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Milliken Executive Shares Business Insights with USC Upstate Business Class

10- 27- 2006

RudasillSpartanburg, S.C. – Students in professor Frank Rudisill’s advanced operations management class, a senior level business class at the University of South Carolina Upstate, are getting the opportunity to translate academic business principals and theory into real-world business knowledge through a series of presentations delivered by area business executives to the class this year, and through field trips to various companies.

“It’s one thing to study supply chain management from a text book, and quite another to learn from an executive who has made a career in the field,” says Rudisill. “The students will benefit from these contacts and the field trips because they will see how businesses really operate on a day-to-day basis.”

The first guest lecturer was Karl D. Pendergrass, corporate supply chain manager and 30-year employee of Milliken & Company, who delivered a presentation and led a discussion on October 24 to the 22-member class. The discussion focused on the company’s relatively new change to a system of supply chain management from the traditional “silo” management form of operations, and its effect on their customers and internal operations.

With products as diverse as textiles and chemicals, Pendergrass explained that Milliken has been focusing on making the processes of manufacturing, warehousing, transportation and sales, coordinated between 11 different countries, of over 38,000 products, as efficient as possible for the company and the customer, while at the same time striving to improve upon an already impressive 95.8 percent on-time delivery rate to customers so far this year.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it,” Pendergrass told the students, as they discussed Milliken’s reliance on performance charts while viewing historic performance models for the company in its various product divisions. He says the company is continually looking to improve in areas such as demand forecasting, product scheduling, procurement, inventory management, warehousing, transportation and customer service.

“If we’re not number one, two or three in the [product] rankings, we either need to get there or get out of that product line,” he says.

Pendergrass also discussed the effect of domestic and foreign competition on the company’s supply chain, and the costs associated with shipping raw materials overseas.

Milliken’s major divisions are apparel, automotive fabrics, chemical, floor coverings and airbags. Based in Spartanburg, S.C., the company is one of the largest privately held textile and chemical manufacturers in the world. The company focuses on combining textile and chemical technologies in unique ways to serve a vast array of markets.

The class will take their first field trip of the year to Milliken to see first-hand the plant production process.
For further information, contact Frank Rudisill at frudisill@uscupstate.edu or call (864) 503-5511.