Tod Yazdi Reflects on Then to Now
As TAGG turns ten, we are busy, VERY busy. Adding capacity in all of our markets, adding new technology, new capabilities, new expertise and new people. Things move so fast there seems to be no time to stop and reflect, to appreciate the opportunities we have had and the effort put forth by so many to achieve so much. It reminds me of the famous philosopher, Ferris Bueller. Well, that might stretch it a bit, but the movie did have a good message. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” A ten year anniversary is certainly an opportunity to stop and look around and think how far things have come – from then to now.
10 Years in the Fulfillment Industry
Certainly 10 years ago everyone recognized the impact of e-commerce and the significant role buying on-line would play as a retail channel. Back then, the premise for TAGG was to help our clients sell and ship product through both the traditional brick-and-mortar channel AND provide the capabilities to pick and pack for e-commerce sales. That was our niche. We knew online sales were big and getting bigger. Companies with product to sell would have to be fast and flexible and go wherever the consumer wanted to buy. But it was hard to predict e-retailing would grow and develop to this level this quickly. Now Cyber Monday is bigger than Black Friday, flash sales, daily-deal sites, subscription boxes, retail through social media…and then….Amazon. Think of the impact of Amazon! Of ordering almost anything and having it show up at your front door in a day or two. I have gotten so spoiled that if I have to buy something on-line and wait until next week, it feels like a horse and buggy is delivering it. The impact of Amazon on retailing and our industry over the past 10 years is staggering to the point where it’s almost impossible to imagine what the next 10 years have to hold. How will consumers buy in 2026? Will a drone drop in with a box? Will they print products at home? Looking forward, it seems the only certainty is change. At TAGG we embrace it, we plan for it and we continue to push change. It’s not only in our future, but looking back over the last 10 years, it’s easy to say change has been very much part of our past.
In 2006, our first facility in St. Louis was, well…a lot different than our current warehouses. A lot smaller, older, darker, dustier, but it was home. We were fortunate to have our home in a neighborhood with space available to expand. We eventually grew to 3 facilities in St. Louis, all smaller warehouses on the same street. In 2010 we made the jump to add a West Coast warehouse. This move was to offer our growing client base an alternative fulfillment point to reduce cost and lower time-in-transit. Instead of 4 – 5 days to ship to California, having a facility in Reno gave us a 1 – 2 day transit time along the West Coast. Combined with St. Louis, that allowed us to ship across the country in 1 – 3 days. There was no time to rest. With Amazon Prime offering FREE shipping with 1-2 day delivery, to keep up we needed an East Coast outlet. In 2015, we purchased an existing fulfillment provider in Eastern Pennsylvania. This allowed us to ship to the population base in the Northeast in 1 day and the entire East Coast in 1 – 2 days. All combined, our three markets are perfectly positioned, whether our clients want one, centralized warehouse or want to offer their e-commerce customers 1-2 day delivery times out of 3 fulfillment centers…we have it covered.
We are a warehouse company right? At least that’s what I thought in the beginning, but quickly realized that wasn’t entirely it. Sure we operate big warehouses, but everything starts and ends with technology. From shopping cart, to warehouse, to delivery truck, to doorstep, all aspects of the fulfillment process are rooted in technology. TAGG is as much a technology company as a warehouse company, and things have changed in technology as well. We used to enter orders into a warehouse management system and print out a pick ticket. This was taken into the warehouse to pick and package the order, then write down how much it weighed. Back in the office, a shipping label was printed and sent out to the warehouse to be applied to the box. Then, my favorite, we would fax tracking numbers to our clients at the end of the day. Yikes! That would never work today. Now orders flow seamlessly from shopping cart to a hand-held scanner. Orders are picked and speed down a conveyor system where they are packed, a shipping label is applied and they are routed to the delivery truck. Tracking information is electronically communicated back to the shopping cart. At TAGG, all of this happens the same day, thanks to technology!
It was a smaller family back in 2006. There were 5 of us and we multitasked. One of our first steps was to add Client Service Reps, a dedicated, single point of contact that each client could call. Another big step was adding internal IT capabilities in 2009. That got the ball rolling on functional roles and soon we had accounting, HR, quality, marketing and facility managers in all our markets. We went from 5 to needing an organizational chart! Back in 2008 we started to use the term ‘TAGGteam’ and it has stuck. We are a customer service company. We know our core is our people, and what we have achieved over the last 10 years couldn’t have been done by just the first 5 of us. It was, and will always be a team effort. A TAGGteam effort!
Then to Now…to Next
New facilities, new technology, new people…change isn’t always easy. While 10 years seems like a long time, the pace of change has often been hectic. The first 5 years were a bit of trying to figure out what we were doing. The pedal really was put to the metal as we made the jump to Reno and brought in our new technology platform (WMS) in 2010. We seemed to go from fast to faster when we moved into our new St. Louis facility in 2012. Now, we found a gear we never knew we had as the pace of change continues to accelerate and we position TAGG for what is next.
Through it all, we try to stay rooted in the understanding we are all working towards a common goal, to get just a little better every day. In fact, one of the biggest drivers of our success has been exactly that. A little faster, a little nicer, a little easier…just a little every day. We have been at it 3,650 days now and have been doing it just a little better every day. That’s a whole lot better in 10 years. But better every single day? Ferris Bueller would want us to take a day and stop and look around. He is right. 10 years goes by very fast and TAGG’s 10 year anniversary is the perfect time to reflect on the then and now. Time to enjoy the experiences over the last 10 years. Time to appreciate on our clients who have trusted us with their business and our people, our TAGGteam, which made all the accomplishments possible. Happy 10 year anniversary to all of you. Thank you.
What’s in a Name?
TAGG was formed by Tod Yazdi, Gary Patterson and Gian Cavallini. Gian and I worked together and we knew Gary socially. One of our first jobs when starting TAGG was coming up with a name. It’s harder than you think! So we did some brainstorming and each of us proposed a name. Blue Streak Logistics, High Point Logistics and Tag Logistics. We came up with Tag as a play on the phrase ‘tag you’re it’. We were an outsourced service, and we thought that phrase embodied the strategy of taking over the supply chain function of our clients. Further, the other 3 options were terrible! However, Tag Logistics was taken. Not a problem, we turned Tag into TAGG, representing our first three names, sort of, Tod And Gary and Gian. The name stuck and has worked all these years. TAGG…we’re it! Much better than Blue Streak….we’re it!!!!
We had a name, now for a logo. Here are some options over the years. We have had 3 official logos in 10 years. Can you spot them?
TAGG…DO it Right!
When starting TAGG, we were all leaving other jobs. We had families to support and bills to pay, but there was also a wanting to start something new, something we could be proud of. I wish I knew who wrote this to give them credit, but I don’t. I can however give them credit for inspiring us to take a risk and to believe in possibilities. We have read this many times over the last 10 years and it continues to inspire.
If there ever were a time to dare, to make a difference, to embark on something worth doing, it is now. Not for any grand cause, necessarily—but for something that tugs at your heart, something that’s your aspiration, something that’s your dream. You owe it to yourself to make your days here count. Have fun. Dig deep. Stretch. Dream big. Know, though, that things worth doing seldom come easy. There will be good days, and there will be bad days. There will be days when you want to turn around, pack it up and call it quits. Those times tell you that you are pushing yourself. That you are not afraid to learn by trying. Persist, because with an idea, determination and the right tools, you can do great things. Let your instincts, your intellect and your heart guide you. Trust. Believe in the incredible power of the human mind, of something that makes a difference, of working hard, of laughing and hoping, of lasting friends, of all the things that will cross your path this year. The start of something new brings the hope of something great. Anything is possible. There is only you, and you will pass this way only once. Do it right!
SimplyThick® and TAGG….A 10 Year Partnership
We approach every client as a partner. If we don’t do our job right – send the wrong items, mismanage inventory, don’t ship product – our client’s business suffers. They are dependent on us. They trust us. Likewise, we take over fulfillment so our client can focus on other parts of their business – product development, sales, brand management. We are dependent on them. Their success is our success. It is a true partnership, and is exemplified perfectly by our relationship with SimplyThick®.
SimplyThick® is our only client that has been with us all 10 years. They represent the exact type of client we feel we can serve best. In fact, when we started TAGG, we based much of our business model around their requirements. SimplyThick® is a healthcare company, one of our target markets. SimplyThick® was started in 2001 by John Holahan and Joe Fiala. They manufacture a food and beverage thickener for people with dysphagia, who have difficulty swallowing. The product is sold through multiple sales channels. TAGG provides direct-to-consumer order fulfillment for orders placed over the phone or via their website. TAGG also ships business-to-business to healthcare facilities, distributors and healthcare providers. Finally, TAGG provides kitting services, reconfiguring the product in a variety of starter and sample kits. We provide complete supply chain solutions across all our service offerings from multiple facilities – fulfillment, distribution and packaging.
Like any long-term partnership, we have had the pleasure being with them through the ups and downs of 10 years. We have been with them as they develop new products, hire new people and open new markets and new channels. We have worked together through manufacturing issues, price increases and supply challenges. We have seen them grow and flourish through hard work, dedication and a steadfast devotion to easing a condition afflicting many people.
Like TAGG, they are a St. Louis company and also like TAGG, the two partners who founded the company are active in running the business. Because of this, Gary and I have had a close relationship with John and Joe. They were one of the first clients we met with 10 years ago when we started TAGG, and since then, we have had many meetings – at coffee shops, Cardinal baseball games, Blues hockey games and lots of barbeque.
As a service company, one of the greatest accomplishments we can have is being able to earn the business of a client for 10 years. We appreciate the trust SimplyThick® has in TAGG and the relationship and friendship we share.