March 13, 2015

randy-lewis-headshotRandy Lewis, who was the chief supply chain officer for one of the biggest retailers in the United States and is now one of the business world’s leading advocates for hiring distribution workers with disabilities, will be the keynote speaker at the 2015 Southern California Logistics and Supply Chain Summit, which will be on April 23 in Pomona.

Lewis spent 16 years as the Senior Vice President in charge of all aspects of the supply chain for Walgreen’s. In 20 years with the company, he was responsible for all aspects of logistics, including strategy, operations, engineering, IT systems and inventory management.

Since his retirement in 2013, Lewis has authored a widely acclaimed book, “No Greatness Without Goodness: How a Father’s Love Changed a Company and Sparked a Movement,” which outlines how he designed and introduced a workforce model that opened at least 10 percent of the logistics jobs at Walgreens – and ultimately other major firms – to disabled workers.

During his years at Walgreens, Lewis supervised a system that saw the number of stores grow from 1,500 to 8,000. Walgreens’ supply chain operations include overseas importing and shipping, one of the country’s largest private fleets and 19 automated distribution centers, including one in Moreno Valley. Thirteen of these facilities were built during Lewis’ tenure.

But Lewis’ current passion has roots that are more personal. He is the father of three, and Austin, his middle child, has autism. Randy Lewis was moved to action on this issue because at one time almost 70 percent of people with disabilities, and 95 percent of those who, like Austin, have severe cognitive issues, would never hold a job in their lifetimes. This was mostly due to the perceptions of employers, and not because disabled people were unable to perform productive work.

Under Lewis’ guidance, Walgreens met a goal of having 10 percent of its distribution center workforce comprised of people with disabilities by 2011. That number is as high as 50 percent at some facilities, and those distribution centers have increased productivity since the implementation of this initiative. Other major retailers, including Sears, Office Depot and Lowe’s, have since copied Walgreens’ strategy.

The Summit will be at the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel and Conference Center, and it will bring together experts and professionals in the field from across six Southern California counties to discuss the issues that face one of the region’s signature industries. It is co-hosted by the Inland Empire Economic Partnership and the new Drucker School Center of Supply Chain Management at Claremont Graduate University.

There will be numerous presentations of interest to people in the industry, including points of supply chain congestion, workforce development, truck emissions and the use of geographic mapping software. More topics and speakers will be added in the coming weeks.

More information, including RSVP registration and sponsorship information, is available on the summit website,