Getting the Right Parts on the Right Trucks: DENSO’s North America Logistics Centers

  • DLMI First Shipment photo

    The first shipment was made from the Belleville, Michigan warehouse on July 12, 2007, signifying the official start of the North America Logistics Center. 

Getting the right part on the right truck at the right time.  

Dan Schleicher, Senior Manager of DENSO’s North America Logistics Center (NALC), says that sentence may sound simple, but “there’s a good amount of complexity in the process, all while sustaining employee safety. That’s number ONE.”  

Schleicher said in 2007, DENSO started up the NALC, a DENSO warehousing strategy to support pass-through product shipments to original equipment manufacturers in North America. This sophisticated network of warehouses “processes a wide range of more than 40 different commodities, managing inventory from spark plugs to starters to heavy-duty engine components for tractors and combines, to recreational products such as jet skis and snowmobiles,” said Dan.  

“Our customers include Japanese car groups, the Detroit 3, Harley Davidson and John Deere. The NALCs don’t assemble but do perform multiple repack processes,” Schleicher said. “The NALC’s mission is to utilize our expertise and provide unrivaled services to exceed our customers’ expectations and contribute to DENSO’s success.”  

“We’ll celebrate being up and running 17 years this July, and it’s all made possible by the hard-working 220 people in these four warehouses,” he said. “It can be a tough work-life balance, because our customers are very demanding and work all the time, including holidays. Our suppliers are located globally and our freight moves all the time.”  

  • DLNT Team Photo

    The grand opening for the DENSO Logistics Nashville Tennessee (DLNT) was held February 25, 2016.  The event was part of DENSO’s overall expansion plan to strengthen and expand product development and manufacturing capabilities across the region. 

Expanding Past the Zero Point of Gravity 

In 2007, the original warehouses forming the coordinated network of NALC’s footprint were Belleville, Michigan; Waterloo, Iowa; and Laredo, Texas. “They are strategically located to provide the most optimal pickup locations for our customers,” Schleicher said.   

Six years later, in 2013, DENSO announced an investment of nearly $1 billion in North America to better support and grow operations. The announcement not only included an expansion of the Belleville location, but also the creation of a new facility. This warehouse – the company’s largest – is DENSO Logistics Nashville Tennessee (DLNT) in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, right outside Nashville. Dan said a definite customer “ring” or hub exists around DLNT, due to most paths of inland transportation east of the Mississippi passing through the Nashville area, which is referred to as the “zero point of gravity.”   

Less than 30 miles outside of Detroit, Michigan is the city of Belleville. Known for its tree lined neighborhoods, the city houses one of DENSO’s four North America Logistic Centers (NALC). Watch a new company spotlight video featuring the Belleville location.

  • NALC Team Photo

    On March 3, 2014, DENSO associates at the Waterloo, Iowa location were recognized by John Deere as a Direct Material Supplier of the Year. The award is the highest award level presented to suppliers and recognized the team for its dedication in providing outstanding quality and for its commitment to continuous improvement.

Team Pride and DENSO Spirit Keys to Delivering Success 

Schleicher expressed with sincerity how proud he is of each NALC member.   

“I’m very proud of what we do and how we do it. Although we have experienced challenges to keep all jobs filled, we approach every day with an open mindset, apply kaizen and demonstrate the important core competencies of ‘genchi genbutsu’ (on-site verification), collaboration and challenge,” he explained.   

Schleicher said he’s especially proud of how the DENSO Spirit – meaning a commitment to foresight, credibility and collaboration – was demonstrated during COVID when warehouse positions suffered significant attrition. “Our leaders, our planners and many volunteers from DIAM and our group companies stepped up to assure we met all customer requirements by getting the right parts on the right trucks, never causing an impact to our customers.”