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Andrew Johnson on supply chain automation, innovation, and industry disruption

Episode: 43

“I love wrecking things. I think when you get down to it… I love disruption. I love being the disruptor and I really don’t like being disrupted. So I’d love to go help somebody go disrupt some stuff.” ~Andrew Johnson

In this episode, I catch up with Andrew Johnson, CEO of ShelfAware VMI, a system that monitors inventory consumption in real-time via RFID technology. His affinity for disrupting the family distributorship’s systems led to a spin-off career at the helm of a virtually no-touch inventory solution.

Andrew shares his company’s fascinating origins story as well as its mission to provide an efficient, remote data reporting method with a low-cost point of entry.

We knew our data and our systems and our processes inside out and that hard, rough experience – really getting our hands dirty, it changed us. But prior to tackling a massive data migration project at the family’s rubber and plastics distributorship in 2012, Andrew and his brothers-in-law weren’t exactly systems engineers.

Over the course of several months, however, the trio of self-taught technologists became intimately acquainted with the company’s infrastructure. So much so that they followed up their successful data project with a massive systems overhaul, taking a match to every process they could get their hands on.

We would walk in, tear something down, burn it to the ground sometimes before we even really knew what we were going to put in place. No department was left unscathed – or improved.


Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.

This episode was edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.

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Inside distribution and small business in general, I think incremental innovation is the way to go, says Andrew of the three years the boys spent disrupting his father’s rubber and plastics distributorship.

That philosophy, coupled with a drive to design bespoke systems inside the family business, culminated in 2015 with the creation of an external innovation: the vendor managed inventory solution now known as ShelfAware VMI. The hardware/software combination takes inventory reporting out of the hands of the consumer and the customer service field rep, replacing barcode scanners and clipboards with an elegant, old tech-based solution.

ShelfAware VMI uses RFID (radio frequency identification), the same system found in hotel key cards, to remotely track and collect all sorts of inventory data via intelligent packaging tags. That feedback has allowed distributors to greatly improve efficiencies with an added benefit of limiting field rep visits in the era of COVID.

It’s been a wild ride, says Andrew and he’s enthusiastic about ShelfAware VMI’s growth across multiple distribution verticals as well as the future of socially-distanced managed inventory.



ShelfAware VMI YouTube

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