The new role of chief customer officer at trucking and logistics firm ArcBest Corp. (NASDAQ:ARCB) will become increasingly critical to help guide shippers through an ever-more unpredictable and asymmetrical supply chain environment, Dennis Anderson, who was tapped for the post earlier this year, said Tuesday during FreightWaves’ North American Supply Chain Summit.
Speaking to FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller during a Fuller Speed Ahead segment, Anderson said volatile supply chains have been a fact of life long before the COVID-19 pandemic. The post-COVID world will only amplify that trend, Anderson said.
The biggest challenge facing ArcBest, Anderson said, will be in meeting customer demand wherever it originates. ArcBest needs to “know where [demand] is coming from, and I can’t rely on history,” Anderson told Fuller.
Founded in 1923 as a less-than-truckload carrier, the company has expanded aggressively over the past 10 to 15 years into asset-light businesses to complement its LTL operations. Anderson said that one of his key responsibilities is to show customers how ArcBest’s myriad of services “make sense together.” To do that, Anderson’s team will collaborate closely with ArcBest’s service units and he will put himself and his team “in the customer’s shoes” to determine which solution works best for each.
Logistics and supply chain functions have soared in relevance in the wake of the pandemic, Anderson said. As a result, ArcBest has been in more high-level dialogues with its customer organizations than ever before, he said. Just as information technology before it, supply chain management is morphing from a cost center to a competitive weapon, with its value increasingly being recognized at the corporate level, he said.
Supply chain executives will be reporting to the C-suite more frequently than ever before, according to Anderson. As a “trusted adviser” to its customers, ArcBest will add value by helping provide a deeper and clearer picture of supply chain trends and strategies that the top executives will understand, he said.
Anderson said the strong demand for supply chain services will extend into 2021 as a post-COVID recovery spurs growth in the retail and industrial segments. Anderson also said that the work-from-home trend will have staying power, resulting in shifts in product flow away from densely populated urban areas and to suburban and more remote areas where more people will live and work.