499: Going Circular with Rich Bulger

Welcome to The New Warehouse Podcast. Today, Rich Bulger, the author of Going Circular: The Evolution of Reverse Logistics into a Competitive Weapon joins the show. Rich has recently earned a master’s degree in reverse logistics, a field he is deeply passionate about. His extensive background includes a 17-year career at Verizon Wireless, where he pioneered innovative reverse logistics programs. In this episode, Rich shares insights on reverse logistics, its transformative potential for businesses, and how it can be leveraged as a competitive advantage.

The Journey to Reverse Logistics Mastery

Rich Bulger’s journey into reverse logistics began with his military service and evolved through his extensive career at Verizon Wireless. He started in a temp role and eventually became the youngest director at Verizon. His early career highlighted the importance of adaptability, as seen when his first job was automated. Rich notes, “Just because the task went away, my value did not go away.” This adaptability became a cornerstone of his approach to reverse logistics.

At Verizon, Rich implemented a successful retail trading program, leading to significant sales and customer satisfaction growth. He recalls, “The revenue generated from the sale of used devices was more than all the accessories that we sold on average.” This program boosted sales and promoted environmental sustainability by reducing landfill waste.

Challenges and Innovations in Reverse Logistics

Rich discusses the complexities of reverse logistics, emphasizing that it requires a unique set of skills and understanding. He highlights the growing importance of sustainability in consumer choices, especially among younger generations. “A study by Deloitte in 2022 showed that 70% of Gen Z and Millennials are aware of their carbon footprint and are actively taking steps to mitigate it,” he shares. This demographic shift underscores the need for businesses to adopt sustainable practices in their operations.

Rich’s experience at Cisco further enriched his expertise, allowing him to manage international reverse logistics and introduce programs that turned cost centers into profit centers. “We put solar panels on reverse logistics,” he explains, illustrating how reverse logistics can be more than just a cost-saving measure but also a revenue-generating function.

Going Circular with Reverse Logistics

Looking ahead, Rich predicts that reverse logistics will become integral to business strategies, driven by economic and environmental imperatives. Companies will invest in circular logistics to meet sustainability goals and capitalize on the economic benefits. “Circular logistics is going to become more understood and more necessary,” he asserts.

Rich also emphasizes the need for education and training in reverse logistics, noting the scarcity of formal programs. He recently completed a master’s degree in the field and wrote Going Circular to help bridge this gap. His book serves as a comprehensive guide for new professionals in the industry, providing essential knowledge and best practices.

Key Takeaways on Going Circular

  • When done correctly, reverse logistics transforms returns management into a competitive advantage.
  • Sustainability is a significant driver for younger consumers.
  • Circular logistics will become essential for businesses to meet sustainability goals.
  • Education and training in reverse logistics are crucial for future success.

Listen to the episode and leave your thoughts in the comments.

Guest Information

To connect with Rich on LinkedIn, click here.

His book, Going Circular: The Evolution of Reverse Logistics into a Competitive Weapon, is available on Amazon and via his LinkedIn page.

For more information about reverse logistics, check out the podcasts below. 

421: Solving Customer Returns with Kyle Bertin of Two Boxes

468: Sustainable Retail Returns with Brian Adams of Retail Reworks

464: Making the Most of Returns with Patturn’s Innovative Approach to Re-Commerce

462: Harbor Lockers Simplifies Pickups and Returns for Logistics

452: Navigating the Return Maze with Pollen Returns

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© The New Warehouse.
All rights reserved.