EDGE: How will you draw upon your previous UPS experience to fulfill your new role?
RICE: Well, my 27 years of experience with UPS –– really, essentially, growing up at UPS –– will allow me to look at building our business through the eyes of both our employees and our customers.
And at the end of the day, (my job is to) allow all Canadian businesses to understand how they can grow their businesses by helping them understand synchronizing commerce — the flows of goods, information and funds, and how that fits into their business model, and how we can provide value, provide solutions and ultimately save them money.
EDGE: How do you think running the Canadian operation might differ from your experience working in the U.S. division?
RICE: Well, certainly on a personal note, I’m spending a lot of time meeting with our employees and our customers and sort of understanding some of the cultural diversity that exists within the country.
The fact of the matter is there’s such a high competency level among UPS employees here in Canada. There are a number of products that have been developed here in Canada that are now being adopted by corporate UPS around the world. A good example of that one would be Trade Direct Cross Border, which allows Canadian businesses to have a footprint in the U.S.
EDGE: Do you anticipate challenges in your new role?
RICE: Oh, certainly there are challenges with regard to the post-9/11 world we live in, with regard to the border complexities that exist for UPS and for all couriers, and for all businesses for that matter. So that certainly is a challenge, understanding that and then providing solutions for Canadian businesses (about) how to get past that. We’re the only carrier that has been customs self-assessment-certified by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency for both our air and ground operations. So I think that demonstrates our willingness to work with Canadian businesses to help get past these complexities of the border issues.
EDGE: What kind of technologies are you considering to improve the delivery of packages and information?
RICE: Our organization has spent $1 billion (US) a year for the last 15 consecutive years to build this technology infrastructure that we have, and nobody can match that in terms of the overall technological solutions that we have. We’ve got some enhancements to things like Quantum View (a service notifying customers via e-mail about the status of their orders). The Trade Direct Cross Border business model (which provides integrated freight and package delivery for U.S.-bound shipments) that I spoke of a moment ago –– we’re in the process of introducing that northbound from the U.S. into Canada.
EDGE: What steps have you taken to move to a less paper-based process?
RICE: We’re pretty paperless as it is now. I think that UPS Connect is a good example of what we’ve done to try to create a paperless UPS. UPS Connect is a desktop shipping system that integrates our back-end systems with our customers’, allowing them to prepare shipment activity, waybills, customs documents –– all of which save time and money and redundancy at the customer’s locations.
EDGE: To what extent have UPS customers adopted Web-based ordering?
RICE: Well, slow but sure. There are still a lot of small customers that we have to continue to convince that that’s the wave of the future. (One example of a small customer that orders via the Web) is Lush Cosmetics, and they’re out of Vancouver. They’re a maker of hand-made soaps and cosmetics. Their order-processing fulfilment system is now fully integrated with our system. So their customers receive orders faster. It improves the loyalty (and generates) repeat business for them. It’s certainly much more reliable and reduces their costly back-order expense.
Their inventory management is saving them money now because it’s a lot tighter and it minimizes the consequences of carrying too much stock or perhaps even running out of stock. In the Lush Cosmetics’ case, the time that they spent tracking and following up with customer orders was reduced by some 90 per cent.
EDGE: How have customers’ demands for service and technology evolved over the past few years?
RICE: Well, first off, customers want it faster, and more efficient, and more effectively than they did before. You know, the globalization of technology has made the world a smaller place to live in. And what UPS has really done a good job at is mastering the physical movement of those goods from Point A to Point B. But you know, anybody can do that. The information about those packages, where they are along the supply chain, that’s certainly something that we can provide our customers. And then funds. We’ve got a whole list of products that help our customers improve and increase their cash flow. Our ability to go in and show our customers, both large and small- to medium-size businesses, is that we can do exactly what we say we’re going to do — we’ve gone so far as to provide and build a value model that really walks through our customers. where we can save money and time and effort and increase efficiencies in their business. Things like order processing, shipment activities, call centre activities, inquiry resolutions, Web activities, invoice reconciliation, return or reverse logistics — all those things save time and money.
EDGE: How would you compare UPS’s response to customer demands compared with competitors like FedEx and Purolator?
RICE: What I think differentiates us is a couple of things. Everybody’s been trying to match our size and scope. So many of our competitors, some of whom you’ve just mentioned, are trying to be like us.
I don’t think they’re ever going to accomplish it because –– not to mention the infrastructure –– it’s the UPS people that really make this organization as strong as it is.
President, UPS Caaada
Rice is a 27-year veteran of UPS who started his career as a package car driver in 1977 and has moved through a variety of management positions.