To lead its supply chain transformation, The Home Depot didn’t turn to just any retail veteran with PowerPoint skills and a familiarity with trucking. In Mark Holifield, the Atlanta-based retail giant found an executive with a background tailor-made for the task of updating its logistics from a store-as-warehouse model to a rapid deployment system. His career in retail—at Office Depot and HEB Grocery—and his college major in distribution and transportation form a foundation for his current job.
Home Channel News spoke with Holifield at his office in Atlanta, where he talked about the company’s goals, the evolutionary nature of supply chain improvements and a future where other retail initiatives will happily replace the supply chain on Home Depot’s center stage.
Home Channel News: Two years ago, Frank Blake told us the supply chain transformation is the biggest initiative here at Home Depot. Do you feel the pressure?
Mark Holifield: This has been an incredible experience for the company and personally as well. I think every executive should, at some point in their career, own the No. 1 initiative for the company just to see what that’s like. I’ll be happy when the supply chain transformation is no longer the No.1 initiative, and I think we might be at that point already. Supply chain is usually a background function. We’re looking forward to taking our rightful place in the background.
HCN: How does your background and experience at Office Depot influence you today?
Holifield: Well, it’s interesting that at Office Depot the company was founded with an intent to copy liberally from the Home Depot formula. It was more than just the name. Another thing they copied was the direct-to-store distribution model that the Home Depot had adopted from its beginning. But those stores sell far less product than a Home Depot, so their direct-to-store model failed to perform for them much earlier than the direct-to-store model failed to perform for The Home Depot. So, very quickly, we transitioned away from that, and that was great experience preparing me for our supply chain transformation.
HCN: So, the idea of the store as the “Home Improvement Warehouse”—do you still think in those terms?
Holifield: It is a “warehouse with a