#47: Bringing Order to Supply Chain with Robert Garrison CEO of Mercado Labs

Bringing Order to Supply Chain with Robert Garrison CEO of Mercado Labs Featured Image

Robert Garrison is the founder and CEO of Mercado, an Import Management System that connects the end-to-end supply chain. A highly accomplished Global Supply Chain executive with 25 years of experience, Rob Garrison has provided strategic vision and leadership to Fortune 500 companies. Rob has an impressive history of building agile, technology-enabled supply chains, and he has an established track record of forging high-growth partnerships, positioning organizations for success, and launching innovative technology solutions that significantly improve end-to-end supply chain efficiencies.

Recognized as a respected thought leader, Rob is a featured industry speaker and published author offering expertise on Supply Chain challenges, trends, and best practices. In addition, he is award-winning — notably a two-time recipient of the coveted Five Star Award, FedEx’s highest honor presented by the CEO to recognize innovation, collaboration, service excellence, profitable business contributions, and exemplifying the spirit of teamwork.

Created and executed lean retail supply chains for major shippers such as AutoZone, Michaels, and Five Below, and has earned service awards from Walmart, Hewlett Packard, and Apple for excellence in global operations management, quality assurance, and continuous improvement.

Listen to the full discussion here:

  • Stream by clicking here.
  • Download as an MP3 here.



Connect with the Guest:

Robert Garrison: LinkedIn

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • [01:26] Main career milestones – from working in the logistics space to starting Mercado
  • [14:23] Solving challenges for importers and suppliers – automation & technology
  • [22:50] Defining  Friction – from First Mile to Final Mile – case studies. 
  • [30:12] Building  Mercado Marketplace and partnering with different tech companies like project44
  • [35:27] Building a strong culture based on PSP – People, Service, Profit

Show notes:

  • [01:12] You have a great career, and it’s always interesting to see people with huge corporate career step into the startup world. So I’m curious to hear what are some of the main milestones of your career?
  • [04:03] When I got recruited to Kmart, I was working on international sourcing and logistics, but there, I also had domestic transportation and it was the first time I realized that the supply chain was not logistics. 
  • [07:32] Going from these big corporations and moving into a business that was really self-propelled and powered by the owners, sort of taught me to be a lot more entrepreneurial and use my resources more effectively.
  • [09:06] When I look back on the first part of my career, I thought of the things that made me happiest and that was building things or fixing things and so I continued to gravitate towards those.
  • [09:56] So we have this global pandemic and it has impacted supply chains in a lot of ways. What do you see the biggest trends happening in the next couple of months or next year?
  • [12:16] What I see in terms of a trend is that people’s response to the crisis and all of those events has been to migrate to what I see as the next big trend, the next big innovation, which are new technologies.
  • [14:18] What are the main problems that you’re trying to address and solve with Mercado?
  • [16:18] The real problem that we solve at Mercado is going forward when an importer sends out a purchase order, they send it to Mercado and we present that order in its raw form to the supplier over the web. 
  • [18:32] The world of the supply chain today goes like once the product is in a container and the container is sealed and shut, whatever arrives, arrives and that’s what we are trying to solve
  • [22:57] In Mercado, we have an on-premise video, so you can film the product and you can have live video chats on it and We’ve got live instructions with testing. So there are all kinds of new technological ways that you can interface more cleanly and more appropriately with your supplier to make sure things happen right.
  • [23:47] Are there other definitions or other terms that get into the theme of friction other than all the processes that you explained so far?
  • [29:25] What’s next for the company? It sounds like you have a great product and I’m sure the team is also great. I’m just wondering what are the main milestones you’re looking at? What’s up ahead?
  • [30:12] We’re building something called marketplace where we’re partnering with other tech companies that don’t compete with us directly but could provide great value to customers.
  • [30;52] Through a partnership with project 44, we could now offer in theory or potentially if a customer wants it, multimodal visibility, ocean, and air for the first time.
  • [33:01] So the journey is to connect the international supply chain and make it more efficient, then connect it to the broader ecosystem of potential technologies and then leverage that data to help customers manage their businesses wildly more efficiently than they can do today. 
  • [33:56] What does good company culture mean for you and how would you define Mercado’s culture in that sense? 
  • [35:27] The way I manage them is something that I call PSP, People, Service and Profit, and the basic notion is to take great care of your people so that they’ll deliver service and profit will follow. 
  • [36:09] I’m a servant leader and what that means is I actually report to you. And so I have to follow your lead and make sure you have what you need to be successful. 
  • [37:49] When you interview for maybe your team or direct reporting team or the leaders, what do you look for? 
  • [40:45] What would be the best advice or some of the best pieces of advice that you could give or that you received throughout your career when it comes to a successful career? 
  • [44:28] Don’t do it because you don’t want something, do it because do want something.

About the Host:

The host, Andrei Palamariu is the founder of Supplify where he and his team works on building a platform to connect the supply chain tech ecosystem. His most interesting discussions with the clients are focused on implementing the best technology, digital transformation, company growth and expansion, turnarounds, and product and business development.

Alcott Global connects and upgrades the supply chain ecosystem by finding the right talent through executive search, developing talent through learning solutions, and meeting supply chain technology needs through a comprehensive crunch base marketplace.

The supply chain executive search has been our focus since the very beginning, offering recruitment services for top-tier supply chain roles at every level of the end-to-end supply chain: plan, source / procure, make, and deliver. Our consultants have years of experience in placing top talent, in North America, LATAM, Europe, the Middle East & Africa, and APAC, and besides speed, one of our biggest strengths is our network within the supply chain industry, and we capitalize on it to find the best solutions.

Through the years, we have grown as an organization and our offerings with it. One of our initiatives, the learning solutions- training and supply chain academy, is focused on transforming leadership- self-leadership, executive presence, influence capital, and business acumen. Through Supplify, we aim to match corporations with the top technology companies to solve their supply chain and logistics challenges with a focus on innovation and digital transformation.

We are in constant touch with the leaders in supply chain, inviting them to inspire the supply chain professionals in thought-provoking podcast episodes and events, and showcasing what is possible at the yearly Leaders in Supply Chain Awards.

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