27 minutes | Oct 11th 2020

PINC: Matt Yearling

Matt Yearling of PINC discusses the ups and downs of supply chain automation, as well as how a near-death experience has reshaped his outlook on life. Danny:

Well, thank you for joining me today on today’s IndustrialSage Executive Series. I am joined by Matt Yearling who is– he is the president and CEO of PINC. Matt, thank you so much for joining me today on the Executive Series.

Matt:

Thank you for having me. Looking forward to the conversation today.

Danny:

So I’m looking forward to it, as well. So for those who aren’t familiar with PINC, what do you guys do?

Matt:

Well, we’re a deep, dark secret.

Danny:

Excellent.

Matt:

We’ve been around for several years. We focus on an area of the supply chain that is a blind spot. So our core business is focused on yard management, and that’s trailer yard management. So in the context of supply chain, we sit at that intersection between transportation and warehouse. And not many people know this, but for every trailer that you see on the road when you drive down the freeway, there’s four trailers like that in a facility somewhere that’s full of goods that pretty much is unknown in terms of state and within facilities. We focus on automating the orchestration of assets and inventory within the facility, in the four fences of a facility. That’s our core business, software solutions.

Danny:

Excellent. And so we’re going to get into all this good stuff here later on in the episode, but before we jump into that, I always like to ask about my victim– I mean my interviewee here, and that’s you, Matt. I want to get to know you a little bit more. I’d love for our audience to learn a little bit more about you and how you got into the space. I think these stories are fascinating. Take me back. How does your journey– where do we begin with that?

Matt:

Well, so some people say they pick it up; some people don’t. But I was originally born and raised in the UK. So I’ve spent most of my years stateside, so most of my life has actually been in the United States. But born and raised in the UK, and I came over in my 20s with Oracle. I was an electro engineer for a long time and then got into computers and, specifically, into databases. And so that’s why I became an expert at databases within Oracle in the UK and then moved over from the UK to the US and had a very lengthy career within Oracle. And that really gave me a good foundation in computers. So that’s where I’ve been and where I am today. Always being around driving enterprise value with business solutions, software SAAS solutions, whether or not that’s ERP, CRM, security, or supply chain. Supply chain is what I love dearly today, so I feel like I’m in the best space of them all at this point in time.

Danny:

Yeah, it’s an awesome space. There’s a lot going on right now, and it’s super exciting; it’s hot. A lot of transformation taking place. That was happening before, but even more now: that’s for certain. So in your career path, in your journey, is there anyone or anything that stands out to you that really helped to influence your career, your path, or growth? Is there anything that jumps out to you?

Matt:

Well, so I think there’s a combination of a few things. I think the core drive, in terms of being who I am today, the person that I am today, I think was really driven by a near-death experience in my teens. I almost got killed on a motorcycle, and that was an experience that basically, waking up lying in a hotel bed– sorry, I mean a hospital bed—

Danny:

Oh, interesting story.

Matt:

That’s for sure, for sure, for sure a hospital bed. But looking at, okay, where am I going to go from here? It was a case of, okay, I need to do something with the rest of my life. And that was, really, that put me on this path of being more thoughtful in terms of how I pursued my career. And it really was driven by, once again, you’ve got to have, be thoughtful around who you believe is your mentors. So in the context of the business setting, there were very specific mentors which I aligned to over the years that really helped me go to the next level. And there were more than one. And some of them are clearly good friends as it stands today. So it’s being thoughtful in who you’re aligning to, how you can help your mentors achieve what they want to achieve, and you’re getting to achieve what you need to achieve, too. So there was a couple people in my life that I felt very aligned to, very loyal to. And they were definitely my mentors.

Danny:

Excellent, no, good. I can only imagine having an experience like you mentioned. That resets you a little bit and shifts priorities a little bit, like you mentioned. Say, hey, you know what? Need to focus on a few other things here. And let’s do this. Do you still draw on that today?

Matt:

Oh, yes, absolutely. Yeah, no, it’s always there. I think it’s very humbling, too. We are all delicate people. We all have to live for the day. It’s good to understand that you’re here one minute; you may not be here the next minute. What is the legacy that you want to leave behind, and what do you want to be known for? Really, it’s also how you choose to interact with other people. In terms of being a leader, are you a bully, or are you humble? Are you collaborative in the way that you want to lead? I think these are choices that are definitely formed by experiences over the years. I think we’ve all gone through experiences which we’ve learned from, including myself. I’ve never been perfect in terms of how I’ve led and managed. Where I am today, I feel very good about where I am, what space I’m at right now, and having a team around me that’s aligned to the goals and objectives that we feel that we need to drive for the benefit of our customers. That’s really, it’s having talented, motivated people driving to satisfying our customers or, obviously, drive value for all those that are participating in that as we go forward. So I think it does, your experiences do impact your frame of a person over time.

Danny:

Yeah, absolutely. Let’s jump ahead a little bit here with PINC.

Matt:

Yes.

Danny:

Did you start it? Are you the original founder?

Matt:

I am not. I am a part of a subsequent chapter. The founder is still being associated with the company. But I joined the company in 2013.

Danny:

Okay, excellent. So jumping forward a little bit on this, what changes have you seen? Let’s talk pre-COVID and then post-COVID and, then– well, pre-COVID, during COVID; I guess we’re still in it– and then we’ll get into a little bit about what we think is going to come down the road. What are some of those big, significant changes that you’ve seen in the industry? How have you guys been impacted?

Matt:

Well, I think you would be lying to say if you’re not impacted at all in terms of this. It’s changed everything in terms of how you transact and do business. Pre-COVID, I would say we are still in a part of a market that’s still emerging. We are the number one provider of yard management solutions. We are single-digit penetrated in a large market. And whilst it started we focused on North America, there’s a lot of global opportunity associated with our solutions. Then, coming into the pandemic, what it did highlight was all of the lack of technology enablement that exists within the supply chain gets emphasized and amplified even more. Everybody’s wrestling with the similar issues, but it’s amplified many times more. And everybody’s second-guessing themselves in terms of how they’re operating.

And so, the nice thing is that when we look at servicing our customers, they need us, and it’s a solution that helps. And it’s a solution that actually solves some of this lack of technology enablement in the supply chain. It’s just emphasized the need even more. So the level of interest is more, but the problem is, is that to be able to implement and get customers live requires, sometimes, being there with the customer on site. So there’s a lot of things that we can do remotely in terms of enablement and getting a customer operational, but there are some times when we do need to have that on-site implementation capability. So I think the general consensus is that it’s slowed things down, although interest is rising at a faster rate. So it’s an interesting dilemma between supply and demand right now.

Danny:

Yeah, absolutely, yeah. Lots of conversations, but on the other side, it’s like, well… from a fulfillment standpoint, that’s difficult. How have you guys been able to manage? Is it easing up now in terms of being able to get on customer location sites, or is that still sort of a mixed bag? What does that look like?

Matt:

Well, as you pointed out, we’re not out of the pandemic. We’re not going to be out of the pandemic for some time to come. So we are delivering cloud-based solutions. We’re delivering a connected system, and we’re connected to our customers. We understand how the customers are transacting, and we understand the volume of goods in the network. So we could see changes in shipments, trailer shipments, real time.

Danny:

Yeah.

Matt:

We could see when things were going to go sour in the automotive space versus the grocery space, what was going on around the grocery during the pandemic when everybody was hoarding product and nobody was buying cars. So you could see a lot of dynamics associated with that. And what we see now is that we see volume levels the same or higher than pre-pandemic levels. So we see, across all industry verticals, good volume. But we are still somewhat fearful of what the pandemic might bring in the coming months. Do we double-dip? Do we shut down again? That’s a big backdrop that is an unknown for everybody. But you’ve got to be prepared for that, so we are prepared for that. But what we are seeing is that, we are seeing, especially in the food supply chain, we are seeing customers that are still impacted by breakouts in regions within the facilities. And that’s causing a little bit of impact in terms of how they deal with that, as well as, how do they deal with change and implementation of systems and things like that. So it is tactically impacting the roll-out of technology, and things are moving to the right by weeks and months.

Danny:

Yeah, absolutely. So as far as trends that you’re seeing in the industry, what do you think? We’ve talked to a lot of different people; we’ve heard a couple different answers. Certainly, e-commerce, especially grocery, retail, significant changes happening there. What have you seen, and what do you think we’re going to continue to see in terms of some trends?

Matt:

So we’re going to see a continued acceleration of online sales, so that’s going to drive. We’ve seen some of our customers pivot in the way that they’re distributing based on the shift in demand, from their traditional brick-and-mortar stores to online presence. So we’re seeing that, and they’re reconfiguring their network on the fly to make that happen. So I think, to what we were saying earlier, that the pandemic has actually accelerated some of the decisions. It’s highlighted some of the deficiencies, so it’s accelerated the search for solutions to be able to address some of the problems. And it is accelerating. It’s accelerating the move to online. There’s absolutely no doubt that it’s shifting that. And the network, supply chain network to be able to support that is going to look different, so a lot more focus on distribution and less focus on the stores. What people don’t necessarily realize is that there’s probably over 4 million stores in the US. There’s over 100,000 plants and warehouses, over 100,000. And every day, I think, you see, maybe, Amazon opening another fulfillment center. So this is the new norm. You’ll probably see less stores being built, more fulfillment centers being built, even those in shopping malls getting repurposed for micro-fulfillment, as well.

Danny:

Yeah.

Matt:

So the network is going to look really different as time goes on. The whole buying experience is going to look very different. And, fundamentally, the fundamental problems still exist. The supply chain carries too much inventory. They have no ability to plan effectively to link the supply and demand. And inventory is stored everywhere. And for us, for selfish reasons, it’s actually pretty good because a lot of that inventory is actually in trailers in the facilities. People lose track of that; they don’t know where stuff is. That’s part of, one of the value propositions that we focus on. But a lot of people are carrying too much inventory. That’s true. And people want to extract more value from their investment in supply chain.

Danny:

Of course.

Matt:

Supply chain is a huge expense for any customer. It’s, depending on which industry numbers you’re looking at, somewhere between 8 and 10% of GDP, $1.5 to 2 trillion. The vast majority of that spend is transportation. And transportation is only moving 10 to 15% of inventory at any point in time. Most of the inventory is actually in a warehouse or in the yard or in a store. And that’s where people don’t necessarily understand that, where all of their inventory is and how do they get it to the consumer and get that fulfilled as quickly as possible. So we are all programmed to have instant gratification. We know what we want. We need it now. We don’t care if we’re in a pandemic. We don’t care what’s going on, whether it’s a holiday or anything like that. We just need it now. And everybody needs to react. And the nice thing is, is that all of these large companies, whether or not you’re shippers or 3PLs or whatever the case might be, they still lack a lot of technology enablement. They lack sophistication in how they address certain aspects of the supply chain. And for companies like ourselves that are enabling that from a software perspective, the future is bright in terms of how to make that more efficient as time goes on.

Danny:

Yeah, absolutely. Great opportunities, and I can only imagine that, when you were mentioning some of the volume with the movement of shipments that were happening, massive movements, huge spikes in, what was it, March or so? Then, dropped a little bit, but you mentioned it’s picking up there. I can only imagine that having strong yard management tools like, I’m assuming like you guys provide is critical in terms of being able to coordinate the logistics of all of the movement of everything that was happening and, now, it’s spotlighting– obviously, all of the entire supply chain, the entire spectrum, from raw-goods sourcing to last-mile delivery has all been spotlighted. It’s saying, oh, my gosh, we didn’t realize. And I think a lot of people, to be honest with you, not in this space, but consumers in general, and it’s funny when you have family members you talk to, people do not realize how fragile the supply chain is. And it’s incredibly intricate, incredibly intricate just to understand how this cup, all of the resources and the moving pieces that it takes to, not just manufacture this, but also get this to here.

Matt:

Yeah.

Danny:

And so– anyways, I kind of geek out on it. I think it’s incredibly, I think it’s amazing, to be honest, on how that all works. But having this kind of technology you’re talking about to help to optimize and streamline this is critical.

Matt:

Yeah. At the beginning of the conversation, I said to you, I’ve done many different SAAS space solutions, ERP, CRM, and the like. But supply chain is… to me, it’s more tangible, so when you look at supply chain and you understand what’s going on, you’re helping orchestrate and move that product more efficiently that how it’s done in the past. And that’s really quite compelling. So you can see that in the context of, for example, I always like to buy my customers. I’m wearing clothes that are my customers’.

Danny:

Smart move.

Matt:

I’m driving a car that’s one of my customers’. So I always like to buy from my customers. But I’ve also been to the manufacturing plants as well, so I see how we help. In the context of yard, it means different things for different industries. For automotive, that’s all about how do you minimize the disruption to the manufacturing line and make sure you automate the goods from the yard to the dock door at the right time to get that product on the manufacturing line. So, but that’s not the case for grocery, which I always shop at my customer, too. So in a grocery, it’s always, okay, we’ve got goods coming in from our shippers, our customers bringing supplies into our distribution centers. and then we’re orchestrating waves of deliveries to our stores. And that’s, the way that they do that is very different than how yards are managed in automotive. So every different vertical is a different use case. How you make mayonnaise is very different than how you make clothes and distribute clothes. It’s very tangible and very real.

And, to your point, that’s why I’m very passionate about the supply chain because it is very real, and it’s also resilient, too. So we’re not Airbnb, or we’re not those that are getting impacted by the pandemic. We’re not a hotel chain. It’s like, okay, so how do we pivot from this curveball that we’ve just been given? People need to eat. People need to consume. We’re a consumer society, that’s going to continue. The mix of what we consume is going to shift and change. But you still need to have, until they figure out how to teleport goods, we’re still going to have to have a supply chain. But one thing’s for sure: the supply chain today is inherently inefficient, and everybody’s trying to do everything faster, better, cheaper. And the only way to do that is with technology enablement. And so in terms of where we are, it just adds yet another reason why you should be doing more technology and making everything more efficient. So that’s why I say, the pandemic is a double-edged sword. It’s bad in terms of moving actual implementations to the right a little bit. It’s good because it’s actually created more interest in solutions that will help with problems that are now bigger problems than they were before the pandemic.

Danny:

Absolutely. Yeah, so Matt, we could probably have another three-hour discussion about this because I think it’s super exciting and there’s so many intricacies and all that. But, unfortunately, I don’t have another three hours. But, for those who would love to learn more about PINC, what’s your website so that people can go check you guys out?

Matt:

Yeah, pinc.com, P-I-N-C dot com. You can come to us. You can email me at matt, M-A-T-T, @pinc.com, as well. I’d be happy to receive any email from anybody that cares to, want to know more about what we do and who we do it for.

Danny:

Excellent.

Matt:

We do it for the largest companies in the world, so you’re in good hands with us, for sure.

Danny:

Well, so, yeah. So for those who would like to learn more, go to the website. You guys can check them out. Matt, thank you so much for spending some time with us today on the IndustrialSage Executive Series. I really enjoyed it. I feel like I learned a lot. And I really enjoyed hearing your story.

Matt:

Thank you, thank you so much.

Danny:

Alright, thanks. Well, there you go. We’re wrapping up another IndustrialSage Executive Series interview. I really enjoyed this one. The big talk about digital transformation and technology, a very, very similar story that we keep hearing about e-commerce and online, and really– people want things better, faster, cheaper. How are we going to solve that problem? It’s got to be technology-driven. A lot of change has to happen, and technology is really going to be leading that in there. So, anyways, go check out pinc.com. Check out their solutions, and I think you’ll like what you’ll see there.

So that’s all I’ve got for you today. I want to encourage you, if you are not on our email list, go to IndustrialSage.com and subscribe because you’re missing out. You’re missing out on news. You’re missing out on other Executive Series interviews and episodes that we’re doing. And we have other shows that are releasing out soon, so you don’t want to miss out so you can learn from your peers. You can learn from other organizations that are going through things that are similar to what you might be going through. And so we can be better together. Not to use that cliché phrase, but I’m going to use it. So, anyways, thanks for watching. I’m Danny Gonzales, and I’ll be back next week with another episode on IndustrialSage.

 

 

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