With Baxter Kawasaki Let’s The Good Times Roll!

Posted on August 18, 2010


In another one of those moments when you realize that your are just a few short years away from wearing plaid shirts, pants that buckle over your belly button and running shoes (not because your athletic but because you need the arch support), the first thing that came to mind when I received word that Baxter had been selected by Kawasaki to support the manufacturer’s parts, power products and engine distribution business was the Kawasaki Let’s The Good Times Roll commercial from the early 70s.  (For those of you who actually remember the original commercial, and those who are going what?, I have provided the video of the television ad below.)

Putting aside for the moment the pleasant stroll down memory lane, this is a very interesting win for the Texas-based vendor, whose SaaS solution is specifically focused on meeting the “unique demands of the after-market, service, repair, and spare parts industries.”

To begin, Indirect Material MRO procurement and management has multiple challenges ranging from effectively forecasting requirements to satisfying end customer service levels, while still maintaining the highest level of profitability possible.

The fact that Baxter’s selection coincides with Kawasaki’s recent decision to engage UPS to warehouse and ship all of its parts, power products and engines reflects a collaborative strategy that is essential to the eventual success of a collective initiative.  Specifically, through the effective coordination of the movement of product through the company’s OEM, distributor and dealer channels, both consumer satisfaction and confidence in the brand will be the end result.

This elongated or perhaps extended view in terms of what I will call the ripple effect by Kawasaki, has for the most part been absent from the automotive industry where companies such as GM and even most recently Toyota and Honda appear to have lost sight of what should be the real focus of a sound supply chain strategy . . . the end consumer.  In fact, here are the links to my interviews with industry experts Bill Michels (Intersecting Ideals: Why GM’s Supply Chain is in a State of Ruin) and Forrest Breyfogle III (What Really Happened At Toyota? Business Thought Leaders Segment) that provide an interesting take on what is wrong with the industry, and what is needed to get it back on track.

That Kawasaki should choose to leverage Baxter’s ability to “seamlessly integrate” their solution with the manufacturer’s current systems and 3PL partners as the vendor’s CEO and President Greg Baxter put it, is also another sign that SAP’s John Wookey’s SaaS sprawl rantings are more reflective of his own wishful thinking than actual customer demand.

Given the above, it is clear that strategies such as the one being implemented by Kawasaki, reflect the emergence of a new way of thinking in which technology is viewed as a key part of a much larger, coordinated process that is orchestrated by the client rather than a monolithic ERP provider.  Or to once again refer to a recent article by IACCM’s Tim Cummins, the biggest issue with traditional approaches to eProcurement initiatives was “a lack of imagination and aptitude by the user community,” in which program failures were more a case of ‘a bad workman blaming his tools’.   Cummins concluded by saying that this is “the problem on which we must focus.”  It looks like Kawasaki has followed this edict, to everyone’s benefit.