Logistics with Purpose
Episode 735

It’s an industry where, if you want the answers, you will constantly be frustrated. You have to stay in a constant state of learning how to handle things as they come.

-Ryan Grabill

Episode Summary

How does a non-profit organization working in over 95 countries have the foresight to plan for a disaster before it ever happens? In this episode, we sit down with Audra Weddle and Ryan Grabill of Convoy of Hope to talk about the logistics of disaster outreach. Join us as we discuss the effects of COVID-19 on the future of disaster relief, how collaboration between nonprofits amplifies impact, and how a single cargo ship stuck in the Suez Canal can cause a domino effect that ripples across the globe.

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:03):

Welcome to supply chain. Now the voice of global supply chain supply chain now focuses on the best in the business for our worldwide audience, the people, the technologies, the best practices, and today’s critical issues. The challenges and opportunities stay tuned to hear from those making global business happen right here on supply chain now,

Enrique Alvarez (00:32):

Good morning, and welcome back to another interesting episode of logistics with purpose. I’m Enrique Alvarez, and I’m with my cohost Kristi, how are you doing today?

Kristi Porter (00:41):

I’m good. I’m, I’m excited to talk to our guests today. We’re going to have a little bit different than we’ve done in the past where we cover more about a topic necessarily than an overall person in mission. So we’re going to try this out and see how the audience likes it. But I think this is going to be a really interesting topic for people to learn more about the behind the scenes. I think

Enrique Alvarez (01:01):

So too. It’s going to be fun. I think it’s going to be interesting and thank you very much for the heads-up because I am the one that usually drills into the personal aspects of everyone that we interview. So I’ll make sure that I do the

Kristi Porter (01:13):

Script this time we’ll will follow your lead.

Enrique Alvarez (01:17):

No, it’s an, it’s an amazing organization. I think that it’s going to be super interesting. We’re not probably, we’re not going to have enough time to cover everything that they do, and especially for the last 20 years and with the things that are happening, but anyways, let’s without further ado, do you want to introduce our guests?

Kristi Porter (01:34):

Yes. Today on the podcast, we have Ryan Grabill, who is the director of international disaster services at convoy of hope. And we have Audra Weddle, the global shipping director of convoy with hope. So we’re going to learn more about them or about the organization. And then we’re going to talk a lot about international disaster relief today on the podcast as well. So I’m excited to hear their perspectives and their experiences because they’ve been doing this for a long time. And it’s a really interesting niche in our industry that probably not a lot of people have experience with. So we’re going to get the scoop from them. I’m excited

Enrique Alvarez (02:09):

About it. Hey, Ryan, Audra. Welcome to the show. Thank you very much for giving us some of your time today, honor.

Kristi Porter (02:16):

Yes. Thank you. Yes. So we’re just going to dive right in and hear more about you guys. Before we dive into the, behind the scenes of international disaster relief, we’re going to talk to you a bit and get to get to know you a little bit more personally, in as people. So Audra, why don’t you start us off? I know you’re coming to us live today from your brand new warehouse and excited about that. So tell us a little bit more to start off with about, about you personally and your professional background. Okay. Um, I’m married for over 31 years and I have two boys that are grown and so we’re empty nesters. So we’re enjoying life right now. It’s been interesting with this move that we’re doing. It’s the first time I’ve been involved in a distribution center relocation. So, and my background has been mainly shipping outbound, and I have done some importing way.

Audra Weddle (03:08):

My husband and I lived in Germany for a few years and I reordered merchandise and brought in containers instead of shipping them. I actually imported. And then, um, we spent a couple of years in South Africa working with some missionaries and was able to help with customs clearing and different things of personal household goods. So that was a little different than what we do now, but yeah. And what did you do in Germany? He was in the military, so I worked for the exchange store there and worked for a commercial company as well. So yeah. So you’ve been around products and moving them for a very long time then? Yes. Yeah. For 28 plus years. So yeah, it’s been awhile. That’s incredible. And what did you like best about Germany and South Africa? Germany. Just the whole culture. Being able to travel freely from one country to the other was great.

Audra Weddle (04:04):

Just loved the view, you know, the countryside and different things there. And South Africa was a bit of a challenge on logistically and, um, but it was great. People were wonderful. We only lived there for two years, but made it to like 13 different countries in that two years. Yeah. Yeah. So it was quite different. Um, we lived near Johannesburg, so security and stuff was an issue there, but we were able felt safe. So we were good. Yeah. And then in my free time now I, Ryan knows this, but I officiate basketball and volleyball, so I love sports. So anything to do with sports I’m on there. So yeah, that’s a little bit about me. I love it. Yeah. And we were just talking about, uh, the Olympics wrapping up and I was glued to the screen the whole time. So I’m sure you were in on it as well. Yes, for sure. Winning the volleyball. I forgot. I don’t, [inaudible] the women’s side for the first time in history, indoor volleyball.

Ryan Grabill (05:07):

They swept at three games straight.

Kristi Porter (05:09):

Yeah, they did. It was fantastic. And women’s

Enrique Alvarez (05:12):

Olympic games in general. Yeah,

Kristi Porter (05:14):

For sure. For sure.

Enrique Alvarez (05:17):

How do you get in combo of hope?

Audra Weddle (05:19):

When my husband and I were in South Africa, we were just trying to figure out what we’re going to do when we returned, because we didn’t know if we’d go back to Africa and spend more time. One of the guys I knew from Conboy Pope just asked me if I’d be interested. And I knew about combo just from being from the Springfield area at the time that was the best move for us. So I came on in January of 2002. So I’ve been here quite a few years and, um, you know, I thought it’d be maybe a five-year commitment, but that five years has gone into almost 20. Yeah. I love what I do though. So it makes it an

Enrique Alvarez (05:55):

Amazing, amazing, so I can totally see why you actually stayed a little bit longer than your five-year plan. Yes, for sure. Ryan, what about you? Tell us a little bit more about yourself, where do you grew up, but um, how do you end up where you are

Ryan Grabill (06:10):

Now? Yeah. Well, thanks again for the opportunity to beyond today. I thought when Audra was talking that we should probably come clean with you guys and say, she said in her free time, she officiates in both of our free time we work and then what’s left over, have a little bit of extra free time then she officiates. But anyway, now, um, you never know what to expect in the disaster world, for sure. Specific to your question. I, uh, I grew up in central Pennsylvania and, um, I lived there until I went to school in Minneapolis for a few years and went back home for a little bit. And, uh, I had gone to a convoy of hope event in 1997. The only reason that’s significant necessarily is that I was pretty young at the time. And, um, convoy had just started in 94. So I didn’t realize it was really early on in the organization days, but I loved the event, loved being a part of it.

Ryan Grabill (07:04):

And convoy of hope was just something I had in the back of my mind for years after that point, I think I was, I’m trying to do the math. Math is hard guys. I was, I was, I was 13 when I was at the event. So it was just something that stuck with me through my teen years and twenties. Um, and kinda, I would check the website to see if there were openings and what may come available and ended up actually coming to the organization as a self-funded volunteer, which if you have experienced in the nonprofit world, as long as you’re just a half step above crazy, you know, most organizations will take you for free if you’re willing to come. So served on the team for a couple of years and a position became available eventually and took it. And I responded to domestic and international disasters for about eight years. And then the last three years, uh, so a total of 11 have just done international response with an occasional helping the domestic team, get some of our vehicles to the field or something like that. Wow. I have a commercial driver’s license. So you just never know the requests that will come across. That’s amazing to kind of jump in and help. So that’s yeah, that’s how I ended up becoming

Kristi Porter (08:18):

That’s amazing. And Andrew we’ve talked of course mentioned the name convoy of hope, a number of times. And, and Ryan just said, you know, they’ve been around for almost 30 years. So for anybody out there that’s not familiar with convoy of hope. Will you tell us more about the history and mission? Sure. Our founder hel Donaldson was in living in California and, um, found a convoy of hope. It was church care America, back in 94, he moved to Springfield in 96, I believe. And they changed the name to convoy of hope. We got our first tractor trailer, they used to do distribution out of, back of a pickup. So first tractor trailer, they were staying in like a 10,000 square foot warehouse. And it just, the vision just grew from there. So come 2000, we moved into the current warehouse that we’re now moving out of 300,000 square foot warehouse.

Audra Weddle (09:12):

So it went from 10,000 to 300,000 and we had at the time a handful of tractor trailers. And since then, we are up to, I want to say with including 28 foot box trucks and tractors, we have almost 30 in our fleet now. And then we have four over 40 trailers, 53 foot trailers. So it’s just grown tremendously over the years. And our mission has pretty much stayed the same about just, we want to be transparent with what we have and use where we’re most needed, but you know, um, our mission statement says we’re driving passion to feed the world. And a lot of people like that’s a big statement, but I’m seeing it over the years. It really has been a tremendous growth here. So yeah, in a nutshell, Ryan May have a little bit more to add to that in it started, how was it founded

Ryan Grabill (10:09):

The founder of the organization? His parents were actually, I don’t know if they were on a trip somewhere or just ran an errand, but his parents were in a car accident and his dad was killed instantly. And his mother was severely handicap basically, and was in the hospital for weeks and weeks and weeks. And there were four kids in the family and a family in their church. The husband and wife had a conversation and decided, Hey, let’s bring these kids in this family into our home. And they lived in a single-wide trailer and already had three or four kids of their own ended up being like 10 people there. And the response of that family and the local church, the community, the places that they had connection with really kind of set the stage for those kids to then go and found convoy of hope.

Ryan Grabill (10:57):

I think how also attributes part of the founding of it to his meeting, uh, mother Theresa, and, you know, did the whole honor to meet you conversation. And she said, young man, what are you doing to feed the poor? And he was basically like, I’m not really doing anything. And I think most people’s minds would kind of immediately jumped into, I don’t have money or influence and you know, that kind of stuff. And she said, everyone can do something. And you know, that was, that was another launching point, um, of just seeing what happened. And the organization started by delivering groceries in the back of a pickup truck in Northern California to very, very small communities, uh, in Northern California, if you’ve ever been up there before. Uh, you know, there’s a lot of, a lot of communities that, that, uh, don’t make it onto the news like LA and San Francisco and some of the larger cities. And so, um, that’s how began and turned into, like Audra said a fleet of 30 plus semis and all kinds of, uh, different initiatives and programs that the organization does.

Enrique Alvarez (12:02):

It’s unbelievable. And I’m just reading from your website, but 1.3 billion plus food and supply Sierra at 163 million people and more help. It’s just amazing how much you’re really making a difference in the world and how quickly you have grown from 94 to today. And congratulations, it must be, you must have a really, really good team. And Ryan speaking, you were about to start talking about your initiatives. Don’t tell him that. Tell us a little bit more about, I think that you have six main initiatives that you support. Tell us a little bit more

Ryan Grabill (12:34):

About that. Yeah. So of course, with any organization, you know, we’ve grown and added programs or initiatives as we call them to, to our list. I had actually called how, uh, before I came to convoy of hope maybe 15 years ago and talked with him about starting my own nonprofit. And he advised, if you can find an organization, that’s doing something you’re passionate about or willing to start, you know, another initiative, you save yourself like a decade of time of getting your name out there and all that kind of stuff. So, you know, in line with that, convoy has seen some needs that exist around the world, um, and had people joining the team that had skill sets, um, that helped us to expand. Audra mentioned that the mission statement is driving passion to feed the world, but you know, that can look very different.

Ryan Grabill (13:20):

And we know that teaching people to fish is a lot better than just providing a fish. Um, and so on the disaster relief side, we meet immediate needs and work to, you know, make sure that there’s help well after that immediate response is done. And we can get into that in a little bit. But in addition to that convoy feeds, uh, almost 400,000 kids around the world. We are training farmers. We have an agriculture program that looks pretty different depending on the setting, the country, the location, the needs, but we’ve seen, you know, five, six, 700% crop yield increases. And a lot of the communities where we’re working ultimately convoy’s goal is to work our way out of a, of a community when a community doesn’t really need any of the things that we offer. You know, we consider that success. Um, in addition to that, we have a initiative called women’s empowerment and in addition to some education pieces and, um, stuff like that, there’s a, uh, basically a business startup branch to that, uh, initiative of training women on the finance side and marketing side and that kind of stuff related to a small business.

Ryan Grabill (14:29):

Most of these women are mothers of kids and our feeding program and a large percentage of the percentage of them do not have another income earner in the household. So it’s very, very, um, important that we’re able to offer this, but just asking you questions, like what is something that people in your community have to travel 10 or 15 or 20 miles to get that product or get that service, you know, are any of these things, something that you would be able to offer in the community for maybe even a slightly higher price than what it is 20 miles away, but at least someone doesn’t have to travel. So just asking those questions and already pulling from skillsets that these women have, and then providing some seed capital, we don’t do a micro loans, micro financing. We just provide some startup capital to get the business going. And, um, the results have been pretty incredible. Um, ultimately our goal, like I said, is to, um, help generations and generations to come, uh, and not just impact one life. That’s kind of a summary of some of the main ones. Well,

Enrique Alvarez (15:29):

No, on the, on the women’s initiative, I mean, I was looking at some of them as well, and there’s very interesting story. So I’ll everyone that’s listening or looking or watching this episode, I would really encourage you to go to their website. They have amazing stories from all over the world. And my question Ryan was, how do you kind of narrow down like all those different areas around the world to provide some of the support that you’re giving them? Because I read Salvador and Kenya and Ethiopia and Honduras, it’s really, it’s really all over. It seems like,

Ryan Grabill (15:59):

You know, a lot of it is relationship and networking and just seeing where the needs are, the opportunities. Sometimes we are able to turn a disaster response into a long-term program. That would be the goal where it’s possible. And like Nepal would probably be one of the most recent examples of earthquake in 2015 in, in Nepal. And we’ve had a village that we just left within the last six months or eight months where a disaster had happened. You know, we brought in our program team provided agriculture training and some of these programs and we’re just not needed there anymore. And so that’s, that’s a great example of kind of the whole holistic approach, but we’ll be in, uh, more than 30 countries by the end of this year. And, um, yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s, uh, it’s really incredible to see it grow. Of course we have team members that, you know, that’s their focus to look at opportunities that exist out there while we also have team members trying to figure out how we’re going to pay for it as we grow, it kind of takes everyone.

Ryan Grabill (17:06):

I jokingly say sometimes the people like Audra and I were in our jobs cause we don’t like asking for money, you know, or asking for help. So we’re in the implementation side, but yeah, relying on, you know, the Lord relying on relationships and connections and, and just, just taking it one year at a time and just seeing the organization grow and expand. I think Audra was probably told early on when she started that the organization was experiencing growing pains, quote, unquote, growing pains. I was told that when I started and I just heard it last week, you know, it’s just one of those things where sometimes

Enrique Alvarez (17:42):

No growing it right, which is great, which means that you guys are continuous, continuously helping others. And, uh, again, uh, the six main initiatives for people that are listening to us, like the women’s empowerment, the agriculture community events, rural initiatives, children’s feeding. And of course we’re going to deep dive into the disaster services, but it seems like a really good business model if, if I may say so, because you not only provide the Sasser relief, but then you stay within the community until they are, everything is back. And the example you gave in Nepal and some others is amazing how you’re falling. The SASters not only to provide quick kind of a relief, but then broader, more impactful, longer term kind of support to the communities and the women and the children. So congratulations, this it’s so inspirational, inspiring to get to talk to people like you guys. So thanks again.

Ryan Grabill (18:36):

Well, it takes 400 and some people to pull it all off. So Audra and I are just to have to have that massive team, but we’ll, we’ll, we’ll pass on your, your kind words, Christie.

Enrique Alvarez (18:48):

We want to deep dive into disaster relief. I know that that was a big topic for today.

Kristi Porter (18:52):

Yes, yes. I’m excited to hear more about this. Um, whenever I was first introduced to Brian via email, I was like, oh, I think this would be a really fascinating topic for our audience just to hear about international disaster relief as, uh, a very niche topic, because I think, you know, a lot of us sort of go about our lives or our jobs. And we don’t really think about that until something happens. And unfortunately it seems like something in, you know, is always happening. And so you guys are there to take care of it. So, Ryan, I know from your standpoint, I’d just love to hear there’s a lot going on. You have to be, um, while the rest of us are just carrying out our lives, you’re preparing for the next disaster. And so you’re there when it strikes. So how do you, how do you and your team stay proactive and prepared in order to respond when a, when a disaster strikes and what kind of systems and processes keep you on track to be able to jump in there as soon as something happens?

Ryan Grabill (19:48):

Yeah, that’s a great question. You know, our, our international team is our, our international responses look very different than our domestic responses because we can’t drive anything anywhere. We don’t, we don’t have the luxury of loading up our 30 semis and just driving products somewhere. So we’re always, always trying to figure out what the best way is to, um, provide relief in those moments. Oftentimes sometimes I give the United States a hard time. I’ll be honest with you. We’re not great at international news, but the news oftentimes covers things that happen in the U S but oftentimes there are disasters where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced or, um, some of our humanitarian projects that we’re working on, where families have been in really rough situations for years and years. So, um, sometimes people will ask me, you know, what are you guys doing nowadays?

Ryan Grabill (20:42):

You know, I haven’t heard about any disasters in the news. And, you know, I let them know that we have 10 or 15 or 20 active projects at that time. And they’re like, where, you know, so some of it is educating our own support base and our own donors and people that we connect with as to the, the, um, the plight of refugees, you know, the situation that families find themselves in after disasters. But for us, we stay in a state of ready. Some of that has to do with having product staged in our warehouse that we often use, um, even solar lanterns, water filters and that kind of stuff. In addition to the food and water, hygiene, tarps, all that, uh, all of those types of products, but just staying available at all times. It’s a very unique position, a very, uh, unique job to work in, to know that like in 48 hours I could be in another country, but we build relationships as well.

Ryan Grabill (21:38):

Uh, we want to meet as many people as possible outside of disaster time. So when someone says, Hey, I have a friend that, you know, works in this country. I think that they would be really good if something ever happened there, we just set up a zoom call. It’s not a matter of just putting them on a list. Um, so that when something happens, we call them, it’s kind of too late at that point. But thankfully, and unfortunately, I guess for those countries, we have responded to disasters and in 95 countries. So we have some relationships built already, um, you know, have connections all over the world that we rely on. And so that’s a huge part of being ready. Um, just knowing who to connect with

Kristi Porter (22:14):

And the products in your warehouse, are those, were those donated and just stored, or is that part of what the fundraising team is to be able to get you access to some of that stuff? So it is always available. Yes.

Ryan Grabill (22:25):

The both, most of it is donated some of the products like water filters. If we don’t get a donation and we get below a certain quantity, um, we will order some if we need to. So we try to, you know, like any non-profit we try to leverage donations, um, GIK donations, product donations, as much as possible to save funds for paying for program expenses that cannot be covered with food, uh, you know, or, or, or donations. So, um, yeah,

Enrique Alvarez (22:54):

Ryan, quick question regarding, oh, sorry. Christie. You had another one. Go ahead. No, just, uh, I was curious about like certain disasters seem to kind of be happening more regularly and usually kind of some seasonality to them, like maybe hurricanes and things like that. Is that kind of, part of your normal schedule? I mean, you know that this month and this month, you know, that some islands are going to be hit by a big hurricane, is it, do you see that kind of happening more often? And are you starting to forecast that kind of more accurately?

Ryan Grabill (23:21):

Well, that’s a great question. The first thing that you and the listener should know is that the Philippines is the disaster capital of the world. So outside of blizzard, they get blizzards, they get almost anything. So we have an office there, but we’re constantly having conversations about what it looks like to be prepared there, but, but yeah, the Pacific ocean has its own, you know, storm season, the Southern hemisphere, Australia, New Zealand, Vanuatu Fiji has their own timeframe similar to our Atlantic hurricane season, which runs June 1st to December 1st. You know, right now we’re in the peak of, or we’re headed into the peak of storm season for the Atlantic hurricane season. We try to prepare as much as possible, as much as technology has advanced and our phones can scan our fingers or our faces to let us into it. Uh, you just don’t know where a tornado is going to land. Exactly. And you just don’t know where exactly a hurricane is going to go. So, uh, last year, hurricane Laura and lake Charles Louisiana, they actually forecasted that storm within a few miles of where it made landfall. That is pretty atypical, especially when you’re talking the, the, the size of the Caribbean ocean and just how many places a storm could go. So we’re constantly watching, constantly trying to stay prepared as much as we can, but, you know, unsure exactly what’s going to happen. Oftentimes depending on the type of disaster,

Kristi Porter (24:48):

How big is your team?

Ryan Grabill (24:50):

Uh, our international disaster team is, is 10. Yeah. And, and we work with staff around the world as well when something happens in their country or region. So it’s not that it all relies on just us 10, but our team would represent the initial goers. Um, you know, if we traveled to a disaster when it happened and the people that are responsible for making sure we’re ready, Ryan,

Enrique Alvarez (25:12):

Would you mind sharing, like maybe a particular story that you remember that might have some special meaning to you or some, yeah. Some story that you can probably just explain to our, to our listeners and people that are watching this a little bit better or something that kind of caught your attention.

Ryan Grabill (25:30):

Oh, man, I have a, a large vault in my head of stories of, of things that we’ve experienced. You know, one of the most, if I could share just two quick stories, a special one, and just very unique to show you our, our, our, um, scope of coverage, the special one would be, and this has happened many times, but after super typhoon, high-end in 2013 in the Philippines, many, many islands were hit by that storm. Tacloban city would be the place where most people would remember that. Remember that event, it was a lot of fatalities, just a lot of loss, but off the island of, of, uh, Punai uh, in ILA ILA, we distributed some relief supplies on an island that as we were pulling up to the island with some relief supplies, people came down to the shore and, and were weeping. They mostly fishermen and very reliant on boats as there were no stores or anything like that on this island, you know, just a small, small community, but their boats had been destroyed by the storm.

Ryan Grabill (26:33):

And so occasionally someone had come by and a person from the community could get on somebody else’s boat and go into town basically. But this was the first time that they were receiving help. And it was a few days after the storm. So those experiences are, that’s just one of many, you know, that, that we get to be a part of. I, I have had the opportunity of being in a place before where no one has ever seen someone with my skin color, have no idea what the United States was, had never even heard that name before and comically for our team at home, myself and my colleague, they actually thought that we were gods. So in their, in their local folk culture, there were some gods that were light-skinned that, you know, came and came and did something years and years ago, centuries ago. And they thought that they were being revisited by those gods. So it’s really ultimately it’s a humbling experience just to be in that setting and, and not to be thought of as a God, but to get to be in a place that’s just so unique and so devastated by a disaster in that case, it was flooding. But those are just some of the situations that we find ourselves in that you kind of ask yourself, how do we get here? But of course, we’re, we’re honored to be there and provide relief. So

Enrique Alvarez (27:49):

That’s, uh, that’s amazing. And thank you very much for sharing those stories. It’s, it’s incredible that there are still places in the world where people don’t are not connected enough, right. That they might not even know where the U S is or, or it’s incredible. I, most of you have very unique, uh, feeling for sure. Audra let’s. Do you have a lot of experience, uh, distributing and shipping, and you already mentioned a little bit while you were introducing yourself, but I think you’ve shipped to over 90 countries as a, is that correct? Well, uh, with combo have hope

Audra Weddle (28:20):

We have worked in over 90 countries, shipping wise, we may have not shipped to all those. We may have purchased in country, or we could have done a transshipment that was already in the works for another country and we a disaster happens. So we would tranship it on over to that country. So there’s a couple of different areas that we find it wise not to ship because of timing. It may take too long. The disaster response may already be over with, by the time the vessel actually arrives in that port, or they need immediate assistance. So a neighboring country that maybe didn’t get effected by the disaster that happened has product for us to purchase in. And we can get over that border a lot quicker than a vessel can get around the world. So just kind of depends upon what the disaster is. If it’s going to be long-term or if it’s a short term, there’s some that just happen.

Audra Weddle (29:12):

That’s going to only be a very short time, but there are some that will be longer responses. So it makes sense to go ahead and plan ahead and arrange containers to go over. We do some air freight air freight is a little bit more costly. I say that little bit as in quotes as, and 10 times, the amount of payment actually costs. So it’s quite a bit play, but we do have some donors that will donate freight so we can get some air freight in, um, quickly that way. One of my own stories that I have was a new one for me, we actually chartered a vessel for one of our disaster responses. And that was the first time that I had to do paperwork for the full vessel and just, you know, 10 containers. So that was a new challenge that I would accept again.

Audra Weddle (30:05):

So where do you, where do you ship this vessel to that one went to BVI. So the British Virgin islands, and then we sent containers from there to surrounding islands afterwards to cause, um, you know, a lot of the supplies they need, it was building supplies or they needed equipment to help rebuild. So we sent some things like that, generators and different things. Then we sent some food water, we did portable water in the belly of the ship and, you know, just different things so that as we were doing that, another hurricane approached. So we had, uh, the captain of that vessel had to backtrack and go around the hurricane. And so it was just, um, crazy times on that one, but it was good. We learned a lot of lessons, but it went smooth for our first time ever doing that. That’s great. Yeah.

Enrique Alvarez (30:58):

So what can you tell us about like, just supply chains and logistics right now? Cause we’re talking before we went live that what’d, you guys do is already tough and really challenging. And there’s a lot of pressure because you have to deliver the goods quickly after a disaster. How has coronavirus impacted what you guys do on a daily basis and how have you been kind of managing this more efficiently?

Audra Weddle (31:22):

Uh, no. On the daily basis we have a, um, shipping schedule for our children’s feeding. So we already know how many containers are gonna do in the month of August, September. So we’re planning ahead. But now since last year we were everything kind of got put on hold for about a month and we had enough supplies in country. That’s one thing we do, we ship ahead. So our feeding program can continue on if we do have a hiccup and some kind of delay, a port or a rail congestion, which we’ve all seen this year and or ships

Ryan Grabill (31:57):

Let’s do as canal, hypothetically,

Enrique Alvarez (32:00):

That anything like that would happen, right?

Kristi Porter (32:03):

Oh yeah. Yeah. And you know, everyone asks, do you have containers on that one for instance, on the Suez canal? And it’s like, no, but those containers held up other containers to get through that we were expecting in or different things. So I mean, it’s a trickle effect on everything, but we were able to continue our feeding last year, which was a miracle in itself. We actually grew our numbers last year. It was amazing because we didn’t know if we would be able to do our 10% growth and we were able to, so, um, we’re seeing growth everywhere, but now with the transit times have gone from anywhere from 21 to 30 days as normal. Now it’s anywhere from maybe 21 days all the way up to 78 days. So we’re seeing a huge delay due to port congestion, due to rail congestion doing, you know, a lot of ports are working on very minimal staffing. So it’s longer to get vessels unloaded and containers cleared, but we’ve been able to continue on and all of our feeding programs shipping has not stopped. So we’ve been able to can do that. Whereas now we’re seeing rate increases probably among the highest rates I’ve seen in 20 years. Um, and hopefully they go back down. But right now the demand is so high that we’re seeing those rate congestion between congestion rates increasing just a different world we’re living in.

Enrique Alvarez (33:30):

I’d say it’s incredible. I’ve never, I mean, we’ve been in logistics for a while and I’ve never seen such high rates either. I mean, it seems outrageous that steamship lines just continue to increase the rates, uh, while providing the same service as well. So it’s, or even worse service with all the congestions and the transit times and all that it’s, um, it is, it is challenging. And of course you guys are doing an amazing job. It’s incredible that you were able to grow 10% despite everything else that’s going on. That speaks very, very highly of you and the rest of the logistics and supply chain team in general, that you talked a lot about the feeding in what countries are you currently, do you currently have programs that you’re feeding regularly? Uh, where do you usually ship that to?

Audra Weddle (34:13):

As far as shipping goes, um, we can, I’ll just kind of go from each region central America. We have El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and we have Haiti and then we are starting a new initiative. We’re doing some in Dominican Republic and we have the Philippines and Asia. There’s like other countries. We work in that we’re not shipping into Ryan. Maybe I’ll speak into those a little more too, because again, those could have started out as a disaster response, but now we’re gone into a feeding program. Ryan, you may know a few more in that area. Then we are working in Lebanon, slum, and then we work, we have our Europe office, they handled all of Europe for us. We’re just now looking at sending product there. Um, they procure in countries there, so they get a lot of their food donated there in country or they purchase. But we are looking at, um, starting to ship there some to probably in 20 22, 23. And then we go to South Africa, Kenya, Burkina Faso. To-go I know I’m missing, summarizes all over the world basically.

Audra Weddle (35:26):

And we’ve got growth planned, um, a lot in Africa, probably in the next, I would say two to five years, and then we have more growth planned in central America, more south America. So we’re seeing a lot of growth, a lot of need out there. And people are recognizing convoy of hope is more as a, um, a tool now to be able to use, to be able to, you know, request, um, feeding in there, um, areas. So it’s a lot of planning that our leadership has to look into. And how big is your team Audra to, oh my gosh.

Audra Weddle (36:06):

The international shipping. Yeah. It was just me until this year. Um, we were able to hire on another person, so yeah. That’s why Ryan says in our free time between three and 4:00 AM. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Pretty much. That’s incredible. Well, let’s bring it back. Um, domestic for just a second to Brian, I noticed you guys are part of the national voluntary organizations active in disaster, quite an acronym. So tell us about this, uh, organization. And I thought it was really interesting because, um, the collaboration and the partnerships you guys talked about and just, I’m curious as someone who’s given to international and domestic disaster response, how that benefits both the victims receiving help and the, those of us that are giving to disasters and want to see, um, want to see everybody working together and, and people getting help.

Ryan Grabill (37:01):

Yeah, for sure. Um, national Volvo ad or, uh, is, is the acronym we use, uh, the members lovingly call it. That is a, is a group of, I don’t know how many organizations are a part of it. It’s been around for a while. Um, started out small of course, um, some organizations that have been added to the list, even just in the past couple of years, uh, have seen pretty significant growth, uh, groups like team Rubicon. You may be familiar with, they do a cleanup work on homes, but I would say that the, the benefit of being a national though add member and the benefit of working with other organizations, it really all comes back to relationship again, when you know what another organization does. Um, you know, for instance, Samaritan’s purse, um, has chainsaw team and they’ll bring in crews that have, uh, harnesses and the whole bit, our organization does chainsaw work, but we don’t send volunteers and staff members up 30 feet into a tree that needs to be brought down with harnesses and the whole bed.

Ryan Grabill (38:03):

That’s something that’s kind of outside of our scope. Uh, we’ll, we’ll cut smaller trees and limbs on the ground. So we can refer a homeowner, uh, to another organization that we know has the capacity to do something like that. So national VOD is a network that helps to increase those opportunities, to know that, Hey, this organization is over on this end of town offering this and this organization would probably be better suited for the needs that a certain family has. Now, even though those are all organizations based in the United States, there is some interfacing that happens on international disasters with those groups as well. Most most of those organizations have separate departments that do the international work versus domestic, but either way, the relationship benefits are there to just know who’s there. Sometimes, you know, you guys probably like getting into the nitty gritty a bit on your podcast, specifics for your listeners, but sometimes an organization will say, we don’t, we have all this stuff and we have no capacity to move it.

Ryan Grabill (39:04):

Is there a way you guys can help? And we’re like, well, yes, those 500 generators you have, that’s the item that everybody needs. We would love to help ship those. Is there any way that we could have, you know, 50 of them or something like that, if we’re able to help you, sometimes organizations say, we’re, we’re done, we’re wrapping up and we have a few hundred thousand dollars or some funding remaining, um, that we’d like to give to an organization that’s doing great work. So what are you guys doing? So all of those conversations come out of relationship and national bow ad is just one of the ways that we’re, we’re able to build those relationships before a disaster, in addition to during

Kristi Porter (39:38):

Yeah. So helps make sure that everybody on the ground is operating both collaboratively and independently. Cause I know like after I forget which disaster it was, where you just saw again, back to news stories like so many shipments and things just going bad or being spoiled or clothes molding or something that people were, you know, really out of good intentions wanting to get to people in need, but it was just going to waste because there was, you know, it was very disorganized and people weren’t collaborating and things like that. So I’m guessing this is sort of operates in that capacity as well.

Ryan Grabill (40:13):

Uh, we can, we can get into the weeds as much as you’d like, you hit so many important points there. Ultimately, you know, we use the phrase, right, heart, wrong method, and people oftentimes give out of compassion and they give for the right reasons, but they can end up hurting, hurting. The local economy is, is of course the worst or destroying the local economy. As, as some articles would tell you, is what happened in Haiti, where it was bad. And the earthquake actually in many ways made it worse. But the, the, the less serious version of that is like you were saying, not coordinating well enough to know what’s coming in and who has, what and why are we both doing the same thing? You know, the, the challenge is that every organization has their own mission and goals. So they’re trying to achieve those in addition to, you know, interfacing with other organizations sometimes, or oftentimes to the benefit of what they’re trying to achieve, because that is their goal. Different groups are collaborative on different levels. I won’t name names, but I think, I think ultimately what I’m getting at is collaboration is what’s best for the people who’ve been impacted by disasters. And so that’s, that’s how we train our team. We have mission, we have goals, we have things we’re trying to accomplish, but if we can help another organization or there’s an organization offering something that we can partner them together and do more together for those families, that’s something that we’re going to pursue.

Enrique Alvarez (41:39):

So, um, do you have another question for Ryan?

Kristi Porter (41:44):

Yeah. I’m curious as we think, kind of, we’re talked about what’s been happening. I’m curious to also talk about thinking forward and wondering just how do you think international disaster response has changed and Audra mentioned some of the ways you guys have had, had to adapt during the pandemic. And how do you think, how do you think will be different on the other side of the pandemic, as far as international disaster relief and you know, what trends do you see or what, uh, how do you think the future will be shaped by this?

Ryan Grabill (42:15):

Oh, that’s such a good question. Um, for starters, I don’t think grocery stores will ever be able to go back to people actually walking in and getting their groceries, you know, here in the U S no, it, it has changed a lot. Um, and of course, in addition to the pandemic, just technology advances every year, um, changes so much in our world. Um, you know, 15 years ago, we all well know 10 years ago, seven years ago, we, we would all sit in a room together and, you know, broadcast a computer on, uh, through a projector and watch news and glean most of the information from the news and trying to do some searching. You know, some of your younger listeners may not remember the days of being told to go outside and play and you end up picking a blade of grass and making a whistle out of it.

Ryan Grabill (43:06):

You know, it was not that long ago that that was entertainment for us. And now we have so much access to data, um, to technology, to information sharing, um, that changes a lot, but I think the pandemic, in some ways, maybe expedited some of those things as well, um, creating opportunities for things to move faster. And like we talked about already in some ways have slowed a few things way down, uh, and created some additional challenges for us. Um, if any of your listeners have a cargo plane that they’re looking to donate, we would be more than open to receiving that generous donation, but ultimately, you know, the container world and the shipping world and trying to figure out what’s best timeframe wise, you can’t send a container to somewhere that’s been impacted by a disaster and have it arrive 75 days later. So balancing all of that stuff is, is a little bit of a circus act for us, but we, we kind of view ourselves as, as lead troubleshooters and that’s always been true for disasters.

Ryan Grabill (44:06):

So this changes things. Um, the last thing I would just add as, as the impact on global economies, um, we, we’ve just seen, we’ve just seen some devastating effects, um, on the families that, that we’re working with. And, uh, it’s, it’s, it’s really difficult. It’s really difficult to see, um, that take place, uh, and only be able to help a certain number of families at a time. Um, but we’re hoping that the doors continue to open for us to, to serve more families, uh, and help more families get back on their feet, uh, especially in places that have just seen, uh, their economies just completely implode.

Kristi Porter (44:41):

Yeah, no, absolutely. You shared a couple of stories with us, but do you have any in Rica read out some of the overall stats from convoy of hope earlier, but if you have any for your department, um, that you’d like to share as well as any advice for up and coming leaders who are trying to do similar things?

Ryan Grabill (45:01):

Um, yeah, for sure. Um, it’s an industry where if you want the answers, you want to find the answers and then operate from there. You will constantly be frustrated and you have to stay in a constant state of learning. Um, you have to be willing to handle things as they come. Um, our first response, we S we mentioned earlier that the organization started in 1994. Our first response was in 98 and, uh, hurricane Mitch in central America. Uh, many people remember Harvey in 2017, which Audra referred to earlier with BVI. That was a crazy Atlantic hurricane season, uh, for us and other non-profits. But hurricane Mitch in 98, dumped an estimated 72 inches of rain. In some parts of central America, Harvey was about 55 and Houston, you add in the mountains and the effect of, of flooding that happens with that. And it was quite devastating.

Ryan Grabill (45:52):

So in the grand scheme of time, in the span of time, it wasn’t that long ago that we responded to our first disaster. Um, and we have responded to more than 500 as an organization now. And, um, even just five, six years ago, I think we responded to six or seven international disasters. And this year we’ll, we’ll probably be in the 30 something range, uh, if not 40 something. So, you know, never, never be ashamed of humble beginnings or never think that starting somewhere small is, is, um, not possible. It definitely is. And the industry, you know, the hardest disasters to respond to are the ones that make, uh, the draw a lot of news domestically, and every organization goes to it, but there aren’t that many homes impacted, but on the flip side, um, the Haiti earthquakes and the Japan earthquake and tsunami and super typhoon high-end and Nepal, earthquake, I mean, the Nepal earthquake destroyed depending on what news source you read, 500,000 structures became unusable or unlivable.

Ryan Grabill (46:54):

And in the U S 500 or a thousand homes destroyed is a pretty significant disaster. Um, so in those kinds of situations, you know, the more the merrier and at the same time, you know, learning the best practices and how to actually benefit families and not just showing up without a plan, um, you know, having a local connection, I should have said earlier, you know, our model is to support local relationships and local partners. We know that after a few years, people won’t remember the name convoy of hope potentially there, where the disaster happened, but they will remember that, um, a local church, a local organization, or someone down the street help them. So, you know, that’s, that’s really our model. We, we feel like it’s the best in terms of supporting local economies, local partners, et cetera, and relationships. But yeah, we were learning all the time, how to not do things ever again. So we don’t have it all figured out and we’ve learned a lot, but yeah, definitely, definitely jump in if that’s something that you have a heart for, and we’d love to help, help with that process if we can. So,

Enrique Alvarez (47:56):

Uh, basically just following the same question that Christie, um, posts to Ryan, uh, just a little bit more focused on to the, uh, logistics and supply chain and the global markets. What, um, what do you think are the, well, two, two part question. The first is what makes you guys so, uh, incredibly efficient when it comes to responding to the saucers are like a couple of things that you would like to highlight there for our audience and the, and then two, what, is there any advice that you can give to other companies that are currently shipping to those complicated and complex regions of the world that, that, that might help them?

Audra Weddle (48:32):

Yeah, I would say, um, what makes us most efficient? Ryan mentioned the Philippines earlier is, you know, where a lot of disasters take place. We already have staff on the ground there. We have a facility there, a warehouse. So we pre-stage some of our supplies there too. So we’re available to respond pretty much immediately, as soon as it’s safe for our staff to move around and do they have supplies they’re ready to go. So to me, that helps us be an efficient, anywhere that we already have a feeding program and we have supplies, there is immediate response is available because we have the supplies on hand. Our team does a great job on communicating with if our staff or our partners that are in that region. So they’re able to find out firsthand what is needed back in the day, we used to say, oh, we’re going to send in a team to, um, go in and evaluate what happened.

Audra Weddle (49:32):

And so you’re losing time with that or ready. Cause time you get a flight, you get in country. What if the airport was damaged? You know, you had to go flying into neighbor country and getting transportation across. So now that we have, uh, made a footprint and so many different countries around the world, we’re able to immediately contact someone in that region and say, Hey, what is the damage? Really? We’re hearing this. And they may come back and say, we’ve got it. It’s not as bad as, you know, they’re portraying for whatever reason or no, we need more. They’re not in, you know, we don’t know the details yet, but we know that there’s people missing or there could be a mudslide that they can’t even get to the effected area. So I think that makes us more efficient of having supplies already on the ground.

Audra Weddle (50:20):

And a lot of these areas for our feeding program that we can tap into those supplies and the replenish them advice on shipping to difficult countries, always do the research ahead of time. Talk to a freight forwarder, talk to a shipping line, talk to another NGO or someone that’s already working in that country. They can tell you ahead of time, if there’s special paperwork you need, or if you have to go to the consulate here in the U S to get a pre-approval, there are certain countries that you just can’t load a container and send it right? So, and some supplies aren’t allowed, you know, some countries don’t want GMO products. Some countries don’t allow grains, or, you know, they don’t want certain items in their country because it will take away from their economy too. So always do your leg work ahead of time.

Audra Weddle (51:12):

There’s someone out there that has tried what you’re going to try. Just a matter of finding out who that someone is. A lot of times, it’s just making a phone call to someone that you met at a conference or a freight forwarder, you know, and say, do you know anyone that ships here and they can make you a connection there? Um, I, you know, I always say you can not do too much planning when you get ready to ship now in a disaster response, maybe a hurry up and plan and ship. But we started this past year, um, really looking at our, where we go into on a normal basis. Some disasters that region is going to get hit every year. And we know that we don’t know the significant, if it’s going to be enough for us to say, we need to send product, or if it’s going to be not just a response, maybe with purchasing and country or no response, but we still are now planning ahead.

Audra Weddle (52:07):

And we’re looking at transit times, what should be in line is the best one to use. If a port is closed, is there another port nearby that we can use? So, and we’ve got our constant information already down. We’ve got our registration number for that constantly. We have, we’re trying to do legwork ahead of time, ahead of the storm per se. So we’re ready to go. But, um, the more work you can do on the front end, the better off you are, the product would get in country. What was the phrase you guys used earlier about the, the good intentions,

Ryan Grabill (52:37):

Right. Heart wrong method or

Kristi Porter (52:39):

Wrong method. Yes. I love that. Well, thank you both so much for your time today. This was so interesting. Um, and hopefully our listeners learned a lot more about international disaster response too. I know I did. So tell everybody before we go, how they can connect with you and support a convoy of hope. And if they have a cargo plane that obviously doesn’t fit on an Amazon wishlist, how can they get, well, we did a pilot with that plane. So how did, can they connect with you guys and stay in touch or support your mission?

Ryan Grabill (53:12):

Yeah. And people can learn more by going to convoy of hope.org, um, shameless plug our team just launched a new website. So people should definitely check it out. It’s, it’s a pretty awesome experience. Um, we’re still learning it on our end too. So to tell you what page to go to right now is hard, but you know, of course, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all of those things, convoy of hope has its own page. So people can check there for updates. They can certainly email us, uh, or call, call me. Um, I’ll volunteer myself. I won’t volunteer Adria without her permission, but, um, my email address is just R and my last name. I think it’s in the title of the, of the podcast, but GRA B I L l@combohope.org. Uh, especially if people have questions about, um, disaster relief or looking to start their own thing or really anything I I’m, I’m a, I’m a no strangers only future friends kind of person. So, um, if people want to reach out, they’re certainly welcome to

Kristi Porter (54:12):

Perfect. And I assume you’re looking for those, uh, corporate donations too, to keep those warehouses stocked.

Ryan Grabill (54:19):

Yeah, for sure. I mean, if someone was interested in partnering with convoy of hope, Audrey can maybe speak to specifics of things that we don’t do. Um, you know, we’re a little bit lighter on the medical side and some different, um, types of product, but for the most part, we were open to receiving, um, almost everything and, um, you know, have a huge warehouse in the ability to, to store it and ship it around the world. So if people were interested in that again, they could reach out to either one of us and we could just connect them with the right people. So we would be super grateful for, for that for sure. Fantastic. Well,

Enrique Alvarez (54:54):

There you have it. Thank you so much. And again, if you’re listening to this, a very interesting episode of, uh, supply chain now, logistics with purpose, uh, please don’t, don’t hesitate to not only go visit their website, but reach out to Ryan, reach out to OD drive. You have anything that could help them continue their amazing costs and continue kind of helping others. I think, unfortunately as we, this year and next year, some fold that thing, we’ll continue to see some natural disasters happening. Um, so we’ll have to be even more efficient. We’ll have to be closer together. And if it’s just an introduction with someone that you might know, um, a pilot with a plane or someone in the Philippines or wherever else that they might actually need help just a again, network and expanding their network is very important. And of course, if you can donate, please do donate because the money will be very, very well spent. Um, Ryan Audra, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much. Uh, we could continue to talk about you guys and what you do for, for hours, but we appreciate you giving us a little bit of time today, uh, to make, make this, uh, logistics with purpose episode. Very special. Thank you so much for what you do. Thank you guys.

Audra Weddle (56:10):

Yeah. Thank you. Well, thank

Enrique Alvarez (56:12):

You so much and to our audience. Thank you very much. If you liked, uh, the conversation we had today, and if you’re interested about learning a little bit more about logistics with purpose and some of this other very incredible organizations that we’re highlighting on this show, feel free to join us as well for the next one, feel free to connect supply chain now logistics with purpose. I’m Andrea Calbert. Does Christie have a really good rest of the week? Thank you guys. And thank you guys. Thank you. See you guys.

Intro/Outro (56:43):

Thanks for being a part of our supply chain. Now community check out all of our programming@supplychainnow.com and make sure you subscribe to supply chain. Now anywhere you listen to podcasts and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. See you next time on supply chain now.

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Featured Guests

Ryan Graybill has responded to disasters both in the U.S. and around the world, serving at Convoy of Hope since 2010. He has responded to more than 200 disasters both in the United States and around the world. He has been to all 50 states and loves asking people he meets where they are from. He believes that our stories are unique, God-directed, and make up who we are today. Connect with Ryan on LinkedIn.

Audra Weddle has been working in Logistics since 1991. She worked in Germany from 1991-94 working mainly on imports and managing inventory for a military post in Hanau, Germany. After her return from Germany, she did accounting for for five years before her family moved to South Africa for two years. While in South Africa, Audra was responsible for helping missionaries with their accounting and with imports of personal household goods. In January 2002 Audra started her career with Convoy of Hope and works in the Supply Chain and has exported shipping containers to over 65 countries. Connect with Audra on LinkedIn.

Hosts

Enrique Alvarez

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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Adrian Purtill

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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.

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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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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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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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