Armenians in the Supply Chain

Armenians are known for many things. For one, we are known for our acumen in chess. We seem to win more than our share of medals in Olympic wrestling and boxing. We have luminaries in the arts, from Aznavour to Cher, from Hovhaness to Khachadourian, from Karsh to Koundakjian, from Gorky to Aivazovski, and from Saroyan to Bohjalian. We also have luminaries in science, engineering, and business. We are proud that, as a people, we excel in greater proportion than our small population in this world might = dictate.

On June 24 and 25, 400 attendees gathered at the Business Forecasting 2013 Predictive Intelligence Summit in Chicago to hear 25 thought leaders in the industry. Two of the 25 speakers were Armenian—8 percent, which is well beyond the percentage of Armenians in the world.

Who were the two Armenians speaking at this conference? Our own Ara Surenian and Mark Gavoor. Ara is the president of Cadent Resources, Inc., and Mark is managing director of CR Supply Chain Consulting. Both are management consultants who are experts in Supply Chain Management (SCM).

SCM is the management, coordination, and optimization of the various networks and business processes involved in the procurement of goods, production, and distribution of the goods or services that companies sell. It is a field that has become vital as goods are produced and shipped all over the world. In order to compete, companies must have well-managed and cost-effective supply chains.

Companies with excellent SCM have the right products, in the right place, at the right time, in the right quantities, with perfect quality, and at minimal cost. In order to do this, companies need to intelligently predict and plan what products are to be made where, in what quantities, and where they are to be shipped and staged. It is an easy task if a company only offers one product. Imagine how daunting the task is if the company has 1,000, 10,000, or even 20,000 products. If this is not complex enough, companies have to consider fuel prices, currency rates, climate, and other factors to properly predict and plan. Even with sophisticated computer programs, it is very hard to get this right.

Both Surenian and Gavoor help companies get this right. Both are based in Chicago and are members of Armenian All Saints Church community. Surenian is originally from Boston and has lived in Chicago for almost 20 years. Gavoor, originally from Detroit, has lived in Chicago for 7 years.

Do Surenian and Gavoor know each other? Of course they do. “I knew Ara before I moved to Chicago but only in passing,” says Gavoor. “ Ara and I both had a mutual good friend, Ken Hachikian, the ANCA chairman, who knew we worked in the same space and got us talking on a different level. We have been collaborating since in some shape or form.”

At the summit, both Surenian and Gavoor spoke on Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP), a proactive business planning process designed to balance supply and demand through a collaboration of business functions in the company, and even with customer and supplier companies. The supply chain cannot fulfill its mission to have the right products, in the right place, at the right time, in the right quantities, with perfect quality, and at a minimal cost without the best forecast and the subsequent sales and supply chain plan in place. This is the role of S&OP. In the past 15 years, it is has become a significant business process in most major corporations.

Ara Surenian’s presentation was titled, “What Is Old Is New: Marketing Mix and S&OP.” He advocated using a different hierarchy and aggregation of planning. The standard practice is to forecast at the family level and apportion down to the product level using history. Surenian’s planning methodology is based on forecasts on retailers and channels of distribution. He has had success in accuracy improving forecast dramatically using this method.

Mark Gavoor’s presentation was on the “S&OP Framework.” He talked about what organizations need to do to prepare for the implementation of S&OP, and what is then required to make it work. He noted that S&OP is a complicated planning process that requires that functions such as operations, sales, marketing, and finance cooperate in ways they never have before. He outlined the maturity stages of S&OP and the effort required for companies to move from stage to stage. Gavoor spoke on the critical role of senior management to make S&OP a success. He also said that a continuous improvement must be designed into the S&OP process to ensure its success.

“Mark is gifted at taking the complex and simplifying it so everyone can understand,” Surenian said. “People left his presentation with a much clearer view of the challenges to implementing S&OP and how to better deal with those challenges.”

Gavoor said, “Ara’s hands on coaching and customer/channel driven approach is exactly what companies struggling with S&OP need. Furthermore, he has developed an excellent software system, DemandCaster, that can aid companies of any size better facilitate the data and data manipulations required in S&OP.” Both Surenian and Gavoor have specialized in making S&OP work in smaller businesses. This is just another example of Armenians excelling in their fields.

To learn more visit Surenian’s website,, and Gavoor’s website,


  1. Congratulations to Ara and Mark making strides within the Supply Chain space. Being involved in supply chain myself for the past 20+ years, there are many Armenians in this complex and rewarding field which requires a specialized business accumen. Keep up the good work!

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