Ben Cook joined Spreetail in February 2022 as the company’s Chief Supply Chain Officer. Ben will lead his division in expanding the company’s Fulfillment Center network, hastening delivery speeds, and improving logistics capabilities. Ben and his wife, Chrissy, relocated from Denver, Colorado to Lincoln, Nebraska to be near Spreetail’s headquarters. As Chief Supply Chain Officer, Ben will focus on scaling Spreetail’s supply chain for brands, marketplaces, and tomorrow’s ecommerce customer.
"I am thrilled to welcome our new Chief Supply Chain Officer, Ben Cook, to Spreetail. Ben shares Spreetail's passion for rapid growth and operational excellence and will contribute significantly as the leader of our Supply Chain Division,” said Owen Carr, Chief Executive Officer of Spreetail North America.
Ben comes to Spreetail with over 15 years of global supply chain and senior operations experience, spanning companies such as Kimberly-Clark, Home Depot, Target, and Walmart. He also has a demonstrated history of service, serving in the U.S. Army Special Operations Unit. In his first retail role, Ben created the global trade services organization to support growth in imports at Home Depot. During his time at Target, Ben led global logistics organizations that included team members in the US, India, China, and Vietnam.
After joining Spreetail, we spent time with Ben to learn more about his experience, what attracted him to this opportunity, and his take on today’s challenging supply chain environment.
What attracted you to working at Spreetail?
The culture and passion from everyone I met during the interview process were a huge attraction and a big reason that I wanted to become part of the Spreetail family. I have been fortunate and blessed to have worked for some amazing companies during my career but Spreetail’s unique culture was exactly what I was looking for in a company – it truly feels like one big family and I’m thankful to now be part of this amazing family.
What surprised you the most after starting at Spreetail?
The warmth and hospitality from Spreetailers - we have already been invited to multiple dinners and outings and it has made the transition a lot easier than prior ones. We already feel at home here at Spreetail and this was a nice surprise for us.
What are your immediate priorities at Spreetail?
Learn, learn, and learn. I realize that I need to spend time learning the business and getting to know everyone before trying to make any major decisions or changes. Owen Carr (CEO – North America) has been incredibly supportive in my onboarding by creating a very detailed 90-day plan and providing me with the support to fully immerse in Spreetail. This is actually a first in my career and I intend on taking full advantage of the learning opportunity. In addition to the onboarding focus, I am also actively recruiting for a VP of Transportation as this is a critical role for us that needs to be filled. We are moving fast but are focused on hiring the best leader that we can find so will not sacrifice quality over speed on this critical role.
What are your dreams and aspirations to build at Spreetail?
The late and great Peter Drucker infamously stated that “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, meaning that you must get the culture right before embarking on executing a strategy. While Spreetail has an amazing culture, there is work to be done on developing a holistic “One Team” supply chain culture and that is what I look forward to the most. As we set up our cultural imperatives then we will be in a great position to create, socialize and execute on our supply chain vision and corresponding roadmap which will be unveiled later this year. I am humbled and incredibly excited to help lead this transformation with the team.
Spreetail attracts and hires ambitious people who want to grow, how do you see yourself personally growing here?
I expect to be challenged like never before. I am a voracious reader and have always put a priority on my personal and professional learning and development. Spreetail is providing me the opportunity to bring my 20 years of leadership and operations experience to help solve some of the most challenging supply chain issues in the industry. Also, since we are in a relatively young industry, I’ll be faced with some new opportunities that I have not encountered in prior companies, and this is what really excites me as I love tackling tough challenges and finding creative solutions to scale and improve performance.
How has your time in the US Army Special Operations Unit shaped your career?
My time serving in the US Army was something that really shaped who I am as a person and a leader. I was pushed far beyond what I thought was possible in terms of physical and mental strain and I am proud of my accomplishments while serving our country. Also, I was taught early on that a good leader must first learn to be a good and loyal follower and this has really been a critical part of my leadership journey. It taught me humility, teamwork, the importance of learning a craft well and how to focus on the end goal by playing my part to the best of my ability. Teamwork makes the dream work!
With 15+ years of global supply chain experience, what’s your take on today’s challenging environment?
A great quote from William Wordsworth comes to mind to help summarize our current environment: “Life is divided into three terms - that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present, to live better in the future.”
From a supply chain standpoint, we have never been in a more constrained environment than we are now, that’s a fact. We are faced with labor shortages in all nodes of the supply chain, a lack of transportation capacity, rising and volatile fuel costs, high tariffs as a result of ongoing global trade disputes, and a myriad of other challenges, but with all of this comes opportunity. The companies and organizations that can navigate these challenges and come out the other side will be the ones who last, and I see Spreetail as one of these long-term victors. We have the grit and the culture to push through these constraints and come out as a much stronger organization, and we will.
You have deep experience creating logistical efficiency for companies such as Walmart, Apple, Target, and Home Depot. Now you’re leading the supply chain network at Spreetail, who sells products on these marketplaces and more. What experience is going to be the most beneficial in the new role?
Honestly, all of my former experiences are very applicable and relevant to helping scale our supply chain at Spreetail. Home Depot gave me a crash course on developing a world-class direct import program. Kimberly-Clark taught me about the importance of deploying smart technology to drive efficiencies in transportation. Apple helped me build a maniacal focus on the customer and learn how to scale supply chain capabilities globally and then Target and Walmart provided me with the opportunity to integrate smart inventory decisions into the transportation and fulfillment processes to create a true “One Team” supply chain concept. So, I see all of my former roles as schooling and practice to help me lead effectively here at Spreetail. It feels like fate brought me to this moment and I am excited to apply what I have learned to Spreetail.
What are you doing when you are not building one of the fastest-growing ecommerce companies?
I am an avid reader, outdoors enthusiast (hiking, camping, and anything outdoors) and I love to travel internationally with my wife Chrissy. Chrissy and I are also big foodies and have already found some amazing restaurants in the Lincoln area and are excited to continue exploring the Lincoln and Omaha area.
Do you have any advice for aspiring ecommerce leaders?
Be bold, take risks, embrace the Spreetail culture and “make a dent in the universe” as Steve Jobs said. However, make sure that you are also practicing humility in the process- ask questions and know that there are many things you don’t know. Be humble and seek out someone with more experience so that you can learn from their failures and successes. In sum, practice what I call “Bold Humility,” meaning be very bold and take risks but do it with a posture of humility. If you take this approach, you will make Spreetail better and also achieve things you never thought were possible. Go make the future!
If you're interested in being a part of a holistic "One Team" supply chain culture, view our open roles here.