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Supply Chain Lessons from COVID-19: Case Studies on How Global Retailers are Successfully Managing Their Networks in Time of Crisis

Presenters: Keith Canning, CEO, Sawyer Island Consulting
Pete Allen; VP and General Manager, Grocery and Convenience at Berkshire Grey


In addition to the public health challenges it poses, the Coronavirus has forced many retailers to manage their workforces and supply chains with an unprecedented amount of innovation and efficiency.

Pete Allen, vice president and general manager, grocery and convenience at Berkshire Grey; and Keith Canning, CEO of Sawyer Island Consulting, presented several strategies for addressing supply chain challenges, specifically how to reduce reliance on labor while deriving more capacity from already overextended distribution centers. They used two case studies to review effective strategies for:

  • Restructuring the workforce to reduce reliance on labor
  • Creating safer worker environments
  • Rethinking workflows to optimize productivity
  • Squeezing out more capacity

Keith Canning is a seasoned leader in the wholesale distribution industry. He has 29 years of experience with Pine State Convenience and a proven record of growing top line revenue and delivering bottom line results. While at Pine State, Keith served in nearly all aspects of the business including night selector, warehouse days, sales route coverage, purchasing, and sales management. In June of 2016, Pine State Trading Co. sold the Convenience Store Division to Core-Mark International.

In December 2018, Keith founded Sawyer Island Consulting where he and his team assist Maine-based entrepreneurs in developing product and marketing ideas and expanding distribution channels to spur growth. Current projects include Acadian Composite Materials, High Tide Holdings, Novel Beverage, and Summit Spring Water. In 2020, Keith was honored to be inducted into the CDA Hall of Fame.

Pete Allen is VP and General Manager, Grocery and Convenience at Berkshire Grey. Pete has spent his career helping to launch and drive early-stage growth for tech companies serving many of the nation’s largest grocery, foodservice, and convenience store companies. He is a customer-focused technology leader with more than 25 years of sales, marketing, and customer success experience. He has a proven track record of building teams and developing strategic processes to create sustained revenue growth and improve customer satisfaction.


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