Web Exclusive: Q&A with LOGISTICS TODAYs Top 5 Logistics Leaders- Steve McAlexander

April 14, 2004
LOGISTICS TODAY: What role does logistics play in Borders supply chain? MCALEXANDER: Borders Group considers logistics a core competency in its supply

LOGISTICS TODAY: What role does logistics play in Borders’ supply chain?

MCALEXANDER: Borders Group considers logistics a core competency in its supply chain. Expense control is a high priority, yet we also provide key value-added services that help distinguish us from our competition (for example, fast track priority processing such as labeling and kitting of product for promotions, seasonal product, and other special laydown events).

Logistics is an integral part of our company's domestic and international expansion and is recognized as an important enabler for success.

LT: How has your background prepared you for your current role?

MCALEXANDER: I have been a logistician since college. Several professors at Penn State influenced my decision to pursue a career in logistics, and I haven't looked back. I have been fortunate to work in this field for the past 25 years.

I was able to secure my first job through Penn State. My first assignment was with Baxter Travenol and exposed me to both domestic and international logistics. During that time, I also worked with a leading logistics consulting firm, and further developed my business skills.

My next job really set the direction for my career as I joined a "small" Japanese motorcycle company -- American Honda Motor Co. The rest is history, as the company grew to be a leader of engine technology and expanded to automobiles. During my career at Honda, I worked in several executive logistics positions that covered the supply chain -- procurement, operations, systems, finance, field sales. My experience at Honda enabled me to really understand how to manage logistics in an extreme growth environment.

Borders recruited me away from Honda and offered me a chance to build on an existing team, and integrate the logistics function into the corporate executive group. Retail is double-time and very fast paced, so all of my previous experience paid off in adjusting to a strong financial-based public company.

LT: What are Borders’ current efforts in terms of improving or streamlining its supply chain and logistics processes?

MCALEXANDER: We are in the middle of a significant IT infrastructure upgrade that will enable our merchandising and logistics functions to improve the efficiency of our supply chain. These new systems will allow us to reduce our inventory investments, improve time to market and optimize our distribution network.

LT: What is the biggest supply chain challenge Borders faces today?

MCALEXANDER: Our company has been successful at addressing a multitude of supply chain challenges and we have made excellent progress. Our IT infrastructure investment will address remaining challenges with IT systems, so I am excited that we have invested in this and are improving this capability for future success in supply chain initiatives.

DB: What can you point to as Borders’ greatest accomplishment in terms of its supply chain?

MCALEXANDER: I am blessed with a great professional logistics team, and over the past five years, we have implemented many creative initiatives that resulted in millions of dollars in savings for our supply chain. Our company is always challenged with a continuous improvement mentality, and our logistics team is constantly looking for new ways to optimize our supply chain. For example, in our annual logistics plan, we have over 30 initiatives that our team will be leading to help support our overall company business plan. It takes a strong group of dedicated professionals to achieve this level of accomplishment.

Steve McAlexander
vice president logistics
Borders Group Inc. (www.borders.com)