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How New Initiatives Help WinCup Cut Costs, Maintain Quality

WinCup offers a range of disposable expanded polystyrene cups, bowls, containers, lids, straws and stirrers for the dining, take-out and retail sectors.


Many of WinCup’s products are used for to-go food orders. So, it’s appropriate then that its senior managers are always on the go, too, looking for new approaches to sustainable products.


“Wincup is not happy with the status quo,” Vice President of Supply Chain Tara Burdeshaw asserts. “We want the company to grow, and we’re doing that with new products and bringing on different partners to help us figure out how we can be more sustainable.”


Based in Stone Mountain, Ga., WinCup offers a range of disposable expanded polystyrene cups, bowls, containers, lids, straws and stirrers for the dining, take-out and retail sectors. With eight plants across the United States, “We can be flexible in terms of volume and where we can ship from,” Burdeshaw says.



WinCup maintains a strong focus on quality. Each location, Burdeshaw explains, employs quality managers who ensure that products are in perfect condition and defect-free before they leave. “They have documented procedures for everything,” Burdeshaw says.


The company’s current offerings include Vio®, which was the world’s first biodegradable foam cups, containers and bowl product line. “With foam bans going on in different parts of the country, people want more sustainable options,” she says. 


Another innovative, new green product from WinCup is phade®, “the world’s first marine, bio-degradable straw.” It is also soil biodegradable as well as home and industrial compostable, she describes. “We are currently producing that and ramping up production.”


Supply Chain Strategies


A 22-year supply chain veteran, Burdeshaw joined WinCup last year. Since joining the firm, she has focused on improving processes, implementing change management and lowering supply chain costs.


As she reviewed WinCup’s processes, “We worked on everything from new item setup to how we go to market from a freight perspective,” she recalls. This led to cost savings for the company.


Previously, many raw materials were delivered to WinCup’s plants via truck, which was quite expensive for the company. Today, the company has switched to rail where its feasibility makes financial sense, which can contribute nice freight savings annually.  


Burdeshaw also renegotiated contracts with its raw materials suppliers. “Within the first four months, the strategy we executed saved us over a million dollars per year,” she recalls, noting that she also successfully implemented a supplier diversification initiative.


While WinCup had a strong base of suppliers, it has since evolved so it is not entirely dependent on a single vendor. “We’re making sure we’re not putting all of our eggs in one basket,” she says.


“We’re making sure we have back up if one supplier went out of business or had a complete disruption in service,” Burdeshaw continues. “That’s really helped us. In the past, we had some categories where we were single source-based, which was a huge risk.”


WinCup’s initiatives have allowed the company to persevere in the era of COVID-19. As of early April, “We have not had any supply disruptions which is a testament to a solid alignment we have built between supply chain, operations, sales and marketing,” she reports, noting that the company has even experienced an uptick in business as consumers have ordered more take-out foods. “With people not being able to dine-in, we’ve seen that volume increase,” Burdeshaw notes. “Our suppliers are keeping up and we appreciate each and every one of them.”


Improving Accuracy


Burdeshaw is redesigning WinCup’s sales and operations processes. This has required the company to add demand planning software tools and change the mentality of employees and how they view sales and operations. 


When this is complete, WinCup will be able to create “what if” scenarios and improve its accuracy. “You can do analysis and be more proactive than reactive,” she describes, noting that this will make the sales and operations processes more robust.


Burdeshaw also wants to enhance employees’ skills. In addition to having them undergo customer service training, “I’d like to do finance training that makes sure my team understands how the business works from a profit and loss perspective,” she says.


New Avenues


Burdeshaw has enjoyed success with her new initiatives, but occasionally she has encountered challenges as customers, vendors and employees adapt to them. “Change management is always difficult for people,” she admits. “We’re human and people get comfortable doing what they’ve been doing.”


Burdeshaw has overcome those obstacles by strongly communicating the benefits to stakeholders. “You have to have buy-ins with the people you’re working with in order to be successful,” she says. “You want to work with the people to make sure you’re rolling out the different projects successfully.”


She sees a strong future ahead for WinCup, which will continue to diversify its product line. “We’ll look at what we can add to the market and what we could potentially offer from a sustainability standpoint,” Burdeshaw says.


“We are going to expand into different products aside from the cups, lids and straws, and see what products we can get out to the market,” she says. “We want to use those avenues to just continue to grow the business.”