The supply chain. It was the reason why you couldn’t get toilet paper during the early days of the pandemic. And it’s the reason why you’re having trouble getting a semiconductor-filled automobile today. The COVID crisis shone a spotlight on the supply chain, and the companies that make highly rated supply-chain software are now gaining the recognition they deserve.
In New Jersey, one of those supply-chain and procurement software companies is GEP Worldwide, founded by four partners some 22 years ago in the basement of CEO Subhash Makhija’s home, in Westfield. The partners were formerly top consultants at Accenture. GEP, which has kept a relatively low profile until now, has about 600 employees in New Jersey, and some 4,500 worldwide.
Prior to this year, “we had to convince people that they needed to do something about their supply chain problem,” Makhija told us. When COVID-19 hit, that wasn’t the case anymore.
“Basically, the whole digitization and automation on the supply chain which took place in the last year usually would take three, four or five years. We saw a massive amount of demand. We actually grew 32 percent last year, which is in line with what we have been growing for the last five to seven years.”
Innovating and Changing the Algorithms
Suddenly, supply chains, which used to be an operational topic, have become a board-level topic in most big companies, Makhija said. He noted that “for the last 12 to15 months, the old algorithms, which we built and other software vendors built for demand planning, which were really based on historical data, all fell through.” This was a once-in-a-century event, and most supply chain software wasn’t built to handle it.
GEP however, picked up the ball and continued to innovate, he said, realizing that historical data would no longer cut it. “What happened 15 months ago is irrelevant,” he noted. The company began innovating and building real-time planning software using 12-week pandemic data, as well as real-time data that looks at what’s happening around the world in logistics and how the weather is affecting shipments. “We revised our algorithms for our software, which we believe now is much more accurate and allows us to connect demand with the supply.”
The company is using experts in machine learning and artificial intelligence to create software that lets customers get visibility into the entire supply chain, he said.
The innovations have allowed GEP to serve its Fortune 500 customers in the healthcare; finance; manufacturing; consumer products; retail; automotive; and chemical, and oil and gas sectors. “It’s been an honor for us to play a cutting-edge role” in helping them keep their supply chains moving, Makhija stated. “We are still very low key. We are not the kind of company you read about in the front pages of the Wall Street Journal, even when we’re making a big impact with big banks and big financial, oil-and-gas and other companies.”
GEP is organized along the lines of industry verticals. It has some of the biggest names in consumer product companies, such as Kellogg’s, General Mills and Unilever. “On the healthcare side, we have lots of good customers in New Jersey; for example, Bristol Myers Squibb is a very big customer of ours. So is Johnson & Johnson. In the retail sector, customers like Macy’s use our software. Chemical, oil and gas is a big, big sector for us.” GEP customers also include Chevron, ExxonMobil and Dupont. Financial services is another big sector for GEP across the river, he said; and customers include Citibank, Bank of America and Prudential.
Putting the Fun Back in Growing the Company
Makhija discussed how his company has changed over the past year due to COVID. When employees went home, the company was nervous about its ability to continue to be productive, but those fears didn’t last. The company software was able to keep up with the new internal demands, and there was an increased external demand for its products.
“What is different is we used to go to the office and have a very strong culture and get together and, you know, enjoy that work. The office was closed, but now we are slowly opening up. The get-togethers were over Zoom calls and team calls, and it took some of the fun part of growing the firm out of it,” Makhija said. “The fun has taken a back seat in the last year. … Our employees are working very hard. They’re tired, they’re exhausted and we need more inspiration. So, we are really looking forward to our offices opening back up,” as people get vaccinated.
NJTechWeekly.com asked about GEP’s ability to find talent in New Jersey. Historically, the company has been able to find good talent here, but “since the beginning of the year, the demand for engineers has picked up quite a bit, so we see attrition going up, we see salaries going up. We see that it’s a little bit more difficult to find people since the beginning of the year.” GEP has about 80 positions open right now, Makhija stated.
The company has taken advantage of the State of New Jersey’s Research and Development Tax Credit. “GEP is constantly investing in innovation and R&D. So, the state gives us some help there, which is very, very useful.” Makhija told us that he’s very satisfied with what the state has to offer his company. New Jersey is his home, he said, and he plans to stay here.