Family ties are often likened to an indestructible chain, and the generations compared with the links that bind the past to the future. So it seems appropriate that an unbreakable father-and-son team is codirecting Bloomsburg University’s new Nicholas J. Giuffre Center for Supply Chain Management.
John Grandzol has shared his business savvy at Bloomsburg for 15 years; his son, Christian, has provided students with experiential learning for nine. Hailing from different professional backgrounds, the Grandzols seem to naturally complement each other, affording students a 360-degree view of the start-to-finish supply chain, from procurement and purchasing to distribution and delivery.
Before coming to BU, John graduated from Temple University with a math degree, and later a master’s and doctorate. He worked in the U.S. Social Security Administration and the U.S. Navy, linking contractors and customers in the biggest of leagues — the procurement and logistics arena for the nation’s military aircraft. Christian earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Marywood University in Scranton, and began teaching at BU as he earned his doctorate.
BU undergraduates jokingly refer to the father-son team as Professor Grandzol, the Elder, and Professor Grandzol, the Younger, like a coupling out of a Grimm fairy tale. But they are a forward-thinking duo who believe that teaching occurs not just within the classroom, but when students are immersed in the real-world experience. They teach through all-day simulation games; visits to warehouses, hospitals and factories; and guest speakers, often recent BU graduates who have already made good on their business degrees. One popular speaker hailed from Martin Guitars, and favorite field study sites include Woolrich Inc., the nation’s oldest outerwear manufacturer, and the Susquehanna Brewing Co.
Learning by doing
“Students see firsthand the actual result of their own decisions using principles learned in class. They are very self-driven and brainstorm improvements, and they physically see the impact of poor process planning or poor quality or lack of standardization.” Then, even better, they learn how to prevent it and remediate it.
Faculty members stay current with changing economic and political conditions, as the dizzying pace of the field and the world stage demands, moving beyond research-based programs at competing institutions. “Our students are already ahead of the curve of other students or employees they have to collaborate with,” Christian says.
When designing the major, professors looked at the handbook for supply chain management positions, then worked backward to create the curriculum to connect with the career. The major grew out of a supply chain management concentration and more than 50 students are enrolled. The university is also building a pipeline of graduates to teach needed courses.
“The demand (for good supply chain managers) exceeds the supply. There are tremendous opportunities out there, which is why just about all of our students have job offers within the supply chain field before they graduate,” John says.
Benefactor Nicholas J. Giuffre ’78 of Bradford White Corp., manufacturer of residential and commercial water heating and storage products, is a true believer in the BU experience. His $2.5 million gift takes classroom-to-boardroom training to a new level, giving his alma mater a premier locale for speakers and added resources for more in-the-field training.
Another successful graduate who delights in the major’s skyrocketing growth is Annie Ellen Cody ’14, a procurement operations analyst for Accenture in the King of Prussia office. Her chief client is an international car and equipment rental company that operates in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. Accenture recruited her through LinkedIn while she was still a BU student.
“From the get-go, you are taught to quickly and efficiently add value with minimal waste,” Cody says. She loves that supply chain management involves a healthy mix of rules and processes, combined with a generous helping of figuring things out on your own. She is both “excited and envious” of the experiences BU students are receiving since the concentration became a major.
And, she adds, most of the projects she is assigned at Accenture are the “same thing we had been taught” at BU.
Another supply chain success story is Brian Toth ‘14, who is a third-shift product supervisor at Bayer, leading a team of 45 that makes high-quality syringes in a sterile setting. He completed an internship at Sherwin-William Paints and a Pittsburgh-based surgical practice and previously helped produce Gatorade for PepsiCo. At Bayer, he troubleshoots everything from quality defects and machinery breakdowns to employee paycheck, cross-training, and sterility issues, zeroing in on employee safety.
“What I like about the supply chain field is that it’s both analytical and hands-on,” Toth says. “From helping an employee who is having a problem with their paycheck or figuring out how to reallocate our labor if one of our machines goes down, the job is all about meeting the challenge and problem solving.”
As a member of BU’s Supply Chain Club (APICS), Toth competed in a local competition and won, sending him on to a national conference in Tennessee. Today, both Toth and Cody are working toward their APICS certification, a nationally recognized standard of excellence within the industry.
BU’s supply chain management programs have seen steady enrollment increases concurrent with program improvements since it started as a career concentration in 2007. In addition to the students specializing in supply chain management, students majoring in general management and other business fields have benefited from practical experiences initiated under the supply chain umbrella. To date, more than 1,200 students have visited over 16 manufacturing facilities and distribution centers – engagement that has positive returns for both students and industry relations.
The Grandzols say the job outlook for supply chain management professionals is expected to grow by 20 percent. Globalization, outsourcing and automation mean solid connections must be built and maintained across all networks, from inventory and distribution to operations, accounting and delivery. That is something Professor Grandzol, the Elder, and Professor Grandzol, the Younger, teach students every day.•
Jack Sherzer is a professional writer and principal partner with Message Prose, a communications and public relations firm in Harrisburg.
Visit bloomu.edu/magazine to watch an animation explaining Supply Chain Management.