Project Freshstart: A National DCP Success Story

At the Manhattan Associates Momentum 2019 conference earlier this year, I had the opportunity to interview Chris LaFaire, SVP of IT at National DCP, a $2 billion supply chain management company. You might not be familiar with the name National DCP (NDCP), but you likely know the brands it supports: Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins. 

“We deliver everything that is used at the stores,” explained Chris. “Everything from donuts, coffee, sugar, and cups to the tables, chairs, and TVs at the stores. We’re an end-to-end solution for the Dunkin’ stores, as well as Baskin Robbins.”

Chris is responsible for managing all of the NDCP’s IT applications, including warehouse management, transportation management, labor management, and order management solutions.

NDCP has a very broad logistics network:

  • 9 distribution centers across the United States
  • Delivers to 9,000+ stores daily
  • 80K+ cases delivered per day just in the northeast US (its largest market)
  • Operates its own private fleet of 500 trucks
  • 1,500 warehouse employees
  • Exports to 53 countries

You hear a lot today about companies embarking on transformation journeys, and that was certainly the case for National DCP with its Project Freshstart initiative. Chris shared some insights about the journey: the driving forces behind it, the benefits achieved to date, and the role Manhattan Associates has played in enabling its success.

The Driving Force for Project Freshstart

“We were five different regional companies that merged into one,” explained Chris. “As you can imagine, each company was doing its own thing, with its own aging systems, and we weren’t looking at how to optimize our operations in an integrated way.”

To address this problem and prepare the company for growth, the aptly named Project Freshstart was kicked off in 2013. As part of the project, “we were looking for the next generation of technology to get us where we need to be, to help us improve our service and reliability,” said Chris. 

“We replaced, end to end, all of our systems, including transportation management, warehouse management, labor management, and voice picking,” he added. “We experienced great benefits by standardizing our systems and business process. We now had the tools and capabilities to take the next step in our journey.”

In the case of transportation management, for example, NCDP was “in a very fixed routing environment, where we would deliver to every store every day at the same time,” said Chris. “With the new Manhattan TMS, we now have the ability to be much more flexible in our routing. We are not fully dynamic yet, but we know we have the capability to get there as we progress through our journey.”

Chris gave an example of the challenges they face from a routing and delivery perspective, and why a TMS needs to handle these types of complexities and constraints:  “There are certain cities, like New York, that have regulations on when we can deliver, not only regarding when we can go into the city, but as an employer, a franchisee can’t change the work schedule of an employee without a two-week notice. So, we can’t just say, ‘Oh, we will just deliver 3 hours later,’ because nobody might be there at the store. So, we needed to be more flexible in how we deliver and make sure we address both internal and external constraints.”

Why Manhattan Associates?

“We were looking for an integrated solution that covered our end-to-end operations,” explained Chris. “Manhattan was a perfect fit — a leading solution that really covered our end-to-end needs with everything integrated: TMS, WMS, labor management, reporting, and visibility.”

“We are measured on how we fulfill orders,” added Chris, “and we’re incentivized to deliver on time and in full. So having visibility to everything — such as order fill rates, warehouse labor productivity, and driver hours and productivity — is very important and Manhattan gives us that visibility.”

Benefits Achieved

Chris shared a couple of key benefits achieved to date: “Warehouse supervisors now have the [labor management and visibility tools] to do their jobs more effectively, and by integrating the WMS with our voice system, our selectors in the warehouse can do their jobs better, faster, with fewer errors, and more efficiently than in the past.”

“Another key benefit is having the ability to take our constraints into account when routing — such as not showing up to deliver at a store at 7 am when everyone is getting their coffee. So, we have certain constraints that we put on ourselves and the Manhattan TMS gives us the flexibility to manage them.”

It also handles the complexities of delivering to diverse locations. For example, delivering to the Pentagon can take two hours because you have to go through security, and delivering to a mall with multiple kiosks is more complicated than delivering to a single store. “The TMS is able to plan across all of these different delivery scenarios and constraints and give us a best optimized route.”

What’s Next? Advice for Others?

I encourage you to watch the full interview for more details on the Project Freshstart success story, as well as what’s next for the company and Chris’ advice for other companies looking to embark on their own transformation journey.