Anthony Barnes at WineWorks Marlborough
“The focus on identifying and eliminating everything which is wasteful, or doesn’t add value to our customers’ supply chain, and identifying those problems which impede your business is very empowering.”
My official job title is warehouse and distribution manager. I manage a team of warehousing and distribution professionals who look after the individual needs of our customers in terms of receiving their product (primarily from our bottling facility), warehousing and dispatching it, either by courier, truck or container. For me, the job is a combination of ensuring my team have what they need to achieve their tasks, and that the needs of our clients are achieved at all times.
FTD: Define ‘supply chain management’
As it pertains to my role specifically, the obvious answer is all aspects of warehousing, but a large part of my role is centred on the actual movement of goods from WineWorks to their destination, which involves working closely with our freight partners and other supply chain professionals, such as our purchasing and production team members. We are a significant part of our customers’ supply chain, and you really appreciate that it is a ‘chain’ when you can see the links as product moves from one stage to another. It is also very illustrative that what happens in one ‘link’ of the chain has a very real effect on others. As a third party contractor to the industry, being experts in what we do means our customers don’t have to be – they can concentrate on making and marketing great wine.
FTD: Why have you chosen to
work in SCM?
How did you get
I’m fascinated by all things technical, and originally intended to pursue a career in this direction. I left school to join the Royal NZ Air Force with aspirations to be a technician of some sort, but the rigorous sorting mechanisms of the military pointed me in the direction of logistics instead, and it turns out they were right. I enjoy the pace and variety, and the need to be a lateral thinker and problem solver. It’s a dynamic industry segment, full of interesting people.
A move into civilian life saw me take a position as operations manager at one of P&O Cold Logistics’ distribution centres in Mt Wellington, Auckland. This is now operated by VersaCold, who bought the business while I was there. Working for these global leaders expanded my skills and experience significantly.
Having done my penance in Auckland, a move to the sunshine and lifestyle of Marlborough was a welcoming idea. WineWorks was expanding rapidly and needed an experienced addition to its team at the same time that I was looking for a new opportunity. I started in this role in November 2008, while the expansion was nearing completion. This is now the largest distribution facility of its type in this part of the country, and the biggest one dedicated to 3PL for wine in New Zealand.
FTD: Which roles in your past have specifically helped prepare you for your current one?
I started at the ground level – sweeping floors and picking orders – and this has helped immeasurably, in that I understand the perspectives of my team members, and can balance that with the needs of the customer and the company.
One of the first aspects of leadership taught in the armed services is never to ask someone to do something you can’t do yourself. I may not be the fastest operator we have, but I’ll work a 10 m reach truck and satellite compactor racking, or help load a container or pick courier orders if the need arises.
FTD: What are the key things you’ve learnt in your current position?
At WineWorks, lean manufacturing and its inherent ethos of continuous improvement are primary parts of our thinking about everything, and that has rubbed off on me. This focus stems from being a manufacturing facility first, where ‘lean’ is more commonly found, but we also drive it into all parts of our business. We have achieved some quite stunning results by embracing the lean tools of Kaizen, 5S (sort, set in order, shine, standardise, sustain), visual management, Kanban and TPM.
The application of these tools has been learnt by ‘doing’ rather than through extensive training room sessions. It is also important to note that time away from a primary task, spent on the application of these tools and on team member-originated improvements, is not time wasted, but time invested.
The focus on identifying and eliminating everything which is wasteful, or doesn’t add value to our customers’ supply chain, and identifying those problems which impede your business allow for everyone in the team to use their experience and ideas, which, along with constant attention to reporting and communication, is very empowering.
We always welcome others from whom we can learn, or who can learn from us, to share the common lessons. Are there other 3PLs out there who are fully ‘lean’? If so, what can we learn from each other?
FTD: What training, qualifications or experience do you need for this role? And what personal skills/qualities do you need on top of these?
It’s more about having the right mindset, and a passionate determination to do well. Fortunately, wine is an easy product to be passionate about! That said, without the experience and the knowledge of the business, I wouldn’t be able to achieve what I do.
While a lot of the information could be learned in the classroom, there is no substitute for learning it from experience. It really is a ‘people’ role, so being able to communicate well is especially important. I’ve been very lucky to have had some terrific guidance along my career path. A lot of the officers and NCOs I served under during my time with the RNZAF taught me what to do – and not what to do. I learned a lot from them. The management team at VersaCold were invaluable (thanks guys, you know who you are), but in particular I would have to mention Don Johnson, the business development manager.
I now work with an awesome team at WineWorks – everyone is an absolute professional and the best in the business at what they do. We all keep learning from each other and consistently push the limits.
FTD: What are the job’s main challenges? Why is your role so important?
Balancing the required outputs to keep everyone happy is perhaps the biggest challenge. The current business climate means everyone wants more results for less cost, and of course the desperation to keep any potential sale from slipping through the hands means lead times become harder and harder to meet.
There is no point in anyone producing the best wine, or any product for that matter, if it isn’t going to be properly handled and brought to market. There is no point in a supply chain where the first and last few links are immensely strong, if the middle links just aren’t as strong, or stronger. No matter how good the product, nor how well it is marketed, without effective distribution it won’t get to the consumer or make a profit.
FTD: What is the most rewarding part of the job?
For me, the greatest reward is being part of an exciting, vibrant and growing industry. I love to see the growth and development of customers and team members. Wine is now a billion-dollar industry for New Zealand, and is forecast to do even better, which is very exciting for us.
Marlborough is a great place to live and WineWorks a brilliant company to work for, so I hope to be able to grow with it as the industry, and subsequently the customer base, grows.
I’m always looking for more ways to add value to our customers’ experience, which in turn adds to the depth of my role. I see plenty of scope to grow both myself and my team’s capabilities.
Anthony Barnes can be contacted at