by Sydne Tursky
When people think of Arkansas, the first thing that comes to their mind probably isn’t technology and software innovations, but SupplyPike President Greg Kessman is ready to change that perception.
SupplyPike develops and sells supply chain management software to consumer packaged goods companies like Procter & Gamble and Nestle, which sell products that consumers use and replace regularly.
The company is unique for a lot of reasons, including its location, but what really sets it apart is its comprehensive approach to supply-chain management issues, Kessman says.
SupplyPike’s software is split into five different programs with five different functions — analytics, shipping, data exchange, command center and the marketplace — that can be used individually or together to manage all aspects of a company’s supply chain from end to end. For example, if a company already has the transportation-management software, they could add SupplyPike’s analytics and marketplace software for greater efficiency without having to replace their existing system.
This is an innovation in the industry, Kessman says. Typically, companies have just created add-on programs to fulfill needs or solve problems and then used them on top of the existing software. While that method is convenient and easy to integrate, it doesn’t result in the best-in-class software that SupplyPike is aiming for.
“Particularly for the small- to medium-sized consumer packaged goods companies, this is a really good platform to have because it has all the things you need to supply a major retailer and it’ll have all the software that you need to manage your co-manufacturers or your factories,” Kessman says. “So everything comes in one platform rather than having to go out and piecemeal it together by buying several platforms.”
SupplyPike started in 2016 as a division of CaseStack, a supply chain services company based in Los Angeles, but it’s about to become an entirely separate entity. Becoming a standalone company means they can cater to different kinds of businesses without limitations, Kessman says. CaseStack, on the other hand, targeted its infrastructure to work with companies of a similar size, which generally means smaller clients.
“As a separate thing, SupplyPike isn’t limited and can work with larger companies that would benefit from the software because we don’t have the same limitations,” he says. “We believe we have a larger scope and breadth of the customer base that we can achieve by being on our own.”
As the company branches out and attempts to build its own culture and infrastructure separate from CaseStack, Kessman is focused on finding new talent to improve the organization’s work. It’s a challenge, but one this state is uniquely suited to.
“We feel like Fayetteville is talent-rich, particularly with the software development side,” Kessman says. “The University of Arkansas has a really good computer science program, and we feel that we can recruit heavily from that program. Additionally, this area is great, too, so we feel like we can recruit individuals who may be working in areas like Silicon Valley, Silicon Beach [and] Austin. We know that this area is not for everyone, but there are several engineers who would rather have the lifestyle that Fayetteville allows for versus a place like Los Angeles or San Francisco.”
While large metropolitan areas may have more technology talent, there are also more large companies to compete with there. Fayetteville provides a happy medium between talent and a low level of competition attempting to draw that talent, and SupplyPike is bringing value to the area in its own right.
“[SupplyPike complements] the large investment the state’s making in the university, particularly in the engineering program,” Kessman says. “It allows for the graduates to continue to work within the state and provide the economic value and contribution back to the state.”
Additionally, other companies will benefit from a technology industry in the region for a couple of reasons, Kessman says. Tech professionals are more likely to move to areas with established technology ecosystems, so they have the opportunity for connection and growth.
“Even if you’re not recruiting a technology professional, but you’re recruiting an executive for another function, they may have a working spouse,” Kessman says. “Having a diverse set of jobs that people can do in an area makes it more attractive to move not just yourself but an entire family.”
As SupplyPike develops and starts to sell its product outside the area, Kessman anticipates it could bring people into the area or make them aware that this area is “more than just Walmart, more than just Tyson. There are a lot of things going on in Northwest Arkansas that they should pay attention to.”
Northwest Arkansas may not be about tech right now, but maybe one day it could be — that is if SupplyPike has anything to say about it.