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Hyundai Santa Cruz Light Pickup Truck Utility Vehicle © Brphoto Dreamstime
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Mountain Top Industries to Open Montgomery, Alabama, Plant

Mountain Top Industries, a Denmark-based manufacturer of aluminum roll covers for pickup trucks, announced September 16 that it would open a new 73,000 square-foot manufacturing plant in Montgomery, Alabama.

The company plans to invest $13.3 million in the plant, which will employ 90 people in full-time positions with an annual payroll of $3.3 million. It will also be Mountain Top’s first factory in North America, joining existing factories in Europe and Asia.

In a statement from the company, Mountain Top said the plant would start production by late 2020 or early 2021 and supply the North American OEM and aftermarket with accessories for pickup truck beds, including aluminum roll-top covers, bedliners, and sports bars.

“With more than 3 million pickup trucks sold in 2019, the U.S. is by far the biggest pickup market in the world,” the announcement read.

According to Mountain Top, the plant is already expected to supply the nearby Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama plant with parts for its Santa Cruz pickup.

“The Hyundai relationship will be the first of many OEM customers to partner with Mountain Top as a Tier One automotive supplier in North America,” the company said. “The Montgomery plant is regarded as an important commitment to the OEM automotive accessory and parts market in North America.”

The mayor of Montgomery, Alabama, L. Steven Reed, said he was “honored” to be selected as the city for Mountain Top’s first North American plant. “We understand that the Montgomery plant is a big commitment by Mountain Top and we stand ready to support them in every way.”

Arthur DuCote, chairman of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber was “proud to expand the number of international companies located here in Montgomery.” He went on to say that to have a leading global manufacturer select Montgomery for its first North American location “speaks volumes.”

How do you define “world-class” when it comes to a supply chain? What are the characteristics that separate the good from the great, that differentiate between companies that are doing fine from those that are doing fantastic? For the past 16 years, analyst firm Gartner has offered a way to at least partially answer those questions through its Top 25 Supply Chains program.

Gartner begins the process of determining the world’s best supply chains by narrowing the focus pretty dramatically. For starters, only public companies with annual revenue of over $12 billion are considered; to thin the herd even further, only companies in the manufacturing, retail and distribution industries are evaluated. Among the industries excluded from the Top 25 rankings are: airlines, railroads, trucking companies, package delivery companies, shipping companies, construction firms, entertainment, healthcare, metals producers, energy companies, banks, oil & gas, pipelines, and utilities. So many companies who are actually in the business of supply chain management aren’t actually eligible for the Top 25 program.

That being said, there’s really no other supply chain ranking comparable to the Gartner Top 25, which is why we take a close look at their findings every year. The analyst firm focuses on several key metrics in its evaluation, and they’re constantly tweaking and updating their methodology to get as close as possible to a true representation of best practices in the supply chain arena. One of the key metrics new to the 2020 rankings is return-on-physical assets (ROPA), replacing the return-on-assets (ROA) measure used in previous years. ROPA accounts for 20% of the total score assigned to each eligible company.

Gartner is also now referring to environment, social and governance (ESG) practices, rather than the previous corporate social responsibility (CSR) label, though there still remains a bit of a disconnect between what a company claims to be doing on the sustainability front and what they’ve actually accomplished. ESG accounts for 10% of the score. Revenue growth and inventory turns, respectively, also account for 10%.

The other 50% of the score is basically based on opinion and reputation: 25% is based on the opinions of 44 Gartner analysts, and 25% is based on the opinions of peer voters (supply chain practitioners, professionals and experts; in the interests of full disclosure, I am part of the peer panel). So there is a bit of a popularity contest feel to the final results.

According to Gartner’s analysts, the three key factors differentiating best-in-class supply chains this year are being purpose-driven organizations, business model transformers and digital orchestrators. Those are all good buzzwords, but what exactly do they mean? In our analysis that follows, we’ll take a closer look at what these companies are doing that makes them so good at supply chain management.

Before we get to the Top 10, though, let's take a look at the companies that sit on the periphery of that exalted list, namely numbers 11-25. For those of you keeping score at home, six new companies made it into the Top 25 this year (indicated in bold below), with computer maker Lenovo making the most impressive debut, all the way up to 15.  And of course, six companies had to drop off the list to make room for the new ones; missing from the Top 25 this year are Novo Nordisk, Home Depot, Samsung Electronics, BASF, Adidas, and Akzo Nobel.

25. Kimberly-Clark

24. Biogen

23. Reckitt Benckiser

22. 3M (17)

21. British American Tobacco,

20. H&M (16)

19. Starbucks (9)

18. BMW (25)

17. AbbVie

16. Nike (10)

15. Lenovo

14. Diageo (12)

13. Coca-Cola (20)

12. HP Inc. (7)

11. Walmart (14)

Before we get to the Top 10, a quick reminder from previous lists that Gartner came up with a "Masters" category a few years ago. Companies that score in the top five for at least seven out of the last 10 years are moved off the Top 25 list into a separate category that recognizes their "sustained leadership" (while also making it possible for some new companies to make it into the Top 10). So you won't see supply chain stalwarts Amazon, Apple, McDonald's, Procter & Gamble, or Unilever in the Top 10 because they're in a class of their own.

If you'd like to take a look at previous Top 25 slideshows, you can click on any of the links below:

Top 25 Supply Chains of 2019

Top 25 Supply Chains of 2018

Top 25 Supply Chains of 2017

Top 25 Supply Chains of 2016

Top 25 Supply Chains of 2015