The Route to Success: Understanding Transportation Dynamics in Supply Chain Management

The Route to Success: Understanding Transportation Dynamics in Supply Chain Management

At the heart of The Prophets’ vision are “The 24 Essential Supply Chain Processes.” What are they? Find out, and see the future yourself. Click here

In this episode of the Auto Supply Chain Prophets podcast, hosts Terry Onica and Jan Griffiths interview Christopher Mattingly, a seasoned veteran of over 40 years in the automotive industry. Being a retired Vice President of Transportation at Stellantis, Christoper is here to talk about the dynamics of the transportation aspect of automotive supply chain management.

Christopher begins by sharing an important milestone in his professional journey: his time as a production supervisor at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant. He reflects on how industry leader Dick Dauch helped shape his career and inspired him to climb the corporate ladder.

With experience in nearly every aspect of the supply chain, Christopher shares his thoughts on where the automotive supply chain should focus today: end-to-end visibility and schedule stability. He outlines his vision of a perfect supply chain and discusses potential solutions that would make the supply chain world a lot easier to deal with.

"There's no better way than communication," says Christopher. To answer Terry's question on enabling better collaboration, Christopher suggests that no department should be left to solve its problems; instead, we should all work together and strive to advance the company's overall objectives.

Regarding his transportation role, Christopher discusses the number one issue the transportation world faces today: capacity and the need to develop cost-effective solutions. He shares some of the disruptions he encountered in his career and the solutions they have applied, providing valuable insights into navigating the transportation aspect of supply chain management.

In light of the massive transformation in the automotive industry, Christopher said that leaders must embrace the mindset of contingency planning, echoing the phrase, "Only the paranoid survive." He stresses that while it's challenging and requires discipline and collaboration, investing in robust contingency plans is crucial for leaders to navigate inevitable issues in the industry's transformation.

Themes discussed in this episode:

  • Lessons learned from decades of experience in automotive supply chain management
  • The current challenges faced by automotive supply chains today
  • The importance of end-to-end visibility and schedule stability in supply chain operations
  • Challenges in the transportation world relating to capacity
  • Technology's impact on supply chain management, particularly in tracking and alarm systems
  • Improving communication and collaboration across departments to address issues effectively
  • The need to invest in robust contingency plans to help leaders anticipate and mitigate disruptions

Featured on this episode: 

Name: Christopher Mattingly

Title: Retired Vice President of Transportation at Stellantis North America

About: Christopher Mattingly is a seasoned automotive industry expert with over 40 years of experience. A Wayne State grad, he started as a production supervisor at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant in the 1980s and retired as Vice President of Transportation at Stellantis. With a diverse background in Supply Chain Management, Christopher excels in Logistics, Procurement, Supplier Quality, and more. Known for his dedication, leadership, and problem-solving skills, he has consistently driven operational improvements and new product launches. Passionate about mentoring and motivating his teams, Christopher is respected across all levels of the industry.

Connect: LinkedIn

Mentioned in this episode:

Episode Highlights:

[03:25] Young Christopher’s Dream: Christopher reflects on his early career at Warren Assembly, admitting he had no clue about transportation back then. Inspired by Dick Dauch, a revered leader who became a plant manager at 30, young Christopher aimed for the same.

[05:19] The Main Focus: Diving into the world of supply chains, Christopher identifies two key areas we should focus on: achieving end-to-end visibility and maintaining stable production schedules.

[09:54] Collaboration 101: "There's no better way than communication," Christopher said. To foster collaboration, he said we should align objectives and have inclusive meetings where all departments work together to tackle challenges and deliver effective solutions that advance the company's overall goals.

[13:55] The Need for Capacity: Christopher tackles the biggest challenge transportation faces today—capacity, from ports to trucking—and the need for cost-effective solutions. He shares his experiences managing these challenges and ensuring efficient supply chain operations in the face of disruptions.

[21:45] “Firefighter” Mentality: Terry and Christopher discuss the importance of moving from a reactive "firefighting" mentality in supply chain management to a proactive approach. They stress the need to learn from past crises to create strong contingency plans and effectively use technology to ensure smoother operations and readiness for unexpected disruptions.

[25:46] Only the Paranoid Survives: Christopher emphasized the importance of contingency planning as the industry embraces transformation. Drawing from his past experiences in leadership, he encourages leaders to take a "paranoid" approach—being ready for and preventing disruptions through planning and tech integration to keep operations running smoothly and production on track.

Top Quotes:

[06:31] Christopher: “My vision has always been to have that end-to-end visibility of those parts. And it's not an easy thing to do. When you think about it, in today's world, we measure it and monitor it with websites with EDI, but it's all individual transactions from the different providers that you have. In the world that I see someday in the future, we're going to be able to grab that digital data from every one of these systems, standardize that data, and then compare and forecast when those arrivals are going to be and compare that to what the build plan is at our OEM plants. And then we'll know what's in trouble.”

[09:54] Christopher: “The key for any kind of barrier busting is getting aligned on what each individual goal is in the different departments and looking for those areas where you can collaborate. Where you can work with each other for both of you to be able to meet your particular objectives.”

[10:39] Christopher: “Just because it's a supplier quality issue doesn't mean it's just supplier quality's responsibility to help resolve that. Engineering needs to have their input in terms of what they need to do. The supply chain needs to be considered because maybe we have to change schedules in order to make that happen. So, how do you support making that happen? Manufacturing will have to implement or execute those things in the specific shop floor environments.  So, getting aligned on what the particular objective is and figuring out how we can all collaborate to make that happen, I think, is important.”

[12:39] Jan: “When people retreat back into those silos and protect their turf, that's when the problem starts. When you have leaders at the top that start to behave that way. Often, they don't realize that emulates all the way and disseminates all the way through the organization. And then people start behaving that way. So, it starts right at the top. When leaders at the top can say, yes, it doesn't matter whose issue it is, we're all in to solve this together as a team, as a business. That's when we can really move a culture forward.”

[25:59] Christopher: “Only the paranoid survives. And it gets to that contingency planning type attitude when it comes to the supply chain. There are going to be problems. Things are going to go wrong. There are going to be failure modes. And so, what? We get paid to figure out how are we going to mitigate and minimize the impact of that particular issue. That's our responsibility, as leaders, to be able to do that contingency planning to make it happen. It's almost like you want to look at your supply chain as it's mapped out, and you would say to yourself, ‘What happens if I fail here? What's going to happen?’”


Delivering on the Promise of Delivery: Automotive Sustainability and Profitability

Download here

White Paper for Leveraging Risk Management in Automotive

Download here

Operational Restart Readiness

Download here

The 24 Essential Supply Chain

Download here


Keep in touch with Auto Supply Chain Prophet's co-hosts Terry Onica and Jan Griffiths on LinkedIn.


QAD Wesbite


Powered By