How We’ve Made Operational Excellence Part of the Flat World Holdings Culture

At the Flat World Holdings family of companies, excellence is the guiding principle for everything we do.

June 14, 2018

At the Flat World Holdings family of companies, excellence is the guiding principle for everything we do.

However, anyone who has built a company from the ground up—as our co-founders Kirk Ferrell and Jeff Rothermich did when they started Flat World Supply Chain more than 10 years ago—will tell you that maintaining a laser-like focus on operational excellence during more than a decade of rapid growth can be challenging. At Flat World Holdings, that growth has included acquiring Ram International and Ram Custom Crating, while also opening multiple locations in the United States and establishing a presence in China.

Rapid growth can present a barrier to maintaining operational excellence—but the reality is that rapid growth in the supply chain and transportation management sector is only possible by consistently maintaining, exceeding, and redefining operational excellence. One of our best sources of new business has always been and will continue to be recommendations from existing customers, and in the supply chain world, recommendations depend on excellent customer service.

So, how do we define operational excellence?

By placing our customer at the center of everything we do, creating a unified set of processes, and empowering employees to solve problems.

Placing the customer at the center of everything a business does might sound like a cliché—unless your company is led by entrepreneurs who took a risk to start a company and know that the difference between having and not having customers is the difference between having and not having food on the table.

Creating a unified set of processes might seem like it could conflict with a willingness to do whatever it takes to deliver excellent service to customers, but any chef will tell you that improving on a recipe requires a common understanding of a basic set of principles. In other words, try cooking an even better batch of cinnamon rolls without having a recipe to improve upon.

It’s impossible.

The last component of operational excellence is especially important, and that’s empowered employees. Our team of dedicated, excellent employees is on the frontlines working with customers to solve problems when they occur, and anyone who works in this field knows that problems are just part of the business. When you help customers move their product across the country and across the world, often through multiple ports and customs offices, things—like say, a shipment of 1,488 of bottles of wine headed to Alaska from France being stuck in a customs office—happen.

(Yes, we were able to deliver the wine safe and sound to thirsty Alaskans.)

When our customers experience challenges within their supply chain, our employees are empowered to help customers overcome those challenges, even if it occasionally comes at a loss for our company.

Without that empowerment and without our amazing team, Flat World Holdings wouldn’t be able to deliver on its commitment to operational excellence.

That’s why we are proud to announce the recipients of our Leadership in Excellence recognition. The Flat World Holdings team members receiving this recognition are:

• Jeremiah Ashley

• Trisha Edler

• Shara Green

• Ada Linhoff

• Marilyn Josten

• Lauren Keppel

• Dora Lee

• Edmond Lee

• Tara Steinbach

• Robert Suba

• Shane Sullivan

• Dani Vitale

• Matt Winslow

As a reward for our appreciation, these team members will be receiving a trip to Disney World!

They’ve earned this recognition by delivering excellent service to our customers and to each other. We’re proud of these individuals, and of our entire team. Our employees are the biggest reason why we’ve been able to continually deliver on our commitment to provide operational excellence to our customers, even during 12 years of incredible growth for our company.

Customer-focus, unified processes, and more than anything, an empowered team of committed employees.

That’s how we’ve created a culture of excellence here at Flat World Holdings.