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Human Relationships Strengthen Supply Chains

Zach Brooke

That’s according to a new report by the National Center for the Middle Market, which looks at supply chain management and casts doubt on the adage, “It’s not personal, it’s business.” The report identifies the human element as a key point of divergence in middle market supplier outcomes and concludes that suppliers who have strong personal relationships with clients are largely the fastest-growing.

“It still comes down to a people sport,” says Ward Melhuish, principal and advisory services leader at Grant Thornton. “Even though it’s business and a transaction, it goes beyond just saying our IT systems are connected, and I can process things faster. It’s making the human effort and involvement and interest. That makes a difference when it comes to the middle market.” 

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The human element is often easier said than done. Many companies are so focused on the big picture and strategy that they don’t have the bandwidth to focus on the intricacies of supply chains, especially if everything seems to be working. For the same reasons, many businesses are ignorant of the breadth of components that comprise the chain that leads to their loading docks.

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Zach Brooke is a former AMA staff writer turned freelance journalist. His work has been featured in Chicago magazine, Milwaukee Magazine, A.V. Club and VICE, among others. Follow him on Twitter @Zach_Brooke.