Scott Pruneau, chief executive officer at Reno-based ITS Logistics, has spent his entire career working in the supply chain industry.
Pruneau told NNBW that one thing he likes best about the industry is that no two days are the same – it’s never mundane or routine, and each day brings a new problem to analyze and solve. Professional roles in the supply chain industry require nimble and quick-thinking puzzle-solvers from a wide range of backgrounds, Pruneau said.
ITS Logistics is helping develop a pipeline of professional supply chain talent for regional businesses by funding a new minor program at the University of Nevada, Reno.
“This industry is a puzzle every day, whether you are managing inventory, transportation flows, customer demand, or manufacturing and purchasing,” Pruneau said. “Every day presents a challenge, whether you are in finance, sales, or operations. You have to be a creative problem-solver.”
The desire to overcome challenges and align various puzzle pieces to solve supply chain problems could make working in the supply chain industry appealing to a broad range of UNR students, especially because those skills transfer across so many disciplines, Pruneau said. Potential supply chain minors could be paired with majors in sales, marketing, finance, operations, engineering, IT, sustainability and risk.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist. You can be a regular person with a regular degree, and you can find an opportunity in this industry for a great career that will pay you back,” Pruneau said.
The supply chain and transportation management minor at UNR kicks off this fall and should align well with the majors of many College of Business students, said Robyn Brunscher, who spent more than 25 years working in supply chain management and business development roles before being named the program’s inaugural director.
Business majors already have the opportunity to take a supply chain operations management course as part of their degree path, Brunscher said. The new minor adds six additional supply chain-focused classes that were developed in the fall of 2022. A new supply chain fundamentals course was added to the College of Business curriculum this spring, and the full slate of supply chain courses will be available starting with the fall semester, Brunscher said.
COB students who are majoring in marketing, finance, business management, operations and similar fields can benefit from getting the supply chain minor, she added — as well as potentially open doors at some of the top names in retail and technology.
“This program really allows us to showcase what can be done in supply chain management at companies like Patagonia, Apple, Arrow Electronics and all the others that have extensive supply chains and need professionals to support them,” Brunscher said.
“As an industry we have not invested enough into that next round of talent,” she added. “What’s apparent – especially in the wake of COVID – is that we don’t have enough skilled resources coming in to support the supply chain. Northern Nevada is a distribution and transportation hub and a gateway to the western states. We feel it more than anyone as it relates to West Coast distribution.”
Brunscher said one ancillary benefit of creating the supply chain and transportation management minor is the spotlight it sheds on the supply chain industry. Students may think of supply chain jobs as the thousands of labor-intensive fulfillment positions at regional ecommerce and distribution facilities. The professional side of the supply chain industry, however, requires a highly trained workforce spanning a wide range of disciplines, Brunscher said.
“There are so many opportunities for people in finance, IT, creative, sales and different areas of the supply chain that don’t often get illuminated,” she said. “This program is designed to create that visibility and give people a chance to see that they can be an engineer or in sales and work in supply chain. There are so many opportunities across that spectrum, and this program will unlock that visibility and bring more talent to the region.”
ITS Logistics’ Pruneau said one reason why it was important for the third-party logistics provider to fund the program was to support education in the local community. The growth of the business since its founding in 1999 has afforded ITS the opportunity to give back. The company started with two semi trucks and now manages over 400,000 shipments a year.
Pruneau was promoted to the role of CEO in 2019 after serving as the company’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer. He replaced ITS Logistics’ co-founder Dan Allen at the helm of the company.
The new supply chain minor not only replaces a logistics program that was eliminated at UNR, Pruneua told NNBW, but it also emphasizes the transportation side of the industry whereas most supply chain programs are heavily focused on the movement of materials within a building.
“The industry has been really good to us,” Pruneau said. “When we were talking about this internally, the idea of creating something to help the community and give back, provide direction for youth and be focused on the transportation part of the supply chain felt like a great opportunity for us to show people a part of this industry that normally doesn’t get exposure.”
Students who obtain the minor will learn the processes required to transport and store goods, the technologies involved, economics, markets, risk, sustainability and all the things that are aspects of supply chains, Pruneau said.
“The wide scope will bring people from many different disciplines, areas and backgrounds to get exposure to the industry” he said. “Hopefully they will stay in and join Northern Nevada in this quest to be a highly recognized distribution and industrial hub that we are growing into. This is a great chance to add to that pipeline with local talent.”