Up Close is Sourcing Journal’s regular check-in with industry executives to get their take on topics ranging from personal style to their company’s latest moves. In this Q&A, Michael Curtin, senior vice president at supply chain software firm Logility, explains what food and beverage can teach fashion and why traceability must be part of apparel’s eco efforts.
Name: Michael Curtin
Title: Senior vice president
Which other industry has the best handle on the supply chain? What can apparel learn?
Apparel should look to food and beverage and fast-moving consumer goods for learnings. These industries must focus on supply chain as a matter of survival.
Food products have a shelf life which drives a lean, efficient supply chain. Consumer goods companies experience frequent demand spikes. This past year has highlighted the need for demand sensing, visibility to alternative sources of supply, and overall resilience to quickly sense and respond to disruption. Food and beverage and fast-moving consumer goods have a good handle on this.
How would you describe yourself as a consumer?
I place quality, ease of transaction and brand loyalty over price or bargain hunting.
As a consumer, what does it take to win your loyalty?
Quality products and a high level of customer service win my loyalty. I like brands that stand behind their products.
What’s your typical work (or weekend) uniform?
Work and weekend have morphed over the past year. Typically, it’s a T-shirt or golf shirt, shorts and flip flops.
Which fashion era is your favorite?
I’m a fan of the mid to late ’90s grunge and surf style.
Who’s your style icon?
Eddie Vedder or Kurt Cobain
What’s the best decision your company has made in the last year?
Doubling down on our investment in R&D innovation last year has been the best decision. It has led us to developing industry leading capabilities that enable our customers to improve their sustainability and traceability efforts.
How would you describe your corporate culture?
We are an innovative and customer-centric team.
What can companies learn from Covid-19?
Resiliency is everything. Balancing supply and demand has always been challenging, but Covid-19 intensified it. The last year underscored the importance to have tools and technology that enable early detection to spikes in demand, disruption in the supply base, visibility to inventory and the ability to effectively allocate inventory to expedite conversion to cash.
What should be the apparel industry’s top priority now?
Operating a green supply chain should be the top priority for apparel brands. Being able to measure, manage and optimize the environmental impact of bringing a product to the end consumer is going to be increasingly important to conscious consumers and brand investors looking at ESG scores. The ability to trace and manage chain of custody for materials and components is also going to be critical as much-needed scrutiny into ethical sourcing and supply chain practices heats up.
What keeps you up at night?
Continued supply disruptions.
What makes you most optimistic?
The ability to leverage technology to enable visibility, demand sensing and innovative forecasting methods.
Tell us about your company’s latest product introduction:
The Logility Digital Supply Chain Platform enables brands to seize new opportunities, sense and respond to changing market dynamics, make better decisions and more profitably manage complex global supply chains. Our latest software release supports a strong, collaborative supply network and enhances corporate reputation with consistent social and environmental data that drives ethical sourcing decisions, transparent reporting and better risk management across the supply network.