When Upper Deck chairman and founder Richard McWilliam spoke to attendees at last year’s Hawaii Trade Conference/Mainland Edition, he pledged that his company would improve upon its ability to hit scheduled release dates for its upcoming card products.
In that regard, the company believes that it can say “mission accomplished.”
Last week, Upper Deck officials touted the fact that since late July, only two of its more than 40 sports card releases were shipped later than their scheduled release dates. Trilogy Football was delayed by one week in order to increase the actual amount of live autograph content in the product, while SP Authentic Baseball was delayed a week due to the October wildfires in Southern California that threatened the company’s facility.
“We stood up in front of the industry and made a promise that we were going to improve in two main areas – fewer redemptions and better on-time deliveries – and we’ve done a good job keeping those promises,” said Joe Fallon, director of product development at Upper Deck.
Jennifer Perrigo, the company’s director of operations, said the company has added staff and other resources to better monitor progress of product development to limit any potential delays. “There are so many things that can cause products to be delayed in this industry,” Perrigo said. “There are delays in receiving materials, autographs, packaging and there are a myriad of other problems that can come up during the manufacturing process. We made a fundamental change in our production process, and we are now identifying the pitfalls, shining a light on them and working together to quickly resolve them.”
One of the biggest factors, Perrigo said, was improving the turnaround times on autograph signings with athletes. That’s not only helped meet production deadlines, but it’s also helped the company reduce the overall number of redemptions in a product. “One of the things we’ve done is work really hard to give the athletes more time to sign,” Perrigo said. “The No. 1 driver in making sure a product goes out on time is the autographs. Giving them more time and having it available for them earlier has definitely helped.”
Fallon said the steps put in place have not only had an impact on products shipped in 2007, but should go a long way toward reducing delays in the future. “When something unforseen happens, we can now recover more quickly and get things back on track,” he said. “The situation with the fires out here was a perfect example. Had we not been on top of our game, things could have gotten backed up even more.”