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Dan Gilmore


Supply Chain Digest

Gilmore's Supply Chain Jab

Gilmore is Editor and President of Supply Chain Digest, which he founded in 2003.


Feb. 10, 2016

Remembering Supply Chain Executive Ken Miesemer

Former Hershey Logistics Exec and WERC Board President Literally Wrote the Book on Building on a New DC


We were very sad to learn of the recent death of Ken Miesemer, former director of distribution and international logistics at Hershey Foods.

Miesemer was said to have died "very suddenly of a intraventricular hemorrhage" on January 23. He was still working as a consultant at St. Onge on a part-time basis. He served on the board of the Warehouse Education and Research Council (WERC) for many years, and was board president in 2007 and 2008.


He was just 60 years old. Ken is survived by his wife Mary Beth and their 9-year old grandson Riley, whom they have been raising since he was 2-years old.

Gilmore Says...

Ken was pleased that in the early days of Supply Chain Digest, I wrote a "second look" at Starting Up a World-Class DC in 2005.

What do you say?

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In 2001, Ken authored the WERC publication, ‚ÄúStarting Up a World-Class DC, A Roadmap to Success" an outstanding primer on the design, construction and operation of Hershey's million square foot Eastern Distribution Center (EDC), a facility I was in three times.

I was once chief marketing officer at McHugh Software, which we later renamed as RedPraire, now part of JDA Software. Hershey selected then McHugh as the WMS for the EDC, and then later for other facilities in its network, which is how I wound up touring the EDC and first meeting Ken.


Our relationship continued from that 2001 or so period in several ways. Ken was pleased that in the early days of Supply Chain Digest, I wrote a "second look" at Starting Up a World-Class DC in 2005.


In that column, I wrote in in part that "Hershey took almost seven months to select a third-party operator. Part of this process was detailed sharing of details about Hershey's business with potential operators - much more, I believe, than companies typically do, and to good effect. The Hershey team used a series of "case study" questions/scenarios to ensure the candidates understood Hershey's business and how they would respond to issues. "Requiring operator candidates to transfer their financial data into the [Hershey] standard cost model was extremely valuable," Meisemer noted.


Then in the 2007-08 time frame, SCDigest sponsored a few seminars on "Best Practices
in Distribution Center Design, Operations and Management," two-day courses that were led by Miesemer. They were very good - somewhere I have video tapes on which I captured a few hours of the action.


Miesemer continued to lead versions of these seminars around the world, especially in India and Australia, I believe including in recent years.


I last saw Ken at last year's ProMat show in Chicago last Spring, where he was working in the St. Onge booth. I asked him about perhaps doing a retro piece on Starting Up a World-Class DC. He was excited about the idea, thinking how we could blend what he still believed were the right lessons from the original book but updated based on new learnings and times since then.


I am disappointed I did not follow up faster. It would have been a great piece and reintroduce Ken's thinking to a new group of supply chain managers, but alas I missed that chance. I am pretty sure, however, the original book is still available from WERC. Worth every penny. Sits in a prominent place on my bookshelf.


Ken was a consummate professional and a man of the highest - and I mean the highest - integrity. He was simply a man of character, and there was no missing that..


One other memory relates to the few friendly debates I had with Ken over the practice of "count back," in which 3PLs managing DC operations have workers perform an immediate cycle count at every case pick location once the pick is complete, to ensure inventory accuracy.


The technique was used (and I assume still is) at Hershey, Kraft and others. While I never became completely sold on the idea, I will admit Ken had me questioning myself a few times when he argued why it made wonderful sense despite the hit to productivity.


After taking an attractive buy-out deal from Hershey along with dozens of others there in about 2006, Ken was working on projects that intrigued him for St. Onge. I think he finally wound up in a house in Florida with his wife and young grandson after earlier spending quite a bit of time with them touring the US in a motor home.


I never heard the full story of how that situation came about, but in the little bit he talked about it, it was clear Miesemer cared for the grandson deeply.


We will miss this good man a lot, and I am very disapointed that article will never be written.


Did you know Ken Miesemer? We would like your rememberances/thoughts below.

Your Comments/Feedback

Jim Selway

Retired, Company
Posted on: Feb, 17 2016

I was Ken's best friend for 35 years, so my rememberences are more personal than professional, but I wanted people to know that Ken was passionate about Logistics.  We spent so many days in my boat, smallmouth bass fishing on the Susquehanna, as he would tell me how his book was coming along.  In the forward of "Starting Up a World Class DC", I'm the person he said he would teach to fish. 

He was meticulous in all that he did.  From woodworking (incredible furniture) to Skydiving (2500 jumps).  He inspired people in both his personal and professional life to bcome all they could.  To strive for excellence.

You lost a great resource, and terrific person.  I lost my best friend, and I'll miss him.

Jason Morin

Director of Continuous Improvement, XPO Logistics
Posted on: Feb, 17 2016
I did not know Ken and my condolences to his family and friends.  But I do know he was absolutely spot-on with countback. When designed and implemented correctly, countback can deliver tremendous value, esp. for non-mechanized case pick environments in CPG DCs. Unfortunately it is still relatively unknown.  When a DC professional (or WMS expert) does learn about it, they nearly always slam the brakes when they hear the idea of a picker counting the remaining inventory in a pick location (or on an LPN) after every pick.  I have my own presentation on it that can convince any DC professional of its merits in about 30 min.



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