Handling the logistics: President Stephen Craney with some of the products RiverStar helps bring to market
Companies large enough to make the Fortune 500 often have to slog through large-scale logistics: from assembly to testing to shipping. And if there’s a change of the status quo — recalls, repairs — that’s a whole other headache on top of conducting business as usual.
Stephen Craney, founder and president of Winona-based RiverStar
, has made those responsibilities the sole preoccupation of his company.
RiverStar is a supply chain management company with two facilities in Winona — one 110,000 and the other 20,000 square feet — and a third facility in nearby Rushford.
RiverStar specializes in the necessary duties that most large companies, Craney says, see as costly or annoying. It handles kitting, repair, logistics, shipping, inventory, testing, and quality control, among other activities.
Those services also make RiverStar a useful resource to startups that may not have given much thought to things like forklifts, warehousing, and logistics before their products started to take off.
Craney calls RiverStar a “logistics company on steroids” because of the variety and scope of the services it offers, from manufacturing to rebuilding and recalling products. And since a number of its clients are Fortune 500 companies, he says, “They would like to look like they are doing this themselves.”
RiverStar began as an offshoot of its now-sister-company RiverSide
, an electronics manufacturer Craney owned at the time. In that role, he observed the need for the services that he created RiverStar to provide. “I saw the need and the niche to fill,” he says.
The size and scope of that niche is highly variable. Over the years, RiverStar has expanded into a wide variety of products and industries. Because it deals with a menagerie of products, how business goes depends on how business is going for its large clients.
If there’s an incident like a recall in a given year, revenue for RiverStar will sometimes double or triple. If not — that’s another story.
Two constancies that Craney and RiverStar depend on are the company’s reach and its local workforce. Because the company is just a day’s drive from the Twin Cities, shipping is simplified. And because of the nearby four-year universities and technical college, there’s no shortage of able employees.
But more important than the simple availability of competent workers in Winona, he says, is the quality of their character and service. “So much of our business is relationship-based,” he says. “You try to create a culture within the business — that it is a service business.”
It’s such a priority for Craney that there’s often a contrast and a bit of a shock when he works with his large-scale clients, where turnover is fast and service is seen more of a pain than a priority. “So often we find ourselves retraining people in Fortune 500 companies,” he says. “It seems unlikely, but it’s true.”
Leadership: Stephen Craney, president
Revenue: Not disclosed
Description: A supply chain management company that provides kitting, assembly, logistics, and other services for large and small companies