The next time you pick up your dry cleaning, you will likely notice that once you’ve handed in your ticket, the attendant will punch in a number, and your freshly-pressed and wrapped garment will arrive at the front desk via an overhead rail system. It’s a great way to move your clothing about the facility quickly and efficiently without taking up an abundance of floor space. About 60 years ago, Joseph Sedlak, the founder of Sedlak Management Consultants, saw the possibilities inherent in what was, at the time, a very leading-edge technology, and convinced his boss, Maurie Salzman, the CEO of Bobbie Brooks, a lady’s ready-to-wear manufacturing firm, that such an overhead garment rail system would work well in his distribution center.
“At that point, the industry – most notably the garment industry in New York – heard what happened in Cleveland, Ohio, and started to come out to visit the facility and my father gave the tours,” says Patrick Sedlak, Joseph’s son and present principal of his dad’s original supply chain consultant company. “So, they started asking him to come to New York to see what he could do to with their places.” In addition to working for Salzman, the elder Sedlak was teaching evening courses in engineering and logistics at John Carroll University. “His passion was in distribution,” son Patrick continues, “so he took advantage of the opportunity and built a business around it. We were founded in the garment industry and eventually my father left his job and started the business as we know it today.”
Begun in 1958, and now in its second generation of family ownership, Sedlak Management Consultants is a comprehensive supply chain and distribution logistics advisory firm, providing independent and innovative solutions to companies across a broad range of industries. It has successfully served over 1,200 clients through more than 2,500 projects, based on operational best practices. Its breadth of services extends into network strategy, facility planning and design, operations improvement, transportation planning, and inventory optimization.
Sedlak’s President, Will O’Brien, explains that the largest percentage of the company’s business comes within the distribution field, addressing and solving its clients’ questions, such as: “Where should my facilities be located? How many facilities should I have? What service area should they serve? How big should they be? How do I design and configure them? How do I specify all the material handling equipment from racks through conveyance, through robots, through rolling stock? And how does my facility operate?” “That is the critical mass of where our revenue comes from – distribution. And we’re finding more work on the transportation and planning inventory side of the business, now, as well,” he adds.
While Sedlak is primarily a North American firm in terms of its clients and its work, O’Brien says that it’s not unusual for the company to serve clients in other parts of the world. “Most recently, we went as far south as Antarctica, working on an entire campus layout for the material handling at the McMurdo Science Station,” he says. “It’s a station that’s over 50 years old that was developed by the Navy and, therefore, it operates a lot like a big ship in terms of material handling and product storage. But it was built incrementally over several decades, and this is their first time rejuvenating it. ‘How do we prepare if for the next 50 years? How would we lay it out? How would we keep people safe, under cover, and protected while supporting all the science, which is the whole purpose of the station?’ So, we do go to the ends of the world to serve our clients – literally – and that is work that will continue on for several years.”
Another recently completed project that the company took on was a one million square foot, distribution center in the southeastern U.S. for a manufacturer of athletic footwear, apparel, and equipment. “It’s a highly automated facility and from ground-breaking to first shipments was eleven months,” O’Brien says. “It was a real Herculean effort to pull that off. I’m not sure that’s ever been done, before. Productivity-wise it blew right past all of their existing buildings. And that says something about the experience that we deliver when we engage with a client. When a building has to open, it will open on time and come up to productivity very, very quickly.”
In addition to working with its portfolio of retail, wholesale, and third-party logistics clients, topping Sedlak’s current agenda is making more headway into the field of healthcare. “The healthcare supply chain is very similar to the supply chains that we work in other industries, primarily the retail environment,” says Steve Simco, the company’s Healthcare Practice Director.
“If you think of the primary infrastructure where people get healthcare, it’s a hospital delivery network” he continues. “So, think of them as the retail component of the healthcare supply chain; it’s about how to get all of the products and services to those care-giving environments in an efficient way. With the dynamics of healthcare, with the aging of the population, and the cost pressures that exist because of new insurance infrastructures, there’s a heightened need to drive more efficiency inside the healthcare supply chain. And the fact that we have so much great experience in other similarly complex supply chains allows us to enter that market quite well. We’ve been in the healthcare market for some time, but now that that industry has taken the supply chain concepts that we’re well-grounded in, those healthcare customers are finding their way to us. And we’re servicing them with greater efficiencies just like we have done historically with all of our other retail products clients. We’re great at understanding the supply chain components and we help pharmaceutical companies, medical products and device companies, all of the distributors, and the hospital systems, to do that.”
Simco also stresses how Sedlak’s independent nature is a key ingredient that instills trust in its clients and is partly responsible for the company’s respectful 70 percent repeat rate.”We’re an independent consulting firm,” he says. “We say that all the time, but it’s taking on more and more meaning in every industry we work in, because as consulting businesses are growing, and they’re aligning with various partners, sometimes they’re being acquired by the people who sell product and material. So there are fewer consulting firms around that are truly independent, like we are.
And, as the supply chains get more complex, and there are more and more tools in infrastructure and material handling out there to try and select from, clients are finding that independence more and more valuable. People know that we’re giving the best insights with absolutely no tie from revenue-sharing, referral, or other perspective to any supplier. They feel comfortable that we’re looking out for our client’s best interest. Our client’s success makes our success and our independence helps us drive that client’s success.”
O’Brien agrees: “We’re a highly effective and highly client-oriented firm. Their goals and objectives become ours and we go through walls to deliver. You hear our clients say things like, ‘they listen,’ and ‘they fight for us.’ It’s one of the reasons they keep coming back to us,” he declares.
As Sedlak Management Consultants looks ahead, O’Brien says that the company will continue to grow by attempting to extend its client services beyond distribution. “We’re broadening our relationships so we can serve them much better in transportation as well as in the inventory planning and optimization side of the business. As we help our clients more broadly across the supply chain, much more value is created.”
“Not only are we broadening our skill sets into our services,” adds Patrick Sedlak, “the excitement is to leverage all of that key knowledge so that five years from now, we’re known as healthcare consultants. Today, we’re known in retail and soft goods. We expect to be in the same spot in healthcare, where we’ll be the leading healthcare consultancy in the country.”
Whether it’s retail, consumer packaged goods, third party logistics, wholesale distribution, or healthcare management, Sedlak Management Consultants continues to “Deliver Remarkable Experience” to its clients.
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Sedlak Management Consultants
WHAT: A comprehensive supply chain and distribution logistics advisory firm
WHERE: : Cleveland, Ohio
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