Upstream Focus is Sourcing Journal’s series of conversations with suppliers, associations and sourcing professionals to get their insights on the state of sourcing, innovations in manufacturing and how to improve operations. In this Q&A, Greg Bollefer, executive vice president commercial and product development at supply chain logistics firm Green Worldwide Shipping, LLC, discusses the value of data for visibility and regulatory moves that fashion should watch.
Name: Greg Bollefer
Title: Executive vice president commercial and product development
Company: Green Worldwide Shipping, LLC
What’s the number one question you get from your apparel clients now that was never really a consideration before?
The apparel industry is becoming more and more interested in regulatory trade programs that support cash flow, like foreign trade zones, Section 301 exclusions, duty drawback and tariff engineering. Tense relations with China over forced labor, pandemic-related supply chain delays and now turmoil in Europe have left trade programs as one of the few areas for shippers to control when it comes to cost.
What is the main thing brands and retailers could do (or stop doing) right now that would immediately improve logistics?
Be flexible and have realistic expectations. Equipment shortages, port congestion and deliverability are issues of systemic proportion; a supply chain’s ability to evolve around longer lead times, utilize alternative or supplemental sourcing, and use the powerful purchase order and inventory data that management systems can provide are essential to keeping freight moving.
Given the rollercoaster of demand and shipment volumes during the pandemic, how are you adapting your operations to better prepare for and react to uncertainty?
International transportation is never certain. Carriers, trade lanes, modes, demand and everything in between changes on a daily basis. That’s what freight forwarding is all about: figuring out how to solve problems as the solutions constantly evolve. Green adapted by investing in technologies to support our operations and give our teams more time to do what they do best: move freight forward.
Which piece of technology or innovation have you found most useful during this time?
Access to data is essential. I think the best thing I’ve seen out of the past few years has been how much more data we can have access to and integrate for our clients to create some incredible programs. From live vessel and aircraft visibility to supply chain carbon emission tracking, our ability to use data effectively to solve problems will continue to be the greatest innovation.
Resiliency has become a buzzword since the disruption caused by the pandemic. What could brands and retailers do right now to immediately start preparing for the next unforeseen event?
You can’t plan for everything, so having people and partnerships in place that can communicate well and work together during disruptions is the best way for companies to not only be resilient, but sustainable over time.
What should be brands’ and retailers’ top lesson from Covid? How can they address this in their operations?
Be creative and think outside the box when it comes to your supply chain; don’t be afraid to explore how trade compliance initiatives can impact your bottom line. Find the right people and support them with access to the data they need to make effective changes.
What’s one piece of pending legislation that should be on fashion firms’ radar? How can companies proactively prepare for this potential policy?
That really depends on where the fashion comes from and the business model. Forced labor concerns have led to U.S. trade restrictions on goods from China. Meanwhile, the buzz around sustainability has led to the Federal Trade Commission focusing on reviewing and updating their Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims—or “Green Guides”—in 2022. Shippers should focus on trade legislation and programs that are beneficial to them, such as GSP (Generalized System of Preferences), MTB (Miscellaneous Tariff Bill) and de minimis 321, which continue to be in a holding pattern with Congress.
What keeps you up at night?
My youngest son, Bodhi, on most nights.
What makes you most optimistic?