We’re officially moving into another year of continued workforce challenges and supply chain volatility. There are countless articles being published on the subject every day, and this one’s my two cents. While these two things combine to create a perfect storm of uncertainty for many, we’ve been steadily stockpiling strategies that will not only protect Kloeckner’s position, but ultimately, ensure productivity across the board.
In my last post, “Kloeckner Wrapped,” I highlighted what it took to reach a record year of profitability in 2021 and drilled down to what I consider our three stand out accomplishments. Give it a read, if you haven’t already. It sets the tone for everything I’m about to say here.
Control What We Can Control
With supply increasing, proactive and aggressive inventory management will be the main determining factor of our success in 2022. This is something we’ve been tuned into for a long time—controlling what we can control—and our continued execution of a tactical and collaborative inventory planning strategy will help us minimize any negative impact from volatile markets. To put it simply, how we manage our inventories now will directly determine our performance throughout this year and beyond.
Additionally, just as everyone kicks off their new year’s diets, another play we’re all invested in is continuously assessing and shaving down day-to-day expenses in these times of record inflation. We’re maintaining conscious control over everything we can and tightening up at every turn. There’s something to be said for moving the belt loop up a notch and staying lean.
Transformation and Talent Management
That brings us to the workforce piece. We understand that tight labor markets aren’t changing, and flexibility is the only way to prosper. In response, we’re accelerating our total business transformation by creating improvements to business processes that are already increasing productivity. We’ve got phenomenal talent who live our values, so I’m confident we have the brain power to work smarter, not harder.
In the same conversation about those tight labor markets, there are the implications of The Great Resignation and the persistent labor shortage all companies are struggling with. The challenge to the business is clear and we must do everything possible to attract, develop and retain new talent while continuously working to enhance our value proposition as an employer. I know it may sound cliché, but People are our most valuable asset and will ultimately determine our success or failure. This is why, in 2022, we will further commit ourselves to the continued development of a people-centric culture built upon teamwork, trust, compassion, and respect.
A huge facet in seeing all these moving parts come to fruition can be attributed to our communication standards. Admittedly, several years ago, this was a piece of our business that could use more attention, but when the pandemic hit, we mobilized and started practicing the art of over-communicating. Now, it’s second nature, and it not only creates a better workflow for everyone, but it has also cleared a path to tell a much bigger story. Getting the word out – to current employees, clients, partners, hopeful candidates – about developments, changes, and just how great Kloeckner is, starts from the inside and works its way out. The story tells itself from there.
All in all, you can take this peek behind the curtain as a promise that we’re leveraging our existing strengths and building on them. Much of the groundwork has been laid, but there is still plenty of work to do. The good news is our people devour every opportunity for improvement we put in front of them. In the spirit of efficiency, allow me to finish by recapping the ways we not only welcome 2022, but will most assuredly conquer it.
There is no shortage of talent here, but we will continue to hunt for more. Safety is improving at all our branches and will remain paramount. Our sales tools are more intuitive than ever, and our data is being sliced and diced by analytical surgeons. Warehouse management, distribution logistics, and sustainability are at the forefront of every decision we’re making. We’re defining marching orders on an individual level for each of our branches, to ensure success is realized company wide. We will happily lose sleep over brilliantly organizing and structuring our people and equipment needs in a way that adds value, volume, and solidifies year-over-year commercial growth. We will not stop prioritizing the efficiencies that will inevitably define our future, and all of this is what gets us out of the bed every morning. We are Kloeckner, and we are always hungry for more.