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Q&A: Frank Carpenito

Frank Carpenito

Frank Carpenito currently serves as President of Gemline, a position he has held since February 2019, following a five-year tenure as a member of the company’s Board of Advisors. He previously served as President/CEO for four private equity-backed consumer products companies, and held key leadership roles at three public corporations: P&G, PepsiCo and United Natural Foods. Frank also serves on the Board of One Family, Inc., a Massachusetts- based non-profit whose mission is to end family homelessness in the state. He has been involved with the organization for almost 20 years. Frank holds a B.S. in Management from Boston College, and was born and raised just outside of Boston.

Can you share the most common conversations your executive team has relative to “supply chain?”

In the current environment, the most common day-to-day conversations we are having focus on logistics, inventory management, sustainable sourcing and risk management (the idea of ensuring that every one of our products is able to be produced in at least two countries, thus reducing our dependency on single-sourced products).

For years, supply chain was oftentimes viewed as a conditional back-end function that rarely garnered extra attention or discussion. For the past two years, supply chain has been anything but that. Instead, we, along with most companies, find ourselves adapting our strategies and executional platforms around our supply chains, which means that supply chain as a function has moved from being “behind the scenes” to “front and center” in most executive team conversations. This is definitely the case at Gemline.

Related to marketing, does your executive team consider the supply chain important? Why?

Yes, absolutely. The marketing supply chain is vital, and is an instrumental component to our growth. We rely heavily on a mixture of internal and external resources to create advertising, marketing and sales tools that drive awareness, consideration, and ultimately, revenues.

Multiple functions in addition to supply chain and marketing are involved early and often in the process to ensure that everyone has all the information needed to meet timelines, budgets and customer expectations. If anything, the acceleration of digital marketing has amplified the importance of the marketing supply chain, because speed and agility are paramount.

What happens if the supply chain is broken in our business?

When the supply chain is broken, it causes a lot of extra work for the rest of the team and creates delays that impact customers. In most instances, internal and external customers feel helpless when the supply chain fails them, and rarely can recover on their own. Unlike certain processes and functions within companies, supply chain is the glue that holds things together, and when it breaks, everything else dependent upon it also breaks or is significantly strained.

What advice would you give a marketing executive that is unfamiliar with marketing supply chain concept?

I suspect most marketing executives are executing many, if not all, aspects of the marketing supply chain, but may not be labeling it as such. Still, it is always a good practice to take a step back, and look at processes and resources that can drive greater efficiencies. This includes setting up time with members of the marketing supply chain team to better understand the key factors they are reliant upon, such as lead-times, costs, transportation and risks. This will allow the team to be better informed when making decisions for future marketing campaigns.

What steps would you take to ensure the integrity of your supply chain is kept?

We build various checks/gates into our supply chain that allow us to validate suppliers, products, quality and risks to ensure consistency throughout the process. Because there are so many variables that potentially can come into play within a supply chain, we constantly encourage our team to revisit best practices, and adapt them when necessary.

More specifically, when something works smoothly in our supply chain, we encourage our team to remain content, but when we see disruption or lack of reliability, we encourage quick remediation. All that said, formalizing the review process with all supply chain stakeholders is a key foundational pillar to maintaining long-term integrity and stability.

In the current landscape, what are your thoughts on driving price and margin versus the importance of quality?

For Gemline, quality, safety and responsible behavior are always at the top of our priority list. Over the course of our 65-year history, trust has been at the core of our customer relationships, and these three priorities all drive a reputation for trust. We believe strongly we can support a supply chain that is built on quality, safety and responsible behavior, but also create attractive price and margin opportunities within that supply chain.

Finding the right balance is what separates successful businesses from those that struggle or fail.