60 Seconds With Kevin Curry, industry veteran

Modern's editor sat down with Kevin Curry of Steel King to discuss his plans after retirement.

Modern's editor sat down with Kevin Curry of Steel King to discuss his plans after retirement.
  • Kevin Curry
  • Title: Retired
  • Location: Atlanta, Ga.
  • Experience: 43 years in the materials handling industry, 33 at Steel King

Modern: So, why are we talking with a guy who retired earlier this year?

Curry: To be honest, I was wondering the same thing when you proposed this. But as I thought about it a bit, I think this is a good time to remind all of your readers of the importance of what we do. (Long pause)

Modern: OK. You’ve got my attention. Don’t stop there.

Curry: We’re all so caught up in what we do every day, that it’s easy to forget we are the supply chain. What we do has a real impact. We are how and why everything gets from point A to point B including raw materials, work-in-process and finished goods. We are why we have the standard of living we do. There’s no getting away from that.

Unfortunately, most people never know any of that. And when new people come into the supply chain, whether they go to work in manufacturing or distribution or on the equipment supplier side like I did, they need to be told how important their work is. It’s a combined effort. We are all part of a supply chain team. That can’t be overlooked, or, worse yet, lost.

Modern: You’re right. It’s very easy to forget why we do this. At the same time, I’m willing to bet things have changed a bit in your 43 years. Tell us about it, if you would.

Curry: When I started in 1980, I had a good day when I booked a $5,000 order for a single aisle of 6-foot high shelving. Today, a good order is a $24 million job with a 120-foot tall automated storage and retrieval system in a rack-supported building.

Everything has become so much bigger, taller, more complicated and complex. It’s really just a reflection of the world we live in today. And it’s not going back to what it was. The DC world is so much smarter and more accessible. It just has to be that way. And suppliers like Steel King make it possible.

Modern: So, what’s the future?

Curry: It’s quite clear that consumers want everything faster and quicker, and that’s going to require smarter systems that will guide the people in the warehouse.

And when most people talk about the future, rack is not part of the discussion. But it should be. Rack is the backbone, the infrastructure that makes it possible for DCs to keep up with consumers. Floor stacking is not the answer here.

Modern: Just so people know, you said that with a smile.

Curry: Of course I did. I’m a rack guy. But it’s also true. Rack is a major part of the supply chain puzzle even if people don’t notice it. Rack may not move, but it makes it possible for all kinds of inventory to be moved rapidly.

Modern: So, what’s your advice to new people coming into the industry?

Curry: First of all, you made a great decision to work in the supply chain. It’s vibrant, dynamic and exciting. You will make a difference. The supply chain is constantly changing and you will be part of the solution, and that is sure to give you great satisfaction.

But my last thought is this: Have fun helping people solve their problems. Because this is fun. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have stuck around for as long as I did