Key development: Acquisition of Total Logistics.
What's next: New high-tech DC and FMI chairmanship.
The past 12 months have been eventful ones for Jeff Noddle, but the next 12 may prove even more so for Noddle, who began his two-year term as chairman of the Food Marketing Institute in May. Reflecting that change, he moved up to seventh from eighth on SN's Power 50 list.
Noddle continues to lead Supervalu, the retail and wholesale giant based in Minneapolis, through a series of major changes. In 2003 and 2004, Supervalu picked up retail customers for Supervalu's wholesale business after Fleming's exit from that business and swapped its New England territory for C&S Wholesale Grocers' Wisconsin and Ohio business.
Those developments were followed by some major corporate moves, as Supervalu sold its minority interest in WinCo Foods last year and this year acquired Total Logistics, a third-party logistics provider, while launching W. Newell & Co., a produce distribution business. Noddle also made some important personnel moves this year, naming Mike Jackson as president and chief operating officer and Janel Haugarth as senior vice president and president of distribution operations.
Total Logistics, which will incorporate Supervalu's existing third-party logistics company, Advantage Logistics, underscores Supervalu's commitment to providing logistics services such as transportation and warehousing. For Supervalu, third-party logistics is one of the areas that represents more growth potential than the traditional food wholesaling business.
In fact, Supervalu will be able to offer logistics now outside the food industry, leveraging Total Logistics' experience in auto supply parts, office supplies and transportation. "One of our strategies was that this would lead us to nontraditional, nonfood logistics work," Noddle said.
Noddle has also discovered that other industries are receptive to having a food distributor handle their logistics because of the low-cost mentality that the food industry uses. "We are encouraged by the receptivity to what I call 'food industry discipline,"' Noddle said.
Under Noddle's leadership, Supervalu has invested substantially in technology to support company operations. Nelson Gomez, vice president, food industry sales, NCR, Atlanta, commended Supervalu for the management of its "sizable infrastructure investment."
Over the next year and a half, Supervalu will be remodeling its dry-grocery warehouse in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota to include new automation and software that Noddle believes are unique in the food distribution world.
Noddle comes to the chairmanship of FMI after having been chairman of Food Distributors International and helped orchestrate that group's merger with FMI in 2003.
"Without Jeff, and Jack Block, that merger would not have happened," said Tim Hammonds, president and chief executive officer, FMI.
Hammonds also described Noddle as a "strong voice for the family-owned independent operator," which is facing unprecedented competition throughout the country. "We need someone who brings that perspective to the governance of our organization."
Noddle said that as FMI chairman he plans to emphasize collaboration with manufacturers in such areas as data synchronization. In addition, FMI and the Grocery Manufacturers Association will study backhaul rates. He also intends to use his FMI platform to address high credit-card-processing fees.