Search overlay

Search form




        Industry, Students, Supply Chain Management

        Supply chain management students present case study to BBB Industries executives

        May 12, 2021 By Joe McAdory

        All News



        Duncan Gillis, CEO at BBB Industries, said ' Taking the students’ ideas and applying them to our operations in order to increase the amount of carbon avoided is an action that will come soon.'

        The Harbert College is committed to providing students with relevant, forward-looking and engaging curricula, and high-impact experiential opportunities.

        Students in the Harbert College’s Sustainable Supply Chain Management class assisted BBB Industries, the world’s largest auto parts remanufacturer, in resolving a pertinent business issue.

        The project, “Quantifying and Communicating the Environmental Benefits of Remanufacturing,” challenged students to quantify BBB’s carbon emissions savings from their remanufacturing process and develop a compelling message to the company’s stakeholders. Nine student teams presented their findings on April 23 before BBB’s CEO and EVP, and a managing director from Genstar Capital, the private equity firm that owns the company. These executives chose the winning team, and the team’s Most Valuable Participant (MVP) received a job offer upon graduation.

        logoAll the teams presented a consistent and stunning result: BBB’s circular business model allows the company to avoid 100,000 metric tons of carbon annually. To put this in perspective, it is equivalent to avoiding the emissions that come from driving gas-powered cars 250 million miles. The carbon savings stem from BBB’s closed-loop supply chain that involves collecting used car parts, called “core,” from its customers, restoring the parts to their original factory specifications, and reselling the parts back to customers. The planet is happy because using core means less natural resource extraction, and customers are happy because remanufactured parts have the same quality as new parts at a lower price.  


        Supply Chain Management student Kim Harrell makes a point during her team's presentation on April 23.

        “BBB has a profitable business model that is also an exemplar of circular thinking by utilizing a closed-loop supply chain to avoid waste and continuously reuse natural resources,” said Beth Davis-Sramek, Gayle Parks Forehand Professor of Supply Chain Management at the Harbert College. As one of the members of Harbert’s Center for Supply Chain Innovation (CSCI), the company approached her about doing a class project.  “BBB understands the environmental benefits that the business model creates, but they wanted the class to help them quantify and communicate that value, specifically to investors that are now challenging companies to mitigate their long-term environmental risk.”

        “Environmental sustainability is at the very core of what we do as a company,” said BBB Industries CEO Duncan Gillis. “As we think about investors, it’s historically been about the value we create through our processes that are inherently sustainable. What’s new for us now is the rest of the world is catching up and we need to conform through ESG reporting. Again … sustainability is what we do every day.

        “This information is going to be a real value to our shareholders. Taking the students’ ideas and applying them to our operations in order to increase the amount of carbon avoided is an action that will come soon. One of the key takeaways is that we can quantify the carbon offset and then monetize the market through carbon credits. We need to spend time now thinking about how we do this.”

        The winning student team included Chris Reinstedler, Tanner Lucas, Ben Smith, Ross Chandler and Mac McCullough.

        “BBB is a great addition for Genstar’s portfolio because of the company’s circular business model,” the team reported in its presentation. “Monetizing the economic value of the model by validating and selling carbon credits will result in an additional stream of revenue for BBB, and this value will increase as the carbon credit market matures. As BBB begins to report and publicize their sustainable operations, we expect exponential growth in interest from investors, vendors, customers, and the public.”


        Chris Reinstedler, who graduated earlier this month, was named the winning team's MVP and offered a job by BBB Industries.

        The team’s MVP, Chris Reinstedler, earned a degree in Supply Chain Management this spring from the Harbert College. “One of the first things BBB said to us was ‘We were sustainability before sustainability was cool’ and I don’t think that could be more accurate,” he said. “BBB is the perfect ESG role model for operating in the circular economy, and they will get great feedback when they publicize it. BBB mitigates resource risk, reduces overall carbon emissions, and demonstrates it can be done on a large scale.”

        What’s the key to winning over key executives or investors when making formal presentations?

        “Remember that they are people,” Reinstedler replied. “When I am comfortable with the people around me, I have more productive conversations and get more accomplished. I approached this presentation as if they were partners instead of bosses and this opened the presentation to be more of a dialogue.

        “This project helped me develop my presentation skills in both the technology aspect and public speaking. It also helped me overcome some stage fright, because I know moving forward, I will not be typically speaking with CEOs and vice presidents. If I can overcome that, then most everything else will be a breeze.”

        “This project was different than other projects we’ve worked on because we’re working with real numbers and people that are going to take our feedback and apply it to their company,” said Bailey Lancaster, who graduated with a degree in Supply Chain Management this spring. “This is not a hypothetical situation.”


        Rob Bratton and Tate Curtin, Supply Chain Management students, share how BBB Industries can profit by using fewer metric tons of carbon.

        John Gorham, also a spring Supply Chain Management graduate, believes projects with real-world business implications best prepare students for work beyond college. “We’re dealing with a real company, we’re dealing with investors, we’re dealing with real data, and we’re getting real-life experience as students in the Harbert College of Business,” he said. “It was almost as if we were presenting to leadership within a company in a full-time role, not as students.”

        Tim Roth, Executive Vice President for Global Strategy and Business Development at BBB Industries, praised students for taking “messy” raw data at the beginning of the semester and producing solid business proposals.

        “That’s what we really look for as a company – to learn from these fresh, creative minds,” he said. “We see things we deal with every day, but students can bring out nuances we can turn into value creation for the company.”

        Davis-Sramek said this is the best kind of project to highlight the benefits of collaboration between CSCI member companies and the Harbert College. “When we partner with companies on projects that address real business issues, they create the most applicable and experiential learning experiences we can offer students to prepare them for supply chain careers,” she added. “Alternately, companies receive both access to our student talent and tangible outcomes that address their issues. I hope we will see the use of this collaboration model accelerate.”