Oct. 2 2006 03:08 PM

The warehousing industry is a dynamic, rapidly evolving industry that proves time and again its a great deal more than just storage. Professionals at the forefront of the industry have been challenged to respond to changes and to continually advance their skills. One way for professionals to invest in their career and to increase their warehousing knowledge is to join a professional association.


One association that is dedicated to providing education, research and networking opportunities is the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC). For more than 25 years, WERC has provided quality education and research to distribution and warehousing professionals who lead, direct and manage the efficient flow of information, materials and finished goods throughout the supply chain.


WERC has a long-standing reputation of being a friendly, easily accessible organization, where members can reach out to others dealing with similar operational issues, says Robert Shaunnessey, Executive Director, WERC. We continue to look for new ways to enhance and improve membership value, but that friendly experience hasnt changed.


WERC is currently wrapping up its 2005 conference in Dallas and will next focus on the rollout of its Web site of choice project. The newly enhanced Web site joins the many other tools that WERC offers (see sidebar) to help professionals to stay on top of industry trends, network with peers and gain easy access to relevant and practical warehousing information.


The Value of Networking

Tapping into the expertise of peers is one of the major benefits of belonging to an association. But it goes beyond that, Shaunnessey points out. This is a network of colleagues who are also friends, he says. Thats important because you can get true and accurate information on a specific topic including the good and the bad. Getting quality information without spin is invaluable. Also, consolidation in the industry is leading to many organizational changes Shaunnessey says: Having a network of professionals to contact is a valuable safety net.


One of WERCs most valuable networking opportunities is its annual conference. Each year, more than 1,000 warehousing and distribution professionals gather to talk shop, learn from expert speakers and make new contacts. Attending a WERC conference is a great opportunity to join other talented industry professionals to participate in an open forum for discussion and learning, says Leslie Ajlouny, incoming WERC President and VP, business development for Evans Distribution Systems, based in Melvindale, Michigan. I cant tell you how valuable it is to find out what others are doing at their facilities. Ive taken away many tips on metrics, managing third-party relationships and warehouse layout that we have implemented in our warehouse operations. You get real-world practical information that can be applied to immediately impact the bottom line, she says. 


Answering the Call of Change

Dealing with all of the changes in the industry can be daunting for any warehousing professional especially when one of the changes is the velocity with which information travels throughout the supply chain. The speed of physical inventory through the supply chain has grown leaps and bounds over the past five to 10 years. Managing that inventory requires real-time information that you can access immediately, Ajlouny says. Expectations are higher from both customers and suppliers. They want better quality and service, but at an increased speed. 


With information moving so rapidly, the need for ongoing training and development of warehouse/logistics professionals has grown as well. Thats one reason why WERC is launching a new and improved Web site. Based on feedback from our members, they want instant access to information that they can download and use immediately in their jobs, Ajlouny says. The new WERC Web site will provide just that.


One new feature of the site is the ability to easily search for information on a specific warehousing topic. For example, if youre looking for information on picking and order selection, you just click on that topic and youll have access to benchmarking, best practices and online learning courses.


Professionals who want networking opportunities but cant travel to seminars or the annual conference can easily post questions and get answers from their peers through WERC discussion forums. Many members have asked for ways to talk to other professionals in real-time. These forums will be a fun and easy way to get in touch with other industry professionals and get quick solutions to operational problems.


Perhaps the biggest enhancement to the site will be the online learning opportunities. We recognize that professionals today are in a crunch for time and being able to log on and take a course will offer the convenience many are looking for, says Shaunnessey. 


Stay Tuned

Visitors to www.werc.org will see new information added in the months to come. This is just the start of building a world-class warehousing Web site, explains Shaunnessey. Ajlouny adds, This is an exciting time to be a part of WERC. We are already gearing up for our 2006 annual conference in Orlando, and we will continue to add member value to our Web site and other educational offerings. This is only the beginning.


For more information on WERC, visit www.werc.org.



The Benefits of Belonging to WERC


Unparalleled Learning Opportunities

Annual Conference Warehousing professionals gather to share experiences, talk shop and listen to industry experts and practitioners.

WIRE Connects attendees and suppliers in an environment that

focuses on information, education and contacts.

Seminars Present solid warehousing fundamentals in a two-day format at locations across the country.


Industry Insight

WERC Publications Provide practical and useful tips and techniques to

                                       improve operations.

       WERCWatches Report on trends and issues within the warehousing and

                                      logistics industry.

            WERCSheet An informative member newsletter thats published

                                      11 times a year.


Advance Your Career

              Job Board Connects job seekers and employers specializing in

                                    warehousing and distribution.

      The WERCbook

                    Series Easy-to-read workbooks that incorporate examples,

                                    quizzes, exercises and worksheets.


Ideas, Solutions and Contacts

Online Membership Directory Online listing of WERC members.

          WERCouncils Local chapters run by volunteers who plan and hold

                                      meetings in their area.


Exclusive Web Access

WERCs new Web site will offer discussion forums; searchable, industry-specific information; benchmarking and best practices; white papers; on-line learning; and much more.