Halloween at Hershey: A trick or a treat?
Welcome to Supply Chain Dive's newest column! Every Friday through the end of 2018, we'll be taking a sideways look at the supply chain. If your supply chain has unexpected consequences, oddities or surprising quirks, we want to hear about it!
For Hershey, peak season comes early every year. Holiday sales from Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas and of course Halloween, make up roughly a third of annual sales — each offering a fairly short six- to eight-week window to get it right. Sounds intense, right?
"Seasons are always tricky. We execute them as well as anyone does," said Jason Reiman, vice president of supply chain operations at The Hershey Company.
This week, I visited one of Hershey’s manufacturing plants in Hershey, Pennsylvania. On Oct. 24, the die is mostly cast, especially for the supply chain.
"As we finish up the current Halloween season, we’re already working on the next season," Reiman said. "We try to plan out at least 18-24 months especially when we look at capacity planning."
The execs at Hershey know a thing or two about Halloween. They remember the last time it snowed on Halloween and where. They know that if the holiday falls midweek, they may squeeze out more sales since Halloween parties are more likely to happen on a weekend, but trick-or-treating happens on the 31st no matter what — potentially doubling candy needs. They know that the timing of Labor Day often determines how early Halloween displays will go up.
I walked into the Hershey plant expecting nervous energy, since stakes are high. But executives were unphased by the consequence of the next week. Sure, it's in their interest to seem calm and collected in front of the press, but if anyone knows what can and cannot be controlled, its folks like Jason Reiman.
It’s going to snow in Boston next week. Bostonians are tough and the Hershey execs say it won't slow down a single trick-or-treater. Are they concerned? Nope. Lines at the plant on Old West Chocolate Avenue plant are already churning out kisses in Valentine's and Easter wrappings.
What the executives told me as I probed for the drama to no avail, was that if you plan well enough and execute the plan, not even the forces of nature can throw you (too far) off your game.
We’ll dig deep into Hershey’s recently announced quarterly earnings, it's move into digital and what that’s meant for the company’s supply chain next week.
But I want to know — How is your peak season looking? Are you sweating the small stuff? I learned from Hershey that personality notwithstanding, if the supply chain work is done well and it’s time to reap the benefits, nerves and worries might be a sign of a deeper problem. Halloween isn’t just a scary holiday, it’s a sign that peak season is here. Are you scared?
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