Mark Messina is the Chief Operating Officer of Geek+. He is responsible for Geek+ operations in the US and business expansion across the continent. Prior to joining Geek+, Mark has twenty years of industry experience, including leadership roles in Operations and Engineering with Mattel as the Director of Robotics and Automation, iHerb as the VP of Robotic Fulfillment Systems, and Amazon where he was Director of Mechanical Engineering for the Kiva/AR AGV platform and Amazon Prime Air drone delivery team. Mark has a passion for robotics and a deep understanding of logistics challenges faced by businesses across the region.
Listen to the full discussion here:
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Connect with the Guest:
Mark Messina: LinkedIn
Some of the highlights from the podcast:
- [06:00] Why same-day delivery is the next standard for logistics
- [11:00] Geek+ solutions and how they add value to their clients
- [18:35] Helping Nike in Japan achieve same-day delivery
- [22:10] Cloud technology and leveraging 5G connectivity
- [23:07] Having live data to support Robots As A Service
- [24:30] Hiring process and looking for the right candidate
- [01:20] I wanted to start with just a short introduction. Maybe you can pinpoint some of the main milestones of your career and what was most exciting for you just to know you better.
- [02:08] I consider myself a compulsive early adopter of technology. And so from that perspective, I’ve had a lot of interesting roles in automation, whether it’s in medical devices, or manufacturing, fulfillment center, etc.
- [03:19] Having built some really successful teams is extremely satisfying for me. And I’ve been really fortunate to have worked with some great people. The ability to mentor other people is kind of a milestone for me. I like to hire people who are smarter than me so that we can learn from each other.
- [04:41] Just to paint a broader picture of supply chain trends, operations, trends in manufacturing and warehousing, everything that you’re involved in, what do you see happening in the next few months and maybe in the mid to long term?
- [06:00] If you think back a few years, it is okay if your shipment took three, four, or five days, but that’s not acceptable anymore. Two days is the most, the next day is okay, and the same day is where we’re headed. And customers have a very high expectation for this.
- [07:02] Can you talk a bit more about what are these specific issues and challenges and problems that your targeting and you’re trying to make better?
- [09:08] When you’re competing against somebody who has even some level of automation, they’ve got an edge, they’ve got a lower margin, they’ve got a lower vCPU, and they’re able to compete on price. So they’re winning not only on price, now they’re winning on their delivery time because they’re using the automation.
- [10:09] Maybe you can share more about how Geek+ is different. Because you have a few interesting elements, you have the hardware, you have the software, and you have different types of robots, do share more about it.
- [11:31] One of the aspects that our solution solves really well is that humans are good at picking things, but they’re not necessarily good at going and finding things. So we use the robot to go bring the inventory to the human who stands at a workstation that’s really ergonomically designed.
- [13:44] We apply artificial intelligence to constantly balance the management of the inventory. We do heat mapping of the inventory so that it is stored so that robots are highly utilized and the pick rates are high.
- [15:00] How fast could a solution like yours be implemented? Can you keep bringing a fleet of robots or change your infrastructure in such a way that everything works more on the automation part?
- [18:10] What are some specific examples of clients that have seen excellent results with your solution?
- [18:44] Nike in Japan wanted to do same-day delivery and their operations just wouldn’t support it. So they looked around at a variety of different technologies and they picked us as their partner and we successfully deployed a scale system.
- [21:21] What’s next for the company? What do you see as the next exciting milestones for Geek+?
- [22:21] Everybody talks about industry 4.0 and IoT and we take it very seriously. We are moving from an on-prem server to everything being in the cloud and leveraging 5G connectivity.
- [23:07] In support of robots as a service, we need to have live data. So we moved to the Microsoft Azure platform, which secures our customer trust but also gives us operational data when we are operating as a RAAS Model
- [24:39] I know that this space of automation engineering, both on hardware and software is definitely a very difficult space to find people because it’s a scarce resource to find great engineers. How do you tackle the recruitment challenge when it comes to the company?
- [25:02] Looking at the candidate, it’s great to have the experience, but I don’t always take the experience as the most important thing, because I’ve learned that clever is really important. Clever, intelligent, and resourcefulness goes a long way.
- [27:03] How much time do you spend on hiring at the moment? How do you handle it?
- [28:18] When you find candidates that you feel are fit, sometimes you have to go with your gut. And in terms of time spent, you can spend a lot of time interviewing to find the exact perfect person but sometimes you have to take a risk.
- [28:41] There are quite a lot of motivational quotes and management codes flying around. One of them was don’t hire for skills hire for attitude, because you can teach skills later. I’m just wondering if, in the case of engineering in both hardware and software this applies as well? Or what is the baseline that you need to have in mind?
- [30:32] If you’ve got a portfolio that you can share ahead of our interview, you automatically get a few points right out of the gate, because I’ve got something I can ask you about and we can get right to the meat and potatoes of what you’ve done.
- [32:34] When you’re dealing across different cultures, you need to be sensitive in your messaging and also your comprehension of what somebody’s messaging to you.
- [33:26] How do you know personally that you are successful in your role?
- [35:12] If you would look back and look like in your experience, everything you have done so far, what would be the best piece of advice for a successful career?
- [35:38] Be humble, be respectful, listen, learn, find great mentors, and trust your gut.
- [36:13] When you find somebody who invests their time in you and helps sometimes in ways that you’re not even really aware of, when you look back on your career you’ll see that these are the people who have the biggest impact on you.
Soundbite from the Episode:
Control Tower and Real-Time Tracking with o9 Solutions and FourKites
Bringing Order to Supply Chain with Robert Garrison CEO of Mercado Labs
Building a platform for flexible warehousing with David Glick CTO of FLEXE