Gene Tyndall takes a deep breath and looks out the window of his fifth-floor Miami office toward a stand of palm trees that flank the driveway of Ryder System Inc.'s sprawling campus. The man who unabashedly lays claim to coining the term "supply-chain management" in the early 1980s realizes that some business leaders are confused about how to deal with factors such as tighter border security and fewer air cargo flights that have slowed the supply chain since the Sept. 11 attacks. Many of them are stocking more parts instead of using just-in-time inventory models and are buying less from cheaper overseas suppliers.
Tyndall certainly isn't confused. It's an issue on which he wants to be heard, so he lowers his voice and fixes an intense gaze on his listener. "You don't abandon the most successful supply-chain business model there has ever been because of some uncertainty that can be resolved with information and with IT," says Tyndall, executive VP of global markets and E-commerce for Ryder, an old-style trucking and truck-leasing company that's using IT to reshape itself into a manager of clients' global supply chains.
When Tyndall talks supply chain, people listen. Dell Computer did, back in 1993, when it began developing a just-in-time inventory-management system that's the envy of all industry. So did numerous other companies-including Ford, Procter & Gamble, and Reebok-while he was a senior partner leading the supply-chain practice at Ernst & Young.
Companies want the information Tyndall talks about, but they aren't willing to make the leap of trust needed to get there, says Christopher Gopal, VP of global supply-chain services for Unisys Corp. and co-author with Tyndall of the book Supercharging Supply Chains (John Wiley & Sons, 1998). "Companies want the ability to disassociate, to go somewhere else if they want to, and the concern is, 'how will it hurt me if the company I want to stop using has had access to my information?'" Gopal says. But the idea of replacing inventory with information is too appealing to keep down. Even in today's more-cautious environment, Tyndall's reputation for success means his voice will be heard. "When Gene talks about creating business relationships that are built around what seems like extreme collaboration," Gopal says, "people are listening."
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Photo by Tyndall by Tom Salyer Join us Jan. 8-10, when Gene Tyndall will lead a roundtable discussion on supply chains: informationweek.com/869/chain.htm
Join us Jan. 8-10, when Gene Tyndall will lead a roundtable discussion on supply chains: informationweek.com/869/chain.htm