Dial P for Procurement
Episode 36

Should American taxpayers provide the microchip industry with a blank check of over $50bn at a time when semiconductor companies are making tens of billions of dollars in profits and paying their executives exorbitant compensation packages? I think the answer to that question should be a resounding NO.

-U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders

Episode Summary

On July 27th, the Senate passed the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. It is now awaiting President Biden’s signature. Proponents of the bill say it will reduce U.S. dependence on foreign producers of semiconductor chips by building manufacturing capabilities at home. Skeptics – which oddly include both progressive Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and conservative Republicans – say it amounts to “corporate welfare.” So who is right?

The CHIPS in the CHIPS Act stands for ‘Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors.’ But are the incentives, and the resulting changes, actually “Helpful” for the U.S. semiconductor industry?

In this week’s Dial P audio podcast, Kelly Barner digs into the global semiconductor market and talks about some relevant considerations not covered in the language of the legislation:

• What’s in the bill?

• What can and can’t be done with the funding?

• Why has U.S. semiconductor manufacturing capacity has been falling since the 1990s?

• How long will it take to see the benefits?

• And issues like sustainability and intellectual property that still have to be resolved before this bill can achieve the ultimate vision.

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:01):

Welcome to dial P for procurement, a show focused on today’s biggest spin supplier and contract management related business opportunities. Dial P investigates, the nuanced and constantly evolving boundary of the procurement supply chain divide with a broadcast of engaged executives, providers, and thought leaders give us an hour and we’ll provide you with a new perspective on supply chain value. And now it’s time to dial P for procurement.

Kelly Barner (00:31):

On July 27th, the Senate passed the chips and science act of 2022 proponents of the act say it will reduce the United States dependence on foreign producers of semiconductor chips by building much needed manufacturing capabilities at home skeptics, which oddly include both progressive Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and a number of conservative Republicans say the bill amounts to corporate welfare. I guess it is true what they say politics makes for strange bedfellows. Now you might not catch it from audio only, but chips is an acronym that stands for creating helpful incentives to produce semiconductors as cheery as it sounds. It also reminds me of something George Orwell would have come up with, you know, like the ministry of peace being in charge of war are these really helpful incentives in this week’s episode of dial P for procurement, I’m going to cover what’s in the bill. What can, and can’t be done with all of this funding, why us semiconductor manufacturing capacity has been falling when we’ll potentially see the benefits and maybe some environmental and intellectual property considerations that aren’t exactly on the front burner right now.

Kelly Barner (01:56):

But before I go any further, let me pause and introduce myself. My name is Kelly Barner. I’m the co-founder and managing director of buyer’s meeting point. I’m a partner at art of procurement, and I’m your host for dial P here on supply chain. Now I’m constantly scanning the news for complex articles that I think are worth discussing. I look for things that are interesting, but which could easily escape. People’s notice my goal is absolutely never to lead you to think that there’s a simple answer to a topic that I’ve chosen to cover, but instead to provide the background and context, I think are necessary for you to form your own opinion or at least to make you interested enough, to want to learn more. Now DW P releases a new podcast episode or interview every single Thursday. So be on the lookout for future episodes.

Kelly Barner (02:52):

And don’t forget to check out our past episodes as well. Before we get back to today’s topic. Here’s what I’d like, like to ask. If you enjoy what you hear today, take a minute and give us a review on iTunes or offer up some stars on your favorite podcast platform. I’ll take a share or a like on LinkedIn or Twitter. I’m always grateful for your interest and attention. And of course your comments, which I’ll talk about at the end of today’s podcast. So thank you for being part of the listening audience. All right, let’s start with what’s in the chips act. The entire thing is 280 billion in deficit spending. So what that means is that because this is considered a matter of national security, the cost of it won’t be covered by tax income or revenue derived from the bill. 52.7 billion of that is going to semiconductor companies and other related companies in the ecosystem to create incentives for them to develop and manufacture chips in the United States.

Kelly Barner (04:03):

Now, part of the justification for this is around protecting intellectual property. And we’ll talk about global sources of conductor, semiconductor chips, but right up front in the bill, there are limitations on accepting donations from China. If you happen to be a university, there are limitations on working with Chinese companies and the military. If you’re a manufacturer, even with your own money. And finally there’s a 25% tax incentive for any company that invests in semiconductor manufacturing. So it’s not just companies like Intel that are already in this business that can benefit from the bill. It’s anyone that makes an investment in the talent and facility and knowledge needs required for the us to compete as a manufacturer of semiconductor chips on the global stage. So a few more details about what can and can’t be done with the funding in president Biden’s own words. This is quote, not a blank check, so no dividends can be issued using the money companies can’t do stock buybacks.

Kelly Barner (05:09):

And interestingly, it also requires any company’s accepting funding to build these semiconductor fabs, to pay prevailing union wages, to build the fabs. So this is attempting to reconcile the fact that the United States has fallen behind the rest of the world in terms of manufacturing capabilities. According to data from the SIA and BCG Taiwan is the world leader in fab capacity. They have 22%. They’re followed closely by South Korea with 21% and Japan with 15%. Now, China has been increasing over the last years, and they’re now tied with Japan at 15%, which puts them ahead of the us with 12 and ahead of Europe who have nine, but that’s capacity not production. When it actually comes to production, things are far more constrained. Taiwan currently produces 63% of the world’s semiconductors and just one company TSMC holds 53% of the global market share. Now I mentioned the fact that China’s capacity has been growing in 2000.

Kelly Barner (06:30):

They only represented 3% of worldwide capacity and they have aggressively invested to grow those capabilities. When we look back a little further than that in the 1990s, the United States was a much bigger player in this industry. 37% of chips were manufactured in the us compared to today’s 12%. And of course with all statistics, 12% is not 12%. It tends to be the lower performing, easier to design and manufacture chips that make up most of that 12% that are still currently being produced at home. By the end of this decade, the us commerce department estimates that if things go on changed, the us will represent 14% of global production, but 24% of global demand as with all other business things cost and risk are huge factors in this and building these fabs is an expensive business, semi engineer.com estimates that it costs between 10 and 20 billion to build a leading edge fab.

Kelly Barner (07:46):

And of course after that, they have to be kept up to date. Now we know that the entire funding associated with this bill, at least the part that’s going to semiconductor manufacturers is 52.7 billion. So even if you could efficiently build plants for just 10 billion, you still only would get five fabs. So this bill is definitely not going to represent all of the costs associated with getting this going, making things more complicated. This is a very quickly moving target. And the semiconductor industry is sort of in the middle of a process war. So chips are measured in nanometers and they’re getting smaller and smaller and smaller in early 20, 20 TSMC and Samsung became shipping five nanometer chips while Intel struggled to reach seven nanometer leading firms are working themselves towards being able to produce three nano animator chips. But that number one, worldwide producer TSMC has said, they actually won’t go beyond three nano animator.

Kelly Barner (08:58):

Of course never say never. So these fabs are expensive to build. They quickly become dated. And because it takes time to build them, you’re trying to hit a future spot in terms of manufacturing capabilities, given those complexities and with an eye on profitability, which we understand most us firms in the semiconductor industry have gone either fabulous or fab light in order to save money and focus their research resources on research and development companies like China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and the European union have subsidized semiconductor production for a long time. So the chips act puts the United States on par with how other countries in the world are handling this industry. The question that this raises for me is whether this is no longer a profitable private industry, if it can’t exist worldwide without government subsidies. And of course that also raises a question about ROI simply having capacity does not guarantee that it will be profitable.

Kelly Barner (10:11):

So even if we have the capability to produce even three nanometer chips at the volume desired in the United States, how much are those chips going to cost? They’re likely going to be more expensive than chips produced in Taiwan. Now, worldwide sensibilities around sustainability play an important role here. We’ve talked about the cost and performance reasons for producing chips outside of the us and for our capacity at home to be lagging. But environmental reasons are important to this as well. According to the national institutes of health, semiconductor production leads to groundwater and air pollution, and it generates toxic waste as a byproduct of the semiconductor manufacturing process. So understandably us companies have been only too happy not to deal with that at home, in addition to saving money by manufacturing, these chips overseas. And that brings us to one of the things that’s an environmental risk and cost concern that the chips act does not address.

Kelly Barner (11:22):

That’s rare earths. Now this is something that’s absolutely core to semiconductor chip production and my supply chain now colleague Greg white recently shared excellent thoughts on this point when the bill passed, as he pointed out, even if we magically get fab capacity in the us to where we want it to be in terms of innovation and in terms of volume, we still won’t have resolved the potential for disruption in the semiconductor supply chain, because we haven’t addressed raw materials, which are rare earths. China is responsible for about 80% of all rare earth elements used in semiconductor production. So they can still control worldwide production because they control raw material processing and distribution extracting these rare earths is really bad for the planet. So there are a number of different minerals unless you’re in science. Like I’m not, uh, you’ve probably never heard of their names, but they all end in em, they’re distributed in the Earth’s crust.

Kelly Barner (12:33):

They’re not in chunks or flakes like something like gold would be. And given the destructive nature of the mining and extraction process, most other countries have limited rare Earth’s mining, but not China. Now Brazil and Australia are potential sources of rare earths. But the question is still open as to whether they’re going to allow this destructive mining process. It seems to go against most modern sentiments about sustainability. Now in his comments, Greg suggested the idea of lab grown alternatives. And that’s something that all of us should want to learn more about, but until then all semiconductor supply chains, regardless of where the design work is done, regardless of where the chips are stamped out, still start in China. And the delays are not just in the processing of the stages of the supply chain. They’re over time. One of the things that I really do like from the chips act is their ultimate goal to build a thriving semiconductor ecosystem.

Kelly Barner (13:43):

That includes research, design, fabrication, talent, manufacturing education. We talk more and more about ecosystems within procurement and supply chain. And I love the fact that this evolution of thought made its way into something that the government served up for us. So I think that there’s something really positive. There, there are even incentives for startups to accelerate innovation. There’s a recognition that while we need the big companies like Intel, like AMD, we also need small startups that are willing to attack smaller problems and can think more quickly. And out of the box, global partnerships will be an important part of this. Japan has the world’s leading high tech workforce and have already mentioned Brazil and Australia as a potential source of rare earths if they are willing. But even if all of this falls into place, it’s still going to take years for these new fabrication plants to be built and to be up and running.

Kelly Barner (14:46):

Now, time is of the essence, the tensions between China and Taiwan have been on most people’s radar screen for a long time, even in advance of when Russia invaded Ukraine, we were watching that dynamic worrying that what happened between China and Hong Kong might also happen between China and Taiwan. And there were thoughts that once Russia invaded Ukraine, it might accelerate China’s desire to do a similar thing. Now, as I record this president Biden has yet to sign the chips act into law, but even once he does it, isn’t like that fab capacity will be instantly available. It’s going to take years for that. And in the meantime, the United States semiconductor industry is in a very precarious position for proof of that. We can look no further than the global static over Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, which is the home to TSMC. For fact, I actually delayed the recording of this podcast to see what would happen with her, getting into the country, spending time there.

Kelly Barner (16:00):

And fortunately, as we now know safely getting out despite threats from China, if China takes full control of Taiwan, which they already consider to be their sovereign territory before the United States can get production capacity online, we have a serious problem. We need years to get caught up. And even then we won’t be where we are today. But with production in the us, the rest of the world will keep moving forward. In the meantime, and our chips may be more expensive. Now I mentioned at the outset that there are some IP considerations here, certainly part of that is that we wanna have walls between companies that do business with China. We wanna make sure that if the government is investing in these capabilities, that our knowledge, our technology doesn’t make it into the wrong hands. But I also think we have carryover here from another recent episode of I P the one in which I spoke to patent attorney, when she about what the world trade organization did with IP waivers around the COVID 19 vaccine, they waved those patents.

Kelly Barner (17:14):

We have to ask, could they do the same thing here? And we don’t know everything today. This bill is going to take years to play out. In reality, once these semiconductor companies take money from the federal government, will the government stop thinking of the associated IP as belonging to those companies? Remember the agreement that’s already in writing that they can’t issue dividends or do stock buybacks using the money from the government? Well, at the end of the day, where did the money come from? Regardless of which pocket it came out of, we’re kind of talking about the same pair of pants. What questions will be raised for these companies about how they operate, how they invest, how they reward shareholders. If they have taken funds from the government, will they come under greater scrutiny? We don’t know, will the government try to exert greater leverage over them after they’ve accepted the money?

Kelly Barner (18:12):

We don’t know. And in fact, there are a lot of things we do not know that we’re going to have to wait and see play out. There’s the issue of rare earths and the delay of building capacity. There’s the talent lag. And while the bill does allocate funds for education, everything takes time. A recent Bloomberg editorial piece says that about 40% of high skilled semiconductor workers in the United States were born abroad. So they’re also immigration considerations. And remember, this is not just about talent for the fabs. Once they’re open, you have to use union labor to build the fabs. If you take this money from the federal government. In fact, right now, TSMC is trying to build a fab in Arizona and the project is hung up because they don’t have enough engineers and technicians to finish the job. Yet. Another source of uncertainty, the chips probably are going to cost more, even with the automation capabilities that the United States has.

Kelly Barner (19:17):

So will there be enough demand at the ultimate effective price point to justify the kind of capacity we want to build out? This whole industry may end up being subsidized forever, and that’s not supposed to be the point of a private industry. So what does this all mean? You know, we think about some of the wording in the bill, the suppliers that are going to be included, it refers to upstream suppliers. So there are a lot of different kinds of companies that are gonna be involved, packaging and distribution, this whole semiconductor ecosystem. One of the other lesser covered components of the bill is money. That’s being set aside for the public wireless supply chain innovation fund. This is really smart, in my opinion, it’s another way of leveraging small, innovative talent in the us. What they’re actually doing is breaking down all of what Chinese based Huawei does into smaller components, making it easier for smaller companies to compete and allowing them to focus on developing capabilities and specific areas, as opposed to attempting to compete with everything Huawei does.

Kelly Barner (20:30):

And to end my advice is always to keep an eye on the government, especially when they come bearing helpful gifts, as they say. And we always need to remember that there has to be an incentive for companies to be profitable and to be, be innovative in that same Bloomberg article that I cited earlier, there was a terrific quote. It said by shielding companies, from the salutary effects of market competition, they induce complacency, inhibit productivity and dampen the incentive to innovate. It is all too easy to imagine. Bloated wasteful, government dependent, chip makers demanding yet more handouts, a decade down the line end quote. That’s certainly not where we wanna be in an industry that thrives on innovation and competition. Now, semiconductor makers are currently profitable with about 25% return on assets, according to a report from McKenzie and yet not everybody agrees that this is a good idea.

Kelly Barner (21:35):

We know Bernie Sanders and some Republican senators don’t think it’s so great, but the Cato Institute made a very compelling case in an article called the top seven reasons to oppose new semiconductor subsidies. Now, this was written before the house voted to approve the bill, but it’s a position piece. So I actually think it’s still relevant here. It talks about pricing systemic risk. And this reminds me of the last episode of dial P, where we talked about the skeptical eye that the world is looking at profitable refineries right now, profitable refineries, that in some cases are horribly unprofitable all based on the barrel of crude oil price. I think the thing when it comes to systemic change, that concerns me the most here is that once you change the decision making basis and the risk tolerance and the cost implications for an entire industry, it’s very hard to change it back.

Kelly Barner (22:39):

And it’s also difficult to know what the secondary and tertiary ripple effects are going to be. Now we’re waiting for president Biden to sign the bill, but it’s passed the house and Senate. So we’re going to have to wait and read and learn and discuss because this is my point of view. And as I always encourage you, please do not just listen, join the conversation and let me know what you think. Put a comment where you find this on LinkedIn, put a comment where you find it on Twitter or on Facebook dial P supply chain now, and I all share this content. And you’re also welcome to direct message me on LinkedIn. If you have something that you’d like to say maybe a little bit less on the record, I always appreciate the time and enthusiasm that I hear from our listeners. And I appreciate that. So many of you have told me, you’re sharing these episodes with your network. Let’s work together to figure all this out and come up with the best solution until next time. I’m Kelly Barner on behalf of dial P and supply chain. Now have a great rest of your day.

Intro/Outro (23:47):

Thank you for joining us for this episode of dial P four procurement and for being an active part of the supply chain now community, please check out all of our shows and events@supplychainnow.com. Make sure you follow dial P four procurement on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to catch all the latest programming details. We’ll see you soon for the next episode of dial P for procurement.

 

Hosts

Kelly Barner

Host, Dial P for Procurement

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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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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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