Alumnus relies on degree to address supply chain demands during COVID-19

Published: June 08, 2022

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Sharan Kalva, a 2017 graduate from the Auburn University Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, saw the supply chain issues COVID-19 caused first-hand as chief operating officer for his Huntsville-based family business C-StoreMaster.

C-StoreMaster is a convenience store distributor which services more than 7,000 customers across the United States. The COVID pandemic put Kalva’s industrial and systems engineering skills to the test. According to Kalva, anything and everything that could go wrong during COVID did, from products being out of stock to significant delays in shipping.

“Our solution was to completely change the strategy behind our sourcing, putting a greater emphasis on proximity to the manufacturer and supporting locals,” Kalva said. “Our new automated warehouse further adds to the solution by storing more inventory while increasing the fulfillment rate and getting the product to the customer faster. This decreases customers being out of stock even further.”

Originally from Huntsville, Ala., Kalva chose to study electrical engineering at Auburn. But after building a paper plane assembly line in the corridors of Shelby Center his freshman year, Kalva changed his major to industrial and systems engineering.

“The realization that ISE applications are everywhere, from how a chicken biscuit was made at Chick-fil-A to improving your route to school one small change at a time, got me hooked,” Kalva said.

During his time as an industrial and systems engineering student, Kalva was president of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers student organization, served as an Involvement Ambassador, and helped form the Auburn Mentoring Program. One of his favorite memories is sitting in the student section with his friends during the “Kick Six” football game.

Kalva credits his Auburn University industrial and systems engineering degree with helping him double his family’s company revenue each year as COO and building a multi-million-dollar business.

“I have used the knowledge of designing processes in every role I have held,” he said. “This knowledge even helped me set processes and develop the new state-of-the-art robotics facility. Another critical facet of ISE is the continuous improvement mindset. This has been a game-changer for me personally and professionally.”

Submitted by: Carla Nelson