The Need for Speed

Not long ago I was in a hot dog joint, sitting next to a guy who was having what I guess is a modern-day business lunch: chowing down while talking on a cell phone. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, but since he was sitting about eight feet away and not making any effort to moderate his voice, it was unavoidable.

It became clear that he worked for a flexible packaging converter located in my town—their plant is close to my house, in fact—and he was discussing a job. I won’t disclose any names, but he was talking about furnishing film to a contract packager for flow-wrapping a large food processor’s well-known breakfast product.

The meat of the conversation, to me anyway, was: “I told him we could turn it around in three weeks, and he just freaked. He said that was twice as fast as his former supplier!”

Proof, as if any more were needed, that fast turnaround is more vital than ever. As SKUs proliferate, as work gets increasingly farmed out to contractors, the prize is going to go to the one who can deliver the goods first.