond designation recognizes outstanding companies for their employee policies, continuing educational opportunities for employees, community service participation and empowerment of employees. All West Virginia Chamber member companies doing business in the Mountain State were eligible for the award.

The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce is the state’s largest, most influential business organization with members in each of the state’s 55 counties representing over one-half of the state’s workforce. More information on the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce can be found at www.wvchamber.com.

 

REO Logistics Announces Director for Quality Assurance

Developing an executive team with the experience necessary to address the varied needs of our customers is an essential principal driving the long-term strategy at REO Logistics. More than ever before, today’s business environment demands flexibility and responsiveness to ever changing rapid technological shifts while still maintaining a laser focus on quality. For this reason, REO Logistics has identified a critical need for a Director for Quality Assurance. This role’s primary responsibility will be to ensure that REO Logistics maintains the highest standards of quality while simultaneously implementing new technologies and processes.

Over the coming months REO will be implementing the newest ISO standards, upgrading the warehouse management systems, and rolling out new manufacturing and accounting technologies. This new role will help ensure we make these changes seamlessly and with as little impact to our businesses and customers as possible. We are pleased to announce the addition of Russ Geis to fill this role.

 

Russ joins REO Logistics following successful stints at The Dow Chemical Company and Union Carbide in similar roles. His 27-year career is highlighted by successful ISO integrations and numerous quality program implementations where he served as both strategist, implementer and trainer. His depth of experience and expertise building best in class manufacturing related quality assurance programs is a welcome addition to the REO team.

Rebecca Polan, CEO, views this key addition to the organizational structure as an imperative next step in the company’s evolution to becoming a go to supply chain solutions provider to the chemical and industrial manufacturing industries. “Providing our customers with the highest standards of quality has always been an important priority at REO. It is certainly not negotiable with our customers! As the company has grown, particularly in the toll processing and chemical manufacturing businesses, it has become vital that we do everything possible to make sure we are meeting or exceeding industry best practices. Our team is really excited to welcome Mr. Geis onboard.”

Mr. Geis views quality assurance as a global concern, a business imperative that touches every single part of the organization. “Quality assurance impacts us all from the C-Suite all the way to the factory floor. I believe in collaborative problem solving and idea sharing as the place to start with every new initiative. Building on these foundations, I am confident in the direction REO is moving and look forward to working with both my new team and REO’s customers as we build a world class quality assurance program.”

“It’s interesting, to me, how we all define quality differently.  Many paths, yet the same road. I look forward to this journey with REO Logistics and the continued pursuit of a culture of quality.  I am passionate about attention given to quality excellence in every stage – from receiving to processing to final shipment,” said Geis.

As Warehouse Jobs Rise in WV, Companies Adapt to Amazon’s Influence

Author: Max Garland – Business Reporter

It’s not just retailers that consider Amazon an 800-pound gorilla.

Companies involved in the transportation, storage and distribution of products know their industry also revolves around the e-commerce giant, according to Andy Rogers, chief operating officer of Direct Answer, which has a distribution center in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle.

“For better or for worse, Amazon is the dominant player,” he said. “You have to find your sweet spot.”

As Amazon has spearheaded the e-commerce movement, the need for more hands in the warehouse and distribution industry has risen to keep up with online orders. West Virginia has been one of the biggest benefactors of that trend in terms of job growth, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics compiled by the Associated Press.

West Virginia’s general warehousing jobs, or jobs at private companies who primarily operate merchandise warehousing and storage, totaled 3,638 in 2016, says the data. That’s nearly triple the figure of West Virginia’s 1,333 general warehousing jobs in 2007. The data counts both full- and part-time jobs in its figures.

The state’s job growth in this sector outpaced all but three states, the data says. That’s despite being the only top 10 state in general warehousing job growth to experience a loss in private sector jobs since 2007.

In other words, the rise of warehouse jobs in West Virginia isn’t just because of overall job growth, according to Dr. John Saldanha, an associate professor of supply chain management at West Virginia University.

Michael Carroll, chief operating officer of Huntington-based REO Logistics, said the logistics service company has doubled its workforce in the past three years to roughly 400 employees.

“Take a look around the state, there’s people willing to work here and you can do that cheaply,” he said, pointing out Macy’s locating an e-commerce distribution center in Martinsburg.

Saldanha echoed Carroll’s reasoning about West Virginia’s low cost of real estate and labor making for an appealing combination in a rapidly expanding industry. Warehouse businesses operate on thin enough margins as it is, he said, and salary makes up a large portion of their expenses.

Rogers also cited similar reasons, noting that Direct Answer, with its headquarters in Maryland, may have located its 35,000-square-foot distribution center elsewhere if not for West Virginia’s benefits.

Direct Answer, which Rogers says currently employs about 15 people, provides marketing, advertising and database administration services, but its distribution center in Capon Bridge focuses primarily on online ordering. Clients can have their products stored and distributed from the center instead of having to handle their own product logistics, he said.

The center integrated with Amazon, eBay and several other e-commerce companies, since many of its clients have online orders fulfilled through those companies and not on their own websites, according to Rogers.

“E-commerce has changed everything,” Rogers said. “You used to have to start by ordering things out of a catalog, now it’s a huge network of companies you need to connect with.”

Amazon has looked at acquiring the distribution center in the past, Rogers said, but the company wants to remain independent. Amazon’s interest isn’t a surprising development, according to Saldanha.

“Larger companies see smaller ones as a way to serve and connect to a larger region,” he said. “A lot of warehouses are operating at thin margins. They may have trouble expanding. The deep pockets of Amazon gives it an advantage over the rest.”

Small businesses like Direct Answer are best served adapting to, rather than scaling up, with Amazon if they want to remain on their own two feet, Saldanha said.

Rogers said that’s what the company is planning to do. Direct Answer mostly works with smaller businesses for their distribution needs, including a client who makes child safety devices for cars and a startup that manufactures electric mopeds, he said.

“It’s very tough, so we have to find what we can do best,” Rogers said of competing in a sector involving Amazon. “If someone has started a T-shirt company out of their garage, we’re here to reach out to them about delivery possibilities. That’s who we look for.”

However, Direct Answer has worked with large-scale clients before, handling the distribution of products related to Ben Carson’s 2016 presidential campaign, including posters, banners, socks and other items, according to Rogers. The company had to bring in additional employees to handle the additional workload, sometimes reaching 2,500 orders a day at the height of Carson’s campaign, he said.

“When the [Carson] campaign was going we were running 24/7 with three to five people a shift,” Rogers said. “The orders were constant, but with the nature of a presidential campaign we didn’t know when he would end it, so we knew the workers we brought on would be part time.”

Carroll said REO Logistics, which also has locations in Nitro and Parkersburg, also isn’t looking to compete with Amazon directly in general e-commerce. Instead, it’s focusing more on niche areas such as the distribution of chemical goods and industrial products in small quantities.

The order entry, fulfillment and packaging of chemicals requires more expertise than general goods distribution does, Carroll said, meaning Amazon’s influence is limited at best in that area. The growth of warehouse jobs, part-time or otherwise, aren’t likely to slow down anytime soon, as people continue to shop more online and want their orders to be delivered quicker, according to Saldanha.

“Available warehousing capacity is going to have trouble keeping up with demand,” he said.

The industry’s growth has often been viewed as part of the solution to fill the void left by disappearing retail jobs, as noted by a post by Affiliated Warehouse Companies. Retail jobs remain a big player in West Virginia, despite a busy year for store closings. In 2016, the industry had 86,765 employees in West Virginia, according to estimates from WorkForce West Virginia. That number is expected to drop to 84,560 in 2024.

But with more companies looking to replace human labor with machine labor, the warehouse industry may not replace all those lost jobs, according to Saldanha.

“I would love to say retail jobs can be easily replaced, but we need to make a change in what we train people for,” he said. “We need higher skills training in areas of automation operations.”

Jobs with e-commerce companies may be limited as well, particularly in West Virginia. The state had 802 e-shopping jobs in 2016, which ranked 30th among states, according to the data compiled by the AP.

Most, if not all of those jobs, are likely with the Amazon Customer Service Center in Huntington, as the company was projected to employ 600 people at the center by the end of 2014, according to a West Virginia Department of Commerce post. Amazon did not respond to a request for comment regarding the center’s current job numbers.

Although the industry is beginning to rely more on technology, Carroll said future members of the workforce should be able to quickly adapt to those needs because they “have had a phone in their hands all their lives.”

“You need an investment in both people and software,” Carroll said of the e-commerce industry. “It’s about finding educated people who are familiar with some of the technology you’re working with.”

Reach Max Garland at max.garland@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4886 or follow @MaxGarlandTypes on Twitter.

Forward in Reverse

In the waning days of the War Between the States, Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman confronted a crisis of discernible sorts. With the tides having irreversibly swept in the direction of the North, “Uncle Billy” confronted the task of keeping vital provisions flowing to his wearied Yankee troops while determining what to do about train cars stocked with ammunition no longer needed.

Spring rains swelled the Neuse River outside Raleigh, N.C., as Sherman’s men marched northward to link up with Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. Something had to give. Sherman ordered the ammunition dumped on the southern side of the Neuse north of Raleigh and the food shipped on.

Reverse logistics was born.

Over the course of the following century, the concept would scarcely be refined or even defined.

Roughly 30 years after Sherman’s decision to leave behind the bullets and send on the grub, Montgomery Ward began offering 100-percent refunds to dissastisfied customers who returned products purchased at the store.

That introduced another line of after-market logistics.

Short on materials while combatting the Axis powers in World War II, the U.S. began shipping metal, rubber and other essentials home so that they could be put back into use.

Remanufacturing was born.

By the end of the war, more than 77 million square feet of space in U.S. warehouses was occupied with excess materials, leaving officials with a quandary similar to Sherman’s, only exponentially larger.

However critical such innovations were to securing victory in the Great War, the idea of setting up supply chains for both the delivery of goods and the return of materials remained largely on the commercial periphery.

By 1998, studies were being conducted simultaneously by the military and private sector.

Today, reverse logistics is a fundamental facet of many shipping operations, providing not only for recapturing value on materials but also for sustainability initiatives.

“Reverse logistics allows you to maximize value on everything you do,” said Reo B. Hatfield, president of logistics operations at Reo Logistics. “When you have an efficient reverse supply chain, it can allow you to get the most out of the material you use, which is both good for  the environment and good financially for the company.”

And that, in an era when economic uncertainty has become the norm, can be the difference between finishing in the red and running in the black.

Reo Logistics Names New CFO

Author: American Journal of Transportation

In conjunction with plans for future business expansion and growth, Reo Logistics announces that Clayman Edwards has been appointed Chief Financial Officer of Reo Logistics and its family of companies.

Edwards has extensive previous experience serving in business growth and development on a global level. Most recently, he served as the CEO of the Hohner companies, an international manufacturer and distributor of acoustic musical instruments. He has successfully led domestic and international companies and held a number of board positions and C-Level roles with both U.S. and worldwide corporations through leadership, business growth and development.

Rebecca Polan, President of Reo Logistics, stated, “In conjunction with growth initiatives outlined in our strategic planning exercises, we identified Reo Logistics’ need for a strong Chief Financial Officer to strengthen, develop, and focus our infrastructure as we implement structure enhancements and growth opportunities for the company. We are fortunate for Clayman to become part of our leadership team. We believe his extensive background in managing growth and change at a larger scale will help guide us in the future.”

“It is with great pleasure that I join the Reo Logistics family and I look forward to working with the executive team,” Edwards said. “My goal is to assist the company’s strategic initiatives and efforts through leadership, stewardship, counsel, measurement, evaluation, efficiency and focus.”

Edwards served as the CEO of Matth. Hohner AG and the Hohner Group of companies from April 2012 until January 2015. Previously, he served as CRO and VP of Operations for Design Master Associates, Inc., and as Senior VP CCA Financial Services, Inc. Prior to Hohner, Edwards was a member of Board of Directors of the Western Henrico Rotary Club where he was a Paul Harris Fellow, and was also an active member of the National Association of Music Merchants and the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica. He has supported a variety of charities, including the American Cancer Society, the YMCA, The Greater Richmond ARC and Harmonikids.

Polan named CEO of REO Logistics

Rebecca PolanHUNTINGTON, W.V. – REO Logistics announces its appointment of Rebecca Polan as CEO, effective Jan. 1, 2017, succeeding Lake Polan, who transitions to Chairman of the Board of the company.

Rebecca joined the company in 2004, and most recently held the role of president of the transportation division and president of corporate services. Prior to that, Rebecca was vice president of Allied Realty, the company’s corporate hub. As CEO, Rebecca will oversee all of the company’s supply chain service providers, as well as operations of the business’s real estate holdings. “Rebecca’s career with us so far has demonstrated her expertise in defining and implementing strategies that have helped position us for a successful future in a constantly changing industry,” said Lake Polan. “She has expertly combined her knowledge of the intricacies of everyday business with an intense drive to grow and diversify our business. Rebecca also has a proven track record of building and leading teams. We are excited about the vision she has for our future.”

“The logistics industry is on the verge of major technology disruptions that will only be tempered by successfully transforming ourselves from a commodity service provider into an end-to-end supply chain solutions value creator,” said Rebecca. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead our family’s business into this new world. We have big ambitions at REO, to grow in both scale and scope of services, and our year has gotten off to an exciting start. I have watched my family build this company from the ground up, and to now be entrusted with its continued success is a great honor.”

“I look forward to not only growing on the business front but also putting our values to work for us through our various community commitments and a number of new development opportunities we are making available to our employees. We want REO to be the employer of choice in our region,” Rebecca explained.

Rebecca holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Smith College, a Master of Business Administration from The College of William and Mary, and a Master of Public Administration from American University.

REO Logistics to acquire Concepts West

WAYNESBORO — REO Logistics, a firm whose global transportation operations are based in Waynesboro, said Thursday it has acquired the assets of Concepts West.

The transaction announced on Thursday will allow REO Logistics to expand its “in-house suite of supply chain solutions, its manufacturing capabilities and its geographic presence,” which will exceed 3.2 million square feet in the South and Southwest, according to a release from the company. REO Logistics, which has more than 1 million square feet of warehouse space in Waynesboro, been in continuous operation since 1922.

Concepts West has operations in Parkersburg, W.Va., Baton Rouge, La., and Freeport and Angleton, Texas. The company is a supplier of packaging, processing, contract manufacturing and warehousing services to the chemical, petroleum, biological and water treatment industries, as well as to consumer products companies.

“The acquisition of Concepts West demonstrates our corporate commitment to investing in strategic growth opportunities that allow us to better serve our customers’ problems, create opportunities for our employees, invest in our communities and build value for our shareholders,” Rebecca Polan, CEO of REO Logistics, said in the release.

Industry Experts Added to REO Staff

Author: The News Leader – Staunton, Virginia

HUNTINGTON, West Virginia — To better meet customer needs and position the company for continued growth, REO Logistics has recently added several industry veterans to its management team:

Kurt Baumann, chief operations officer, has more than 20 years of logistics experience. He joins the company from Armstrong & Associates Inc. He earned a master’s degree in supply chain management from University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Julia Shacklock, chief information officer, holds a Ph.D. in biophysics/biochemistry from University of Edinburgh and a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from University of East Anglia. She brings more than 30 years of information systems expertise to the company. She previously was a systems architect for PartnerMD, where she was responsible for planning, prototyping and preparing implementation plans for new and strategic technologies. She also served as security officer for PartnerMD.

Kevin Sweeney, vice president of sales and marketing, brings more than 25 years of supply chain management sales and marketing experience. Prior to joining the company, he was with Schneider Logistics, where he served as corporate director of sales.

Jan Eidys, vice president of transportation, has more than 30 years of experience in transportation and logistics management, 3PL, sales, brokerage and cargo claims management. Prior to joining the company, she was a logistics contractor with 3PLR.