WERC relationships pave supply chain career path of 32-year member
Having been a member of the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) since 1985—32 of his 44 years in warehousing and supply chain—William (Bill) Miller speaks with authority about the impact the WERC network can have on a career.
That’s because, since joining WERC, each of his three job moves has been the direct result of a professional connection he made through the organization. And the first of those connections initially happened simply by sitting next to someone he didn’t know at an Annual Conference.
"WERC has been a tremendously valuable part of my career and my professional growth. I’ve had a very interesting and rewarding career, and WERC has played a key part in that," he says. "The ability to network with and meet industry people at all levels has been the biggest benefit. Not only have I met people who are very knowledgeable and willing to share ideas, but people who have become friends I enjoy seeing and spending time with."
Miller started his supply chain career at forklift manufacturer Clark Equipment Company (Clark Distribution Services) in 1972 after moving to Chicago. "They hired me in spite of the fact that they already had two other Bill Millers working there," he laughs. "I started at their 750,000-square-foot Chicago distribution facility, doing picking and packing of service parts, then moved into a DC supervisor position."
While at Clark, Miller facilitated and led a three-plus-year First Line Supervisory program, helping to train more 30 Clark employees in supervisory skills. He also worked with consultants from Michigan State University on a network optimization project to determine the best location for the company’s warehouses, then moved full time into project management.
His subsequent projects included evaluating the viability of an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS), a new order release system to get away from IBM punch card picking tickets, location scanning for use in putaway and inventory control, and a labor management and standards program "that ultimately saved the company $1 million in the first year, just because of the improved performance," Miller says. "Clark was where I got my master’s degree in warehousing and distribution, but many of the ideas came from WERC."
Miller originally became involved in WERC—both at the local and national levels—during his Clark tenure. He attended his first Annual Conference in 1985, and has only missed two since. He’s also served as President of the Chicagoland WERCouncil.
"WERC broadened my perspective about what goes on in manufacturing, warehousing and distribution. It gave me a chance to see what others were doing in terms of best practices, while giving me ideas that we could implement in our operations," he says. "It also gave me an opportunity to share back as a speaker, P2P moderator during Conferences, and six-year member of the Board of Directors."
After 17 years at Clark, Miller moved into third-party logistics (3PL) services, taking a position in Danville, Illinois working for someone he’d met during a breakout session at a WERC Conference. Seven years later, yet another WERC contact shared an opportunity to start up a new 3PL facility in Indianapolis. Once that project was completed, a third WERC contact led him to the position he holds today: Director of Business Development for 3PL Faure Brothers Corp.’s Great Lakes, Gateway and Illiana Transit warehouses.
"Being asked to serve on the national WERC board at the highest level was the greatest honor of my career, honestly," he says. "I encourage anyone who’s thinking of joining a national organization like WERC to truly get involved with it. Don’t just look at the webinars and newsletters, but be active at the local and national level. The involvement is what brings real value."
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