Stories from the Shelf: A Day in the Life of an Operations Leader with Hector Omoigui

Allison Champion
5 min read
April 23, 2024

In this episode of Stories from the Shelf, we’re chatting with Hector Omoigui, senior operations manager for Reel Paper. Reel is a B-Corp certified brand of paper products, sustainably made from bamboo fibers. 

The fast-growing company has skyrocketed in popularity among eco-conscious consumers. Once an online-only subscription product, its tree-free toilet paper is now available online and in Target stores nationwide. And, the brand just launched a new paper towel that’s flying off the shelves.

Read on for episode highlights and quotes from the discussion with Hector. Or, click below to listen in now.

Connecting with Reel’s Mission: Sustainable Paper Products

“It just made sense. You create paper products out of trees for one use, especially when you talk about toilet paper, maybe you can scrub out paper towels once or twice. We’re causing all this destruction. 

Once [the founder] said, we feel that this is an industry that’s ripe for change, I was like, yeah, why aren’t we using it? It just totally made sense.

I really just connected with the mission. The next thing you know, I’m on the other side of the country and doing something totally different. Trying to build the logistics and supply chain operations for a brand new company.”

Taking Care of Subscription Customers

“We were at the right place at the right time in that we were offering a subscription model for a sustainable paper brand when it was super scarce. And we always pride ourselves on taking care of our customers. 

When the pandemic happened, and people started going nuts over TP, we were able to guarantee to our customers that we were going to take care of them…we made the promise that we were going to fulfill their orders and we did. 

I think that really just made people trust us, especially as a startup, people were like, ‘all right, we’ll try something new.’ And then we delivered. That made them trust us and stick with us. And once you try it, you realize the quality of our paper, you stick around.”

A Day in the Life of a Logistics Leader

“It’s a lot of checking to make sure that orders are being managed and handled the way we want them to, for DTC and retail. Managing to make sure that orders are being processed accurately, that things are going out on time, that we’re not overpaying for certain freight options, and making sure that we’re adhering to our KPIs.

As orders come in and go out, is there any discrepancy with orders? Is there anything in the process that’s broken or could be updated, or fixed, or changed, or made more efficient? 

I’m also checking where we stand on our inventory, checking for our velocity. I’m making sure that we have enough precisely where we need it, that we’re reordering, and making sure that costs are in check. So as we reorder, what’s the market with certain freight prices? How do I game it if things aren’t exactly where we want them to be so that we don’t overpay? Do I need to order a little bit less now to order a little bit more later – what I would consider normal demand planning strategies. 

Over time, you start to see how things slowly build in complexity. And especially if you introduce new SKUs, you introduce new channels, things can get away from you fairly quickly. So making sure that we’re set up to handle opportunities as they arise as well.”

Reaching Customers on Retail Shelves

“Initially we were just a DTC company, and as convenient as that is, it does have its limitations.

Once you actually see our product in retail stores, it drives it home that these guys are legit, the product is real, and you’re more willing to try it. 

Target’s been a huge boost. We started a couple hundred stores, and this month we’re launching into all Target stores – we’re going full chain. It again proves the concept that people are looking for a way to make a change. They are seeing our product, trying our product, liking our product and returning to try it again. Ideally we can repeat that success across all the different retail avenues.”

Inventory Forecasting for DTC vs Retail Distribution

“You never want to be out of stock in general, but you especially want to make sure that you’re never out of stock for a Target. They’re ordering a lot more at a time. So if you don’t have enough inventory and that order comes in and you can’t quite fulfill it, it can be a real hindrance to the relationship.

You have to hold a little bit more on hand. You have to also just be ready for opportunities. If things happen to go really well, you have some promotions, things are moving very quickly. You have to be ready to react. I have to make sure that I’m really paying attention to our velocity at retailers. I want to make sure that I have enough time to get enough inventory in so that we can keep the things moving and at the same time, not have so much that we’re just sitting on it and it’s tying up cash.”

On Evolving and Growing Throughout a Career

“The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know, in a lot of ways. 

I’ve been in ops pretty much my whole career. And you think you know something more to know. You realize, oh wait, if I didn’t know that, then actually there’s a whole other subsection to this thing that I actually don’t know that much about and all that’s super interesting, even if it’s not necessarily logistics related. Even just learning about the paper making process and the paper industry –  it’s not something I had knowledge of before working at Reel.

Things change from one industry to the next. Even if you know something, you don’t know it for this particular industry, or you don’t know it in this particular way, or for this situation. So maintaining an open mind is key. Humbling yourself and being like, actually, let me take a step back and go back through the process. Even though I think I know this, let me go back through and make sure that I dot my I’s and cross my T’s.”


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Written By:

flowspace author Allison Champion

Allison Champion

Allison Champion leads marketing communication at Flowspace, where she works to develop content that addresses the unique challenges facing modern brands in omnichannel eCommerce. She has more than a decade of experience in content development and marketing.

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