A chance meeting led to a lifetime of professional development
You might say that warehousing runs in Paul Delp’s blood. The president of Lansdale Warehousing Company, outside of Philadelphia, Delp was working on the docks of his father’s trucking company by the age of 16. After a stint in Asia with the military, he returned to that first love, helping his father launch Lansdale from the ground up.
Delp was qualified in more ways than one for this type of work, however. He majored in supply chain management at Penn State University, learning all he could about the warehousing industry and returning to help his father with the trucking business during school breaks.
His love of industry learning is what connected him with WERC in 1980, early in the organization’s first years. "I had gone to Penn State to attend an executive course when I met Burr Hupp," he says. "He told me about WERC and within a year or two, the Conference came to Philadelphia. I was really impressed."
Delp says that first WERC Conference experience left its mark on him. "It awakened me to the fact that the industry was changing rapidly and that the future looked promising," he says. "We knew what the supply chain was then, but we were only beginning to understand what an important role we could play in it for our customers."
He’s applied this knowledge successfully to his own business, where he’s worn just about every hat available, from forklift drive to salesmen and eventually as president as of the early 1980s. Today, Delp oversees five buildings and more than 500,000 square feet. Customers include representatives from the food and beverage, lumber, and consumer goods industries, to name a few.
Delp is committed to always expanding his knowledge base to better service his customers. "We are a corporate sponsor of Penn State’s Center for Supply Chain Research, along with many Fortune 500s, like Boeing, IBM and others," he explains. "We want to be part of the continuing education of professionals in our industry."
Education has played a big role in the knowledge base of employees who come to work in the industry today, says Delp. "When I was an undergrad, the Penn State program had 34 people in it," he says. "Today it numbers into the 800s. The demand for the students graduating with a supply chain degree is incredible."
Delp has also joined the Temple University advisory board to oversee a new supply chain management program there. "A year ago we had 19 students and that has grown to 119," he says. "Universities today recognize the demand for these majors and are producing a highly qualified field of professionals."
Over the years, Delp has rarely missed an Annual Conference. Likewise, since his early days as a WERC member he’s been very involved in the Eastern Pennsylvania/Delaware WERCouncil, for which he serves as treasurer today.
"The association offers such great courses for continuing education," he says. "Even if you didn’t start out in the industry, there are fantastic resources available to you."
Delp likes to keep his management team in the know as well, and recently purchased one of WERC founding father Ken Ackerman’s books for each member. As his management team gains knowledge, he likes to see them share it with the Lansdale staff and urges them to empower employees to make their own decisions.
It’s not just Lansdale employees who benefit from Delp’s generosity, however. In addition to being a long-time active member of WERC, he established the Transportation Advisory Council in 2000 to bring together the warehousing and railroad industries. In addition, he is active in the Philadelphia region as an advisor to the Metropolitan Planning Organization where he helps with transportation funding allocation.
Clearly, when Delp stumbled onto WERC back in 1980, it was a match meant to be—and one that will continue to serve both parties well into the foreseeable future.
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