Feature Friday – Coby Blanchard
I remember a time when Stuller had no computer network, not a PC in sight; yup it’s been that long! My story starts in 1994 when I was attending college at the local university – the University of Louisiana at Lafayette pursuing a degree in Industrial Technology. A friend of mine who already worked for Stuller told me about the company and encouraged me to apply. So, I did and started a short time later.
I began by helping computerize inventory management for the diamonds and gemstones department. This was a great way to get my feet wet in jewelry manufacturing. I knew nothing about the jewelry business coming in, but that was okay because diamonds and gemstones were new to Stuller at that time as well. I had the opportunity to help organize and start that part of the business.
Soon after, I began planning inventory for the same area. Then, in 2001, I joined IT as a systems analyst to help implement our new Oracle ERP system. This was a huge step in ensuring that Stuller would deliver the best service possible to our customers. During the next several years, I was lucky enough to be called upon to help almost every area of the company rediscover itself in this new computer system. The amount of holistic learning was incredible. I was able to build relationships and better understand the systems required to run the entire business. I truly enjoy making complicated processes simpler, more efficient, and helping people throughout the organization see how their processes connect and support the bigger picture.
Within a few years, I was asked to take on a more formal process improvement role and lead a new Process Improvement Department. The team was tasked with continuing the work, more deliberately, with many of the company’s departments in an effort to improve processes. I continued to gain tremendous respect for the jewelry making processes and the people responsible for its success.
I am very grateful to work for Stuller. I love this company. It has given me so many opportunities, and I’ve acquired tremendous experience, as well as, long lasting friendships. I was eventually promoted to chief supply chain officer. I still remember when Matt Stuller and then CEO, Jay Jackson told me that they had chosen me for this role. I stood up out of the chair and jumped up. I gave Matt a hug, gave Jay a hug and I said, “Absolutely, absolutely, I’d love to do it.”
The primary function of chief supply chain officer at Stuller includes the fulfillment of customer orders. This means the planning of ‘on the shelf’ inventory, just-in-time manufacturing, CAD/CAM fulfillment, pick/pack/ship, and transportation. In order for this to happen, the right people have to be motivated to do the hard work to put the pieces in place. This is where Stuller stands out, its people. I don’t see this as a job. It’s really just what I do! I’m always ‘thinking’ about it. I talk to people about work and probably annoy them, but I just really love it.
I love the amount of care our people have for keeping our promise to our customers. It’s flattering when customers say, “Man, you always get it done. I never worry about it. I just call and order and it’s here the next day.” This only happens because our people care about our customers.
5 Questions with Coby
1. What do you do in your free time?
Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of boating. I am also into fitness. I go to the gym
2. What makes you unique?
My style. I’m generally a pretty calm person.
3. If you could talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Be more open, vocal, and build relationships. I was pretty shy growing up.
4. Do you have any advice for folks looking to get into this industry?
Be open to change. Stuller is driven by a consumer market that demands a lot of new things.
5. What’s something that most people working at Stuller that you’ve known for years wouldn’t know about you?
I worked in a sugarcane refinery right out of high school before I realized the importance of a secondary education.