Target just snagged a high-level Amazon logistics guru

Target has poached big talent from Amazon.
Target has poached big talent from Amazon.
Image: REUTERS/Fred Greaves
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Target has poached one of Amazon’s top supply chain executives, gaining a seasoned talent who has logged more than 20 years across America’s largest retail companies.

Arthur Valdez spent the last 16 years at Amazon, where he served several roles, including as a fulfillment center general manager to (most recently) being in charge of the e-commerce giant’s global supply chain expansion effort. He also worked at Walmart and Kmart.

“While we’ve made significant progress in improving our operations, Target’s growth hinges on our ability to enhance the fundamental aspects of our business, starting with the supply chain,” said Target CEO John Mulligan in a statement.

The company has stepped up to compete for business online. It outpaced Amazon in fourth quarter online sales growth last year and same-store sales have been growing for multiple quarters.

Perhaps as important as Valdez’s credentials is his experience with Amazon’s pressure-cooker culture.  As detailed in Brad Stone’s “The Everything Store,” Valdez was on a notorious company call in which now-Amazon vice president Jeff Wilkes delivered an epic rant over the tracking of distribution network stock.

Wilke went off like a bomb. He was calling that day from his home office on Mercer Island, and he started screaming—an oral assault of such intensity and vulgarity that the handsets of the general managers on the call shrieked with feedback. And then, just as abruptly as the outburst began, there was quiet. Wilke had seemingly disappeared.

No one said anything for thirty seconds. Finally Arthur Valdez, the general manager in Campbellsville, said quietly, “I think he ate the phone.”

The high pressure experience may translate nicely for Target, which is competing head-to-head with rival Walmart in the brick-and-mortar race to build out an logistics network that can manage stock, fill orders and deliver goods at speeds expected by a growing base of online shoppers.