Corporate Partnership with Walmart Benefits Supply Chain Students

Posted on 10/26/2018 1:28:11 PM

IUP students visit Walmart Distribution Center.Nearly 50 students from IUP’s supply chain management class made the annual trip to one of the biggest and most-awarded distribution centers (DC) of Walmart located in Woodland, Pennsylvania, near Clearfield on Friday, October 12. This was the eighth consecutive year in which Prashanth Bharadwaj’s class has made the trip to DC# 6027, which supplies general merchandise to Walmart stores in Western Pennsylvania, Southern New York, and Eastern Ohio.

DC #6027 was built in 1993 and is among the larger one of about the 135 Walmart DCs in the country. This DC is about 1.3 million square feet in area and services 102 stores. It has won the Walmart warehouse of the year award several times.

Students were able to witness first-hand numerous concepts discussed in class such as cross-docking and automated storage and retrieval systems. The managers discussed how the entire supply chain from the point of sale (POS) system at the retail outlets triggers the ordering of products by the home office in Bentonville, Arkansas, from the DCs and suppliers to replenish the inventory at the retail outlets. The entire process takes only 24–36 hours. Every Walmart retail outlet in the area receives at least one truckload of products per day, which includes products ordered less than two days earlier. Students learned that supply chain management is about managing information and inventory. The Q&A session, which included the growth of e-commerce and the competition from Amazon and Target, was very insightful.

The range of executives who addressed the students during this visit was impressive. The tour was led by Jason Gustafson, a manager of the human resources and operations part of the DC. Charles (Howie) Allen, the store manager of the nearby DuBois Walmart store, summarized the retail perspective of the supply chain as well as the growth prospects in management positions at Walmart. Mia Serena, regional manager of PepsiCo, one of the largest suppliers of Walmart, provided the Direct Store Delivery (DSD) perspective and the nuances of retail shelf-management of a supplier to Walmart. Mark Paget, assistant general manager of the DC, brought his experience in logistics not only at Walmart, but also based on his tenure in the US Army. Cindy Swanson,quality assurance operations manager, described the importance of assuring quality in supplier relations, logistics, transportation, and operations. Theresa Suplizio, who was on assignment from the Home Office in Bentonville, brought the corporate perspective. It was most heartening for students to meet the market manager, Carol Williams, who oversees a dozen Walmart stores in the region. She is a 1993 alumna of IUP.

It is worth noting that Howie Allen also serves on the Eberly College Business Advisory Council and, along with Jason Gustafson and Mia Serena, has been supporting these trips for years. In addition, the trio has been traveling to IUP to address students in Bharadwaj’s supply chain class as well as the students in the international summer programs conducted each year on IUP’s campus. When Greg Foran, the CEO of the $300+ billion Walmart USA, came to know about this partnership from Bharadwaj, he thanked IUP and commended his local Walmart employees for this outreach activity by saying, “I appreciate what you are doing. Thank you for making a difference. Well done!”

Eberly College of Business and Information Technology