In The Beginning
In the mid 90’s a large apparel company in the United States decided to move its sewing operations to Latin America, in order to take advantage of lower manufacturing costs.
IDEA co-founder Tom DeMuth saw another side of this evolving picture. He was already familiar with the sewing company in the US, having providing services to the company for years while selling packaging for Shippers Supply Company, while also personally traveling to each of their locations. Tom determined that the sewing company was unable to maintain raw material visibility in Latin America and had severe shortages of many products within their operations.
The solution was a new company – IDEA (Interconexion; Distribuir y Enviar para las Americas). Tom, and his partner Henry Camp, first presented a solution to the sewing company in 1998. There were three key components of the solution: Aggregation, Visibility and Pull. Instead of holding raw materials at six different knitting mills in the US, and shipping them with fabric to sewing locations, the inventory was moved to centrally located warehouses in 3 countries near the sewing plants. Warehouses were established in Charleston, SC (export cross-dock), San Pedro Sula Honduras, San Salvador El Salvador and Saltillo Mexico. All of the US inventory and dead inventory at the sewing plants was aggregated in these new warehouses. In order to provide purchasing and the sewing plants real time, accurate inventory visibility of 10,000+ sku’s in four different countries, IDEA implemented a customized Warehouse Management System, and built a secure interface with the customer’s Purchasing and Finance systems. For the first time, buyers could evaluate on-hand inventory before ordering more. The change that provided the most benefit was Pull. Before IDEA, raw materials were shipped directly to sewing plants from the US according to forecast. Purchasing was pushing inventory onto the plants without knowing if it was truly needed. Once the Aggregation and Visibility were functioning, sewing plants were given electronic ordering capability. Planners in each plant would place raw material orders today for styles they planned to sew tomorrow. Instead of having inventory pushed on them, plants could Pull what they needed, daily. They could also return any unused inventory at their convenience. Within nine months, the results were astounding: 75% reduction of inventory and shortages had mostly disappeared!
As news continues to spread of IDEA’s inventory management and supply chain successes, more clients are boasting about not just inventory accuracy, also that their companies are thriving with far less inventory. This enthusiasm caused our international customers to rethink their domestic inventory management. IDEA evolved into a global solutions company providing inventory management, warehousing, shipping, fulfillment and distribution for both international and domestic clients.
In 2009, IDEA, LLC hired Carlos Castaneda, a former Planning Manager of one of the largest apparel companies in the United States, with the intent of helping to create new services within a short period of time. The transportation division was founded in a relatively short amount of time upon Carlos’ employment, with the division opening in 2010. In 2011, IDEA began the strenuous challenge of becoming certified to handle goods within the chemical industry, receiving approvals from both the Salvadoran and Honduran governments. At the beginning of 2015, IDEA started preparations to become certified customs brokers in El Salvador, passing several customs requirements. Towards the latter part of 2015 and early 2016, IDEA also began to expand its drayage capacity within the Charleston region, providing services to regional clients in North/South Carolina, Georgia, and others in the southeastern United States. IDEA also began expanding its LCL and FCL capabilities during this time frame, all the while providing the same personalized customer service that allowed the company to be attractive in the Central American market.
In 2015, IDEA began the challenge of creating an attractive logistics solution (including importation, warehouse, and distribution) within the Dominican Republic. Towards the end of the year, IDEA created a new consolidation platform for the DR, routing the goods from San Pedro Sula, Honduras to Santiago, DR. This route also helped customers that had established a market presence in Haiti (Puerto Prince, Caracol, and Codevi).