Logistics with Purpose
Episode 49

Soles4Souls' job is actually kind of boring. We need to be a good supplier of high-quality, low-cost goods. That's the job. If we do that and we get that in people's hands in Haiti or Honduras or Moldova, lives can change for a long time. And that's what motivates me every day.

-Buddy Teaster

Episode Summary

So you want to help. Now how do you actually pull it off? Look no further than Soles4Souls CEO Buddy Teaster for answers on how to turn goodwill into on-the-ground impact. In this episode, he joins co-hosts Enrique and Kristi to talk about the behind-the-scenes realities of creating opportunity, delivering agency and preserving the dignity of those served. Learn more about the value of the micro enterprise, what a pair of shoes can really mean, the organization’s recent Ukraine relief efforts in Moldova and what’s next for this multifaceted leader and ultramarathoner (yes, you read that right!).

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:02):

Welcome to logistics with purpose presented by vector global logistics in partnership with supply chain. Now we spotlight and celebrate organizations who are dedicated to creating a positive impact. Join us for this behind the scenes glimpse of the origin stories, change making progress and future plans of organizations who are actively making a difference. Our goal isn’t just to entertain you, but to inspire you to go out and change the world. And now here’s today’s episode of logistics with purpose

Enrique Alvarez (00:34):

Good day, and welcome once again to another very interesting and exciting episode of, uh, logistics with purpose with have an amazing guest today. Christy, how are you doing today?

Kristi Porter (00:44):

I am good. I’m excited to have this conversation, especially in light of, um, what’s going on in the world and just what this organization continually does as far as impact. So this is gonna be another good one and, um, yeah, bringing a little sunshine to our great a here in Atlanta.

Enrique Alvarez (01:00):

Definitely. I think it’s, uh, I mean, with everything that’s going on, as you mentioned, it’s, uh, inspiring to kind of talk to, to, uh, our guests today and to organizations like the one that he’s leading and, uh, they’re doing amazing things to help the Ukraine and they have done amazing things to help other communities in the past as well. So I’m eager and excited to learn a bit more about them and, and hear their story.

Kristi Porter (01:22):

Yeah. So today we’d love to welcome Buddy Teaster the president and CEO of souls for souls, probably an organization that many of you are familiar with. So hi buddy. We’re so glad you’re here.

Buddy Teaster (01:33):

Ah, it’s a pleasure to be here and wish we could be in person, but this is a great way to connect. Great to meet you Enrique and see you again, Kristi.

Kristi Porter (01:40):

Yes. Yes. We have the privilege of me eating at sustainable brands conference and had a terrific conversation. So I’ve been looking forward to having you on. Um, so before we get into souls for souls though, we wanna know just a little bit more about you. So tell us a little about your background and where you grew up and kind of those early years.

Buddy Teaster (01:59):

Sure. So I was born in West Virginia. My dad was a coal when I was born and his dad was a coal miner. So it’s one of those stories in a, in a way. And then we moved from West Virginia to Pennsylvania, which is really where I grew up through the ninth grade, then made a big switch from very rural, uh, Pennsylvania to suburban Washington DC. It was a shocking thing, one of the best things that ever happened to me didn’t I didn’t know that at the time, but it’s, uh, in retrospect clearly was a, an amazing widening of my horizons and then went to school in Virginia, stayed and worked, and then moved to Dallas, Texas to go to business school, which I never thought I would stay in Dallas. I thought I’d get my MBA and head back home. And then 25 years later was wrong about that. I, um, and then came to souls for souls in 2012, and that caused me to move to Nashville, Tennessee. And this finally feels like home. I’m super happy living in this city and doing the work that I get to do and be a part of at souls for

Enrique Alvarez (02:57):

Souls. Well, thank, thank you so much for, for joining us today and, and, uh, thank you for everything you and your organization does going back to your earlier days. Um, can you tell us a story about like, um, something you remember that probably shaped the course of your career afterwards and something that kind of made you kind of, um, start heading in the direction that you ended up heading?

Buddy Teaster (03:17):

You know, I think it, a lot of it is around education for me. Um, my dad in particular, he quit high school to join the army when he was 16, he got his G E D in the army and he, he never went to college. He was a coal miner. Then he went to work for the government where he had an amazing career. And I was the first one to graduate from college on either side to my family. And that always felt like a huge opportunity and not a burden, but like a responsibility. It’s probably a better word and like conscious of the fact that I shouldn’t blow that. And, um, and so education has been super important. I think to get me kind of to where I am, it’s definitely made me much more aware of the world and to look at that process at, of education not, and it was kind of one of the biggest fights I ever had with my dad was around this. Education’s not about getting a job. It’s about sort of understanding relat to the world. And I think that has continued to pay dividends for me of being curious and trying to figure out what my role is and how I can help make it a better place.

Enrique Alvarez (04:19):

Where, what does your, um, uh, I guess caring and, and making an impact in the world kind of comes from, is it something that you also kinda, uh, trace back to your early days or like an example that you probably had before, or,

Buddy Teaster (04:34):

You know, I think probably a seminal moment for me when I was in college. Um, I was a religious studies and French major and my advisor was in the religious studies department and he was a world religion guy and we spent six weeks with him in India. Wow. I don’t think it was a particular like there wasn’t one thing that happened, but just like I’d barely traveled anywhere. I’d been, when I was a high school, sophomore, I went to France and England did nothing until I went to India and it rocked my world. And, and I think that probably more than anything else opened my eyes to how much was out there, how different it could be, how interesting it was, how complicated the world really is. And that really, I think has driven me more than anything else. That’s, there’s been lots of things that happened since then. Yeah. But it was the, probably this seminal moment for me.

Kristi Porter (05:23):

Wow. That’s really cool. Um, well speaking of, uh, your education, I want to hear definitely more about religious studies and French as your degree path, how those kind of even came to be. Um, since that’s kind of an interesting pairing. And then just to, I, I guess also speaking to education in general, how, uh, that is clearly not what you’re doing at this moment, unless I would love to hear this interview in French. Um, although I couldn’t keep up, but I’m curious like how that sort of paved the way and what lessons now, looking back, you’ve kind of learned and been able to keep in mind from those studies and that education.

Buddy Teaster (05:58):

So believe it or not, it was a compromise. Um, when I went to college, I thought I was gonna be an economics major. I was on the path, like I said, I felt the responsibility and the first one going to college, like I better do well and get a good job. Like that was my, and when I got there, that’s not what I I’ve less, this is, that’s not what I wanted to do. And so when I told my father I was gonna be a religious studies major, like I said, it was the biggest fight we ever had. He flipped out. And so believe it or not, French was a compromise. Like somehow that would make me more commercially viable if I could speak another language. Um, but you know, the thing, I guess the thing that I really learned from that is I didn’t back down on that.

Buddy Teaster (06:40):

I, you know, my dad’s a smart guy, right. And he’s, he’s got a life experience that I never had, but I just didn’t feel like that’s what I should do. So the willingness to try a different path and to be curious, I think that’s something that I have continued to try to do. And, you know, to go from that, then I worked in the theater for a couple of years. And when I went back to business school, it was to get an MBA and an ma in arts administration, I thought, well, I’ll do theater, another awesome career choice from my father’s perspective And, uh,

Kristi Porter (07:11):

Totally in line with the past. Right,

Buddy Teaster (07:14):

Exactly. And after it was an amazing program, I’m at Southern Methodist university in Dallas. It was really like, I learned a lot in that time and I really dug the business side. And when I got out and my first job was in the theater and I’m like, this is not what I want to do. And I wound up working for the young president’s organization, which was also a not-for-profit but much more business oriented. And that seemed like the right group for me to be in. Uh, and then once I made that decision meeting people from all around the world who were leading businesses and, you know, many of whom were thinking hard about the future and legacy and, you know, kind of complicated questions that never been on my mind to hear answers and questions from people all around the world about was that really blew me a way. And so that was kind of after business school, the thing that really opened me up to what it meant to be a part of the world and not just my little lane,

Enrique Alvarez (08:08):

Why so YPO, and it’s not something, uh, tell us a little more, so you actually, one theater didn’t work out as well as you were expecting it to work. And then YPO basically opened the doors and, uh, some additional opportunities, uh, for you. How do you go from there to then souls for sold?

Buddy Teaster (08:26):

You know, I, somebody much more than I did said at some point, like the dots don’t connect until you look backwards. Right? Right. So none of the decisions at the time was said like, I’ll do this, I’ll do that. Some people might pull that off. I’m certainly not capable of it. And so I worked at YPO three different times and in between I did for-profit things. I started up a couple of things. I went to work for some other folks. And looking back that combination of sort of, not for profit service oriented entrepreneurial for profit are a perfect fit for souls, for souls. Like I couldn’t have designed it any better to understand both sides of that equation. And souls for souls allows me to live at the intersection of those two things almost every day. And I love that. I don’t have to, I don’t have to compromise like, oh, I’m, I have to tell myself a story of about working not-for-profit world and why profit doesn’t matter and all this kind not true. And I don’t have to live in this place. I work really hard and eventually I’ll do good. Like I don’t, that’s not a trade off I have to make most days. And so I feel really lucky to be at souls for souls.

Kristi Porter (09:29):

Yeah. So speaking of, tell us more about the souls for souls mission and, uh, just the history of the organization and how it came to be.

Buddy Teaster (09:37):

So the folks who would go on found souls for souls, who came very organically after the tsunami in Southeast Asia in 2004, they kind of got a group together and sent some shoes. They did a, they did the same thing at hurricane Katrina nine months later. And they had a even bigger response to of that. And then they, I think decided like there’s something here. So they officially started souls for souls in 2006, and it grew very fast. Um, the idea of helping people in need with shoes and clothes is kind of an obvious need. And so they got a lot of traction quickly and that all started with new product, any and souls for souls still today, anything we give away a, for free is always brand new, but then they had people saying, Hey, I have this used stuff. Can you find a way to put it to work?

Buddy Teaster (10:23):

And so pretty early on in souls for soul’s history, it was just used in new side that I think led to some interesting challenges and decisions. And then in 2010 with the earthquake in Haiti, the us was response to that was overwhelming. And suddenly Salz for holes had millions of pairs of used shoes and that, that they weren’t gonna give away in Haiti, but needed to figure out what to do. And so, even though there’d kind of been this thread of micro enterprise and using used shoes and clothes to help create a small business or a job was kind of there, it got acute after 2010, I think. So the guy who found it is gone, he left in 2012, which is why I got a chance to come to souls for souls. And I think part of what happened, there were lots of issues and I’m happy to talk about them.

Buddy Teaster (11:07):

You know, it’s, uh, it’s a part of our past, but it’s really hard to say, I have a great idea. We’re gonna sell you shoes to poor people in the developing world at even my and family was like, you are on a fast track to hell. Like that’s a terrible thing. You should, why aren’t you giving it to these people? Right. And that’s a, like, that’s an easy response to understand. And it’s hard to explain why that business model works and all the other benefits that come from that. So when I came to souls for soul, I’m like we sell shoes. Like shouldn’t hide that, which is kind of what had happened and led us a bad press. And a lot of mistrust, like, I don’t know why they said that. I’m telling you, we do sell shoes and clothes to people in the developing world.

Buddy Teaster (11:50):

And here’s why we should celebrate that every freaking day. And now that we, you know, I’ve been here 10 years, we’ve had this amazing team and a great board and great partners all around the world, and we’re not afraid of that story anymore. We lean into it and embrace it for all the benefits that come. And I think there are probably two, there are lots of, lots of things that come out of that, but one is it’s this sustainable business model from the sense that I’m not depending on philanthropy and people’s good intentions for souls, for souls to continue. And the fact that we have this kind of commercial model underneath, that allows us to grow and expand most importantly, when our mission is around creating opportunity, right? So the opportunity most obvious is when people can sell shoes and clothes generated income for themselves, take care of their family.

Buddy Teaster (12:37):

That’s an opportunity that changes lives for generations to come potentially, right? That’s, that’s amazing, but it’s also an opportunity for people like us to go into our closets and something that might look like trash, turn it into opportunity. It’s an opportunity to serve. It’s an opportunity for our corporate partners to do thing responsible with their excess inventory instead of burn it or set it off for pennies on the dollar. So if we think about opportunity pretty holistically, but when I get the chance to meet a woman who is barely hanging on and a year later she’s bought property and a year after that, she owns her own house that nobody can take from her. Yeah. Wow. Holy account. Like that, that, that story happened in 20 13, 20 14. And I still get goosebumps about what that meant to her and her family and her kids and her grandkids.

Buddy Teaster (13:24):

Like they all live together. So I, I would love anytime somebody says, boy, I don’t like what you do. Well, let’s talk about that because it is a really rich, complicated mom that allows people, dignity and agency. And I know there’s a kind of cliche, maybe buzzwords or soft when you see people who have gone from victims to actors. Like that is an amazing thing to think that I was, that I was a part of that souls for souls was a part of, and to know that in a way, souls for soul’s job is actually kind of boring. We need to be a good supplier of high quality, low cost goods. Like that’s the job. If we do that and we get that in people’s hands in Haiti or Honduras or Moldova lives can change for a long time. And that’s what is motivates me every day.

Kristi Porter (14:16):

Can you also speak a, you mentioned it a little bit, the, um, agency and dignity aspect, which I think is really great on, first of all, sometimes you’re having to deal with really difficult subject matter, but I love how lighthearted your website is and all your marketing, um, that just, I love that aspect of it. But the other thing I think we understand crisis happens. People don’t have use like that as a pretty intuitive approach, but the other side of that is exactly what shoes can do for people, whether it’s, you know, being able to go to school or having that dignity or agency. So can you expand on a little of that? That might not be the most intuitive aspect of what you do.

Buddy Teaster (14:52):

So, uh, I think this idea of shoes being more important that people like the three of us think about most days, right. Of able to go to school, able to work, able to avoid injury and disease. Like we don’t think about that very much. Right. But it’s so super front of mind for a lot of the world. And if you can earn those shoes even better, right? If you feel like you’re the, you help make that happen instead of, you know, some white guy coming from Nashville, giving you a pair of shoes and you should be grateful for it. Like there’s a weird and very destructive power dynamic around that. So we do that. Sometimes we provide new shoes and clothes to people all around the world and we try our best not to make it feel that way. But we know for sure that when someone buys for us at a dollar and sells it for three and they keep two and they get to buy land and feed their family, that’s way better.

Buddy Teaster (15:48):

So that’s the agency part. But on the dignity side, it’s a, it’s a really important question. So we, that the long term way that we serve people through micro enterprise does that in a great way, but people need help in the short term, after a natural disaster or through no fault of their own. Right. I mean, they’re in a place maybe that all the jobs are gone or, um, war has been like, there could be lost of reasons that they just need help. And we don’t wanna say, well, you gotta pull yourself up by your bootstraps and you’re gonna earn it. Like sometimes people just need a hand. Right. And so how do we do do that in a way that still leaves them feeling seen and valued and not just like a, a project for somebody I’ll give you a small all example. Actually, I think it’s a big example.

Buddy Teaster (16:35):

Uh, eventually we’ve never really had a good program here in the us. We, the micro enterprise model doesn’t work exactly right here for some commercial reasons. And a lot of our donors on the new product side, when they give shoes and clothes to us, we can’t use it here at the us. They don’t wanna return to stores and they don’t wanna sold online. Right. Which are super important things to keep their business healthy. But it’s meant that we’ve been kind of hamstrung about what can we do here? Cause we just sort of get kind of odds and ends. And we can’t really be a good partner in a consistent way. So about a year and a half ago, we started trying to dig into that a little bit and say, is that really true? And a woman here in Nashville who ran the local food bank for 30 years, said food and shelter are the most important thing for kids who are experiencing homelessness in schools.

Buddy Teaster (17:20):

But I’m telling you shoes are really high on that list. We’re like really Janie. So she said, you don’t have to believe me. We talked to the people here in the national public school system and it’s a giant problem. It’s, it’s a supply problem in that people don’t think about it. And the school is often forced to buy sort of the cheapest thing that they can find. So they go into Amazon, they buy pair shoes for 15 bucks and it’s better than nothing. So I wanna be clear about that, but it doesn’t make the kid feel great, right. They go into a classroom where like everybody’s got uniforms. So the one place you might be able to differentiate yourself is around shoes. And you’ve got clearly the crappy shoes. And that’s the sort of psychological piece that we don’t think about very much that it is a way to exclude people.

Buddy Teaster (18:04):

And we all know kids, they can be great, but they can be mean. And they sense when that line is there. So we said, what if we made a commitment to bring, there are a million and a half kids who experience homelessness in our public school system every year. It is a travesty that, that happens. And so there are lots of people working on food and shelter. We’re gonna try to get in the lane of providing all of those kids, a new pair of branded app, athletic shoes every year. So they feel like they belong. Like when they walk into class, they have dignity, they have a sense of belonging that makes them want to come to school. Right? So there’s a very practical link between I have shoes that make me feel better about myself. And so I’m willing to go to school and we’re collecting these stories and, uh, from the kids and the teachers, and we’re also collecting the data, like do they come to school more often?

Buddy Teaster (18:53):

Do they sort of, how do they feel about themselves? And just one story. So we’ve been partnering with this, not for profit in Wisconsin for years. And this past year, we were able to get them. Some of these kind of shoes we call this program for every kid. So shoes for every kid. And so toward the end of the day, this young guy comes up. He says, I’m sure you don’t have any size 15 shoes. That’s what I wear. And you never, nobody ever has ’em. And the woman, uh, working there said, I have two pairs of shoes for you. Like, so first of all, there’s just this like amazing. Oh my God, somebody thought about me, but then he turned to his mother immediately. Now I can try out for the basketball team. Oh wow. So this kid is excluded from some giant part of life that he wants to be a part of, cuz his parents can’t afford $120 shoes for him to play.

Buddy Teaster (19:43):

And so like, there’s a great thing of just that he has shoes that fit him. Terrific. But now he, hopefully this other door is gonna open for him. That makes him feel way more plugged in. And it was a pair of shoes that did that. Right. So that won’t happen every time. It might not be that dramatic, but there are a lot of kids that we’ve talked to Enrique and Christie that have said, this is the first new thing I’ve ever had. It’s the first time I feel like I belong and I am gonna show up. Like they say that the kids say that it’s not, it’s so unbelievable, but it’s, it can be that small. And what we’re trying to do with this, this program is how do we get branded athletic shoes on these kids, $20 from the factory to their foot. Right?

Buddy Teaster (20:28):

So we got a lot of work to do to figure that out. But 20 bucks at most of us have 20 bucks, not all of us, but to think I, I could get a pair of shoes. So in Nashville there are 4,000 kids who experience homelessness in a school year. Right. Which is a lot it’s about, uh, I think it’s 8%, eight or 9% here in Nashville for $80,000. You can solve that problem for 4,000 kids here in Nashville. Right? So that’s a lot of money, but it’s not a lot of money, right. When you think about it. Right. And so we’re trying to figure out how do we make that work? You know, that’s a much more philanthropic mission and our micro enterprise side, but it’s got such clear benefits that we are really committed to making that happen. Sorry to ramble on. I kind got

Enrique Alvarez (21:13):

No, no, this is, this is incredible. Great. And I’m sure you have tons of tons of stories and, and they’re all incredibly uplifting and, and exciting and uh, kind of talking to what you were just saying. I think that for this big corporations, the Nikes and under armors of the world, even for them, I think they should see the connection because what you said right now is that something as simple and maybe as for some of us as cheap as a $20 pairs of Nikes could make such a big difference. Right. And they could really, really affect someone’s life and maybe the whole family of that kind of potential basketball player. And I think so if companies were to think this longer term, they will probably see that it’s a good investment. Uh, at the end of the day, it has a return. It’s not something that they must be doing, uh, in a selfless way. I mean, if they want to put a return to everything, which would most companies that are sustainable have to do or think about, I think just caring for children and, uh, and shoes could be a really, really good way to, uh, to then, um, uplift our communities. So this is, this is great. And yeah, I wanted to ask you, oh, go ahead, Christy.

Kristi Porter (22:20):

Well, I was just gonna say you can’t, um, I never would’ve guessed. It was shoes were that high on the hierarchy, but you know, at the same time, it’s, you just can’t over the value of what it feels like to belong either, which is so I absolutely, no matter what stage of life you’re in, but especially as a child like that. Yeah. It’s

Enrique Alvarez (22:36):

Incredible. Well, and then, and then that is, and I never thought about this until you mention it, but that could be the deal breaker. If you want to join a soccer team or a basketball team, or if you don’t have to choose how you, you can play this sport. Uh, and so how many kids are out there kind of potentially, uh, not being able to play sports, which is incredibly sad, uh, just because they don’t have shoes.

Buddy Teaster (23:00):

So yeah, it’s, it’s a, it’s a high number. Like again, you know, I, it’s the kind of thing I haven’t thought much about until the last 18 months, when you talk about a million kids, it’s like, they don’t, they don’t all wanna play soccer, football, baseball, basketball, but a lot do. And this is the kind of thing that keeps them out of the game. Like if their parents are, listen, if you’re at a risk of, I don’t know where I’m gonna sleep tonight, you aren’t worried about soccer cleats, right. If you’re the parent, you’re like, I just wanna make sure that I can right. Maybe feed this kid and make sure they’re safe. And that’s best case, like, you know, lots of parents in that situation are all kinds of unstable, right? So to think that, uh, something as inconsequential for most of us as a pair of shoes could be a bridge to more stability, better chance at finishing your education, et cetera. It’s kind of crazy that, that we doing that

Enrique Alvarez (23:48):

Right mind. Bob’s

Kristi Porter (23:49):

Just staying out of trouble. Cuz there there’s a better alternative for them to occupy their time

Enrique Alvarez (23:53):

On the, on the

Buddy Teaster (23:54):

Flip side, somebody yesterday. And I wanna go back to something you said, I think is really important. That’s the kind of a lot of companies and people wanna be philanthropic and that’s super important cuz they care. But there’s also like if we can make the business case, that’s a much stronger basis for it. Right? So somebody said to me yesterday, part of the story you can tell is you want these kids to be able to be customers, not dis recipients, right? So if you help them now and they finish school and they’re more engaged 20 years from now, their kids are not gonna need shoes. Right. So I hadn’t thought about it that way. You know, that’s a, that’s a long horizon, but it’s really true. If, if these kids don’t finish school, life is way harder. If they finish school might be hard, but man, it’s a big leg up for if you don’t have a high school education.

Enrique Alvarez (24:39):

Absolutely. Right. I mean, at the end of the day, this kids will be incredibly appreciative and thankful for the, whoever it comes, steps up and actually offers them the, the first pair of sneakers and it’s mind bogging that it’s a million kids, right. It’s, it’s, it’s a lot, it’s, it’s really, really a lot. And so, uh, out of such a big pool, I mean we should do something about it. I think this is amazing what you and your organization are doing. And the way you’re thinking about this, uh microenterprises is great. Paul, as you have all this experience in other countries where something as quote, simple as giving them shoes has actually held them, get out of poverty basically. Yeah. So, so I, we are fully supportive what you’re doing and I’m pretty sure that big companies, uh, are going to see it as well. And I’m sure that, uh, if your goal is to kind of provide a pair of Snickers to one each of these 1 million kids, then we should all rally around that. Cause I think that would make our community and our country, uh, better. Right?

Buddy Teaster (25:37):

Absolutely.

Enrique Alvarez (25:38):

I have a,

Buddy Teaster (25:39):

The other thing that’s been interesting Enrique, that’s a big change for us too on this for the kid front is mostly, we’ve been talking to footwear and apparel companies and retailers. When you, we start talking about this program, every company of any size can care can care and make a difference on this topic. Right? So talking to small businesses and financial services firms and tech firms, they’re like, oh wait a minute. We, this is our community. We should do something about that. And you don’t have to be, you don’t have to be in the sneaker business to do that. So that’s, that’s thing that it’s, it’s just widened the aperture for us of who we can talk to. And, and how people feel about engaging with souls for

Enrique Alvarez (26:14):

Souls abs. Absolutely. So, uh, you wrote a book on everything. I mean, adding to everything and all the success that you’ve had and your professional career, you kind of felt the need to write a book, uh, shoe strengths, how you donated shoes and help people pull themselves out of poverty. So how, how did this, uh, book idea came around and, and what was that process? Um, I’ve never written a book. Uh, so, um, how does that happen?

Buddy Teaster (26:41):

So it was a pretty, uh, what’s the right word, commercial reason for the idea was pretty commercial Enrique. And that is a lot of conferences and things and where our partners would say, Hey, come, we want you to be a part of this. The ordinance would say, we don’t wanna have the, not for profit speak. Their fear is you’re gonna get up and ask for money. Right. Right. And so I get that they don’t want the out for their attendees or their members and, or you could buy a slot, you know, for 50 grand and you could be a sponsor and then you get to talk and everybody’s like, yeah, okay. You just bought your way on. They tune out. So part of it was like, if, if we have a book and I’m an author, suddenly I get to be in a different category. Right. So that was the idea and it’s off in spade. But so that was the, that was the right decision. But the thing that has been way more important is that we really laid out the case for micro enterprise. We, we interviewed our partners in depth and the entrepreneurs we work with all around the world and the volunteers and our corporate partners. So that when someone says, I don’t understand my enterprise, like you’re not gonna read the whole book. It’s not that long. And I wrote it. So it’s not that complicated,

Enrique Alvarez (27:49):

But,

Buddy Teaster (27:50):

But like here it is, somebody took the time to lay this out and to tell these stories. And that has been hugely helpful. We did a, a project. Ultimately it was kind of, kind of fizzled out because of COVID. But with Bridgestone, they were trying to figure out how to repurpose and recycle tires in Southeast Asia and turn em into shoes. They were on the fence. Like, ah, we don’t know, seems weird. Are we a set up for this? And I, I heard from one of the people on the Bridgestone side that we got him, your book and he read your book. He’s like, okay, we’re in like, if this is okay, what, you know, whatever time and money that book costs, like sway a Bridgestone executive in Asia. Like I couldn’t have done that on my own by bringing all these stories together, it was persuasive to him. So that’s just a, a one example. But it’s, it’s mainly a way now for us, like every new employee that comes not about buddy wrote a book who cares, but like, if you wanna understand who we are here,

Enrique Alvarez (28:47):

It’s

Buddy Teaster (28:48):

Here. It is, you know, spend an hour and a half and you’re gonna, you’ll have 10 years of history like that. And that’s so it’s, it continues to be very helpful. And the process of writing it, I had written, you know, blog posts and we had them lots of videos. So there was a lot of content that we, we hired some, a professional to help us write it. And it was fantastic because other people got involved, like, you know, the, our partners, like in Haiti, it forced him to think a little bit more about like, okay, well, what am I gonna say here? What are the numbers? So it made everybody better in the process. And it, it was, it was a joy to go through.

Enrique Alvarez (29:22):

So it sounds, sounds like a fun process to go through as well. And, uh, and of course it’s currently relevant, uh, with some of the very few examples you’ve given us how you have actually leveraged this book to then, uh, continue to do, uh, good things and care for more people. So thanks for sharing.

Buddy Teaster (29:39):

Yeah. Yeah. I highly recommend it by the way, Enrique you the

Enrique Alvarez (29:43):

Story. Yes. We, I already order it and uh, we’re gonna, we’re going to, uh, make sure that we put the link and the title of the book again, uh, when we release this podcast. So for sure.

Buddy Teaster (29:53):

Yeah. Well, I encourage you, like, you’ve got a story here with what you’ve done and what you’re doing that is, it is worthy of that. So I encourage you when you get the, uh, when you get the bug, you should do the same. You should write a book.

Enrique Alvarez (30:07):

Thank you so much. And actually, yes, we have so many great stories of organizations like yours and people inspiring other people that, uh, that we’re happy. That’s kind of what we started this podcast in the first place. But, uh, but I guess that could be like a next step, um, writing a book at some point, but, uh, but yeah. Thanks. Thanks for sharing that. And for also writing the book

Kristi Porter (30:28):

Yeah. For now this takes less time.

Kristi Porter (30:34):

Um, but yeah, so you were, I also, we’ve talked about a couple of your accomplishments so far, but you were also the 2018 national, a retailers fed retail Federation’s list of people shaping the future of retail, which is quite a title and mouthful. You’re a member of the young president’s organization, Y P O and you speak on a variety of topics as we just discussed. And we learn that one of your passions is also ultra marathons, which I cannot even begin to imagine. Um, so you’ve, you’ve reached a lot of things. You’ve accomplished a lot in your career, but I’m curious as to what, what Hills are mountains? Are there still out there to climb what’s on your list?

Buddy Teaster (31:14):

You know, so

Enrique Alvarez (31:16):

Well, and I guess for, for our listeners, and I’m sure it to interrupt you, maybe you should start by explaining what an ultra marathon is, is. So I’m pretty sure none of right.

Buddy Teaster (31:27):

Um, it’s actually, the definition is really simple. It’s anything longer than a marathon, right? So the typical distances are 50 K, which is 31 miles, 50 miles hundred K a hundred miles. Those are the typical distances. And I think since I started running them in two, I started in 1988. Wow. And then I did my first ultra marathon in 2000 or 2001. And I’ve probably done 75 ultras since then. Wow. Including, uh, I think not quite 2000 miles. So it’s been a huge part of my life and wow. My social network and best friends are kind of in that world. And I hope, I hope I’m doing it until I die. I mean, I love doing, were

Enrique Alvarez (32:10):

You, were you a runner in high school? I mean, how do you get impression

Buddy Teaster (32:12):

From runner? No, I, my brother was a runner in high school, in college and he’s younger than I am and he kept kind of bad badgering me. I’m like, dude, I, this is dumb. And then finally in the summer of 1988, I started and, you know, I got hooked and he and I ran together. Uh, he lives in Dallas. So for most of 20 years we ran, well, you know, he traveled a lot as did I, but we ran three or four days a week together. Like, so there’s this that’s incredible bond that came out of running for, for my brother and me and for other folks too. Um, but you know, it was one of those things. Like I kind of sucked at marathons. I’m not, I’m super, not fast. Right. So I trained really hard. One year I wanted to qualify for the Boston marathon and I wasn’t even close. Like I think it was three 10 and I ran three 20, which sounds close. It’s not, it’s a long way away from qualifying. And so I decided, well, I can’t go any faster. Like I can’t train any harder than I just did, but maybe I can go further. Mm.

Enrique Alvarez (33:09):

Slow

Buddy Teaster (33:10):

And steady. So the next slow and steady. So I tried the, the 50 K distance and it was a disaster. Like I almost quit running. It was so bad. And then I started and I did didn’t talk to anybody. I just said, well, just, just a little bit further, go further. And that was definitely not strategy. And, uh, so I started talking to people, realized, like I did everything wrong. I got a little smarter from the advice of those folks. And I came back and did it the following year. And so that was when I got, and it’s been, like I said, it’s been a huge part of my life.

Enrique Alvarez (33:39):

And it speaks volumes of kind of the kind of person you are, if you can actually accomplish that. I can hardly imagine what you’re gonna be doing, uh, going forward. Do you have any, have you signed up for any, uh, race coming up? Anything that you’re training early training for?

Buddy Teaster (33:53):

I did a hundred K at the end of October, and then I had knee surgery about a month ago. So I’m recovering, which is great. Um, uh, that’s going really well. I’ll probably do that a hundred K again, next October. That’s kind of Michael.

Enrique Alvarez (34:06):

Well, congratulations and good luck with that. And going back to the business side and the organization side of things, uh, you guys have been shipping pretty much to every single state, 50 states. If I, if I have this correctly and 129 country. And, uh, of course you have encountered multiple logistics and operational challenges along the way, but could you share some, some with us and, and how, what did you and your team do to actually successfully overcome those, uh, potentially, uh, like, uh, challenging situations,

Buddy Teaster (34:40):

You know, I’ll share a couple of examples and one of which was like a disaster that we didn’t get, right. Um, you guys will know better than I, that lots of times all these good intentions break down at the border, right? When it gets through customs and all of that, suddenly the rules are opaque, depends who you get that day and all these kinds of things that we’ve gotten better at understanding. But I think super important for us is we always have a local partner on the ground. We, this is wasn’t a decision I’ve made, but partnership is super important to souls for souls. And having someone on the ground who really knows the culture of the politics, the language, the whole list of things that we’ll never know the area well sitting here in Nashville, Tennessee. So that’s helped us avoid a lot of problems and working in a place like Haiti, for example, where the ports are off the port of prince specifically is kind of the only place where the government can kind of grab hold of things and tax it and track it, et cetera.

Buddy Teaster (35:39):

And they don’t care that it’s humanitarian or commercial. That’s sort of treated all the same. And by having a local partner who has lots of scars to show for his education on this front, like now we sort of know how to do that. And so after the, uh, earthquake last August, we thought our partner there, he worked in a different part of the country, like, and with the gangs situation, getting worse, the assassination, like everything was kind of spinning outta control. And Sam, our partner there, he runs a group called the Haitian American caucus. That’s does incredible work. They have a school with 500 kids. They do English as a second language. They some health training. Fantastic. So rather than just kind of curl up in a ball, Sam said, let’s go down to, um, Southern Haiti and help, but great. We had shoes in the country.

Buddy Teaster (36:29):

We helped get the shoes in a place that he stayed so that he could get them down there. And then he, then he came back a few weeks later and he said, look, the women here, uh, in many cases, their whatever small business they had were destroyed by their earthquake. Most of ’em were home based or in the market. And there wasn’t a place to go sort of like, Hey Sam, your economy’s falling apart. Political situation is like a Tinder box. What are you talking about? Expanding? He’s like, I think it’s gonna be a great opportunity. So he figured out that he can’t work the way you used to logistically. He can’t bring stuff into the country in bags, kind of ready to go. So he stages it in Miami. He does all the kind of prep to make the bags ready for sale in Miami, with Haitian women who know exactly what’s gonna sell when they get back.

Buddy Teaster (37:12):

So they bag it up here and do their mix. They ride on the barge with it, or they usually put on the barge and then fly. So when it gets in the country, it’s the, these women getting the product and getting it out to their networks. We will ship more in this 12 months than we did at probably twice as much in the previous two years. Like, it’s unbelievable. So this is where understanding logistics and, uh, kind of how the system works has led to credible growth. And when we thought it would be the exact opposite, right? And so it’s smart. And you know, you live in a place like Haiti, you better figure out how to adapt, right? You can’t just say, well, this is the way we did it yesterday, cuz that may not be that relevant. And so there’s this incredible growth, the place that we would not have expected, um, sort of the opposite happened for us.

Buddy Teaster (38:00):

We tried, this is now maybe five years ago in Sierra Leone. We thought we had a good partner. I’ll take most of the blame for that. He was not a good partner. He just didn’t know what he was doing. He was over his head. Um, big, big learning for us was he was not from Sierra Leone. Right. He was an American guy. He was living there, but what he thought he knew about that country, wasn’t close to what he needed to know. And you know, we talked to the guys at the port and we’re like, okay, so what, how should we expect to pay? And you’re like, that depends on the day. Like they were just super obvious that we’ll take you for as much as we can get. Right. So we spent a lot of money. We lost a lot of money in Sierra Leone because we didn’t understand all the ins and outs of that.

Buddy Teaster (38:41):

And the logistic, the costs were really high to get it there, to start with. And so it makes or breaks us if we get that right. And when we do like getting this, these containers to Moldova in the midst of this Ukraine crisis, like what’s the way to do that. Having a partner on the ground, having, uh, our team be much savvy than they were a few years ago about these things has, has allowed us to adapt as mark. Our partner in Moldova has said, Hey, let’s do this instead of that, because all the good intentions in the world don’t matter if you can’t get on the truck, can’t get on the boat, can’t get it through customs, right. It to doesn’t matter again, you guys are the pros there, but it’s, it’s sort of the part of the business nobody wants to talk about, but it is the most important part of connecting my desire to help with my ability to get it on the ground, you know, for each of us. And I don’t know, it’s, it’s a part that we celebrate internally a lot. It’s just not very sexy to talk about lot of the time

Enrique Alvarez (39:38):

We, we know about that for sure. It still,

Kristi Porter (39:42):

But still shows also the very manual people-centric aspect of how valuable that is in the supply chain. It isn’t just always a ship traveling or a truck traveling or a plane or anything like that. It is very people-oriented in being able to find the right people that, uh, yeah. Can, can work that with you. And speaking of it’s March 15th, um, at the day of recording, you talked about Ukraine, you talked about what you’re doing in Moldova. It’s heartbreaking. Listeners are trying to figure out ways to help. We all kind of feel, you know, a little bit helpless at times, but also this is an, uh, the logistics and supply chain industry are actively working on this situation and have a unique role to play in this as, as well. And so, um, you’re working on your own initiative, you’re donating clothes, socks, underwear, shoes, and coordinating different, um, efforts on the ground. Tell us more about what you have going on and how people can involved, whether they’re a retailer or just an average individual, um, at, at a, in this industry.

Buddy Teaster (40:45):

Sure. So thanks for talking about this. It’s again, you guys are at the center of, of what’s gonna make this work. The first thing to say is, and I’m happy to talk about what we do for, if you wanna help, there are lots of ways to help. You can give cat, you can support organizations that are on the ground, humanitarian and refugee organizations. All that really matters. I talked to, to our partner this morning, mark Chesky and Moldova, and this guy has an amazing business, right? He has 60 thrift stores in Moldova and Ukraine, 15 of those stores, he assumes are gone, right? They’re he may have ever get back to them this a matter, like that’s his business, right? And, and he uses that business to fund foster care and orphan care in Moldova, in a place where orphanages are terrible and foster care is still kind of a new idea.

Buddy Teaster (41:32):

So he’s helping kids at the most fundamental level. And then he’s employing a lot of them. He has 650 employees, right? So he gives them jobs. It’s this amazing thing. And you take 25% of your footprint away. That’s a, that’s gonna be a negative impact. So finding those people who resonate with what you do, they’re out there. You, if you have to dig, it’s worth the effort. Uh, in talking to mark, he said, so Moldova is getting refugees, not like Poland, which is by far getting the most. Um, but he’s got a warehouse in Poland. He’s got people on the ground. He sent from where he is to start distributing relief supplies. Like he’s bringing in a container of hygiene, product products from the UK. I think they’ll probably be there this week. He’s got people on the ground to distribute them, right? So he is actively engaged.

Buddy Teaster (42:21):

And he’s the decision we made this morning with him was he’s gonna basically give away the product that’s in those Ukrainian stores, cuz he’s never gonna sell it or get it back. Who’s like, let’s get it to refugees. Like this is a guy who runs a business. He’s a very good business guy and he is a hundred percent focused on helping people right now. So we’ll get him product to sort of backfill what he’s doing, cuz it’ll take a few weeks to get there. And as you said, the products that we’re sending are kind of always in need. You know, there’s not a, but some of the things, this is the, is the kind of partner we have when we told him that, Hey, this is what we’re gonna send. We’re gonna send five containers and we’re gonna pay for the shipping. We’re out trying to raise money for shipping now, but we’re gonna send it regardless.

Buddy Teaster (42:59):

And he said, if that’s true, I’m gonna take the 50 grand that I was gonna spend on shipping with you guys. I’m gonna use it right now to buy baby formula, diapers, feminine hygiene products. Cause people need help right now. Like this is a guy who is in, right. I mean he’s, he’s on the front line. He’s 30 miles from the Ukrainian border. So it, this is real, his family is in Southern Ukraine Neesa. So he’s his family’s at risk. His business is wrecked. And yeah, his first thing when someone just said, basically here’s 50 grand, you don’t have to spend, he said, I’m gonna put it. So it’s amazing to work with people like that. Right. That’s that makes it worth it. And so we’re gonna, we’ve had a great response from our corporate, especially footwear and apparel companies. And so I think we’ve got these five containers staged.

Buddy Teaster (43:45):

They’ll start to leave this week. And then my guess is we’ll have one or two more to go from the, from people getting us product soon. So if you’re in that business shoes, close underwear, sock coats, all that stuff, huge demand. And if you’re not in that business and you want to help, like I said, we’re trying to cover the shipping, which is, you know, right now it’s about 50 grand we think, and we’ve raised about 20. And like I said, the, the amount’s not going to slow down our process, but if we can cover some more of that from people who want to help, that’s terrific. Yeah.

Enrique Alvarez (44:15):

Yeah. The more, the more you can, the more you can get, the more you can chip, right. At the end of the day, the bottleneck could potentially be just how much money you raise to send products there. And, uh, no, this is, it’s a great story. And, and it’s amazing that you’re working with people like mark, uh, that is definitely inspiring. And I’m sure that a lot of people are going to, um, be inspired to act after listening to what you’re saying.

Kristi Porter (44:37):

Yeah. And do you wanna give a shout out to any of your corporate partners?

Buddy Teaster (44:41):

Yeah. So I’ll, you know, I don’t know all of them cuz they’re still coming in. Um, I I’ll share one story. So there’s a, a brand called Thursday boot most sleep men’s boots. Although not only men, uh, it’s a, I don’t know, they’ve been around for maybe five or six years now, still relatively new company. And he called us and said, what are you doing? How can I help? So this wasn’t like, oh, I read a story and I thought I should do something. Right. It was, he called us to say, I’ve got 2000, a lot of boots for a small, right, right here. I’ve got these ready to go. Um, but we’re working with Steve Madden. We’re working with under armor. Those are the ones that come to mind. Like I said, we’ve probably got about 30 companies who have responded, but those are the ones that I know.

Buddy Teaster (45:22):

And um, actually a couple third love, I should say that third love, which makes, uh, women’s underwear and bras super in demand. They are all in and Baba socks. They did a very cool thing. So they they’re a buy one, give one model, uh, they, they make great giveaway socks. Some of these companies that do buy one, give one, the give one is kind of crappy Baba socks. Fantastic. Yeah, but they’ve always been only for use in the us. So we went to them and said, Hey, this is what it is. Can you maybe give us a little bit a wiggle room? And they said a hundred percent. So they, they changed their model to accommodate it. Right. So we really have had, um, people really wanna lean into it and change their, what they do with their product as well as financial support. So it’s been really terrific.

Kristi Porter (46:06):

That’s fantastic. Yeah. Uh, both Baba and third love have been on the podcast as well, so we’re oh good. And uh, yeah. So speaking of, um, we talked specifically about Ukraine, but just ongoing situation. How can people support souls for souls? I know there are retail drop off locations for people that have an extra pair of shoes. So what’s sort of the on outside of the current crisis, what’s the ongoing way that people can be involved in support.

Buddy Teaster (46:34):

So the one thing that everybody listen to this podcast has are shoes and clothes in their closet. This, they don’t wear em, right. We, we all have that. Um, I’m in this business, I understand it. And I go look at my closet and go what the hell’s wrong with you, you right.

Enrique Alvarez (46:49):

Um,

Buddy Teaster (46:50):

But so there, there are a couple things. We are, I had a long partnership with DSW. So you can go to any of their 500 locations to drop off shoes in their stores. And that’s women’s dress shoes, running shoes, kind of anything put in the box. And they, their customers in the last four years have donated 5 million pairs of shoes. Like it’s an UN been an unbelievable partnership. So that’s an easy one to do for a lot of folks. If there’s not anything convenient, if you go to Zappos for good.com, you can print out a label. You can put up to 50 pounds of shoes and clothes in the box and get it to ups and Zappos will pay for the shipping. So wow. If it’s a physical thing, that’s we try to make that easy. And we also have this mail in option. Zappos is they’ve been amazing partners to help us reach out to folks for whom it’s not convenient, or there’s not a DSW nearby as an example. And they’ve said, we’ll, we’ll make it happen. And they’ve they, this is now our sixth year with them, I think.

Kristi Porter (47:46):

Wow. Very cool.

Enrique Alvarez (47:47):

Going, congratulations. So yes.

Buddy Teaster (47:49):

So those are, those are easy ways. And if you go to our website and put in your zip code, it’ll tell you the closest place we, there are also people doing shoe drives and all kinds of other things, but they might only last for a month or two. So there’s, there might be options that are even easier than that. But those are two with DSW and Zappos that are always available.

Enrique Alvarez (48:07):

Hmm. I saw your website as well. Um, all the push and efforts that you’re doing for the Ukraine as well. So if, if you guys are listening to this podcast and, uh, this is something and, and I know that this is going to be prerecorded, but, uh, unfortunately like this, the impact that this war is having, it’s not going to, it’s gonna last for a long time, right? I mean, there’s gonna be refugees. There’s a thing this more around 2.7 that have left the country and there’s at least two more expected, uh, depending on how the war continues to go. So, uh, if you’re listening to this podcast, if you are inspired, but by buddy’s story and by souls for souls, please, please do something right. Um, yeah, buddy. Thank you. So thank you so much. Uh, thank you very much for giving us some time to be here with us. It’s been, uh, really exciting and interesting and thank you very much again, once to you and to your entire team for what you’re doing

Buddy Teaster (49:01):

For sure. Thanks. Well, I said, it’s the privilege it’s you guys are the backbone of what, um, makes us able to do what we do with our partners. And thanks for, uh, really getting outside. This is with the purpose is a great name because so E often it’s easy to think of that as just a transactional thing. And you guys are clearly shown a different way to approach that industry. So thanks for that.

Enrique Alvarez (49:22):

Thank you so much and count with our full support, whatever we can do. And, uh, for everyone else out there, that’s listening to this episodes and listening to this podcast, logistics with purpose, if you like it. And if you like to continue listening to, uh, interesting conversations, like the one we just had, don’t forget to subscribe and thank you very much. Have a good day.

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Featured Guests

Buddy Teaster, As CEO, Buddy uses a mix of entrepreneurship, C-level leadership skills, and extensive nonprofit experience to lead Soles4Souls as President and CEO. His experience at Soles4Souls, along with the organization’s global impact, is chronicled in his book, Shoestrings: How Your Donated Shoes and Clothes Help People Pull Themselves Out of Poverty (2018). Prior to Soles4Souls, Buddy was the President/COO of StarKart and the National Association of Local Advertisers where he first encountered Soles4Souls. Before that, he served as Chief Network Officer for Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), a non-profit organization committed to developing better leaders through education and idea exchange. YPO is the largest CEO network in the world with more than 25,000 CEOs in 130 countries. He has been a YPO member since 2010 and received several awards from the organization, including the “Global Impact Fellow” honor and the “Inclusive Business and Community” Award. Buddy was also named to the National Retail Federation’s 2018 List of People Shaping Retail’s Future. His extensive speaking experience includes topics ranging from leadership and philanthropy to managing excess inventory and social enterprise. Over the years, he has shared his experience and lessons with groups such as YPO, the Footwear Distributors and Retailers Association; Universities like Belmont, DePaul and William & Mary; and forums including TEDx St. Louis, the Social Enterprise Alliance Summit, the Seattle Council on World Affairs and the Alleviating Poverty Through Entrepreneurship Summit. Buddy earned his BA in Religious Studies and French from Randolph-Macon College in Virginia, and holds an MBA/MA from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He serves on the national board for the Social Enterprise Alliance, as board chair of I.D. Plates in Mesquite, TX and is on the advisory board of GHP Environmental + Architecture in Nashville, TN. Connect with Buddy on LinkedIn.

Hosts

Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Enrique Alvarez

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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Adrian Purtill

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Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.

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Joshua Miranda

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Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more.  In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.

Donna Krache

Director of Communications and Executive Producer

Donna Krache is a former CNN executive producer who has won several awards in journalism and communication, including three Peabodys.  She has 30 years’ experience in broadcast and digital journalism. She led the first production team at CNN to convert its show to a digital platform. She has authored many articles for CNN and other media outlets. She taught digital journalism at Georgia State University and Arizona State University. Krache holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. She is a serious sports fan who loves the Braves. She is president of the Dave Krache Foundation. Named in honor of her late husband, this non-profit pays fees for kids who want to play sports but whose parents are facing economic challenges.

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Vicki White

Controller

Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.

From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.

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Allison Giddens

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Allison Krache Giddens has been with Win-Tech, a veteran-owned small business and aerospace precision machine shop, for 15 years, recently buying the company from her mentor and Win-Tech’s Founder, Dennis Winslow. She and her business partner, John Hudson now serve as Co-Presidents, leading the 33-year old company through the pandemic.

She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Certificate of Finance from the University of Georgia. She also holds certificates in Google Analytics, event planning, and Cybersecurity Risk Management from Harvard online. Allison founded the Georgia Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and currently serves as Treasurer. She serves on the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board as its Secretary, the liveSAFE Resources Board of Directors as Resource Development Co-Chair, and on the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association Board as Membership Chair and is also a member of Cobb Executive Women. She is on the Board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Northwest Area Councils. Allison runs The Dave Krache Foundation, a non-profit that helps pay sports fees for local kids in need.

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Greg White

Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise

When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.

Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.

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Chris Barnes

Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring

Talk about world-class: Chris is one of the few professionals in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS. He’s also the APICS coach – and our resident Supply Chain Doctor. When he’s not hosting programs with Supply Chain Now, he’s sharing supply chain knowledge on the APICS Coach Youtube channel or serving as a professional education instructor for the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistic Institute’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Center for Professional Education courses.

Chris earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University, an MBA with emphasis in Industrial Psychology from the University of West Florida, and is a Doctoral in Supply Chain Management candidate.

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Karin Bursa

Host of TEKTOK

If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.

With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.

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Kevin L. Jackson

Host of Digital Transformers

Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog.  He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community.  Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include CiscoMicrosoft, Citrix and IBM.  Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane UniversityO’Reilly MediaLinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight.  Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems EngineeringCarrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.

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Enrique Alvarez

Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español

Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.

He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.

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Kelly Barner

Host of Dial P for Procurement

Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.

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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

Mary Kate Soliva is transitioning from active duty in the US Army. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.

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Jeff Miller

Host

Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business.  Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.

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Amanda Luton

Chief Marketing Officer

Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM.  When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or reading.

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Clay Phillips

Business Development Manager

Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.

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Trisha Cordes

Administrative Assistant

Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.

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Billy Taylor

Host of Dial P for Procurement

Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.

An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.

A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.

A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning.  He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.

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Chantel King

Social Media Manager

My name is Chantel King and I am the Social Media Specialist at Supply Chain Now. My job is to make sure our audience is engaged and educated on the abundant amount of information the supply chain industry has to offer.

Social Media and Communications has been my niche ever since I graduated from college at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. No, I am not a West Coast girl. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but my travel experience goes way beyond the garden state. My true passion is in creating editorial and graphic content that influences others to be great in whatever industry they are in. I’ve done this by working with lifestyle, financial, and editorial companies by providing resources to enhance their businesses.

Another passion of mine is trying new things. Whether it’s food, an activity, or a sport. I would like to say that I am an adventurous Taurus that never shies away from a new quest or challenge.

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Lori Sofian

Marketing Coordinator

Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.

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Katherine Hintz

Sales and Marketing Coordinator

Katherine is a marketing professional and MBA candidate who strives to unite her love of people with a passion for positive experiences. Having a diverse background, which includes nonprofit work with digital marketing and start-ups, she serves as a leader who helps people live their most creative lives by cultivating community, order, collaboration, and respect. With equal parts creativity and analytics, she brings a unique skill set which fosters refining, problem solving, and connecting organizations with their true vision. In her free time, you can usually find her looking for her cup of coffee, playing with her puppy Charlie, and dreaming of her next road trip.

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Ben Harris

Host

Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.

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Page Siplon

Host, The Freight Insider

Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).

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Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.

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Kevin Brown

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics.  He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.

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Sofia Rivas Herrera

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.

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Demo Perez

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.

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Kim Winter

Host, Supply Chain Now

The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.

He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.

A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).

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Nick Roemer

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Nick Roemer has had a very diverse and extensive career within design and sales over the last 15 years stretching from China, Dubai, Germany, Holland, UK, and the USA. In the last 5 years, Nick has developed a hawk's eye for sustainable tech and the human-centric marketing and sales procedures that come with it. With his far-reaching and strong network within the logistics industry, Nick has been able to open new avenues and routes to market within major industries in the USA and the UAE. Nick lives by the ethos, “Give more than you take." His professional mission is to make the logistics industry leaner, cleaner and greener.

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Alex Bramley

Sales Support Intern

Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.

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