Sound Bytes: Henry Belcher

O+F: The first thing that caught my eye was your title, “solution delivery officer.” That’s not a title that I’m familiar with.

We don’t have a lot of AVPs, SVPs, directors; we try to be client-centric. For example, I’m responsible for delivery, and my role is in the logistics, supply chain, pick/pack/and ship area. I think “solution delivery officer” describes better what I do—my title [somewhere else] would probably be an SVP or VP of distribution.

O+F: You’re managing the Columbus, OH, distribution center.

And the Dover, DE, distribution center. I have those two distribution centers and a third one, soon to be announced. The one in Columbus, OH, is our largest, a 400,000-sq.-ft. facility; then a 350,000–400,000 in Dover, DE, that’s actually combined with a call center and an item processing area; and we also have another one in the Netherlands.

O+F: Is ClientLogic planning on becoming more international?

Absolutely. And we really are from a call center standpoint. We have a number of call centers (39), with ten in North America, including Canada, a number in the U.S., and quite a few in Europe, both in the U.K. and in the Central European area. We have a corporate office in the Hague and call centers in the Netherlands, Germany—we’re not in the Far East yet, but we do have a European presence, but not so much in fulfillment.

O+F: What is your background?

I was hired [by ClientLogic] in January of 2000 to help grow the fulfillment business.

I did Home Shopping Network’s fulfillment, and Disney store start-ups, QVC, Avon, Hanover Direct, and a few other places. I built the Hanover Direct facility in Roanoke, VA. I kind of grew up in the catalog business; spent eight years with Avon when Avon Products was struggling with the performance of the Avon ladies, they wanted to develop a direct-to-consumer model, but they didn’t want to do it on the cosmetics side, because it would impact the Avon ladies—the quickest way to get fired at Avon is to make an Avon lady mad. So we started a catalog. It was known as Avon Fashions, and we grew to a $300 million company. We also did James River Traders, which was a menswear catalog similar to a Lands’ End, then a childrens’ wear catalog, and then Avon divested us, along with quite a few other companies. Avon Fashions is still out there, it just happens to be called Newport News, and it’s owned now by Eddie Bauer/Spiegel.

I started in the inventory control buying area and did some finance, did some IT, went back to finance and did a couple of distribution center projects, and then I moved over to the distribution center and I haven’t moved back.

O+F: It sounds as if, with that background, you’re ideally suited to deal with the DC, which seems to deal with everything.

Absolutely. You deal with merchandisers and planners, and store planning, and planograms, as Disney calls them, how they lay out the stores. It was a great background to go into distribution. You understood your internal client very well.

O+F: If someone had told you in high school that’s what you would be doing, would you have believed them?

Oh no. I was going to be the Federal Reserve chairman of the board.

O+F: Speaking of economics, what do you think is going on? Clearly you have some historical sense of the industry and the market. Are you expecting that third-party fulfillment companies are going to be happy this year? Stressed out?

It’s hard to say. I will tell you that there’s probably more in the pipeline right now than there was last year at this time—in terms of ClientLogic. And then, also this year, there’s been kind of a consolidation. A couple of our competitors have gone out and acquired different companies, smaller ones, ate them up. Innotrac [for instance] bought a company, and NewRoads has bought a number of companies over the last few months.

I think the outlook is good. I think there’s still some consolidation. Everything I read [says that] there’s still a little bit of “I’m not sure I want to turn my core business over to a third party; I’m concerned with quality and service”—but I think the barrier’s starting to come down.