For Brian Simons, CEO of Janus Logistics Technologies, the primary rule has always been the ability to connect the value one brings to the marketplace with a specific problem the clients (or potential clients) are trying to solve. “If you start with an idea that is interesting but not valuable, you will fail. If you start with empirical evidence and real-world problems, you will be successful,” says Brian. “I have tried to follow this rule by always starting conversation from a customer’s perspective. Then I try to close the loop and finish conversations from their perspective as well to confirm I am answering a specific problem. In doing this, I know and they know that what I am doing/offering is going to present value to them beyond the price and the product.”
Brian has been termed as a hardworking and authentic leader—two things that are fast becoming increasingly rare— leading the organization to new heights. “To work hard is to deliver on your commitments and have a big capacity for getting things done, while to be authentic is to be trustworthy and genuine,” he adds. “Beyond that, I am unique from the standpoint of being a business leader who can operate at different altitudes from the shop floor to the c-suite. I am also a hybrid between being a hardcore ‘ops guy’ who has managed large teams at big companies combined with being a tech savvy entrepreneur who is agile and innovative.”
According to the steadfast leader, distributed supply chains have always been a pain point, whether it is a service business, a retail business, or any other model that requires distributed inventory to be closer to the point of demand. It is costly, lacks accuracy, and tends to be rigid from a structural standpoint. “I personally felt these challenges over the first 20 years of my career. I stood in front of CEO’s and Board members explaining why these problems could not be solved in the bureaucracies of big companies,” he explains. Hence, Janus was born—an expression of these two decades of pain and suffering—using technology to create a different supply chain model that finally delivers on these pain points that haven’t been answered in the industry until Janus’ incorporation. “Janus is half tech geek and half deep supply chain knowledge concepts, a balance that couldn’t be forged at a big company and is scaling at a fast pace now,” says Brian.
Most warehouses or forward stocking locations use a standard landscape of local buildings (often ‘mom and pop’ kind of businesses) contracted to the big logistics players. Often, UPS, FedEx, and others use the same local providers and warehouses. Labor is a major component in the pricing of these services. There tend to be a lot of special charges for things like after-hours support. Inventory accuracy and systems tend to be shaky at best in this classic model. Janus’ software automates the warehouse to accomplish three things with three distinct outcomes:
1. Digital inventory – outcome: 100% inventory accuracy 2. Reduced reliance on labor – outcome: better cycle times and lower cost 3. Janus can turn anywhere into a warehouse – outcome: improved flexibility and better cost.
“What we do as a business results in a rare operational model where efficiencies, cost, and service levels all improve at the same time,” adds Brian.
Janus has fulfilled client requirements by incorporating technology and advanced business processes, which allows them to provide real-time, 100% accuracy on inventory. Technology also allows the company to use AI/ML applications to better forecast demand and inventory. “These two things come together to create world class agility, the backend automation creates the coordination and speed by doing certain transactions and decisions using advanced analytics and automated connections,” explains Brian. All of this comes together to reduce cost because of reduced reliance on labor, better visibility, so inventory purchases (and write-offs) are lower, better analytics models, and the flexibility to put a warehouse or stocking location anywhere required.
Janus has had a couple of clients who had issues with service technicians in the field, not closely managing their inventory. Inventory was too high, service levels were struggling, and lost inventory was taking its toll on their P&L. “We digitized the inventory in their stocking locations and trucks, resulting in enhanced service level by over 300 basis points, inventory came down around 500 basis points and they saw an improvement in their labor productivity of over 10%,” explains Brian. “All of this was driven by higher accuracy, better accountability on service technicians, and improved uses of data to manage their business.”
For the days to come, Brian plans to expand into other market verticals that can benefit from their technology and overall innovation. “We have some plans to disrupt the transportation vertical within logistics with new tech in the next year or two, and expect to continue to solve the unsolvable problems and use technology to do it with innovation,” says Brian. “Our technology extends human capabilities, and we see many opportunities for our current and future technology and services in the marketplace.”