Chris Arnold is president, chief operations officer, and one of the founders of TREW, a material handling automation solutions company. Though a fairly new name to the market, TREW is built on the foundation of two technology companies, Hilmot and Tech King Operations. Arnold himself is a seasoned professional, having retail supply chain experience at both Amazon, where he was director of U.S. logistics, and Walmart, where he led a team that developed Walmart's first internet fulfillment center. He also served as vice president of operations and solutions development at Intelligrated. Arnold recently spoke with DC Velocity Editorial Director David Maloney.
Q: How do you view the current material handling market?
A: The material handling market is an exciting place to be for software and automation solution suppliers. The market is transforming from store and e-commerce solutions to solving commerce challenges with new ways of thinking. The fulfillment and labor challenges and advances in software, robotics, and automation enable the rethinking of traditional solutions.
Q: You refer to TREW as a "jump-up" rather than a startup. Can you explain what you mean?
A: When TREW was formed, we quickly acquired two innovative and well-known companies, Hilmot (conveyors) and Tech King Operations (WES, WCS, and controls). In a matter of months, we grew to over 250 industry-experienced teammates combining bench strength, know-how, software, products, services, and active clients. "Startup" suggests something that is still being commercialized, whereas a "jump-up" describes our explosive growth. The support from our clients and the industry has been amazing.
Q: What do you view as the important values that TREW brings to the market?
A: I believe it starts with our name TREW ("believe," "trust"), our integrators, TREW partners, and our teammates. TREW brings to market a willingness to embrace an ecosystem of partners who work together to solve customer challenges, where the customer, partner, and TREW all win together. Innovating software and technology are great, but people make all the difference. Every teammate is engaged to be extraordinary in what they do and to work fearlessly making decisions in the best interest of our clients and company. When they make hard decisions, we ask them to own the outcome and continue building for the future. I think our core value that is most welcomed by our integrators and clients is "winning together."
Q: What would you say are the most important developments taking shape now that will affect the industry in the future?
A: The retail evolution, shifts in demographics, and sustainability in the supply chain will continue to fuel industry transformation. Advances in robotics and software enable the combination of flexibility in movement and software-directed agility that allows us to think differently about overall solution footprints and operations.
Q: TREW has done well in attracting seasoned professionals to work at your company. What is your secret for bringing in top people?
A: I think all of our teammates embrace a culture that is committed to customers, partners, and teammates winning together. We strive to have teammates be their best every day, work fearlessly, act quickly to make results happen, and have fun along the way. I think the two things that really mattered to the professionals that joined the team are the culture and the opportunity to build the next generation of material handling leaders.
Q: You have a background in data analytics. How do you apply that experience to finding solutions for your customers?
A: I had the pleasure of working for Walmart and Amazon, where I learned quickly how information helps drive good decisions. Our industry is often data rich and information poor, so I am excited about new tools that allow us to analyze data quickly, enabling and guiding our clients to make better business decisions. The advances in software combined with operational know-how let us move with speed to deliver solutions for clients, which is very exciting to me as a former operator.