Ted Stank is the Harry J. and Vivienne R. Bruce Chair of Business Excellence and Professor of Supply Chain Management at the Haslam College of Business and serves in both research and teaching capacities in the undergraduate and MBA programs. Stank holds a Ph.D. in Marketing and Distribution from The University of Georgia, an M.A. in Business Administration from Webster University, and a B.S. from the United States Naval Academy.
Stank is also director of the Global Supply Chain Institute, where he seeks out ways to best integrate both academia and industry. He notes that this role of marrying the two fields is a source of passion for his work. Stank seeks to work with industry to generate cutting-edge knowledge in supply chain and help to disseminate that knowledge through teaching and application.
“The foundation of what we do is to generate knowledge through basic research, but it is part of our mission to also determine how to apply that knowledge in practice,” Stank says. “That happens by working actively in our laboratory – helping practitioners apply our knowledge in the business world. We also can apply that knowledge by teaching the next generation of business leaders in our classrooms. I am passionate about this notion, especially for those of us who work at land grant institutions. I strongly believe that our supply chain management program at Haslam is so highly regarded because we take this notion as our foundational belief.”
Stank had his first experience with supply chain as a surface warfare operations officer in the Navy. There he realized the importance of getting what you need when you need it, especially in remote places.
“When the missile launcher on my destroyer broke down in the Persian Gulf, hostile aircraft were constantly patrolling the waters in which we sailed, and we couldn’t get the part we needed to fix it for many days,” says Stank. “It was very eye-opening. I later worked in industrial sales and realized how important and valuable it was to get my customers what they needed when and where they needed it. We could have the best products in the world, but if my customers couldn’t get it the item, it had no value to them.”
Stank believes that the efficiency that supply chain management brings to the broad economy has much to do with quality of life.
“The ability to hold down consumer prices over the last 20 years has largely been built upon supply chain efficiency,” says Stank. “And the revolution in value creation emerging from omnichannel and last mile delivery is pure supply chain, especially when it happens with free shipping. Ask Amazon and they will tell you that they are an SCM company married to a tech firm.”
Stank credits much of the accessibility of his work to private support from donors and corporate partners.
“We could be pure teachers and instruct four courses a semester, and that is a noble pursuit, but that would leave knowledge generation and application to others. The mission of a research institution like the University of Tennessee is to generate knowledge and determine how to apply it through dissemination. That part of the mission is largely funded by external giving.”