Jul 28, 2022 Mobility Supply Chain Perspectives: Interview with Dave Gorton, SIRVA
By Ben Heller
Last week I sat down for a Three Questions Interview with Dave Gorton, Supply Chain Manager at SIRVA Worldwide Relocation & Moving. Like so many supply chain professionals in our industry, I know how hard Dave works, and how challenging it can be for supply chain managers to deliver on business objectives and manage partner expectations within a volatile marketplace.
I wanted to check in with Dave to share what supply chain managers are going through these days, say thanks, and give him a big virtual hug to celebrate Hug a Mobility Supply Chain Manager Day on July 29. Yes, that’s a totally made-up holiday, but let’s be real: who in mobility wouldn’t want a hug, especially in the busiest week of moving season?
Here are some of the highlights from our conversation. You can also listen to the full interview here.
What supply chain vertical is causing the most pain for corporate mobility right now and why?
I think temporary housing is probably number one by a decent margin right now. There’s a confluence of related factors: backlogged moves from Covid, countries opening borders, changing quarantine requirements, length of quarantine, and all that jazz. Also, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is causing a refugee crisis that we haven't seen for quite some time. All these things combined have created a highly constricted space, especially in Europe. Throw in normal summer holiday volume and it's really just the cherry on the temp housing sundae. But it's not just temp housing. Everything has become tighter and tighter and prices continue to rise. The job is about trying to find that delicate balance between what's the risk exposure I'm willing to take for guaranteeing access to inventory while still also being faithful to our clients and understanding that budgets aren't unlimited.
What challenges are you seeing in the mobility in the moving supply chain this year? Anything different than the past?
I don't think we're necessarily seeing things that are all that different from the past. I think we're just seeing it exaggerated to a level that to use the buzzword in the industry is ‘unprecedented.’ We've seen mom and pop trucking companies shut down since the start of Covid, which has limited supply and access in and out of ports. We've seen some pressure on costs, which clients are becoming more and more sensitive to, especially rising fuel costs. The costs are all justifiable, but they’re unexpected and outside of contracted pricing in most situations. So, again, it's about finding the balance to allow me to be faithful to the contracts and agreements that I've signed and executed.
I’ve found that managing expectations is important. You have to look at the reality of the situation: lead times are increasing, cost pressure is increasing, capacity is decreasing to some extent – and all the while realizing, yes, Amazon can get something to my house in two days; why can't my household goods show up in two days? It's just finding that sweet spot of making sure that everyone's aligned.
What do you wish mobility stakeholders knew about your job?
I think everyone overinflates their own importance in their roles to some extent. But I think the delicate thing with supply chain is giving partners that fact-based approach. It’s not that we don’t want to help; it’s just the difficult reality of a situation. I was in Munich recently looking at corporate housing. Something that I didn’t realize was that two bedroom and larger units just don't exist in the market. Most partners had been presenting it as there's no availability, not that there's no units. But this is the reality of the market. For me, having that kind of first-hand knowledge and understanding of these conditions means I can say to a partner, look, this is the hand that's been dealt. We're trying to be as efficient as possible and get your employees moved as quickly as we can from A to B with as minimal friction as possible. So, I think it’d help if stakeholders had a better understanding the constraints of the market throughout the supply chain. This is especially true for folks that might be HR VPs moving just a couple of employees annually – they look at costs and experience from three, four, five years ago and expect that to be the reality now, but there’s no way. The space has just changed too much.
Mobility supply chain management is not an easy job to get right. It takes significant insight and understanding of the mobility ecosystem and the external global forces that can have an impact. With all the variables that continue to be at play in mobility, it’s never been more important for corporate customers to have access to real-time marketplace conditions. PricePoint Portal gives mobility customers and their partners access to unparalleled price and service benchmarking across more than 2 million tariffs from 1,000 movers worldwide.
Want to know more about how PricePoint can help you make more confident, data-driven decisions every time?
CEO Ben fell in love with the mobility industry while running Accentureʼs global mobility consulting practice. Focusing on the mobility supply chain, he learned the hard way that move pricing is complicated, unclear, and vulnerable to manipulation. After evaluating all existing alternatives, Ben partnered with Ryan to make data-driven moving decisions possible.