KUECKER LOGISTICS GROUP, PULSE INTEGRATION, AND QC SOFTWARE HAVE COMBINED

KUECKER LOGISTICS GROUP, PULSE INTEGRATION, AND QC SOFTWARE HAVE COMBINED

 

Kansas City, July [16], 2021 – Leading integration firms Kuecker Logistics Group, Inc. (“Kuecker”), Pulse Integration (“PULSE”), and QC Software, LLC (“QC”) announced today that they have combined to form a new company, Kuecker Pulse Integration, L.P. (“KPI” or the “Company”).  In conjunction with this combination, funds managed by the Private Equity Group of Ares Management Corporation (NYSE: ARES) (“Ares”) have acquired a majority interest in the Company with the existing owners of all three businesses retaining significant equity stakes.

Larry Strayhorn, CEO of Pulse, will lead the Company, and he will be joined on the leadership team by executives from each of Pulse, Kuecker, and QC.

“Pulse, Kuecker, and QC all hold the same core values of honesty, integrity, and transparency. We are thrilled about the opportunities ahead to combine our companies and extend our track record of value creation, innovation, and success as a larger operator,” said Strayhorn.

Jim Kuecker, President of Kuecker, noted “This is an exciting time for our companies. This combination will enhance our capabilities and scale, and we look forward to working together to deliver even greater value to our customers and suppliers in the future.”

“We have worked closely with Larry and Jim and their respective companies over the years, and we are excited to be combining with them in this next chapter of our evolution” said Kevin Tedford, CEO of QC.

Kuecker is a leading innovative material handling solutions provider for more than 40 years. Using a customized approach, they work to design, engineer, and implement logistics management solutions to increase distribution efficiency. Kuecker provides cutting edge solutions in logistics management, supply chain management, value chain management, industrial automation, inventory management and more.

PULSE is a systems integrator that has over 50 years of experience serving customers throughout North America.  Pulse is focused on helping companies leverage the right mix of technology in their facilities, and works to understand, collaborate, and analyze business needs in real-time, and provide custom-engineered solutions in a tiered delivery process.  Using a data-driven, technology-agnostic approach, Pulse ensures projects are scoped to fit the needs of the customer while remaining adaptable for a changing market.

QC is recognized as an industry leader in providing innovative software solutions for order fulfillment and distribution centers. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, they have been providing software solutions to customers in North America and Europe to streamline their warehouse operations using the most innovative supply chain automation software solutions.

“As a pure-play technology and solutions integrator, KPI is well positioned to serve the requirements of the fast-growing warehouse automation space,” said Brian Klos, Partner in Ares’ Private Equity Group. “This combination will provide KPI with significant scale and expanded capabilities to better serve its customers and drive the next phase of the Company’s growth, both organically and through strategic acquisitions. We are excited to have the opportunity to partner with Larry, Jim, Kevin, as well as the other members of the management team.  We believe this combination brings together a group of uniquely talented and motivated leaders.”

Mr. Strayhorn continued, “Our vision is to build a full-service integrator platform with an industry leading software offering”.  “We believe Ares is the right partner to help us expand our Company and deliver on these important objectives.”

About Kuecker Logistics Group, Inc.

Kuecker is a leading innovative material handling solutions provider working to design, engineer, and implement logistics management solutions to increase distribution efficiency. Kuecker provides cutting edge solutions in logistics management, supply chain management, value chain management, industrial automation, inventory management and more. Not only does Kuecker design and build systems to make business supply chain more efficient, Kuecker acts as a partner and consultant to ensure the success of our implemented services. The strong relationships with clients are testaments to value, commitment, and fulfillment of customer expectations in providing operational analysis, system engineering, system installation, project management, training, start-up assistance and ongoing support.

About PULSE Integration

PULSE is a full system integrator working diligently to provide a customized solution for every client. Combining design expertise, seamless integration with intentional transparency Pulse provides clients with scalable engineered solutions. Cultivating over 50 years of material handling experience to specifically help companies leverage the right mix of technology (digital and physical) in their facilities. The Pulse team ingrains Industry 4.0 Thinking into the design philosophy at every level to deliver truly agnostic solutions that adapt to continuous evolving customer requirements.

About QC Software, LLC

QC is recognized as a leading provider of supply chain automation software solutions. Our Warehouse Execution / Warehouse Control Systems streamline warehouse/distribution operations with the lowest total cost of ownership in the industry. QC solutions maximize your system’s productivity and dependability, making us the ideal solution for your warehousing needs.

About Ares Management Corporation

Ares Management Corporation (NYSE: ARES) is a leading global alternative investment manager offering clients complementary primary and secondary investment solutions across the credit, private equity, real estate and infrastructure asset classes. We seek to provide flexible capital to support businesses and create value for our stakeholders and within our communities. By collaborating across our investment groups, we aim to generate consistent and attractive investment returns throughout market cycles. As of March 31, 2021, including the acquisition of Landmark Partners, which closed June 2, 2021, and the acquisition of Black Creek Group, which closed July 1, 2021, Ares Management’s global platform had approximately $239 billion of assets under management with approximately 2,000 employees operating across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East. For more information, please visit www.aresmgmt.com. Follow Ares on Twitter @Ares_Management.

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Contacts:

Ares Management Corporation

Bill Mendel

212-397-1030

bill@mendelcommunications.com

Or

Carl Drake

888-818-5298

cdrake@aresmgmt.com

Or

Brittany Cash

212-301-0347

bcash@aresmgmt.com

KPI

Jim Kuecker

jim.kuecker@kpisolutions.com

Or

Stephanie Fisher

315-778-0138

stephanie.fisher@kpisolutions.com

 

Grocery Reimagined

Grocery Reimagined

Today’s retail customer utilizes technology that has drastically advanced their expectations. For grocery, modernizing through automation is the optimal way to meet them. Advances in microfulfillment allow you to embrace affordable, user-friendly systems that respond to modern shopper demands while greatly improving the end experience for customers. Cuhaci & Peterson Architects PULSE Integration and KPS Global are teaming up to provide powerful end-to-end solutions to reimagine grocery for a brighter future — starting now.

Click Here to Learn More

Should Grocery Retailers Offer On-Demand Delivery?

Should Grocery Retailers Offer On-Demand Delivery?

Prior to the pandemic, online grocery shopping accounted for just 5% of all grocery sales in 2019, according to data from Mercator Advisory Group. As of February 2021, online grocery shopping had increased 230% from pre-pandemic levels, according to Adobe research.

In 2021, consumers continue to shop online, but I’ve found that retailers are under pressure to deliver orders faster. This is no easy task for most retailers, as they don’t have a business model suited to making deliveries in several hours — let alone in minutes.

The desire for speed on the part of consumers has resulted in the creation of a new business model known as “instant on-demand delivery” whereby customers can place an order and receive their delivery in as little as 10 minutes.

New entrants like Gorillas, Fridge No More, Gopuff, Getir, Dija and Jokr have exploded on the scene and are attracting significant investor capital. An advantage of on-demand delivery companies is that they can often launch operations very easily due to lower-cost and lower-tech operating models.

Many retail analysts are claiming that on-demand delivery is the next big thing in retail. Is it? Should retailers embrace on-demand delivery? If so, how? I’ll answer these questions in the next section.

Grocery Retailers Versus On-Demand Delivery Retailers

Although all retailers can technically utilize on-demand delivery, I am using the grocery industry as an example of how retailers operate and the changes they will need to make for the purpose of this article.

With the growth of e-commerce, grocery retailers have invested capital into creating the ability to fulfill online orders themselves or by using third parties that perform most functions for them: Think Instacart or Shipt.

The biggest drivers of costs related to e-commerce for grocery retailers are generally the processes required to pick products from a store shelf or from a location in a fulfillment center, pack the items into grocery bags and totes, and deliver the orders to customers. A detailed example of the costs associated with fulfilling an online grocery order can be found on the MWPVL International website here.

Most grocery retailers operate stores that have their own costs related to store labor, utilities and additional costs associated with running and operating stores. Some grocery retailers fulfill all online orders from their stores, but many grocery retailers fulfill orders from large distribution centers. Distribution centers may employ associates or leverage automation to fulfill orders.

Based on my experience consulting for leading grocery retailers in the U.S. and globally, most grocery retailers are able to offer same-day delivery. Many grocery retailers aim to offer two-hour grocery delivery, but they may not be able to do this consistently without using third-party delivery companies like Instacart or Shipt.

Companies that offer on-demand grocery delivery operate with a completely different business model. For example, the average number of items carried in a supermarket is 28,112, according to 2019 FMI data. This means there can be tremendous variance in the number of products that customers order. The higher the number of products ordered is, the longer it takes to pick the items and fulfill the order. In my experience, on-demand grocery retailers tend to offer far fewer products.

Offering a smaller number of products makes it easier to fulfill orders, especially if customers are ordering fewer items from the on-demand retailer.

Unlike grocery retailers with lots of stores and large fulfillment centers and warehouses, on-demand retailers typically operate manual micro-fulfillment centers in the neighborhoods and regions they serve.

The biggest difference in the model is the way the companies utilize labor. On-demand retailers typically hire workers who can pick and fulfill orders quickly, place the items picked into a backpack, and walk to the customer or ride a bicycle to them. Some companies claim they can deliver groceries in as little as 10 to 15 minutes.

One of the leading grocery delivery companies, Instacart, recently announced that it would be offering an option called “Priority Delivery,” which offers delivery in as little as 30 minutes.

Should Grocery Retailers Embrace On-Demand Delivery?

Many grocery retailers are likely grappling with the question of whether or not they should offer their customers a separate grocery service for essential items. Yes, I think they should. Here’s why.

I believe consumers will continue to push retailers for faster deliveries with a goal of near-instant gratification. I often state in the articles I write that the future of delivery is delivering to people, not places. Gone are the days when retailers only need to deliver to a customer’s home. Instead, I believe retailers will have to deliver to wherever the customer is — and do so quickly.

Retailers should understand that the need for speed will likely only increase, and they should work to become experts at offering this service. As I’ve written about before, I strongly encourage grocery retailers to open micro-fulfillment centers to fulfill online grocery orders and supplement their network with nano-fulfillment centers to reduce the cost of fulfilling online essentials orders. (Full disclosure: My company helps retailers do this, as do others.)

I strongly encourage grocery retailers to leverage data to better understand the daily consumption habits of their customers, too. This requires collecting data to identify what products customers purchase to use and what products customers purchase and eat or drink by the time of day, day of the week, and week of the month. The more granular the data is, the better you can plan your offerings.

In turn, retailers need to build a dynamic pool of easily replenished inventory to meet the needs of their customers 24/7.

I also encourage grocery retailers to explore the use of mobile retail vans for essential items. The business model has been adopted in Japan, as Warehouse Automation explains, and some mobile markets have been developed in the U.S.

What I recommend won’t be easy for retailers to accomplish. However, without the ability to meet the demand for speedy deliveries, retailers may lose customers.

 

The Benefits When Considering Automation

The Benefits When Considering Automation

AutoStoreIn today’s ever-changing market, automation is the leading edge most companies are using to gain a competitive advantage. Companies delaying automation will fall behind, primarily due to the brisk speed at which innovation is already being adopted in the market. The pandemic showed the world that the current supply chain model was modeled after a world that does not exist anymore. Customers demand easy access to products, speed of delivery, and high-touch customer service. However, many executives are unsure of where to begin with automation, what products are right for them, or even what company they should be using, causing them to delay the process altogether. By automating your business, you can execute operational activities more efficiently. Robotics take care of monotonous tasks while employees can focus on main business processes and more complex tasks. The below highlights some key benefits to automation:

Autonomous Mobile Robots Reduce Human Movement & Injury

OTTO AMRPULSE Integration partnered with OTTO Motors to complete the largest at scale deployments of AMR technology in North America. During the study, PULSE compared AMR performance to existing technologies and human load factors. The result, AMRs represented 10% of the equivalent manual handling labor costs and 20% of the cost of a forklift.  It is important to note the situational aspects associated with this study. At higher speeds and with advanced safety features, AMRs outperformed manual carrying, and driver operated pallet loaders over long distances. However, humans have more agility moving goods for short distances or around stations.  It was determined that a blend of both would create the optimum result with output and efficiency. AMRs would conduct the heavy lifting and repetitive labor while humans would operate at stations carrying out tasks of picking, sorting, or quality control. Reducing the number of people moving around a facility compounded with the risks of human driver error, and injury related to repetitive “heavy lifting” tasks helped alleviate some of the many key hazards companies continue to face leading to costly accidents in their facilities. Due to materials handling automation, the repetitive task of pushing product is assumed by the vehicle, while more value-added tasks are left for the workers. Injuries decrease and overall company injury related costs decrease as well.

Integration Into Existing Equipment

WMSWhile researching supply chain automation, it is important to consider solutions that complement the equipment you already have or plan to buy. Some autonomous vehicles, including those from OTTO Motors, integrate with a warehouse management system (WMS) to reduce unnecessary steps. Compatibility between equipment makes the installation of new products more efficient.

Scalability

Scaling a business can be a complicated process. There are many variables that add to a business’s operational costs when it’s being scaled. The more manual process your business has, the harder it is to scale that business. When you automate your processes though, scalability becomes easier. All a company needs to do is make sure that systems can accommodate that growth. If not, minor upgrades are all that is needed.  System’s like AutoStore are easily scalable solutions for retail and e-commerce applications.

Increased Collaboration

An added benefit to automation solutions is that it allows increased collaboration among teams. Many believe automation results in job loss and less teamwork. However, it’s the exact opposite. When repeated tasks are automated, staff will have more time to focus on more integral aspects of the business. Instead of doing mindless repetitive tasks, they’ll work together to make the business better. When business processes are done manually, teams will have to dedicate all of their efforts just to keep things moving. This results in wasted human potential and allocating the valuable brainpower and creativity where it is not utilized effectively.

Accountability

AccountabilityWhen a business is automated and streamlined properly, it’s easier to assess responsibility. This comes as a result of having clear, well-defined tasks, with all the minor tasks automated. If your business has many small tasks that are not automated, they tend to become “nobody’s responsibility”, as none of the staff is directly responsible for them. When these tasks are automated, you end up with the few important tasks where staff members are directly responsible. Having this clear responsibility distribution increases the staff’s accountability for work done and makes quality control easier.

Trackability

Automated and digitalized processes are much easier to track. Your system knows exactly the time, effort and resources required to carry out a specific task. Using the right tools, you can get valuable business insights that’ll help you make it better.

PULSE Team Makes The Difference; Chris Shepperly

PULSE Team Makes The Difference; Chris Shepperly

Every industry and company possesses crucial skills, core competencies, and features setting it apart from the competition in an ever changing world.
 
At PULSE Integration, we are industry leaders because every employee embodies our culture. Our values provide us with the compass that directs our teamwork, sensitivity to client’s needs, and fuels our commitment to excellence. Our value is in the strength of our ever growing talent.
 

Chris Shepperly

We take this time to recognize one of our valued associates, Chris Shepperly. Chris is a solutions engineer with over 10 years of experience in automated material handling systems. He is highly proficient in full system design and complex technology applications. While Chris remains a relatively new employee, he has immediately integrated into the Solutions team and has become a key and a pivotal client facing team member. It is here he uses his analysis of data to support best system requirements for design specification.

 
Chris has proven himself as a competent communicator with a focus on client satisfaction. Equipped with sensitivity to understanding client expectations he is able to design best in class material handling implementations and data driven solutions in the supply chain. His years of experience in the practice of 3D concept generation, modeling, and designing systems for fortune 500 companies has allowed him to be both proficient and creative in designing highly complex systems from inception to completion. Combined with his attention to detail and unmatched dedication toward client satisfaction, allows Chris to generate solutions that are incomparably the finest in the industry. This allows PULSE to create a more user-friendly customized solution for every client.

How does this translate to our clients?

What’s in it for you by working with Chris and PULSE? Why should you choose PULSE for your system integration experience?

Center of Excellence Michigan

Our Team Is Unsurpassed
While showcasing a case study is a boastful example of completed work and capabilities, it does not speak as loud as continuously executing at a high level. Our team continues to develop best in class processes and reacts seamlessly to unforeseen obstacles. Team members like Chris are able to quickly determine our clients challenges and needs. This, combined with the understanding of system design, gives Chris and others the ability to create a multitude of options and unique approaches to client solutions. It shows our team has the ability to think through and effectively communicate the strategy and options available. We align our attributes and ability with a personalized approach to client goals.

 

We Are Genuine In Our Follow-Up
One of the most neglected aspects of business is feedback. We are committed to LifeTime Services after the completion of a project. We actively listen to all suggestions as a methodology to continually improve our practices and we have a genuine interest in our client’s success.
Our Clients Are Our Priority
We’re an extension of each client’s team, and they’re a part of ours, so it’s important to set these expectations up front. Great work, exceptional service, new ideas, and long term relationships make us the perfect fit for any client team.

Leading Material Handling System Solution Provider

You Are Not Just Another Client
When someone asks why PULSE over other system integrators our response is the truth, we produce results and we get the work done. We take pride in the work we do and we care how each aspect of our business is shaped. To us, clients are not just another client, and we ensure each and every interaction with our team is personalized and unique to their needs. System engineer’s like Chris actively listen to our clients to ensure we are meeting their short and long term goals. The foundation of our culture is carried by each employee as a compass to direct our business.

50 Years of Innovation

We Are Experts In The Industry
With over 50 years of experience and working with dozens of change-making organizations, we understand how to leverage the right talent and technology mix to amplify a clients mission-driven work, while addressing the challenges and opportunities that come along with being an enterprise.
We Are Adaptable
Prior to the pandemic most companies were faced with their workforce now working from their remote offices. However, at PULSE we never missed a step. Our team seamlessly transitioned as most of our employees were already remote based. Being a great partner requires a team with a mindset of continual transformation. Innovation and how consumers make purchase decisions evolve by the minute. We understand what worked a year ago may not be what drives market share. We invest creativity and innovation in designs with team members like Chris so we are ahead of what’s next and we have the ability to scale to give our clients an advantage in their market.
 
At PULSE we feel personally responsible for advocating for our clients and business partners to provide solutions that exceed expectations and operate with integrity, transparency, & honesty.