Supply Chain Now
Episode 800

“My whole job is to make decisions about trade-offs between time inventory cost and service, right across the chain.”

– Colin Yankee, Executive Vice President/Chief Supply Chain Officer with Tractor Supply Company

Episode Summary

In this classic episode of Supply Chain Now, hosts Scott Luton and Greg White welcome Colin Yankee, Executive Vice President & Chief Supply Chain Officer for Tractor Supply Company to the podcast.

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.

Scott Luton (00:33):

Hey, good morning, Scott Luton and Greg white with you here on supply chain. Now, welcome to today’s show Greg, how you doing?

Greg White (00:40):

I am doing great. I’m really looking forward to this. This is, uh, w we’ve been trying to get together with this mystery guest. Look at the name for a while now, and I’m a big fan of the company. So I’m really looking forward to that.

Scott Luton (00:55):

It’s give me a special interview that we’re talking with a business leader from the largest rural lifestyle retailer in the United States, and we’re going to be diving into the incredible supply chain behind it. So stay tuned as we look to increase your supply chain leadership act, you Greg quick programming note to folks enjoy this conversation. Where would you suggest they go and learn more

Greg White (01:16):

Your house, Scott, wherever they get their podcasts from or YouTube.

Scott Luton (01:23):

That’s right. And be sure to subscribe for free single miss conversations, just like this one. So let’s introduce our featured guests here today. He graduated from West point served as a captain in the us army, went on to serve in a variety of roles at places like target and Neiman Marcus. He now leads the end to end supply chain at tractor supply company. Please join me in welcoming the executive vice president and chief supply chain officer at tractor supply. Mr. Colin, Yankee, Colin, how are you doing we? Well, uh, likewise, and this has been really neat. Uh, Greg, as we were talking pre-show we had this teed up ready to go, right? Uh, about a year or so ago. And then of course we all knew in the last March here in the States, at least kind of what put us on our heels and we’re still working through it. But as we’re going to talk about today, it’s been really interesting to see what retailers that get it and the supply chains behind them that can, that can come up with the strategies to meet the ever evolving consumer preferences and build that rapport with their consumers. And then of course, execute on everything behind that so that they can serve consumers where they want to be served today. Right, Greg? Yeah.

Greg White (02:30):

You know, I think tractor supply is a fantastic example of that. They continue to grow. I mean, I live Northwest of Atlanta and I don’t remember how far the nearest tractor supply used to be, but then there was one about 13 miles away and now there’s one about five miles away. And I mean, it’s great. I love the name too. Colin. The, what is it? We called that largest rural lifestyle retailer back in the day when I was just a simple country boy from Kansas, we called them farm and fleet stores, but it is so much more than that, right. I mean, it is really a robust retail environment and a great fun place trot around. It’s fun. It’s like, it’s like Disneyland for plow boys.

Scott Luton (03:15):

Well, and I’ll tell you it’s grown left and right. As you use, as you mentioned, Greg, it resistance is futile for sure. But Colin Dean, before we start talking and dive deeper into tractor supply company, let’s get to know you a little better. So you surprised us in the pre-show conversation, uh, with some of those stories, but tell us where you from and give us a couple of anecdotes from your own.

Colin Yankee (03:35):

Yeah. Um, I, I surprised you guys, by telling you I’m from Los Angeles area, I say Los Angeles, but I’m actually from Riverside, California, which is for those uninitiated, it’s called the inland empire. And while I was growing up out, there was all agriculture and orange grooves. And now if you visit there, it’s all distribution centers. So maybe it was destined to be that I was in supply chain, but, uh, it was just DCF DC when you go out there. And actually one DCI worked in DC that I started up was built on land that as a kid, I used to go out and ride my dirt bike and shoot my, you know, my rifle on and then just, you know, became a DC. So, uh, pretty well. Yeah. And I, you know, I I’ve been all over the country, um, you know, with the military and working in retail, you know, like Greg, you said your, your, your kind of retail, Brad, I was moving all around from, you know, corporate America go wherever they send me to go.

Colin Yankee (04:27):

But, uh, you know, grew up in California and appreciate the diversity of, you know, the people who were there and, you know, always felt like you were on kind of the front end of something new, right. You know, on the front end of a trend. And, you know, just the, the diversity of the music and the people in the food. And, you know, my last name’s Yankee, which is kind of weird in itself, but you know, you grew up until you California, and that’s the weirdest thing you’re going to see. So you just get to, you know, be able to connect with all kinds of different folks,

Scott Luton (04:53):

Love that. And it paints such a wonderful picture there. And I got to ask you, especially with when this publishes pitchers and catches catchers will have reported to the major league baseball, are you a sports fanatic at any sport and who’s your team?

Colin Yankee (05:08):

Uh, I’m not a sports fanatic, so you’ve got to start talking NFL or MLB. I’ll just nod and I’ll agree with you. But my wife’s family, they are huge New York Yankees fans. In fact, when I met her, I walked up her driveway and had a American flag at one point or the Yankees flag on the other pool. And when I showed my future father, while my driver’s license, he was, I was, I was in there you go close the deal. Other than that.

Scott Luton (05:37):

All right. So let me ask you one more question before we switch gears here. So growing up on the West coast, growing up in that Riverside community, you shared some of your hobbies as a kid. Let’s talk about food for a second. What, and now you live in Tennessee. So you’re quite a ways away from where you grew up. What’s one dish or food or restaurant, even that you grew up just eating in every week and that you, you miss that today.

Colin Yankee (06:04):

So my, my dad was a policeman and so he knew all the good, like dive taco stands that were out there. And there was this one in, in, in, uh, in Rubidoux, California. And it was a little rougher of a neighborhood, but, uh, you know, the best Mexican food, best burritos and tacos and lemonade, you got to have area of your life. So I’m always on the hunt for authentic Mexican food, um, wherever I’m at in the country, I can never go wrong.

Scott Luton (06:34):

Love that. And Greg, we’ve got a couple of favorites here down in Atlanta. We’ll have to, when we get back to breaking bread together, we’ll have to do that with Colin, but Greg moving right along, we won’t talk about his, some of his previous journey here, right?

Greg White (06:49):

Yeah. Well, so you’ve mentioned, I think you mentioned, at least you mentioned pre-show that you’re a West point grad. So tell us a little bit about whatever you can tell us about that and a little bit about it, your time, you know, you served in the military, you were a captain in the army first. Why, what, what inspired you to go there? That’s a long way. Annapolis is a long haul from Riverside. So tell us a little bit more.

Colin Yankee (07:12):

Yeah. And I would never go to Annapolis because, you know, it’s a second tier school

Greg White (07:18):

West point West point also a long way. So the way it is, we were talking about Kevin Jackson. So

Colin Yankee (07:26):

Yeah, no, no, if it’s my Navy breath in there. Um, but, uh, no, I, I, uh, my, so my dad had been in the army and so there’s a little of that family connection there. Yeah. Um, and I always wanted to serve, and whether it was enlisting or doing ROTC or going to go to an Academy and all my heroes were military officers and I was kind of a history nerd and would, would read history books and loved adventure. And x-ray showed this kind of romanticized vision of the army. And, uh, you know, there was a practical side of it too. Right. You know, there’s unlocking opportunity and getting to get leadership experience and education. And so I felt really fortunate to, to be able to go to the military Academy. And like, I sound Scott earlier. I’d never been East of Las Vegas in my life until I showed up at West point.

Colin Yankee (08:15):

You know, I went from being a top student at a mediocre school to being a mediocre student at a, at a top school. And I think that the thing for me about West point is everybody gets humbled. At some point, you know, you put, take these young people from all across the country, in some cases across the world. And you put them in this really intense environment for academics and physical training and military training and moral medical development. And you’re going to find something you’re, you’re not good at. I’m really, really quick. And for me, it was like, I need to learn how to prioritize, manage time, compartmentalize information, study all those things. But then there’s other people who have never boxed before or comfortable, you know, maybe they grew up in the city were uncomfortable being out in the woods. And so everybody gets humbled at some point. And that intensity of experience really builds lifelong bonds and trust because you have to depend on each other. So there’s the saying, there’s cooperate and graduate, right. You have to, you have to work together. And then you got in the army and it’s a team sport. Right. And so you end up doing the same thing and it really builds those kinds of connections. And so very, very fortunate that I had that opportunity in, in grateful for, for the army and the taxpayer for paying for it.

Greg White (09:27):

How long did you serve after West point? Got at that time?

Colin Yankee (09:30):

Yeah, so, uh, I served for five years. Okay. And you know, my military career, I was a cavalry officer. So was in Kentucky, down in Georgia, uh, for some different training in schools then, uh, Fort Lewis, Washington then, uh, September 11th happened, uh, they were looking for volunteers to go to Afghanistan and, um, and, uh, you know, I was kind of cold war army at the time. So I thought this may be my only chance to do what I have been training to do, went to was Pakistan, Afghanistan and came back. And that was the end of my time in the army.

Greg White (10:05):

First of all, thank you for serving, thank you for doing that. That was brave and bold. And, you know, in my opinion necessary in the moment, and I know so many people in the military, they felt compelled to contribute at that time. In fact, I have a buddy from college who I would have never guessed, would have been compelled to contribute, but he, he joined the reserves and wound up in Afghanistan on purpose. So yeah, I really, I don’t, I don’t know that you can understate the commitment to your fellow man of putting yourself intentionally putting yourself in harm’s way that way. So anyway, I really appreciate it and thank you for it.

Colin Yankee (10:44):

Yeah. And I think you have, you have a good read on it because, you know, people, I think have this image of the military being very directive and, you know, whatever their image is, but that wasn’t my experience. Every, every soldier I ever served with was a volunteer. They volunteered to be there. They volunteered to do the job and, uh, were really self motivated. And so I think people who, who volunteer to go do that, they already have some kind of intrinsic drive, which, uh, you know, as a leader, it makes it nice to be a lead teams like that.

Greg White (11:11):

When you left the military, I mean, you went on to some other, I would argue elite organizations, target and Neiman Neiman Marcus target with its own. I think rich supply chain traditions, and, you know, obviously continue to make a powerful investment. So tell us a little bit about your work history after the military, but before tractor supply.

Colin Yankee (11:33):

So I think like a lot of people, I didn’t intend to get into supply chain at least of my generation. Um, you know, now they’re, you know, you’re great, great programs balancing. It’s a, it’s a hot, hot industry being, but I met a fellow West point graduate who was a general manager of a distribution center out in California. And, um, he gave the opportunity to come tour his facility. And I could just see a high functioning team right away. I mean, I could smell a winter, um, the way people talk to each other and how fast you’re moving. I was amazed by the automation and the process. And, you know, it just appealed to me because of team-oriented tangible results. And it was, I felt very fortunate to end up in that environment, that culture making that transition from the military. Cause I think it made, made it so easy.

Colin Yankee (12:20):

So I started out, um, in a distribution center as a night shift supervisor lead a team. And it was, that was, that was great. I think everybody who gets in supply chain should go be out in the front line at some point manufacturing plant or, or distribution center or a dispatch office if you’re in trucking. And then I got promoted, got to open up a campus there in California, had 3 million square feet on the same site and then did a special project down at the port of LA long beach where it really opened my eyes to, you know, this is a career path. And that was kind of, you know, Scott asked me about some Eureka moments that was really movement for me, you know, because that’s why I dedicated myself to making this profession. So I chose going to go back to grad school.

Colin Yankee (13:01):

So I started searching around for programs to do that. And then I got the opportunity to move back to Minneapolis, to be at tortoise headquarters. And I ran a domestic transportation and this would happen to be during the 2008, 2009, kind of economic recession and in retail on a profit loss statement and retail store, payroll and transportation are two of the biggest line items. And so I learned a lot in that experience because the way target approached it, wasn’t trying to squeeze one individual line. And they looked at holistically. They said, how do you work together to optimize the whole versus optimizing parts? And sub-optimizing the whole, and that was really influential for me in how to think end to end in the supply chain. And then for the rest of my career target, I went out to the field again, did some assignments, came back, did some supply chain strategy work.

Colin Yankee (13:50):

And then after about 10 years, a boss of mine who I really respect, he’s a chief supply chain officer today at a different retailer had gone to Neiman Marcus and he called me and said, Hey, you got an opportunity out here. What do you think? And you know, I love, love this leader. He’s a great dear friend and mentor. Um, so I went down there and it’s totally different, right? It’s, uh, I from selling tide and toothbrushes to, you know, luxury items, women’s Katurah and, and you know, shoes and things like that. And so I ended up in this role because a tracker bonds through such phenomenal growth, the supply chain was under a lot of stress and they were looking at how do you take the next level and really been a dream job for me,

Greg White (14:32):

That’s fascinating. You know, I think there’s a couple things Scott that I take away immediately. One is I don’t think you can. I don’t think you can overstate the value of following a mentor somewhere or the value that, that mentor places on you. If they go somewhere and they ask you to go with them, think that speaks well to both of you, to your, to your working relationship, to that mentors esteem of you and you have they, and, and also it is, you know, it’s something I think people need to keep their eye on it. You know, if I think about, uh, guidance for people in industry today in any job, it’s hits your wagon to a rising star, right. And, and establish that value because the truth is, I think we lose, we lose sight of this. To some extent you don’t get the job. And I’m not saying you didn’t earn it Colin, but you don’t necessarily get a job because you deserve it. You get a job because somebody recognizes value in you and that they can get value from that. And who knows that better than people that know you. Yeah. Right. Well said.

Colin Yankee (15:40):

And I, and I think your supply chain in such a small world and industry know your, your, your brand and your reputation matters. Right. And so it stays with you over time. And so, uh, you know, building that and stay connected, the industry I think is really, really important for, yeah.

Scott Luton (15:56):

So let, let, let’s stay right there for a second. What also observed from your kind of walking us through your career is just how well-rounded all these different roles and the functions that collectively provided you a wonderful background for really doing what you’re doing now, where you’re leading into end supply chain for a company on the move like tractor supply is. So if you would, for a moment before we talk about Trex, blob, Colin, speak to our listenership, that might still be in school that may be early in their career. What’s one thing for folks that really want to break into supply chain and succeed and, and Hey, do what you do, you know, be that chief supply chain officer, which is a cool thing to see more and more of those these days. What’s one thing, piece of advice. You’d give those folks,

Colin Yankee (16:40):

I would say, be continuous learner and your supply chain is so big. I mean, I know retail and I know enough about kind of in, and retail would be dangerous and all of them, but I have experts on my team who do way more than I do about their functional area, but I don’t know anything about the healthcare supply chain or pharmaceuticals or industrial manufacturing or writing algorithms within the software for decision-making and for decision sciences. But if you’re curious and you love it and you have a passion for it, you know, there’s just so much to learn. It’s never going to stop, right. Yeah. You know, I could be doing this until I’m retired and, uh, and you know, continue to learn about it. It’s just never ending. It’s a big universe. So just always be curious. Yeah.

Scott Luton (17:22):

And we’re going to have supply chain. We’re already seeing supply chains go into orbit, right. The effing up the international space station and beyond. So it’d be amazing to see where the Heights and the extent of the supply chain profession in the decades to come. So, all right, well, let’s, let’s come back down to earth a little bit here. Let’s talk about track tractor supply company here. So we were talking pre-show it really? And look, I don’t have a tractor supply tattoo or anything, but it’s really, you know, an RF folks were talking about what you are doing at tractor supply company. We’ve talked about it and, and, and live streams of thing. Because again, it’s, you’ve got companies that are really able to execute in this environment and you got folks that are really struggling and you all seem to be in that latter category or the former category. So first off for the three people that may be listening to this show right now, what, uh, that may not be familiar with tractor supply company. What does the company do in a nutshell?

Colin Yankee (18:20):

Sure. We are a national retailer in the United States. We serve rural country, suburban country customers who live a kind of do it yourself out here, lifestyle. You’re not necessarily large farmers, but, uh, you know, people who may own one acre to 50 acres. And, uh, we sell them everything that they need to live that lifestyle for their, uh, you know, to work out on the land, uh, whether it’s work-wear and footwear or for animal food and feed or pharmaceuticals and supplies for their domestic pets. And also they have a couple of goats and chickens in their backyards and like that truck tool and hardware parts. So a lot of small business owners and, you know, people who do maintenance on their equipment. So that can be everything from, you know, a diesel transfer tank or a nuts and bolts and ranch, or a make model specific part, uh, for a piece of equipment. And then we have, you know, seasonal items, um, we’re very weather driven. So, you know, lawn and garden type things are heating. I mean, if you live up in the North and you, your heating your house with wood pellets or some other kind of fuel, so we sell all those things. You can live that lifestyle there, and we’ve got 1,933 stores as of today. If you’re, if you’re interested, uh, you know, TSC on, on NASDAQ, or you can check it out, check us out online

Scott Luton (19:37):

And just shy of 2000 stores. If I heard that, right. That isn’t unbelievable. I mean, I knew there were a lot, but I had no idea. Well let’s, and we’re going to get to it here in a second, but I’m gonna go ahead and, and mention it because when you hear that number and you hear how quickly y’all rolled out, same day delivery, Collin in the last, I think it was within 2020, I believe I have that, right. Yeah. Yeah. And just how fast you did it to those 2000 stores, it really is remarkable. But before we talk about some of that, some of those wins and accomplishments, let’s talk about your role. And again, we’d love to see the, the proliferation of chief supply chain officer, you know, we’ve seen Greg, what was a big, there was a huge retailer just welcomed their first supply. Well, it’s a reframe Depot, right? Is it a home Depot or it was, um, it was one that’s based in a mall, but regardless it’s a refrain. You hear almost, almost every week, you hear a new chief supply chain officer being added to an executive team. It’s a wonderful thing for, for both those organizations and the profession, but what, where do you spend your time? What what’s, uh, what’s your average, if there is such a thing week in Colin Nicky’s life look like. Yeah. Um, so I’m

Colin Yankee (20:48):

Responsible in supply chain can mean different things in different places. So I’m responsible for, uh, our merchandise planning team, which does all of our sales and margin forecasting and, and the assortment optimization data analytics around what goes in, in the stores. Um, they kind of manage our checkbook of, of the inventory. We can spin our inventory management team or vendor operations team that does all the forecasting with our vendors and, and works with our vendor community, our transportation team, both important domestic, and then our distribution centers. And we have a network of eight DCS across country at, was popping up a couple more in next couple years, some import centers, and then these high-velocity crosstalks cross country. And so I spend a great deal of my time, really focused on synchronizing the actions and priorities across those different teams. And you kind of talk about the elevation of supply chain and that chief supply chain officer role.

Colin Yankee (21:43):

I look at in retail, you plan, you buy, you, move, you sell, right. And that’s kind of the, the, the traditional path and the connection to the merchandising team, which are really the general managers that their business areas, the stores teams, which, you know, I serve the stores who serve the customers, and I serve the customer direct new direct that way. It’s coordinating all those things. And my whole job is to make decisions about trade-offs between time inventory cost and service, right across that chain. And then, um, you really, uh, think about the, about the future. So we’re in a fortunate position to be investing in the supply chain, um, very heavily, but how do we bring those things to fruition and see the return on those investments?

Scott Luton (22:30):

So speaking of investments and speaking, we touched on the same day store delivery, and gosh, you pick your acronym these days. BOPUS Boris you name it. I mean the shifting consumer preferences and acronyms go with them. It really is a, it is such a you’re big history. I almost said nerve, I’m not calling it nerd. I’ll call myself. I’m a big history nerd buff there again. Thank you. It really is such a fascinating time to study retail, but because of this, that these, these shifting consumer preferences and, and seeing how the various retailers meet them, but speak to us about the same day delivery. What, from a supply chain standpoint, the story behind the story, what are some things that had to happen in order to make that commitment to your customers?

Colin Yankee (23:13):

Yeah. Before I do that, is it BOPUS or bop is cause there’s an ongoing debate out there. Know

Greg White (23:20):

I’ve got to tell you Colin, we hear BOPUS a lot more, uh I’ve I’ve never actually heard it called BOPUS before I’m a booth. This guy said, well, you’re the boss, so what are the questions? Hard hitting questions.

Colin Yankee (23:33):

Yeah, no. So, so Scott, um, our ability to get to same day delivery at all stores really started several years ago. And we worked on buying online pickup in store out of, out of all our, all of our stores who most of our inventory is forward deployed into, into stores. And we’re needs-based. So, you know, our customers are engaging with the stores as those convenient kind of points of distribution. And before we got into, how do we shift from store or fulfill from store? We had a focus on buying and pickup store to get service levels, process, inventory, accuracy, all those things that are really important to make, buy online pickup in store, good customer experience. At the same time, we were marching towards how do we fulfill direct to customer from any one of our DCS? So any one of our DCS, our network and ship directly to a customer using the same pool of inventory that they use for shipping to the store.

Colin Yankee (24:24):

And once we got to that point, then it became, how do we unlock these different modes of delivery out of the stores? And so we have our own team member delivery. We use third parties. Customers can rent a trailer cause they’re, you know, do it yourselfers to get home. And we had this really crazy assortment, right? We have gun safes and air compressors and t-shirts and hats, right? So the, the mode has to be, be able to span all those things. And what that’s really created is this really interesting place where our next evolution is gonna be all about refining the decision logic for where we fulfill from and when, and then inventory planning on used to be kind of linear, right? How much you put in the DC and how much you put in store. And now it’s what, where are we positioned inventory? And then how’s the customer going to engage with that inventory, right.

Greg White (25:14):

Based on where the demand comes from. Right?

Colin Yankee (25:17):

Yeah. And so, uh, yeah, I know John wold was on, I think, yesterday on podcasts. And he said, uh, that, you know, in retail, in general, we saw trends that we thought were gonna take two to three years of customer adoption and get compressed into like two or three weeks. Well, we saw that same, but we, we couldn’t have faked. Right. You had to be working on all these things over the years in order to catch that acceleration. If you didn’t, you were at a deficit, either on technology or process, it just got really clunky. And I think it hurt you.

Greg White (25:47):

Yeah. I think there’s probably plenty of different aspects of global business where you can fight fake the market and fake out customers. But retail strikes me is not one of those. I mean, you are what you can deliver and keep on the shelf or get from e-commerce standpoint on time, on price meeting on that, that customer promise. So there’s no hiding there getting around that as a Greg, there is not an, I come from store ops originally in retail. So we were known as frontline workers before. COVID. I mean, you are the face of the company, regardless of how good the GMM, the general merchandise manager or the CFO, chief supply chain officer, or the vice president of store ops or whatever, regardless of how, how well they do those people in the store, they take the bullet and especially in an industry where you have 1900 stores, that’s a really, really important customer experience.

Greg White (26:43):

And the better experience you give to your store ops people, then the better experience your customers are inherently having. Yeah. Because they, it store ops, they hear the good and the bad. And when they hear the good, they are a few Civ store ops people. And when they hear the bad, they’re explosive, it’s a very high pressure job even before COVID right. So, yeah, it’s a critical interface and, and retail has been changing over the years, but I also, you know, I got to kind of take a nod back to Colin’s earlier career, having seen what Neiman Marcus did in terms of being prepared for e-com in 2013 and 2014. And of course, having worked in quality, a quality organization, like target as well. And having come from the military preparation strikes me as maybe a core competency for Mr. Yankee college.

Colin Yankee (27:36):

My, my team would agree with you. Let me say it that way.

Greg White (27:38):

Yeah. I bet they would.

Colin Yankee (27:41):

Yeah. You know, I had, I had a professor at Michigan state, he used to say, it’s really hard to, it’s difficult to execute your way out of planning problems. And, uh, I took that to heart. Right. You got to file that away. And that’s been a, um, a motto for how I lead the supply chain.

Greg White (27:57):

So who was that professor? I’m curious,

Colin Yankee (28:00):

Dr. David close. Uh, he was, uh, the head of the supply chain program there at Michigan state. Okay. Right.

Scott Luton (28:07):

Well, who knows, maybe Dr. Close might be listening to this. So tip of the hat to the great work you’re doing that’s right. And of course, Michigan state, one of the top schools for many things, but including supply chain management. All right. So you’ve mentioned the team earlier and clearly you’ve, you all have this as a, as a big team effort, and we appreciate that, but let’s talk about some other wins y’all might have beyond same day delivery. We were talking pre-show about an interesting acronym. M O E. So that might be new for many folks here. So let’s start there with that. Tell us more about what that is.

Colin Yankee (28:44):

Yeah. M I O E is merchandising inventory operations execution. It’s uh, the retail acronym, alphabet soup for SNL E SNOP. Right. And your traditional consumer packaged goods or manufacturing type environment, and your retail has, has been kind of a lagger in that area. We take a lot of our cues from people in CPG or in manufacturing. Um, you know, we just have your purchasing finished goods with a lot of different national brands or own brands, not a lot, a whole lot of vertical integration, varying lead times, all these different site skew combinations. So it’s taken a lot to get the coordination there. And I think my team talk about the planning and preparation over the last four or five years, we’ve really just been focused on how do we synchronize planning and operations, you know, forget whatever acronym you, you call it, but the financial plan to what you’re going to order to, how it’s, how it’s actually worked in the supply chain, physically for your vendor, for your transportation provider and for the, for the guy like me, when I’m a supervisor 10 o’clock at night on a Sunday receiving on the receiving dock.

Colin Yankee (29:54):

Right. Right. Right. And I think the team aspect of that is we worked really hard on process for the last few years. So how do we get that process down? Don’t think technology is a solution for bad process, refine it to a point. And we were able to really use that during the COVID spike in volume. And when we saw three straight quarters of plus 25% comp sales, so that put a lot of strain on the supply chain and the coordination helped everybody work together and not point fingers as much. It helped us communicate better with our vendor base as they were under last drain. And they’re dealing with their own transportation or labor kind of availability challenges. And, you know, right now I’m very proud of where the team’s at. And we’re at the point where I think technology can take us to the next level, you know, a single planning system of record. How do we use that information to coordinate operations and run the kind of real-time scenario modeling about what’s going to happen on take a lot of the human knowledge that we’ve gained the last five, 10 years and kind of coated in and make it part of the organization as we’ve scaled? You know, we, the process we had was really good for a five to $10 billion company, but as we moved from 10 billion and beyond, you know, we, we have to really kind of cemented into the process

Scott Luton (31:14):

And a bigger engine is sounds maybe moving from a V8 to what comes next. It’d be 10 Greg, you’re the automotive guy. I just skipped 10 and go straight to 12. There you go. There you go. All right. So let’s talk then I saw him social virtual leaders meeting and, you know, just generally speaking, I think small teams, big teams, all points in between trying to find ways of, of staying connected and, and invest in culture. And then also offering learning opportunities and professional development opportunities. And no, I hate to say team building, but you know, to some degree, that’s that, that’s what it is. And that’s, there’s some real value there. Some companies have really figured out how to do that. And it seems like from what I observed on your, the virtual leaders meeting are recently wrapped up some while that was kind of y’all’s aim there. So tell us more about what that was and give us your favorite key takeaway from, from that internal session.

Colin Yankee (32:08):

Yeah. We, um, so traditionally at the beginning of our year, get all the leaders together. You talk about the business plan on top of what’s going to happen, do some training and development, best practice sharing across the board. And you know, this year, we’re not able to do that. And you, Greg hit on it earlier. It, this is really geared towards our district managers and our store leaders who are engaging with the customer and where everything hits the store eventually. Right. They have to execute it. So all the good ideas from, you know, the people that I work with, ultimately you’ll show and, you know, something has to execute that the store, I would say there’s a, you’ve heard COVID fatigue. There’s also a little bit like virtual fatigue. You know, people are craving that human interaction. And so, uh, our stores team did a phenomenal job, injecting humor, engagement, figuring out different ways to get people involved in, pull out their, their input in this virtual environment.

Colin Yankee (33:02):

I think that was really, really good, but my key takeaway really was around the plan. We’ve got a very, we’ve captured a lot of market share this last year and we’re expecting to hold on to that. And we’re calling it stomp the comp, right? So we had a call. We got to go after it. And so what was our plan to do that? And, uh, it really, we, we know that your life’s gonna intercede, right? Nobody expected this, you know, a hundred year storm. We would come across the country right now that we could be, if we’re talking two weeks from now, two weeks in the future, it could be spring. Right? And so our whole goal was how do we communicate to the frontline team about what our intent is around the major objectives for the year? Because I think Greg said it really well. We’re not there to make a decision for the customer. And so if they understand, here’s what we’re trying to achieve as a company, they can use their intuition, their initiative, their smarts to help solve our customer’s problem and support the company objectives. So it was all about communicating our intent and letting our team be successful.

Greg White (34:04):

Love that. All right. So Greg, I know you’re, you’re chomping at the bit to respond to some of that. And Greg always says it always, he always nails it. Uh, this is nothing new. So Greg respond to some of what you heard Colin share there. I, I just, I like, I love the commitment and the recognition that, and frankly, the need of interaction and engagement in the store environment, I’m going to, uh, you know, one of the questions that immediately popped to mind was this, it sounds to me like the store still matters at tractor supply. And of course, because of the goods that are purchased there and a lot, I think because of the people that shop there, they, they get engaged. If they’re going to get feed or if they’re going to get fencing or if they’re going to get coveralls or whatever, they go to get it.

Greg White (34:51):

Right. So, uh, the recognition one that the store is still part of that engagement and, and also to kind of embrace that and get people interested in engaging with the people in the stores. And I got to tell you on social calling, you know, I’m a big advocate for this. I feel like part of your social engagement could be to bring back those little figurines and give them, give them identities on social, right. That, that if you’re, if you’re new to tractor supply, you may have never seen that campaign. But that was one of the most fun and brilliant and engaging frankly, um, marketing campaigns where the little figurines are standing by their little figuring truck and talking about feed and seed, whatever.

Colin Yankee (35:38):

So yeah. Noted. I’ll take it back. That’s

Greg White (35:42):

No charge to the marketing folks.

Colin Yankee (35:44):

Yeah. There’ll be like brilliant marketing idea, supply chain guys.

Greg White (35:49):

Right. We’ve got some supply chain ideas for you.

Colin Yankee (35:52):

Yeah.

Greg White (35:54):

Yeah. I mean, I think, I think that sort of creativity is really necessary. I feel like, as Colin said, so many companies have been stymied by this change by this dramatic seismic societal disruption and to embrace it and to, and to engage it so actively and to try and overcome it, knowing who your consumer is, is really critical because I have to say this, Scott, I am contractually required by me to say this. And in every discussion around supply chain, the supply chain begins and ends with the consumer. Yeah. Right. And I think the recognition that Colin and his team and the general team, it sounds like it tractor supply has, is they’re not done when it goes out the door at the store they’re done when the customer has had a really sound and, and pleasing experience. And I think that speaks volumes and probably is a good part of the reason for their success.

Greg White (36:56):

Agreed. Agreed. Alright. So much, uh, so much more we could, we could dive into deeper here. It’s really a fascinating, I think your perspective, the journey that TSC Trek black company’s been on and juxtaposed against this environment that Greg just continues to coin. What’d you call it the seismic side? Societal disruption. I actually stole that from Brad Jacobs at SPO, but I can’t go over three syllables column. That’s my rule here. Three S’s is no, no easy task either. Right. Isn’t it? No, it’s three. All right. So as we move into the final stretch here, Greg, I know we wanted to pick Collin’s brain on a couple of things kind of beyond tractor supply, right? Yeah. Well, it sounds like you, I mean, you and your company have your finger on the pulse of much broader things than just supply chain or even just tractor supply, but I’m fascinated to hear what really has mind share for you now, right now, what has really gets you jazzed up or concerned or excited, or where do you see opportunity at this time?

Colin Yankee (38:01):

Yeah, I think, um, you know, there’s the things that are right in your face, right? Like the important disruption or the kind of secular things with the domestic freight market around drivers, shortages, labor availability, running grid, great facilities and the COVID environment. Um, all those things are like right up in, I think every opera operators face at the same time, you take it up a notch and there’s this critique of resilience versus efficiency, right. You know, we’re supply chains to lead and lead to a near shoring and everything else from a supply chain perspective. But also how do you build supply chain resilience? And I’m a believer that you can get both, you can have a, have a lean and efficient supply chain and a resilient supply chain. And, um, you know, for, for my team, you know, the, the top of mind thing is, is really our digital roadmap.

Colin Yankee (38:56):

And how do we use all the wonderful technology that’s just been developing and emerging and becoming lower cost of ownership or last couple of years and all the data that’s being produced. I mean, we generate so much data, customer transaction data, credit card, data, loyalty, program, data, weather, data. I mean, you have all that stuff plus history. And we’re finally at a point now, I think in supply chain where we have the systems and the information to digest all that, all that, and put together and apply to the supply chain for decision-making. And, um, you know, I think there’s visibility, right. Which I think hasn’t really achieved its promise yet, but there’s a lot of work to do. And then there’s predictive analytics off that visibility. And then there’s AI and ML, artificial intelligence, machine learning. That is real, that just needs those good inputs. Right. And I think we’re on the, on like just the first step as a company. And just as an industry of seeing that really drive a law change or the next next decade, I think in 10 years from now, we’re just gonna be blown away by, by what we see out of that particular space and digitizing the supply chain.

Greg White (40:07):

Undoubtedly, I, I think definitely in 10 years, possibly even sooner, I mean, with what you know, with what we see so often calling, you know, not only on supply chain now, but I deal with companies that are, I specifically work with investors who are investing in supply chain tech companies today, and where companies are going with this wealth of data that you just talked about is incredible. I mean, it is, it is truly disruptive. It is a new perspective on how to manage, how to evaluate, how to operate supply chains. So it’s very exciting.

Scott Luton (40:47):

It is an exciting time to be in retail, exciting time to be in supply chain, certainly an exciting time to be in global business. Despite the challenges, you know, as our dear friend, Kevin Bell says you can find opportunity without being opportunistic. And that’s what some of the leaders that we’ve been speaking to are finding. Exactly. All right. Well then the final thing we’ll touch on before we make sure folks know that connect with you and tracker spot company, I really admire all of what you do and your company does to support our veterans community. You know, it would be remiss if we didn’t, you know, David Medlin rest in peace, connected the two of us several years back, heck of a guy lost some weight way too early fellow veteran, but really admire what y’all do from a real taking action standpoint, no lip service to serve those that have served in uniform. So what’s your favorite out of all the things that you do when it comes to, to serve in the veteran community? What’s your favorite aspect of that column?

Colin Yankee (41:42):

Yeah. Scott, I appreciate you mentioned that we, um, we do a lot to give back to the veterans, but just personally, my favorite is when we can help a veteran or a military family member get a job and build their build, the next career, right. Were citizen soldiers. And so are you talking about what we donate or you’re the volunteer service, all those kind of things. But when we can give somebody a great career after they transitioned out of the military in a place that they feel valued and they have that same sense of belonging that they had in the military, they feel part of the culture. That to me is, you know, kind of our ultimate objective, right? How do we, how do we make it happen? It’s a win for us as a business because we get some great talent. It’s a win for that individual.

Colin Yankee (42:24):

And it’s a win for, or I think our country, right? Cause it helps people see the military as a development experience and then transition that into corporate America. And so I, I benefited because a veteran helped, helped me make that transition date, Midland, who you mentioned, who was a good friend of mine. And I worked on this team, he had that same successful transition. And I think businesses that can do that well, there’s the altruistic side of it. And then there’s the opportunistic or, you know, beneficial side of it. And I think that’s just the thing that I’d be proud of.

Scott Luton (42:53):

Well, I appreciate you sharing. We love, love all of that. And we look forward to reconnecting with you as, as we continue to figure out how we can effectively support the veteran community on top of, you know, what’s been doing and that’s constantly evolving too, right? And you find them different ways, uh, based on old, some longstanding needs and challenges, especially related to transition. And then of course, how some of those have had nuanced tweaks related to the pandemic and other things, but I admire what you do. And we look forward to touching base on with you on some of that support down the road a bit, let’s make sure folks know how to connect. I mean, to almost 2000 stores continue to grow left and right. Touching on what you shared earlier in the interview. You want to work in teams that get it that are on the move that are exciting. And there’s a buzz. There’s a hum. You know, who knows it might be someone listening to this that is going to check you out and send them their resume. How can folks, you know, compare notes with you and connect with tractor supply?

Colin Yankee (43:51):

Yeah. You can always reach out to me on LinkedIn. And so you can find me there calling Yogi for tracks, finding, attract spot.com and you cruise through the site there, learn a lot about the company and in career opportunities, your social media platform of choice, it’d be at tractor supply. So whether that’s LinkedIn or Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, it’s all, all the same handle. You’d find them there.

Scott Luton (44:11):

Love that. Really appreciate that. We’ve been talking with Colin Yankee, the executive vice president, chief supply chain officer at tractor supply company. Greg, I feel like we could always say this. Maybe it may be a broken record, but it feels like we’re just scratching the surface. There’s so much more that Colin can share. We just, just make it a six hour interview. How about, does that sound good on here?

Greg White (44:33):

As long as we do it an hour at a time, probably take it with Collins calendar would probably take us about six months as you’re ready to go call. I’ll bring some snacks and sometimes try and figures. Yeah, that’s right. Well, you know, what I think is so interesting is we continue to see people who have, as I say, backed into supply chain, right? There are so few of us who grew up saying, I can’t wait to get into supply chain instead of being a rockstar, race, car driver or whatever, astronaut or whatever, you know, you grew up wanting to be. And I think, you know, one of the things calling you said earlier that is so powerful is, is essentially that supply chain is so diverse just because, you know, retail supply chain doesn’t mean you necessarily know manufacturing, supply chain or distribution supply chain.

Greg White (45:21):

And you certainly, it’s certainly different than as you said, healthcare supply chain. So supply chain in and of itself is so complex and so diverse. And it depends on the industry and the segment and the tier of supply chain that you operate in. I think that’s really, really important for us to recognize because one of the things we have continued to see and Scott, you, and I see this periodically is that projection that if it works for Procter and gamble or pick, pick a manufacturer, it’ll work for you. As Colin said earlier, we can certainly learn from manufacturers, but we have to adapt it. And particularly in retail, where you have hands on the consumer, as we talked about also, you have to recognize that it is a distinctly different supply chain dynamic than the manufacturer who doesn’t or hasn’t in the past. And doesn’t as frequently touch the consumer.

Greg White (46:12):

They will more often now with direct to consumer, but still it’s yet a different experience. And I think that’s a really important recognition for people to have. And as soon as we have more practitioners who recognize that the difference between manufacturing, supply chain, brand supply chain versus retail supply chain, the more effective we’ll be. And finally, Colin’s charged to be curious, be a, I forget the actual word that you used. Did you say constant learner was what I took away from it, but I think his word was much, much bigger and more intellectual than the one on pig, but that’s a critical part of any career. And certainly in supply chain for all the reasons we just talked about, it’s a critical part of your success. Is it

Scott Luton (46:57):

Stop the cop? That’s what you gotta do, right? Right. Yeah. There you go. But love this interview, Colin, I really appreciate your down to earth approach. We love that here. It’s such a breath of fresh air where you get the real story and not just, uh, the, the good stuff that you know, you get you you’re, you’re open and honest and transparent. And I love that. So big, thanks to you, Greg. Pleasure to knock out this interview with you here today, to our community and our audience. Hopefully you enjoyed this conversation as much as we have. We’re chomping at the bit to go deeper, but Hey, we’ll have Colin back soon. Hey, be sure if you liked this conversation, check us out@supplychainnow.com Scott, on behalf of Scott Luton and on behalf of Greg white and our supply chain. Now this is Scott Luton. That’s right. Signing off for now. Challenging you do good. Give forward, be the changes needed. And on that note, we’ll see you next time here on supply chain now. Thanks everybody.

Intro/Outro (47:52):

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

Colin Yankee serves as Executive Vice President/Chief Supply Chain Officer for Tractor Supply Company (NASDAQ: TSCO). He is responsible for the end to end supply chain, including merchandise planning, inventory management, vendor operations, transportation and distribution operations. Colin previously served as the Vice President of Logistics at Neiman Marcus and in a variety of roles at Target Corporation in distribution operations, transportation, and planning functions. Prior to joining Target, Colin was a Captain in the United States Army. Colin graduated from the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY, earned a Master of Science in Supply Chain Management degree from Michigan State University, and advanced management certification from Columbia Business School.

Hosts

Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

Greg White

Principal & Host

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Donna Krache

Director of Communications and Executive Producer

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

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Vicki White

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

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

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

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

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Allison Giddens

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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

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Greg White

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

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

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

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Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring

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

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

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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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