Providing More Runway for the Supply Chain

Neiman Marcus’ Willis Weirich on leadership development and cultivating supply chain talent

As senior vice president of supply chain and operations at Neiman Marcus, Willis Weirich is always looking for new ways that supply chain might be able to support the broader needs of the business.

The SVP has spent the past three-and-a-half years at the Dallas-headquartered luxury department store chain, building on successful tenures at Target and Airgas, respectively. Weirich’s most enduring trait is a capability for achieving success in varied conditions and environments, and in working to improve the talent on his team and maintain on growing company culture, he’s helping Neiman Marcus double-down its focus on supply chain as a more prevalent component to business strategy. 

Weirich told the American Journal of Transportation (AJOT) that for its segment in the market, there haven’t been nearly as many advances in automation and technology solutions as compared to other flat-pack types of products, a potential hang-up for the garments-on-hanger needs of Neiman Marcus.

“Obviously, garments on hanger is a smaller segment and a little unique to the luxury space in terms of how you package and move the goods through the supply chain,” Weirich told AJOT. “If you step away from luxury, the desire in this day and age to create the try-it-on-and-return-it experience puts additional pressure on the supply chain.”

He says that it’s not necessarily the delivery method that needs to evolve, but supply chain’s focus on execution. “I always say averages don’t work well in our business model,” Weirich shares with the journal. “When you focus on averages, you end up seeing opportunities in the periphery that don’t resonate with customers.”

Focusing on execution and agility not only allows a wise balance of investment, Weirich says, but also an ability to evolve as the market adjusts. 

Maintaining a team that is able to provide excellence in execution as well as an ability to be nimble has been no easy task. Weirich is very proud of his own team and believes they complement each other perfectly. The SVP says talent in the right culture is absolutely crucial to being able to advance business objectives. 

Creating culture is also always easier said than done. For Weirich, it means trying to create an environment where making mistakes isn’t always grounds for being read the riot act. In fact, he believes there are times it calls for reward. The SVP encourages his team to try new things while also working to encourage them to take ownership and accountability for their own leadership. 

While encouraging his own teammates to grow and develop, Weirich says he continues to pursue his own personal leadership development. “I still enjoy reading about other industries and finding correlations,” the SVP tells AJOT. “I have a passion for continual learning.”

Looking at his career from a more holistic view, Weirich tells AJOT that his journey has been about creating the longest runway possible, not getting down it the quickest.

“As a result, I think I’ve learned a lot along the way, and it makes me a better problem-solver and leader.”

“Neiman Marcus has truly reinvented the shopping experience for the luxury customer by complimenting the awesome in-store experience with a premier online platform. Willis and his team are completely committed to the disruptive technologies, new ideas, and people engagement necessary to provide the Supply Chain Solutions needed to surpass customer expectations. Congratulations to Willis Weirich!”
—Mike Holloway, President and CEO, Blackhawk Transport Inc.

Congratulations to Willis Weirich on this well-deserved honor. Johnson Stephens Consulting’s strong partnership with Neiman Marcus is focused upon ensuring supply chain excellence to attain the highest service levels for customers. Johnson Stephens Consulting is a leading supply chain operations consultancy servicing digital e-commerce, retail, wholesale, consumer, and B2B clients.