Logistics Executive Spotlight

Q&A with Col. Matthew Crabill, 2015 CTL Graduate


Col-Matthew-CrabillWhat is one of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the logistics industry?

Leveraging information technology to get every bit of value out of inventory. My grocery store could predict what I'm going to buy next week with very high accuracy.

What piece of advice would you offer someone new to the industry?

Know your customers in detail and ask yourself every day how you can serve them better.

What’s the best advice you’ve received during your career? Did you take it or did you realize it later?

My commanding Officer in an infantry battalion told me that thriving in a stressful environment is a matter of caring about the team more than yourself. I used the advice immediately and still do.

What is one skill that you didn’t have starting out that you have since mastered?

I've become more collaborative, to the point that it is really my basic operating system. The nature, complexity and scale of most logistics operations demand collaboration that harnesses the talent of people in multiple organizations and moves the group toward a common goal.

What is your most memorable moment?

I was watching a group of Marines and Sailors mount up for a mission in Iraq. In that moment I truly understood the privilege and responsibility of leading people. 

Describe a point in your life where you made a choice for a group of people that was unpopular, and how you managed it.

I required my unit to use Mine Resistant Armor Protected (MRAP) vehicles, rather than the more lightly armored HMMWV, when doing convoy movements in Iraq. It was unpopular at the time because the Marines preferred the mobility of the smaller, lighter vehicle. I made a policy requiring maximum use of the MRAP. Several senior Marines asked me to reconsider the policy. I listened to alternative viewpoints, engaged in dialogue and explained the rationale for my decision. When one of our convoys hit an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) it validated the decision as the Marines were not hurt. Regardless of the outcome, it was important that my Marines knew that I listened to them and respected their opinion.

Describe a time when you had to think outside the box to achieve your goal or project.

My unit was providing aviation support services to 12 squadrons, which is four times the number we were designed to support. To keep up with the refueling, we had to forecast and prioritize better, which is basic stuff. The innovation we made was a proactive maintenance process for our refueling trucks. It was preventive maintenance on steroids, with replacement of parts and components based on use rather than failure. The increased availability of our trucks was a big win for our customers and bad news for the enemy.

Who has played the most influential role in your life and why?

Ha, deep question. I think my wife and I are merging personalities. We've been married almost 25 years and have three children.

What technology change has had the greatest benefit to the industry?

Well, I'm a big fan of IT and it clearly has benefitted the industry, and I believe there is much more room for benefit as companies mature their ERP's and look for rapid response to customer demand signals. That said, I think energy efficiency is another area where almost every supply chain can gain benefit and believe this will be a growth area going forward. I can see energy efficiency helping the bottom line, and also see it as a key marketing strategy.

After spending all these years working, what’s the next chapter?

I'm launching three startups......2 girls and a boy, which will keep me busy. But seriously, I love to work and plan to start a second career. I'll try anything and I'm scouting for a company that shares my values.