July 10th Interview:
Kristi Kingery, Vice President of Supply Chain, Tropical Smoothie Café, LLC.
Kristi was interviewed via email by Ankit Agarwal, 1st year MBA student at TCU.
you tell us about your background, and specifically about the journey to your
current role as Vice President of Supply Chain with Tropical Smoothie Cafe?
KK: The journey started at a real estate law firm where I
began as a receptionist. After about seven
years, multiple positions, and a lot of hard work, I earned a position as a
Department Manager where I built a new department and hired my first team. Once I completed that initiative I was ready
for another challenge! Through a
recruiter, I was offered a position at ARCOP, Arby’s Supply Chain Cooperative,
as a Buyer. This is where I realized my interest and
passion for supply chain. I worked for
ARCOP for nearly seven years and was able to earn several positions with
increasing levels of responsibility. I
was a Director of Procurement when I departed ARCOP and moved to Tropical
AA: What excites you most about the work you do?
KK: Every day is different! You never quite know what to expect when you
walk through the door – A product shortage? A recall? A natural disaster? No
two days are ever the same which keeps this career exciting, challenging and
AA: What sort of trends do you foresee in supply chain management for 2017
data, data. The industry is extremely
focused on finding new ways to harness data and leverage that power to
strengthen its supply chain. A large
part of this trend is really focused around data visibility – how to create a
clear pipeline of data between suppliers, distributors and operators.
are the challenges associated with fresh ingredients and how does the company
KK: When most
companies think of challenges surrounding fresh ingredients, they consider
shelf life and quality concerns. These
are certainly characteristics that we contemplate, but we spend more time
focusing on what we believe is the even bigger challenge: food safety. We utilize fresh, uncooked ingredients in
many of our smoothies because we believe this creates the highest quality
products for our consumers. We allocate
considerable resources to ensure we are sourcing the safest possible products
as well as handling them appropriately within our operation.
does Tropical Smoothie Cafe maintain the same quality of products and services
between different franchises?
product standards across all units is a challenge for all franchisors. We’ve found that constant communication,
across many different outlets, has led to our success. For example, we ship preprinted materials and
guides directly to cafes, host many webinars, organize conference calls,
support a company intranet and send weekly brand communications via email. However, the backbone of these resources is
our excellent Field Operations team who always ensure that all initiatives are
being executed properly.
there any plans for Tropical Smoothie to go global?
certainly have discussions around global growth, but no solid plans at the
moment. We’ve just opened our 600th café
in the US and feel like there’s plenty of opportunity for us to continue our
rapid growth within the US before moving into international development.
advice for supply chain students who want to start their careers in the food
industry is all about building relationships.
It’s a very tight-knit community of individuals who value ethical information
sharing – even between brand competitors!
So, for advice I will default to one of my mother’s favorite clichés: “Don’t
step on anyone on your way up the ladder because you will meet them on your way
Also, be sure to monitor this site for job opportunities in foodservice supply chains.