Interview with Ms Lisa LaFave

Ms Lisa LaFave
Ms Lisa LaFave
VP [International Business Development]

Founded in 1907 as a messenger company in the United States, United Parcel Service-UPS has grown into a $42.6 billion corporation by clearly focusing on the goal of enabling commerce around the globe. Today UPS is a global company with one of the most recognized and admired brands in the world. It has become the world's largest package delivery company and a leading global provider of specialized transportation and logistics services, managing the flow of goods, funds, and information in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide, everyday. As Vice President of International Business Development, Ms Lisa LaFave oversees all sales, service and business development activities in UPS’ international regions: Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and Asia Pacific. A native of Pensacola, Florida, Ms LaFave began her UPS career in 1989 in Atlanta, Georgia. Since that time, she has progressed through several management positions with increasing responsibility in both sales management and customer service within Business Development. Prior to her current position, she has served as Vice President of Strategic Accounts, the East New England Director of Sales and Manager of Corporate Sales Planning and Performance. Most recently, Ms LaFave served as Vice President of Sales Strategy, where she was responsible for redesigning the coverage and market strategy for the US sales force. Ms LaFave received her bachelor’s degree in Industrial Management from Georgia Institute of Technology. While speaking to Face2Face team, Ms LaFave describes how logistics and transportation sectors can optimize overall profitability and productivity within apparel, textiles, fashion, and retail industries.

Fibre2fashion compliments UPS on completing a successful century of existence. Can you narrate your success story?

"Thank you! UPS’ history began one hundred years ago, when our founder Jim Casey borrowed $100 to start a bicycle messenger business. From that humble venture grew the UPS of today. More than 400,000 employees strong, UPS is the largest package delivery company in the world, with the eighth-largest airline, more than 94,000 vehicles and an ever-expanding array of supply chain services. Our international network, which began in Canada and Germany more than three decades ago, now extends to more than 200 countries and territories. I think our success comes from listening to our customers’ needs as we evolve and grow. Whether it is implementing technology solutions for streamlined shipping, offering direct flights to China to quickly reach manufacturers, or bypassing warehouses to go direct to retailers - we are focused on customers’ demands to help them remain competitive. As we look to the future, we continue to build on the success of the past. Jim Casey’s wisdom and entrepreneurial spirit still guides this company today and will move it forward into our second century of service."

Post Katrina, what were the challenges faced by UPS and how did it over come the same?

"With more than 2,000 employees affected by Hurricane Katrina, our people were our number one priority when the storm made landfall in New Orleans. UPS worked diligently to accommodate displaced employees by putting together a support program for impacted workers and establishing an employee relief fund. UPS also helped find those employees jobs at other UPS facilities. Although the storm forced the closure of dozens of UPS package and logistics operations facilities, UPS also was able to act quickly for its customers affected by the storm and restored service to all but a few areas of Louisiana in just two weeks’ time. The company also became a key partner in the disaster relief effort, moving tons of supplies at the request of U.S. federal, state and local government agencies and private relief services. The impact of Katrina on the UPS delivery network was localized to just the areas hit hardest by the hurricane. UPS has a flexible, inter-modal delivery network that allowed us to maintain regular operations elsewhere."

What is your global observation on the current list of logistic services offered to the apparel, textiles, fashion, and retail industries?

"I can speak to what our current customers are telling us - bottom line, they need logistics solutions to help them compete globally. Today, companies no longer compete – their supply chains do. Our customers are requiring agile, responsive supply chains and needs like distribution center bypass and retail-ready solutions. Today’s consumer has become more discerning, and more demanding. Retailers are responding by increasingly looking at ways to keep inventory in motion from source to shelf and addressing lead-time challenges. They’re also benefiting from visibility systems, especially those linking vendors, suppliers and customers. Logistics solutions must cross the entire supply chain to address these needs; for example, supplier and vendor management, inventory and warehouse management, and global transportation, which all have to be integrally linked. Although not many providers have it all when it comes to the depth of such capabilities, expertise, and global reach, retailers are asking for and will demand more from their transportation and logistics providers."

What special supply chain solutions do UPS offer to apparel, textile, fashion, and retail industries in particular? What about vis-à-vis competition?

"As apparel manufacturing overseas continues to grow, there is tremendous international opportunity with both small package and freight. UPS has the global muscle to carry it all – any size, any weight, by any mode. For high-volume of samples that are sent back and forth between designers and the manufacturers, UPS offers the broadest portfolio of reliable, time-definite Express shipping options, both domestically and internationally. UPS also offers other important shipping needs including ocean freight from overseas manufacturers, and truckload, LTL, and ground small package for less critical domestic shipments to distributors and retailers. UPS has a superior value proposition compared with its competitors with respect to its enterprise portfolio. Due to the multi-modal transportation needs for apparel manufacturers, we can assist with various freight needs, including solutions for high-value accessories or clothing. An example is UPS Trade Direct multi-modal (ground, air or ocean) service which can consolidate orders, provide customs clearance and transportation for door-to-door service to retail stores and businesses, as well as directly to end consumers. We also know that ease-of-use when it comes to international shipping is a top-of-mind need for the industry; especially as it relates to customs clearance. UPS is actually the largest customs brokerage firm in the world. A tool like UPS TradeAbilitySM for international shippers helps determine restrictions to avoid customs delays. Shippers can generate estimates for duties, taxes and transportation, locate compliance and licensing information, and identify restricted trading parties. As the apparel industry is looking for ways to improve profit margins through consolidation and expansion of product lines, UPS can help reduce costs and streamline its business process. Technology solutions such as UPS WorldShip can manage all shipping activities right from your desktop – from saving frequently used addresses and profiles, to generating required international export documentation for faster international shipment processing. The dependence of many apparel manufacturers on a few large customers for most of their revenue indicates that customer service for these customers is of utmost importance. Visibility solutions for apparel manufacturers such as UPS Quantum ViewSM Manage will help provide up-to-the-minute online status reports about time-sensitive shipments, which can help improve every business function, from customer service to sales and accounts receivable to inventory management. For the industry’s special needs UPS offers source tagging, making clothes “retail ready” by placing garments on hangers, which is offered through UPS Supply Chain Solutions’ Supplier Management service. Supplier Management also gives companies the opportunity to gain visibility and control over their global vendors, all without adding staff or investing in expensive technology. So whether it is customs clearance, freight movements, or shipment visibility, UPS is focused on the solutions that help apparel, textile and fashion businesses, large or small, remain competitive."

Technology spend is high on all logistics providers’ agenda. What specific technologies is UPS focusing on today, for tomorrow?

"Technology is a competitive differentiator for UPS. Over the last two decades, UPS has invested billions of dollars in technology development and infrastructure to help businesses grow, manage costs and improve their customer service. In the fast-paced world of fashion, buyers and suppliers need information about their goods at all times. UPS offers an array of technology products that provide this information so businesses are always “in the know” and can make the most efficient decisions. We are creating technology tools that our customers can integrate into their own business processes to become more successful. For example, UPS Flex® Global View provides total visibility of goods being shipped by multiple modes of transportation-air, ocean, ground and rail-via the Web. Proactive alerts flag potential supply chain challenges, while reports help with business planning and forecasting. UPS continues its innovative tradition with the development of package flow technologies. A suite of software and hardware designed to give the company a competitive edge, package flow technologies ensure UPS has unparalleled small package operations - optimizing the delivery of multiple services to customers (air, ground and international) out of a single delivery vehicle. We are also using technology to give our customers more personalized control over their shipments. UPS Delivery InterceptSM for example, gives shipper control over intercepting a shipment. Delivery Intercept is powered by package flow technology - which enables UPS to offer the service more reliably and cost-effectively than the competition."

Which areas/geographic regions do you consider as logistic hubs for these sectors?

"One cannot have a discussion about the apparel, textiles and fashion industries and not talk about Asia. UPS is investing heavily in our infrastructure and personnel in China and beyond. UPS Supply Chain Solutions (SCS), the company’s logistics arm, is in a build-out program for China – focusing on the geographic areas of the Yangtze river (Shanghai), Bohai Bay (Beijing) and China’s chief fabric and finished clothing area in the Pearl River Delta (Guangzhou, Yantian and Hong Kong). India also is important – the main export businesses UPS caters to include manufacturers of ready-made garments, textiles, leather goods, handicrafts, gems and jewelry. UPS operates a 16-location network in India easily accessible to main ports and highways, with 13 offices and facilities in the cities of Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore and Calcutta.Also in Asia, we see Japan also taking on an increasing role in intra-Asia movement of goods and services. In Asia, there is much attention and focus on integrating the infrastructure and IT systems, which will benefit retail and apparel industries.In Europe, there is a continued move toward outsourcing and consolidation of 3PLs. Western European manufacturing is migrating to lower-cost sourcing from Central/Eastern Europe. Asia is driving need for regional storage and distribution of finished goods and postponement strategies for value-added services, such as custom kitting, closer to destinations. UPS facilities in Roermond, for example, make the central location of the Netherlands’ pivotal for logistics clusters."

How can logistics and transportation sectors optimize overall profitability and productivity within our select industries?

"U.S. retailing pioneer Marshall Field once famously remarked that the secret to retail success was to ""Give the lady what she wants."" Today we can fulfill on that simple sounding, but historically challenging rule. With advances in technology, flexibility in sourcing, and discipline in distribution we can do several things:Reduce stock-outs, ensuring that Mr. Field’s hypothetical lady can not only get what she wants, but get it when and where she wants.Increase selection, leveraging multiple channels networked together to offer far more SKUs than even the biggest box of 'big-box' retail could physically hold. These channels would include a combination of “brick and mortar” or store footprint and e-commerce or internet sales channels. Speed products to market, reducing lead times and promoting product innovation... in particular for short shelf life items like fashion apparel. Optimize exactly how products are brought to market, routing fast moving and high value SKUs very differently than seasonal or lower value merchandise. This enables a retailer to enjoy operational efficiencies tailored to product needs, and not settle for a lowest common denominator trade-of solution."
Published on: 05/03/2007

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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