Episode #2: How Do We Grow Together? With Tim Hinckley

We are experiencing an unprecedented paradigm shift in the world of retail. Retailers are struggling to cope with reduced sales, shop closures, and stagnant inventories, and consumers are increasingly drawn to eCommerce as lockdown measures continue in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Omnichannel technology offers these retailers a chance to grow together as we go through the current crisis. Built upon an intimate knowledge of customers’ needs and preferences, omnichannel technology seamlessly links sellers who want to unlock their retail inventories and consumers who are clamoring to buy their goods. Today’s guest is Tim Hinckley, the Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of Radial, a company that offers omnichannel solutions to businesses in the retail industry. Tim joins Betsy Westhafer and Tony Bodoh to talk about how Radial knows its customers and what makes it different.

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How Do We Grow Together? With Tim Hinckley

Knowing Your Customer Couldn’t Be More Relevant Than It Is Today

We have an amazing guest, Tim Hinckley. Tim is going to share his perspective, which is both as an expert and also as a thought leader in the space of the omnichannel and retail. I’m going to pass it over to you, Betsy, to tell people who Tim is and why we’ve got him on the show.

We are excited to have Tim Hinckley on our show. Tim and I go back a few years. Full disclosure, we worked together on the Radial Customer Advisory Board. Tim is the Chief Commercial Officer. I can say personally, I have learned so much from Tim by watching how he engages with customers. I’m excited to have this conversation. Tim, welcome.

Thank you, Betsy and Tony. It’s my pleasure and thank you for having me as your guest. I’m looking forward to the conversation. Hopefully, we can have a little fun while we’re at it and also enlighten some of the folks out there in the audience.

Tim, can you start off by telling us your background? Can you walk us through your professional career in this industry?

It goes all the way back to my college days. Like many people who worked during college, one of my jobs was loading trailers at UPS from 4:00 to 8:00 in the morning. What I learned is this industry has its own vernacular. At UPS, it’s not called a trailer. It’s called a feeder, believe it or not. How the heck they ever ended up with that name, I don’t know, but you learn quickly. That’s what it is. It worked well for me. I had a lot of fun doing it. It paid well in Toledo, Ohio at the time that I worked there, a good paying job. It gave me the flexibility to go to college and work at the same time. It was only a part-time thing. I didn’t know that I was going into logistics at that point in time. I moved over and graduated. I went to work for a company called RadioShack. For those of you that are old enough to remember RadioShack, in the ‘80s, they had everything you can imagine from boomboxes, computers, electronic componentry, batteries, crazy stuff like that.

I was fascinated with the company because they were one of the early companies with PCs. They had a thing called TRS-80. I would say a little bit of a geek in the way that I was like, “How does this computer type thing work?” I’ve got to sell them and run a store. At an early age straight out of college, I was running a RadioShack store, which doesn’t sound much but in the world of retail, this predates planograms or anything like that. As a store manager, you hired people, fired people, set the floor, decided what inventory you needed. You were in essence a general manager of a real business. You had your own P&L and you look at your comps. It was a powerful thing for a young guy. It had intrigued me and I went to work for them for a bit. I’m the type of guy that can’t sit still. Waiting for people to come to me wasn’t ideal. I moved over to a company called Dictaphone.

Unfortunately, a lot of these companies have changed, but Dictaphone has since morphed into a company called Nuance. Their focus was transcription. They were heavy into ambulatory, legal, doctors, offices and government agencies. I took over as the regional manager for them and grew that. The real forte back into logistics came with a small company in the early ‘80s called Roadway Package System, now known as FedEx Ground. At that job, all of those predecessor jobs started to culminate and turn it into something powerful. I was able to relate back to a store manager running a store, the technology and the information empowered it and inventory flows. I understood the operational side. What does it take to get a product from A to B, those cartons to show up on your doorstep? When you’re behind the scenes, you learn how the sausage is made. It’s quite complex. There are a lot of pieces to it and a lot of people involved. Fortunately, that worked out great. It turned into a 27-year career with FedEx.


Omnichannel Technology: Around 85% of Radial’s business is eCommerce direct to consumer.

I did about everything you could do at FedEx, worked most of the operating companies one way or another, either directly work for them or supported them. That was a lot of fun. At the age of 50, I decided to go back and get my MBA. My oldest son was going off to college. I was not a good college student. I had a lot of fun in college. I have vivid memories of that. I thought I would try to be a good role model and it would be a good time to reinvigorate that academia view. I went for a general MBA. I graduated two years later from Auburn which was great. A company called Hasbro Toys, which I’m sure everybody knows if you know Nerf, My Little Pony, Monopoly, Scrabble that everybody’s playing with their kids at their houses. I took over this job as a Senior Vice President of Global Logistics. It was exciting because I was able to take the 27 years of knowledge that I had at FedEx in developing and building a shared service organization for the supply chain.

I was in the area to take all that knowledge and build all that out. We went and built that and we’re able to grow the company by $1.5 billion. We were able to avoid the slowdown associated with West Concords and outstripping our Pacer competition. It was a great learning bed for me because I was able to prove to Hasbro but also to myself and others that nowadays supply chain is more relevant than ever and it is a strategic weapon. It’s something that will make the difference between your survival and thriving. In some cases, as you see in the news, people are in bad straights. That’s exciting. Radial hired me a couple of years ago to come and take over their commercial operations and help reinvigorate and grow that company. It’s been a rocket ride since. In terms of new client acquisition, we’ve more than doubled historical levels of growth. It’s not because anything I did other than unlock the potential of the people that were there and simply give them a different vantage point to look at things. It’s been exciting. Hopefully, that gives everybody a little bit of my background.

Do you deal with retail clients?

The majority of our clients are in the retail sector. That’s our heritage. We came out of a company called GSI Commerce, it became eBay Enterprise, but we started as a merchant at heart. Our company was a merchant and then we helped other merchants and retailers. That’s our heart and bulk of our business there. The majority of our business is about 85%, which is eCommerce direct to consumers. That’s something that makes Radial special and different. Almost everybody else in this business started off in the B2B space and is trying to get into eCommerce. I can tell you that it’s a lot easier to do B2B shipments than it is direct to consumer shipment. We have a unique advantage in the value proposition.

In the couple of years that you’ve been there, what’s been one of the biggest changes you’ve seen specifically to eCommerce?

Consumerism is definitely the winner. Knowing your customer, the title of your show, it couldn’t be more relevant than it is now. If you think of your audience and think of your last shopping experience. You went to a strip center, to a mall and you saw the same stuff that you saw on the last trip. Nothing was special. Aisles stacked high and deep. It kinders back to the 1950s style of retailing but I can also say that there are some great digitally-native clients. There are some great omnichannel clients that have reinvigorated that experience. They truly know who Tony is. They know what his likes are and they know what his motivating factors are. They know what Betsy likes. They’re going to cater and build loyalty campaigns around you as a unique client.

They’re going to know what you’d like to buy whether that’s for yourself or a gift. What that’s done is it’s created a powerful channel. Ironically, what we’re facing with everybody being sequestered in their house is turning out to be what I believe is the largest paradigm shift ever in the history of retail. What I mean by that is virtually everybody. My mother who’s in her 80s has now learned how to get her groceries and how to shop like never before online, with things coming to her. For somebody that’s at her age where it’s not always easy to get around, life has become much easier for her. She’s enjoying some of that enabling factor. If you talk to younger generations, they have an opportunity to shop across a broader SWOT.

You have companies like Gymshark, which started in Europe using social media and they’re exploding. Their sales are going crazy. They don’t own a single retail store. They don’t hire high profile people to convince people, “My product is the best,” like we’re used to. What they’re doing is they’re getting at the heart and they’re saying, “Betsy, we know you are into fitness. Maybe you like walking. Here’s some great walking apparel. Tony, we know that you like to be comfortable. Here’s a great way to be comfortable in nowadays environment.” That affinity to the customer and that linkage to that customer experience is more powerful than ever before. It’s exciting.

When it comes to knowing your customer, there’s no better time than now to get into the business and leverage the technology and the changes going on.CLICK TO TWEET

Tim, that brings us back to a comment you made when we were talking in our prep session. We’re talking about omnichannel and the power of omnichannel. You said there were three areas that are important as we make this transition. It’s been going on for a while now. In that process of our conversation, you went deeper into these three years so pull those up because you’ve laid out the case. Let’s go deeper so people understand what’s going on behind the scenes because it was fascinating to me to hear it all.

If you read nowadays Wall Street Journal, and I’m an avid reader of it, what you saw are retailers. These traditional brick and mortar retailers with hundreds of stores. Merchants at their heart love to tell you how many stores they have, “I have 100 stores. I have 500 stores. I have 2,000 stores.” Isn’t that exciting? Ironically, in the Wall Street Journal article, what you see is there are huge debt loads. There are huge rent payments for the store base and a lot of these retailers are going to face some of the most difficult times because they’ve got all the workers furloughed. They have inventory across hundreds or thousands of stores. It’s sitting idle in many cases. They have large rent payments associated with that. They have large buying options with a product that may not even make it in season.

Think of Easter. There are a lot of Easter products in storage that nobody’s going to be able to get access to. The three aspects of omnichannel are the brick and mortar stores at its base, but it’s also the fulfillment centers and the technology. I can give you some real-life examples. When this whole thing started and retailers were like, “How are we going to get stuff and make our clients feel comfortable?” One of our clients who uses our technology said, “We can redirect those things and allow you to come to the store and we can have curbside pickup. You don’t even have to come into the store.” Our technology allowed that order to be routed to the store closer to them. The order gets processed as opposed to coming out of a centralized distribution center. The consumer can come to get the goods out of that.

What that did is it unlocked the inventory to people that might not have been able to get in there because their state had a mandate to close the stores but allowed the inventory to keep flowing out of the stores. That was one good example. Another good example is where do you ship the product from? We have another client that has their own warehouses and also uses us for eCommerce. The reality was their mainline distribution centers and the retail stores got closed down and so on and so forth. With us, it allowed us to continue to flow the goods to track to the consumer. We’ve been able to maintain the revenue streams and things like that.

At a high level, all this can come together because it’s not only my technology but it’s technology in general in terms of connecting to the consumer. With this direct one-to-one relationship that’s now available out there, there’s another example I can give you. It’s a large retailer and they’re not known to be in the food business. That’s not their bread and butter business but they do have it. Their product is not low-end. It’s for foodies. It’s for the connoisseurs out there. What has happened in this environment is people who want to eat, they’ve been able to identify a whole new audience that likes their product, have gone online, and they’re up almost 400% year over year. We had over 100% of their customers being new acquisition, people they’ve never done business with before.

As you can imagine, if you’re the CEO of this company, the conversation I had with her leadership team was, “We’re not even advertising. Word of mouth, basic social media, Facebook and things like that have exploded upon us. We’ve got to get serious about eCommerce and direct to consumers and knowing our customers better.” That particular case, they had an antiquated profile built off of the consumers that came into their stores. That’s who they thought their customer was. What they’re finding out is there’s a whole lot of people that may have been going out to restaurants before that have not become larger parts of their ecosystem and client-base. Their people are excited about that. You talk about a company that’s seeing the future saying, “We’re now latching onto this huge clientele base. We’re going to be able to have a direct to consumer experience and this is exciting stuff.” By linking those things together, we can do that. Radial happens to be in a great position because our buildings are multi-nodal, which means we have many of them, they can all be connected.

We have a large beauty company that uses us across five buildings. That allows them to compete fast. In other words, they have the right inventory at the right time for the right consumers and they balance that inventory using our technology to optimize the inventory. An exciting call from them, one of their top people called me up. We’d been talking to them about using our distributed order management software. They’re doing well, they’re growing healthy, vibrant company, and they had other priorities, but now they’ve realized they have all this inventory locked in these retail stores that they have and they said, “We can unlock all that inventory and get same day, next day delivery to consumers who are clamoring for their goods.” As much as I’m shipping out of five locations, there are certain product lines that they didn’t have in their eCommerce portfolio, so we weren’t able to sell it. They said, “Let’s get that technology deployed. Let’s optimize all of our inventory across all of our channels and have a unified experience.”

That reminds me a lot of how Netflix came over the tipping point because Netflix was having hotspots where they were taking off in LA and San Francisco, but they couldn’t make Boston work. They couldn’t figure out why Boston wouldn’t work until they went out there and started looking. It was all about how close they were because no one wants to wait five days for the next DVD to show up. They’re going to go to Blockbuster. Once they start putting those warehouses all over like you’ve described, instantaneously, it changed their business.

Omnichannel Technology: The three aspects of omnichannel are the brick and mortar stores at its base, the fulfillment centers, and the technology.

Here’s the crazy thing. Everybody thinks that the only way to do this is through Amazon. They think Amazon is a single place to shop. What’s happened is Amazon has curtailed. They shouldn’t try to focus on more medical or other types of things. What’s happened is other people who were trying to get products have had those products slow down. We’ve seen a testament and news about that, etc. The reality is Radial itself is a certified-Prime fulfillment company for Amazon. You can get a two-day delivery, put your stuff in my buildings and we can still get it there in two days. It can still be on Amazon’s website, but you don’t have to deal with their rules. You can get to somebody that cares and knows you. We only have around 230 customers.

They’re America’s top brands. You would be amazed that more than likely if you’re ordering something online, one of my 230 brands is delivering stuff to you. You just don’t know that. I’ve always been the quiet backend but that being said, what we haven’t done in Radial was gone to the market to share that experience more. Part of it is getting out there and saying, “If you want to fulfill by Amazon, if you want a 1 and 2-day delivery type service, Radial can do that for you and we can house your inventory in up to 21 locations across the United States.” Just about any market can be hit quickly. If you don’t want to segment your inventory that much, we can go to fewer buildings. If you don’t have the technology to figure out how much inventory to buy. Ironically, your order management system will help educate you as it’s got an AI component built-in.

This whole thing is devastating on a lot of levels, but the exciting thing for a business is it is causing many paradigm shifts and many reasons to think differently. As business people, that should be exciting for us. The creativity and the pivots we’ve seen, it’s shaking things up which personally I find to be exciting.

You’re bringing up an excellent point, Betsy, and I’ll give you a couple of examples. One is in our own shop. In our Martinsville building, we’ve been doing embroidery for years. If you get a school uniform and have your name written in it, the chances are that we were the ones doing it. For all those kids out there that are not in school, but we do business with one of the largest providers of school uniforms and we do all of the embroideries. We put the crests, the kids’ names on there, all that stuff. Our local team said, “We could make masks, we know how to sell, we’ve got equipment so we can do this.” We partnered up with one of our clients who had the fabric and so we’re cranking out a whole bunch of masks for, not only our own workers in that market, but for the community that we operate with because they’re having a difficult time getting masks.

That’s innovation. All of a sudden, we never saw ourselves in that mode. We never thought about that as a business line, maybe we should. Similarly, I’ve got another client. It’s a prominent health and beauty line. They converted a perfume factory into a hand sanitizer factory. Literally, in a matter of a week or so. Think about that. Here’s a company that was known to be a wonderful beauty product line. A lot of people are not wearing makeup and not thinking of beauty now but they are thinking about hand sanitizers. Their sales are doing great and they’re doing great things for their community. We’re proud to be partners with companies like that. Those are innovations that you’re going to see across the board. That’s the American spirit and American business at its finest.

When you take technology that exists, distributed know-how, things like Zoom that we’re on, it’s amazing how you can do business. In my history, I used to fly over to Asia 4 or 5 times a year for two weeks at a pop. That’s a lot of family time that you’re missing. That’s a lot of expense that you’re incurring. You can do it seamlessly with Zoom or other types of enabling tools and still have it interactive and feel good which is exciting. In the logistics industry, I believe all those types of things are happening. When it comes to knowing your customers, there’s no better time than now to get into the business, to leverage the technology and the changes that are going on. Those that know their business best are going to have a tremendously bright future.

Tim, talk to us about how you and Radial know your customer. We’ve referenced this quite a bit. Talk to us about the different ways that you go about finding out who your customers are and how you can best support their efforts.

As Betsy knows, when I joined here, Radial did not know their customer. Our attrition rate was unacceptable. The client feedback was unknown and it wasn’t a great place. I came on in and asked a lot of questions, you couldn’t get clear answers, you didn’t have definitive answers so we started with the basics. The first thing we did is we put in a proven program called the Net Promoter Score, which is where you ask people for their opinion and you say, “Hi, would you recommend me?” For those that are not familiar with Net Promoter Score, it will give you a good idea. Will Tony and Betsy recommend Tim for another project? A referral is old school, but that’s what you’re asking.

The supply chain is more relevant today than ever before. It is a strategic weapon that can make the difference between life and death.CLICK TO TWEET

They’re either a detractor, a passive, or a promoter, and you’d like your people to be promoters. What we had was, just as we thought, a lot of detractors and a whole ton of passives. In other words, people were doing business with us because it was comfortable whether because I was doing a bad job, you were average. In today’s world, you got to be better than average. The next thing that we did is we said, “We have some commentary and feedback. Let’s go talk to the customers.” Let’s start to capture that information and let’s put that into themes and stories to see are there similarities? Yes, we found a lot of commonalities, we were able to go and put action plans against that, and approach business differently. We streamlined contracts, became more forward-facing, changed our pricing methodologies and structures. We tried to improve our communications on the sales side as well as on the support side.

That evolved to the next step which I’m proud of, which is working with Betsy and her company on a Customer Advisory Board. The next thing we needed to do is sit down and talk to the CEOs, the executive vice presidents to say, “What is on your mind not from a day-to-day perspective, but on a strategic perspective? Give me that idea of where do you want to be in 2, 3, 4, 5 years? Where are you thinking that takes you and how and why?” Betsy remembers this because the first Customer Advisory Board was a fraud. We had a hurricane hitting the Eastern seaboard. We had all these people that planning on coming on in. We ended up with two people being able to make it to the first one and that was it.

One came all the way from the West Coast to the East Coast but it was enlightening. Even in that small environment, some of the things that we thought to be true were not. Some of the things we thought were priorities, were not. Simply by listening to them, we were able to get it. What I can say is if you can have a proficient facilitator with Betsy and her company is important to have that third-party facilitation. If you try to do this yourself, you’re going to have an inherent bias. By hiring a company like Betsy’s, you’re not. They’re going to give you clean information, they’re going to digest it, they’re going to help you get through the meeting and make sure it’s balanced. What’s happened is the number of people we’ve been able to have at our Customer Advisory Board has increased and the insights have increased. The net result is we’ve been able to modify our go-to-market strategy in alignment with those premises and thoughts. It’s paid off in huge dividends.

Can you go into a little bit about the relationship piece of that? What’s happened in terms of not knowing their strategies and the business side of it, but the actual relationship building that goes on?

There are two things that are going on in the relationship in a Customer Advisory Board. I was a participant on many advisory boards by the way, prior. This was the first time I had the opportunity to set it up to my own way. From a relationship perspective, we wanted the relationship to be pure, true, and full of authenticity. We wanted them to understand that we were going to listen. It wasn’t just us proposing or stating what we’re going to do. It wasn’t a junket. It was a purposeful meeting. That transparency and authenticity came through. The first thing that happened is the customers started to learn about things that we didn’t share well enough or didn’t know well. What that allowed is us to secure a more partnership-related versus a supplier-type relationship initially.

Unbeknownst to us, what started to happen is if you’re the CEO or an executive vice president of a company, you work for a lot of companies. You did not come up and stay in one company your whole life. Even if you did, chances are you work with lots of others in the industry. You have peers on other committees, around other organizations, advocacy boards, or things like that. The next thing started happening, and this was not planned and we didn’t expect it, but it was a huge benefit. People would say, “Do you know Bob over at this company?” The two of us were talking and we were talking about our problem and now that I hear this, Bob needs to hear this, “Can I put you in touch with Bob?”

It was fascinating because it wasn’t us asking for the referral, it was our clients going, “I see the solution for a significant business problem and I have a friend who needs help or has a similar problem. Could you please be kind enough to go talk to him?” That’s a different approach and that is something that’s manifested itself. It’s turned into a powerful thing. It’s even turned into the point where some of our clients have been gracious as to go to the National Retail Federation Event with us in New York and have fireside chats or speak on panels as independent advisors as to what they’re seeing and how their journeys were made. It’s their give back to the community. That’s a mutual benefit. They weren’t thinking that way. We weren’t thinking that way but in the end, it’s everybody benefiting either those that we work directly with or otherwise.

Omnichannel Technology: It’s amazing how you can do business by taking advantage of the technology that exists today.

Taking that one step further, talk to us a little bit about not just Radial’s relationship with the customers but also the relationships that they’ve formed with one another.

We didn’t think that was going to be a benefit. It’s been told to us, and Betsy you can corroborate, but I believe the number one benefit of hosting the meetings that they’ve said is having free downtime to have a good conversation appear. That’s a good point. We typically will not have direct competitors on a Customer Advisory Board. They may be in related business, so they may be in a footwear business or a retail business that sells footwear but they’re not direct competitors. It’s been amazing because we carved out time for them to sit down in either small groupings or one-on-one. We’ve even facilitated the ability for them to connect on their own merits, which they have in fact done. They enjoy each other’s company.

All too often when you’re running a business, especially at that level, you’re heads down, you’ve got your board telling you what to do. You’ve got Wall Street telling you what to do. You have your bankers advising you what to do. It’s a lot of pressure. In this case, it turned into something that they value most. We baked in a little bit of extra time to our Customer Advisory Board to facilitate that. That’s good for us too. We’ve also gone to them and said, “Maybe we want to have a one-on-one or two-to-one small group working session.” In one case, ironically, we have a scenario where we have a major retailer and we have a footwear provider, and now that footwear provider’s products are in that retailer’s store so they’d become partners because of that process, which I’m proud to see.

Betsy and I wrote it in our book that business-to-business is not about business. Business is person-to-person and you’re demonstrating that in the work you’re doing, not just on the Customer Advisory Boards but in the relationships that are built and how you’re supporting your community. The more conversation Betsy and I have had as we’ve done these interviews for the show, we’re finding executives in all different industries saying exactly the same thing. It’s about person-to-person. I think about the academic things like you have gotten my MBA and they teach you B2B and it’s all about business. It’s not. The academics have to get out there in the world and meet people.

I went to Bowling Green State University as an undergraduate. Why? I was paying for my own college and it was close to home. I had a bunch of friends that went there. It made it easy. I went to Auburn because they had a great Executive MBA Program that allowed me to spend time with people but also be able to travel the world while I was doing it. What I can tell you is that the relationships that have formed from there, ironically, there’s a good friend of mine. He’s the CFO of a major competitor. When we went to business school together, neither one of us, we were in different businesses. I was at FedEx and he was in a different company.

We both worked our way up in the pyramid. It’s funny because we still have conversations, “What are you facing in this environment? How are you trying to deal with this?” There have been times where I’ve looked at him. He’s more in the B2B space. I’m more in the eCommerce space. When opportunities come in my way, I’m like, “It’s not what we do best but I know a great friend over here.” I’m going to recommend him, and he’s come back the same way, “If you’ve got big and bulky, that’s me, but I’ll take your refrigerators and your white goods and that stuff all day long. That little tiny stuff, that’s not us. Go talk to Tim.” You’re right, Tony. It is about relationships. I believe those relationships are founded on authenticity, trust, reliability and reality. When things become uncertain and unclear, it’s that trust is what we want most.

We want honesty and trust to know, “How am I going to work with you? How are we going to get through this together?” I’ve had a whole lot of those calls. It’s amazing because what we’ve seen is where you have real partnerships. It has been based on those relationships. When people have become antagonistic or adversarial, it’s typically because they’re under a lot of duress, they’re out there alone, and they’re concerned. Even then, we’ve had good conversations. I’ve been able to take acidic conversations and say, “I’m the only way you’re getting the product to your market. You can’t pay me in 120 days and expect me to find people to be able to get the goods to you. I’m paying my people weekly and daily and so it won’t work but let’s grow together.”

In fact, I had one of these conversations and the end of the conversation was, “How do we grow the business? Can you give me another 100,000 square feet? Can we double the sales throughput?” It went from, “How do you give me 120-day terms? My CEO and CFO told me I need 120-day terms.” I said, “It’s not reasonable but how about if we grow together? Won’t that be better than getting extended terms? Let’s grow our business together.” It was funny because he called me back. He goes, “Our CEO was thrilled because I told him, I think we got a way to double the sales.” Our team is working aggressively to figure out if we can make that happen. We think we can do both ways and we’re convinced. It goes back to relationship time and time again and knowing your customer, the capabilities, those relationships, the boundaries of what’s real.

It also goes back to the idea of creativity and innovation. Innovation and creativity aren’t necessarily product limited. It’s how you deal with your customers.

We are experiencing what is probably the largest paradigm shift ever in retail, where everybody is forced to learn to get groceries online.CLICK TO TWEET

We had another client, so they used our VendorNet tool. They only use this for dropshipping. Their mainline DC got shut down. They were deemed unnecessary in the environment that they were in and the town or the community. The local rules prevailed and they’re like, “I can’t get my product to market.” We figured out how to take our dropship product that they were already connected to. They already had the IT integration and we said, “Why can’t we treat one of my own warehouses like a giant dropship vendor? What we did was we moved a lot of trailers of product from their mainline eCommerce fulfillment center up to one of our buildings where we had space.

It took us four days to move the product, get it inventoried and have the sales takeover. They only had a four-day lapse. It wasn’t me that came up with idea, it was one of our frontline people who said, “What’s the difference between a vendor and one of my own buildings? Why can’t we do that?” I got my Head of IT on the phone like, “I think they have something here.” Neither one of us thought about it but it worked and we called back the client, “If you’re game, we’re game. Let’s give it a go.” It’s working great. I love when you sit down and if you listen to your employees, that’s the only thing.

I’m going to step back. There’s no better time to be humble and appreciative of your employees than today. They are more creative, scrappy, thoughtful than most people give them credit for. It’s turning out to be one of the most powerful innovations. I would have never thought about selling masks with embroidery and other sewing that we had in our Martinsville building. I wouldn’t have thought of it. All of a sudden, they did it. I’m on a call and like, “We’re cranking out this many.” I’m like, “This is amazing. This is crazy.” It’s a great time for innovation. A great time to instill confidence in your workforce. Listen to your customers, listen to your workforce and the results will be amazing.

Tim, I love the whole concept of listening at every level, but listening to your frontline people because they have such a different perspective on the business. That’s a great point. We always like to ask on the show, do you have a community organization that you support that you’d like to give a shout out to? How do you give back to the community in your spare time? 

We do. Radial is owned by bpost group, which is the Belgian Post Group. Community service is in the DNA of the company. It always has been. When I came here, it was interesting, I asked that question myself. In most companies that are larger of our size, typically have a partner. I always got frustrated with that with some of my prior employment because I said, “It’s going to wherever the headquarters is, which is maybe not where my employees are based.” I never understood that. I was always a big believer in the support of your local community. That’s what Radial does. We empower our local facilities, whether they’re call centers or fulfillment centers around the country. Pick and choose what they feel is best.

The only thing that we as an organization promote is things around education because we think education and personal development are important. A lot of people sometimes think of a company like ours is only having frontline hourly workers. They are a large portion of our workforce but I can tell you many stories of people that started in those roles took the time to develop themselves personally and moved into supervisory, managers, site director levels, people that went on and became educated to the point where they’re now engineers, managing the site, think of all the material handling systems we have. It takes advanced degrees and knowledge, specialty or mechanical technologies to deal with the high-tech systems and material handling systems.

We have data scientists that we’re hiring to look at data and analytics and a ton of IT people. We’re big on education for those reasons, but we also have our employee’s support. We learn everything from local families who were in need and GoFundMe pages. We have things where somebody is facing trials and tribulations through personal health matters. To the local softball teams or the little sports teams for all of our kids in our community. We let them pick and choose what they want and we believe that’s the right thing. We believe that going back to the community and listening to our employees. If they feel that’s what’s best, we’re all in. Thank you for that.

Omnichannel Technology: Relationships founded on authenticity, trust, and reliability are all the more important in a time of uncertainty.

What’s the best way to stay connected?

You can go to Radial.com, and there’s an inquiry page there. You can contact me on LinkedIn. I’m Tim Hinckley on Radial at LinkedIn, so you can look for me there. My email address is THinckley@Radial.com. It’s either one of those ways. We’ll be more than happy to get you in touch with the right person and help you out. If you are a European company and are interested, we have operations in Europe, Australia and Canada. We are a global organization that can help people in a lot of different ways. Thanks a lot.

Tim, thank you for being here. This was a great conversation and we appreciate it.

It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me. All the best to both of you.

Thanks, Tim. 

What a fantastic interview, Betsy. Tim is full of amazing information and also a great perspective on how the world is shifting. The paradigm shifts started a while ago but we’re seeing an acceleration with what we’re going through. His perspective on listening to the employees was fantastic as getting down to the creativity that’s being unlocked. How his customers are saying, “How can we do this in a different way because my city is shut down or my state is shut down? What can we do next?” Because they have all of this network built up, they can flip. It reminds me of another interview that we are going to have on our show about the digital mindset. His mindset plays very much into that. Look forward to that in one of our future shows.

I thought it was such a fascinating conversation. Tim is one of those leaders that epitomizes what it means to be even though he’s in business-to-business, he’s definitely a person-to-person leader. The way he talked about knowing your customers, which what we’re all about on this show, but how he exemplifies that and how he executes on that theory. The stories he told of the creativity, listening to the frontline, and the relationships he’s building with his customers through the Customer Advisory Board. It was one of those conversations that left me feeling like, “We’re going to be okay and business is going to be awesome moving forward because there are leaders out there of big organizations that are willing to pivot in an unprecedented time.”

I’d encourage you, readers, to think about what you read on the show. Hopefully, you thought of some things that would impact your business. Take those things and schedule them out. Figure out when you’re going to do them and take action on those. This show isn’t just you reading the blog. It’s information that gives you insights that allows you to take the next step forward.

Thanks for being here. We hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as we did. We will see you next time. See you then.

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About Tim Hinckley

Tim Hinckley is executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Radial. He leads the client-success, marketing, sales and strategic-partnership teams, managing Radial customer satisfaction and loyalty. Before joining Radial, Tim held the position of senior vice president of global logistics at Hasbro, where he was responsible for distribution, transportation, warehousing and global trade compliance. He also spent three decades at FedEx, where he was managing director of global accounts. Tim holds an MBA degree from Auburn University and BS degree in marketing from Bowling Green State University.


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