Of all the things minority-owned business might want, getting on the radar screen of a large enterprise is pretty near the top of the list. And yet, given the realities of modern business, without a little support from specialized organizations, that opportunity might never come to pass.
In this episode of the #SupplyChainCity series, which features big business leaders based in Supply Chain Now’s home city of Atlanta, we hear two leaders speaking about the efforts being made to help minority-owned businesses connect with large companies who appreciate the value they bring. Stacey Key is the President and CEO of the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council (GMSDC), and George Richter is the Senior Vice President of Supply Chain Management at Cox Communications. Cox Communications was one of the founding members of the GMSDC in 1976 and remains a strong supporter of the diversity movement to this day.
To better understand the progress that has been made over the last 45 years and the work that remains to be done, Co-hosts Scott Luton and Ben Harris, Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber, interview Stacey and George about:
• What it means to be a small and/or diversity owned business, and why certifications play an important part in the diversity movement
• Why accountability is just as important as intent in supplier diversity
• The steps that large corporations need to take today to have the desired economic impact in communities of color
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 (00:31):
Hey. Good morning, everybody. Scott Luton and, special guest host, Ben Harris with you right here on Supply Chain Now. Welcome to today’s episode. Ben, how are you doing?
Ben Harris (00:41):
I’m doing very well, Scott. It’s good to be back.
Scott Luton (00:43):
Great to have you back. One of our longest running guest hosts. We miss being in-person. We’ll be back there soon enough. But you have built quite the episode here, Ben.
Ben Harris (00:54):
Yes. We do have quite an episode coming up. I don’t want to steal your thunder, Scott, but we’ve got some various team folks from the Atlanta ecosystem here we’re very happy to feature.
Scott Luton (01:05):
Well, we’re going to dive in then. So, what we have here, this is a special installment of one of our longest running series, our #SupplyChainCity series right here on Supply Chain Now. Now, we’ve been featuring for a long time some of the movers and shakers, the big business leaders that are based here in Atlanta. But wherever you’re tuned in from, wherever you’re listening from, you’re going to have a wonderful experience learning from these business leaders and learning a lot of universal lessons, insights, and a lot more to increase your supply chain IQ.
Scott Luton (01:35):
So, Ben is a pretty modest and humble guy. Ben Harris with Metro Atlanta Chamber, doing big things to continue to push industry forward. And we appreciate his leadership there. All right. Ben, I’m going to introduce these two guests. Are you ready?
Ben Harris (01:49):
Let’s do it. Let’s jump right in.
Scott Luton (01:51):
All right. We love jumping right in. So, up first we have Stacey Key, President and CEO with the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council. Stacey, how are you doing?
Stacey Key (02:01):
I’m doing well, Scott. Thanks for having me. Kudos to you and Ben.
Scott Luton (02:04):
Well, you know, the other big part about who Stacey Key is, is she is one of the world’s biggest Atlanta Falcons fans. Is that right?
Stacey Key (02:14):
Absolutely. I love my Falcons. I love them.
Scott Luton (02:16):
So, we’ll touch on that momentarily as we get into football season for real here in September. And then, joining Stacey is George Richter, Senior Vice President Supply Chain Management with Cox Communications. George, how are you doing?
George Richter (02:30):
I’m good, Scott. Real pleasure to be here.
Scott Luton (02:31):
Now, I’ve got to ask, with that backdrop, are you on the ground with us or are you flying over the friendly skies right now?
George Richter (02:39):
Just getting ready to take off. That’s what I figured this interview is going to do, right? Set me off into the sky.
Scott Luton (02:46):
I love it. All right. So, we’re going to talk more about George’s passion for, not only supply chain, but also aviation momentarily. But, Ben, upfront we like to kind of get a better sense of where these leaders are from as well as some of their passions and their anecdotes around their upbringing. So, Stacey, I want to start with you. Tell us a little about yourself, especially where you grew up, and you got to touch on what made your upbringing so special.
Stacey Key (03:12):
Thank you, Scott. Thank you. I am actually a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is the great State of Minnesota. I’ve been in Atlanta many years. In fact, I call it my second home. I grew up in the cold and snow, I love it, love it, love it, obviously, but happy to get away from it being here in the south, in Atlanta. Additionally, one of the things being from Minneapolis, ice cream has been one of the passions and things that I love. And so, when I got to Atlanta, we opened up a family ice cream business. Are you guys familiar with Brusters Ice Cream?
Scott Luton (03:44):
Ben Harris (03:45):
Stacey Key (03:46):
Yeah. You used to have Brusters at the Falcons games, that was us, at the Hawks games. We were the Brusters franchisees servicing this great state [inaudible] ice cream.
Scott Luton (03:56):
Some of the best ice cream you put in your mouth. And I got to ask you, so I’ve been to Minneapolis just once and that’s not enough at all. The people up there are great. The weather is much different than what we have here, which is good and welcoming. And the food, believe it or not, is delicious up there. What’s the burger? They’re known for a burger named Susie or something where it’s like cheese in the middle. Oh, it’s delicious.
Stacey Key (04:20):
No. No, no, no. I’m a Georgia Peach now. You know, I’m the varsity. You know, some Georgia [inaudible]. I’ve transitioned to that.
Scott Luton (04:30):
All right. So, let me ask you one more thing before bringing George back in. Growing up in Minnesota in the snow and there’s stretches where snow is on the ground for quite some time, have you mastered the skill of driving with precipitation, whether it’s rain or snow or whatever else? Can you teach the rest of us here in Georgia just how to do that?
Stacey Key (04:52):
You know, I’ve not mastered that because I haven’t had much practice being here in the south. But, yes, I remember growing up telling my friends, “I can’t wait until I’m old enough to move from Minneapolis to get out of the snow,” because I was so tired of the snow. But, no, I have not mastered that. I had a little practice and love the fact that I’ve had a little practice.
Scott Luton (05:09):
I love it. I spent two years out in Wichita, Texas – Wichita, Kansas. Sorry. And it was the only place I’ve ever lived where snow would stick around for several weeks. And I learned just painfully how bad I was at driving in the snow. But, hey, there’s all types of other things we can be good at. So, Stacey, welcome.
Stacey Key (05:27):
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Scott Luton (00:05:28):
And I’m so delighted to be able to interview you here today. And I’ll tell you, there’s a buzz you bring to the conversation, Stacey, and that always makes things even better. So, George, your backdrop, you already kind of given up some information on who you are, but tell us where did you grow up and give us a few anecdotes about your upbringing as well.
George Richter (05:47):
All right, Scott. I will. And, in fact, it’s funny with Stacey’s introduction, I always knew Stacey and I were soulmates, but I think this conversation is going to confirm it. So, first, I’m originally from Montreal, Canada. And so, I can compete with Stacey on the whole snow front. So, Canada, Montreal in particular, had some very long winters. And then, the other thing that I think is fascinating about Stacey’s introduction and how it connects to me, is, I also opened one of the very first Ben and Jerry’s franchises in Montreal. And I will tell you that was not one of my best ideas. It was not one of my best ideas. But it was probably one of the experiences, just from a business learnings perspective, that I learned the most from, I learned a lot about myself. But, ultimately, did not keep the store open as it’s a long, cold winter in Montreal and that leaves you a very short season to be selling ice cream.
Scott Luton (06:47):
So, what you’re saying, George and Stacey, is we could talk ice cream supply chain as needed maybe on a future episode.
George Richter (06:55):
There you go.
Stacey Key (06:55):
Ben Harris (06:56):
That, we might be a future franchisee [inaudible], Scott. This is amazing.
Scott Luton (07:01):
Brusters and Ben and Jerry’s. Which, by the way, Cherry Garcia, one of my favorite things the whole time.
Stacey Key (07:06):
That’s my favorite as well.
George Richter (07:07):
Scott Luton (07:08):
All right. So, George, how long did you live in Montreal? When did you come to Georgia, I guess?
George Richter (07:15):
Oh. Well, let’s see. I moved to the United States in 1996, and I’m not good enough at math to figure out how old I was, but I was in my career by that time. And then, originally, when I first moved to the States, I moved to New York. I was actually living in Long Island, which is a very unique place to live in. And we could have a whole episode on what it’s like to live in Long Island. I spent about five years there. And then, the company that I relocated to the States to join, a company by the name of Arrow Electronics, actually moved their head office from Melville, New York to Denver, Colorado.
George Richter (07:52):
So, I had the opportunity to move to Denver and spent about ten years living in Denver. And that was spectacular, just a great lifestyle state. You spend a lot of time outdoors in Denver. So, I got into climbing mountains, they have 54 peaks there that are 14,000 feet or above. When I lived there, I climbed 26 of the 54 uniquely, and thought I was just going to keep working my way through all of them. And then, all of a sudden I got this call, and the next thing you know I’m joining Cox Communications. I didn’t know anything about the cable business. I was never expecting to move to Atlanta, Georgia. And that was about 13 years ago, so I’ve been in Atlanta now for about 13 years.
Scott Luton (08:33):
So, I’ve got to ask you one more follow-up question. There’s so much between what you and Stacey have already shared, and we could spend several hours on y’all’s background, your journey. So, clearly you have a passion for flying. So, tell us a little bit about your preferred aircraft and maybe an activity or two that you’ve been doing in the plane.
George Richter (08:50):
Sure. Well, maybe I’ll take a minute just to get you a sense of how I got into flying. This wasn’t one of those lifelong passions for me. In fact, I don’t think as a kid I was one of those kids that dreamed of becoming a pilot. It really wasn’t something that I thought about. A couple of years ago, I guess probably three, four years ago, my son was halfway through an aerospace engineering program at Georgia Tech. And he came home at the beginning of summer and he said, “You know, dad, I’m going to have a lifetime of internships and jobs.” And I said, “Yes, son. I hope so.” And he said, “But that’s not what I want to do this summer. I think we should get our pilot’s license.” And I’m pretty sure the “we” was he wanted my credit card.
George Richter (09:34):
And so, that got me into it. I took a discovery flight with my son a couple of weeks after he announced that. And discovery flight is a crazy thing. Literally, they let you get in the plane. In the pilot side, you have a flight instructor with you as a co-pilot and they let you fly the plane. You’ve never even been inside one before and they let you fly the plane. And if I was going to be completely honest, that scared the crap out of me. And it’s only because I’m competitive and I wasn’t going to let my son do this and bail out that I stuck with it. And so, I got my private pilot’s license. I got my instrument rating. And then, I got a commercial pilot’s license. And then, along the way, I’m actually on my third plane. And what I’m currently flying is a Piper Malibu Matrix, a PA-46, 350T. And it’s a six-seater, single engine plane, has a altitude ceiling of about 25,000 feet, an all glass cockpit. So, she’s a really pretty and, relatively speaking, fast plane.
George Richter (10:41):
And so, in terms of recent flying, of course, Hurricane Ida just blew through Louisiana, as almost everybody that I’m sure watches this will have heard about and read about. And Louisiana is a big market for Cox. We are very big in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. And so, I had the opportunity to sign up with two organizations. There’s a group called Aerobridge that organizes getting supplies, like water, cleaning supplies, diapers, just the basic necessities that people aren’t going to have access to. And so, I flew from Atlanta to Pensacola to pick up supplies from Arrow Bridge, and then I delivered them to [inaudible] in Louisiana.
George Richter (11:24):
And then, the second organization I was able to support was a group called Operation Airdrop. And what they focus on after natural disasters is barbecue. And apparently you cannot recover from a natural disaster unless you get some barbecue. And so, I flew from [inaudible] to Hammond, and there’s a volunteer organization that cooks barbecue in massive quantities. I was able to bring six containers that weighed about 45, 50 pounds a piece in my plane, and I dropped it off in Houma. You can’t say Houma, which is how it’s spelled. You got to say Houma. And so, Houma Louisiana, which was a very hard hit area and also happens to be a Cox market. And I had the privilege of delivering the barbecue to the Cajun Navy. They were organizing food for local residents. And we believe we brought enough food to feed about 1,300 people.
Scott Luton (12:16):
Wow. That is tremendous. And, of course, there’s a lot more efforts like that going into place to take care of these folks that continue to hurt. And, unfortunately, it’s a long-term process, right? It’s very complex the different levels of needs and whatnot. So, appreciate what you and all of your colleagues there have done, George. And look forward to learning a lot more in the weeks ahead. So, Ben, as I mentioned, we could spend all day, I think, talking with Stacey and George thus far, but where are we going next?
Ben Harris (12:46):
It’s just fascinating, George. First of all, Stacey, I know so much about your background, obviously, about the franchising piece, just amazing there. So, that’s crazy you guys have that in common. But let’s talk a little more about kind of understanding your roles and your organizations. Stacey, let’s start with you, you know, what is GMSDC? You know, what does it stand for? And then, you know, could you tell us a little more about what its core mission really is?
Stacey Key (13:10):
Absolutely, Ben. Thank you. And so, the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council, GMSDC, is a 46 year old organization, a not-for-profit organization that was founded by corporations. In fact, Cox Enterprises was one of our founders, and that’s a connection that George and I have. Cox, the Coca-Cola Company, West Rock – a southern company – to name a few of the companies that came together and decided that they wanted to open up their supply chain to minority businesses. And so, they formed this organization to support their efforts 46 years ago.
Stacey Key (13:47):
And so, GMSDC’s sole mission is to connect minority businesses to corporations, like Cox, to do business. That’s what we do all day. And we do that under some pillars. We certify. We certify that you are an ethnic minority business. We develop. Making sure we develop you, because they come in all sizes and shapes of businesses. Making sure you have the capacity, the competency, and the capability. We connect. It’s difficult for a small business to get on the radar of a Cox Enterprises or a Coca-Cola or a Southern company, we make those connections for you. And then, lastly, we advocate on behalf for minority and small businesses in all that we do. Making sure the policies, the procedures, the practices are small business, minority business friendly. That’s what we do every single day.
Stacey Key (14:37):
And I will tell you, I joined this organization 14 years ago, and I wake up every single day excited about the effect that we bring. Think about the jobs and the billions of dollars and the impact we’ve had on communities of color. It doesn’t get any better every single day.
Ben Harris (14:54):
And it’s great to have you, of course, one of the best divisions here in Georgia. It’s just phenomenal what you’ve done for us as a state. And we really appreciate that support. George taking it over to you, you know, pretend our audience as they are not all Georgians, tell us about Cox Communications and kind of how does Cox Communications fit into the larger Cox Enterprises. They’re, obviously, a huge multimillion dollar company, and you kind of control one piece of that, right?
George Richter (15:23):
Well, actually for supply chain, my organization manages and supports supply chain for the entire enterprise.
Ben Harris (15:31):
George Richter (15:32):
Yeah. That’s a change that we made. It was just a little bit before the pandemic hit. In fact, we were busy having conversations with our employees talking about bringing three separate teams together, there was a Cox Communication supply chain team, a Cox Automotive supply chain team, a Cox Enterprises supply chain team. And we were going to bring everybody together. And then, the next thing you know, COVID hit, and we were all working remotely, and bringing new teammates on board, and even new people to the company who have never set foot inside the Cox office yet. And just a very interesting time.
George Richter (16:04):
But in terms of Cox Communications, actually, it’s not unusual for people that even live in Atlanta to not know anything about Cox Communications. We are the third largest cable company in the United States. We have about six-and-a-half million residential customers. We have over a million business customers. And we just deliver incredible products, probably one of the most important – and, again, sort of in the context of the world that we now live in with the pandemic – we have just an absolutely fabulous network that allows us to deliver high speed broadband connections to our customers. We also offer video products. We’ve got home security, home automation, telephone. We’ve got a whole host of products. But our network and our ability to connect America in this environment where everybody had to suddenly change the way they worked was really a big deal. So, that’s a very significant part of the overall Cox Enterprises business portfolio.
George Richter (17:06):
Cox Enterprises is also a very significant player in the automotive industry. There is a good chance that if you buy a new car or a used car in the United States, somewhere, somehow you are touching some product that is part of Cox Automotive. There’s two big pieces. There’s Manheim Auto Auction. Manheim Auto Auction is the largest auction company in North America. And then, there is a whole portfolio of platforms and software products that Cox Auto builds, develops, deploys, and supports customers with. A couple that you might be familiar with, Autotrader. Autotrader was really a revolutionary transition from back when they used to list cars in newspaper classifieds or in printed books. You’d go to the supermarket to pick up the book to take a look at all the cars that you might want to buy out there. Autotrader was really the first push into putting that online, and leveraging the internet, and just changing the way that people thought about buying and selling used cars. And then, they have a host of software products where they support dealers, marketing cars, selling cars, managing the transactions related to cars, all of that are sort of products that Cox Automotive delivers to their customers.
Scott Luton (18:23):
Yeah. Back before Autotrader was pushed online and became that trailblazer, if you were interested in that 1982 Buick Riviera in LaGrange, Georgia, you had to fax your interest to the owner, right? So, they overhauled all of that, making transactions a lot more efficient and easier.
George Richter (18:43):
They really did. And just getting visibility to more people, making it possible for individuals to market their cars, making it possible for dealerships to think about how they market their cars. I mean, literally, if you wanted to open a used car lot in Atlanta, Georgia, you could subscribe to a whole host of services from Cox Automotive that would tell you what cars people want to buy in this part of the world. They would facilitate how you could buy them through the auctions. They would help you finance the cars on your lot. They would let you market the cars to customers. I mean, it really is an incredible suite of products.
George Richter (19:18):
And then, we’ve got Cox Enterprises. I do want to just touch on Cox Enterprises for a minute. First of all, it’s the connection back to the family. Cox is still a 100 percent family-owned business. Alex Taylor, who is, I think, the great, great grandson of Governor James Cox, who founded Cox, is the CEO of Cox Enterprises. And it’s just incredible to have a family-run business. And the values that they believe in and make sure that they pushed through the whole organization that all of their employees subscribe to, and how important the communities that we operate in are to Cox. And it all comes from the connection back to the family.
George Richter (19:58):
So, Cox Enterprises also has a portfolio of businesses. And one of the areas that they’re very focused on is green tech. And so, they are making all kinds of investments in green tech companies. And just to give you an example, there’s a company that they recently finished the acquisition called BrightFarms. And what BrightFarms does is they do sustainable farming in greenhouses close to the communities where they sell the products. And that is a huge change to the way that produce gets produced. Most of the produce that gets consumed is grown in areas like California and then shipped all across the country. It’s incredibly inefficient. It’s got risk associated to it in terms of how product can get contaminated. It’s got a tremendous amount of waste. And so, this is just a revolutionary way to change how that whole supply chain works. And Cox Enterprises has a huge commitment to the environment.
Scott Luton (20:55):
Well, as we all know it also has a shelf life. It’s not like a box of tissues that if there’s a mishap, no worries, it’s not going to spoil. That produce market is fascinating, the produce supply chain. As is the flour supply chain, which we learned a little more about earlier. Okay.
Scott Luton (21:15):
So, there’s so much uncover here, Ben. But I want to go back to Stacey here. Four to six years of a legacy of moving the needle, truly moving the needle. And, gosh, who doesn’t believe Stacey when she says she jumps out of bed every morning delighted to do what she does. Hey, you’ve got us hooked. I believe you. Let’s talk about the key benefits of becoming GMSDC certified. Can you walk us through that a bit?
Stacey Key (21:43):
Yes. And so, you know, certification is a process because we’re validating that the company is owned, managed, and controlled by an ethnic minority business owner. But the true benefit is not the process. The process is just an investment. The true benefit is that you get connections to companies like Cox. You get connections to companies like Delta Airlines. And helping you open that door and sharing your story with the iconic companies that we have here. We have over 400 companies, global brands that you know and love that are part of a family, that we can introduce and share your story to. It is difficult for someone to get that kind of access. And so, the real benefit is that you get access to corporations, you get some training and development, you build some relationships. And, ultimately, you grow your business because that’s what this is about is growing minority businesses and creating wealth in communities of color.
Scott Luton (22:38):
I love that, Stacey. Relationships matter, perhaps more so than ever before. And as we all know, if you don’t have that access to founders, entrepreneurs, business leaders, you don’t have that access to tap into those relationships, they are oftentimes not at the table and missing out. So, I love that a big benefit of getting involved in GMSDC. So, let’s talk about definitions. It sounds like your organization focuses on, as you put it, the ethnic minorities. There’s all kinds of –
Stacey Key (23:12):
MBEs. MBEs, Minority Business Enterprises.
Scott Luton (23:14):
Gotcha. Okay. So, let’s talk about how you define small business. And let’s talk about what your views are when it comes to small supply chain for small business versus supply chain for bigger organizations. Speak to us about that a little bit.
Stacey Key (23:28):
So, there’s several certifications, and George is very, very familiar. You’ve got women-owned certification, you’ve got veteran-owned, you’ve got small disadvantaged business, so there’s several certifications. And based on your business and your business model, you decide what’s best for you and how it helps you with your strategy of growing the business. I encourage people to do the research, to understand what’s best for you. And many times companies get multiples because I can leverage it from multiple directions in terms of my business. And so, we encourage that all the time, look at multiple certifications to grow your business. It’s got to be part of your core strategy and who you are. And government certifications as well, DBE certifications or veterans, we encourage that part of the certification process as well.
Scott Luton (24:13):
So, if you do your homework, there’s something for everybody out there. And you got to make sure it’s an important part of your overall strategy.
Stacey Key (24:21):
Your strategy. Absolutely.
Scott Luton (24:23):
So, any other thoughts when it comes to supply chain and opportunities for folks that may be involved in supply chain businesses?
Stacey Key (24:31):
And so, from a supply chain perspective, we look at all of them as equal. You know, George has a supply chain as large as it is, he has one. Other companies, depending on sizes, we look at them equal. We’re trying to bring suppliers to him. My job is to make George successful. That’s what I do. I bring him suppliers to achieve his goals and to help build Cox Enterprises. That’s what I do.
Scott Luton (24:57):
That’s a great point. And I think it’s oftentimes overlooked. Because what I’m hearing here – and correct me if I’m wrong. As my dear wife, Amanda, reminds me daily, that happens all the time. Probably hourly – Stacey, clearly, you’re the advocate of the MBEs in helping to bring them into conversations and opportunities. However, as you just pointed out, what is oftentimes overlooked is that the bigger organizations can benefit immensely, new ideas, new innovations. Speak to that a little bit.
Stacey Key (25:27):
Absolutely. Okay. So, Scott, technically, I work for George. GMSDC is a corporate member organization. They’re members. They choose to be a part of this family in this ecosystem. And so, my job every day, my staff and my team, is to help every corporation be successful. So, if George has a need. George says, “Stacey, I need assistance.” My job is to help all the corporations be successful while bringing minority suppliers to the table to help them achieve the missions of the organization. That’s what I do all day, every day. Everything is centered around helping our corporations be successful.
Scott Luton (26:02):
Wow. I love that. Okay. So, George on that note, you’ve kind of laid out the organizational structure a little bit, but talk a little more about supply chain operations at Cox Communications. And, also touch on – gosh – we all know 2020 and 2021 have changed us personally. They’ve changed us professionally. They’ve us changed organizationally. Speak to some of the changes after you kind of shed a little more light on what supply chain looks like at Cox.
George Richter (26:26):
Sure. And maybe just a brief comment on what Stacey was talking about. I think pretty much everybody, including all of us on this call, actually work for Stacey. The one thing that Stacey didn’t call out that is, from my perspective, a big part of what she does and what the GMSDC does is making sure to hold us accountable. And when I say us, it is the large companies out there, the people that have these big supply chains. And as Stacey says, she finds us those opportunities. Where are those suppliers? Where are those people that are going to come in and make our business better and more successful and more competitive?
George Richter (27:09):
And in order to do that, we really have to focus on it. It doesn’t happen organically. And there’s a whole bunch of reasons why that we could talk about, but it doesn’t happen organically. And it’s so important to make sure that we are figuring out why that’s the case and how do we break those barriers down. And there’s a big part, from my perspective, of what Stacey does, she holds me accountable. She makes sure that we’ve got programs and policies in place that we have a focus on it, that we have backed it up with real action. And I just think that’s an incredibly important part of the role that she plays. And so, just to comment on what she’s doing. And I’m pretty sure I work for Stacey.
Scott Luton (27:48):
I’m delighted to for Stacey. From what I’ve seen thus far, I’m happy and I look forward to our first employee boss mill, Stacey, and some Brusters ice cream afterwards.
George Richter (27:59):
Get some barbecue and some ice cream, you’ll be set. Now, in terms of the supply chain and Cox, it’s fascinating. As I mentioned in the introduction, we recently put the organizations together. So, even though my team is technically based in Cox Communications, and Cox Communications is my employer, our job is to support the entire enterprise. And so, that’s fun because that means every day is a different opportunity, a different challenge. Stakeholders across all of these businesses need stuff. And my organization’s job is to figure out how to do that, how to get them the best possible suppliers, how to negotiate the best deals, make sure that our contracts that are in place are robust and that offer great protection, not just for us, but for our suppliers. Cox, because of the culture that we have, we really value relationships. And so, we have some tremendous partnerships with suppliers. And we know that they’re a vital part of helping to keep our business going.
George Richter (28:58):
If I break it into pieces, it starts with sourcing. We source $3 or 4 billion worth of goods and services every single year. And, of course, sourcing is the doorway in. And so, back to the GMSDC, how do I get that pipeline of entrepreneurs who happen to be minority owned? And how do I get that pipeline and how do I facilitate bringing those opportunities to those businesses and finding the ones that are the right fit for Cox? After sourcing, then we actually have to buy stuff. And there’s a tremendous amount of investment that Cox has been making, particularly Cox Communications. We’ve been investing in the network, literally billions of dollars per year to upgrade our network, to be able to keep increasing speeds, to making sure that we don’t have congestion.
George Richter (29:48):
And then, you touched a little bit on COVID, so I’m mixing this all together for you. But when COVID hit, the growth in our network in terms of traffic was exponential. What we would have normally projected to be growth over multiple years, turned out to happen over months. And the reason for that growth was because everybody had to move online. This is a great example, you know, you were talking before we started this call that this used to be a format that you would have done live and in-person and we would have done it in your studio. And here we are doing it on Zoom. And so, all of this video going back and forth across the internet, that consumes a tremendous amount of bandwidth. And the interesting thing about video is that you’ve got downstream capacity, how fast can this information get to you in your location, your home, or your office. But, now, there’s also this huge upstream requirement because we’re pushing all this video back across the internet. And so, that put a tremendous amount of pressure on our network.
George Richter (30:51):
Now, luckily, it is so well-engineered and we’d been making such large investments that we were up to the task and that we were able to maintain quality service to our customers. They weren’t bogged down with congestion. We were actually able to increase speeds. I mean, there was a tremendous amount of work that Cox did to deliver to their customers, and particularly through COVID. And supply chain was a huge part of that. We had to buy all of this material. We had to make sure that our construction folks could continue to go out there and upgrade the network, continue to add capacity, even add new connections in new areas that we hadn’t served in the past. All of that construction requires materials. And so, we’ve got to buy the materials and we’ve got to bring it in. We’ve got to put them in warehouses. We got to distribute them to our employees, to our contractors. So, it’s a pretty cool supply chain.
George Richter (31:42):
And then, the other thing that happens is, I’m not sure why every once in a while we have a customer that leaves us. Now, I can’t imagine why anybody would leave a cable company, period, and particularly why anybody would leave Cox Communications. Because we love our customers and most of our customers love us. But it does happen. I’m going to chalk it up to, maybe, somebody moves and they moved out of footprint. And so, they had no [inaudible]. So, when a customer does leave, though, now we’ve got this equipment that we’re going to take back from our customers. And we’ve got to do something with that equipment.
George Richter (32:19):
And so, we’ve got a whole reverse logistics capability that we also have in place. We take, what we call, consumer premise equipment or CPE. We bring that material back in. We’ve got to be able to test that material. We’ve got to be able to repair it, refurbish, refresh it given that there are software upgrades and whatnot, package it up, and get it ready for the next customer. So, not only do I have sort of your normal forward logistics, but I also have a whole reverse logistics track that we manage as well. So, pretty exciting.
Scott Luton (32:51):
And Ben, as you know – please.
Ben Harris (32:54):
If I may ask one question, Scott, real quick. George, you mentioned [inaudible] and materials, obviously, over and over again, what does that make up look like as far as the actual stuff? Like, what are those skews that you primarily are moving in your supply chain?
George Richter (33:08):
Well, you know, there’s a lot of different parts as you would imagine. But some of the big ones that you could sort of connect with when you think about cable. We talked about plant – first of all, we divide it up into a couple of buckets. So, we have sort of what we call inside plant. And these would be equipment going into things that we call, for example, MTCs or head ends, where we are generating the start of our ability to deliver a connection to a customer. So, we have these facilities and we have gear in there that allows – there’s something called the CMTS, which is basically Cable Modem Termination System, and it is the start of how we deliver internet to our customers. So, we’ve got a lot of gear that’s going into these head-end locations.
George Richter (33:59):
And then, we’ve got something we call plant. And that is literally the physical plant that runs from the head-end across all the roads, through all the neighborhoods, through all of the businesses where we make the connection. So, that, as you would imagine, is either going to be coax cable, literally miles and miles and miles of coax cable, or it’s going to be fiber. We’ve been investing a huge amount in fiber. And the way most cable companies operate is an HFC plant, which is a Hybrid Fiber Coax plant. So, some of our client has coax cable. There’s been tremendous innovations that have happened over the last decades, frankly, but recently in particular, that make delivering high-speed internet over coax cable very efficient and allow us to have tremendous capacity. But then, we’re also deploying a tremendous amount of fiber and making sure that that gives us even more opportunities and even more speed. So, you’ve got all the outside plant construction that has to take place to lay all of that cable. It can be underground in some locations or it can be above ground, you know, just depending on what type of market it is.
George Richter (35:06):
And then, finally, you have the equipment that goes into the business or residential customer’s home. So, one of the big ones is a gateway. You need a gateway. That coax cable connection plugs into the gateway. And, now, you’ve got a connection going all the way back to our MTC or head-end, where we can generate signals. We can push information across to your gateway. And then, you’re going to have stuff that you’re pushing back into the gateway that goes all the way back to our head-end. And so, all of that equipment is material that we’re buying.
Scott Luton (35:37):
So, Ben, before you take the baton here and start on this next segment, Stacey, I’ll tell you, what George just laid out there, man, so many opportunities for MBEs and business leaders, right?
Stacey Key (35:50):
Yes. Absolutely. Lots of opportunities, and so that’s what we do. George, he understands completely, obviously, their supply chain. And they’re sharing that with us, you know, what they need in terms of suppliers, what are the categories. And then, again, my job kicks in to say, “Let’s bring the right folks to the table to help Cox be successful.”
Scott Luton (36:12):
Let me ask you one follow-up question, and then I promise I’ll pass the Baton your way.
Ben Harris (36:16):
No. No. I jumped in on you so it’s only fair, Scott.
Scott Luton (36:19):
I think, you know, if you’re a business leader in the Fortune 1000 or Fortune 5000, you name it, and you’ve got the best of intentions providing folks opportunities that have not been included in some of these discussions and sourcing conversations, you name it. If you had to advise that business leader just one thing, maybe you see it time and time again, whether it’s the best practice or if it’s a mistake. And let’s say, maybe they’re not based in Georgia. Maybe they’re based in another part of the world even. What’s one piece of advice you give that business leader that really wants to take action and move the needle and give folks opportunities?
Stacey Key (36:58):
That’s a tough one. There’s several things. But let me say this, I am part of a network of organizations. I’m part of the National Minority Supplier Development Council. And so, there are 23 affiliates across the country. If you’re not in Georgia, that’s fine. But wherever you are, there’s somebody close that will service you. Get connected to that organization. George is a board member of the National Minority Supplier Development Council. We’re nationwide. We’ve got global presence. So, I encourage you to get connected to an organization that can help you, that can share best practices, that can help you on the journey. There’s no reason to do this alone. There are professionals that know the space, that know what they’re doing, that can help you navigate, and help you have impact in bringing opportunities to communities of color.
Scott Luton (37:42):
So, what I hear there is, beyond the best of intentions, there are resources that can help integrate that into your infrastructure, and your leadership, and your operation. I love that. And it’s a good shoutout to the NMSDC, which we’ll touch on here in a minute. Okay. So, Ben –
George Richter (38:00):
Scott, if I could just maybe pile on for a minute just because of the way that you set that up. I think for companies that should have supplier diversity programs, best of intentions is just not good enough. You got to start by having a goal. If you don’t have a goal, then you don’t even have a program. At Cox, particularly in this last-year-and-a-half, there’s been so much challenge out there in the world, not just as it relates to COVID, but then also social unrest. And as an organization, we brought together all of our leaders and really spent a lot of time talking about what do we need to be doing as a company.
George Richter (38:46):
Now, the good news is Cox was already doing a lot. And Cox had a huge commitment to diversity to start with. But even with that, given everything that’s going on in this country, we felt that we needed to do more. So, we put this Action Speaks committee together, and there’s a lot of focus areas for Action Speaks. There are investments that we’re making or contributions that we’re making to organizations that are fighting the good fight. Obviously, employee diversity is hugely important. If your own employee makeup doesn’t reflect the diversity of the country and of the markets we serve, there’s a problem. But then, there’s supplier diversity. And we set a goal that we’re going to get to a billion dollars. We think a billion dollars in supplier diversity spend is a cool number. It’s a big number. A meaningful number. So, we’re going to get to a billion dollars.
George Richter (39:29):
And so, back to your question, best intention is not good enough. You got to be making a commitment and it starts with a goal. And then, once you have a goal, then you’ve got to be able to measure the goal. And so, that’s where things like the GMSDC matter, because those certifications are how we can identify that we really are doing business with genuine minority-owned businesses. And as a result, we use those certifications to be able to measure the results. So, we got a goal. Now, we got to measure it. We got to understand how far from the goal are we. And then, what programs do we put in place. And even the programs, there’s opportunities for companies, like Cox, to work with Stacey and work with the GMSDC and say, “I’ve got a goal. I’ve got a gap. I need help. And what are you going to do to help me close my gap?”
Scott Luton (40:22):
Yeah. You got to turn to those credible third party agencies that can validate and really vet. Because, look, as a veteran and having surveyed the Veteran Services Organization space going on 20 years now, a lot of reindeer games that go on in that space. Shell game, in some cases, not to pick on anybody. But that’s where organizations with what Stacey does and the GMSDC come into play to make sure that we’re operating in defined legit terms and helping the folks that have gone through and have been vetted. Stacey, would you agree with that?
Stacey Key (41:01):
Yeah. I agree with you 100 percent. And let me tie it a little bit to what George just said. Every year, we do an economic impact. This year, we took another step and looked at the state of minority business in Georgia. And what we found was, if we continue on the path that we’re doing right now, it will take us 100 years to get to economic parody. But if each corporation commits to increasing their spend by one percent annually, I’m meeting you where you are – if you’re at one, you go to two. If you had two to three, three to four – we will get there in 15 years. And so, you’re going to see some things coming out about taking the pledge, making the one percent commitment. We can get there in 15 years versus a hundred.
Scott Luton (41:49):
Okay. Stacey, I’ve got some sports teams we need to bring y’all into and see if you can help their performance cut down and shorten that path to championships, but we’ll save that discussion. All right. Ben?
Ben Harris (42:00):
That is the perfect segue. I mean, we’ve talked so much about in and around how companies can do this, how it needs to be measured, and so forth, to George’s point. But, you know, we get down to brass tacks, you know, what are some of those ways that you guys have worked together? You know, how are you leveraging each other? Are there any tangible examples that our listeners can kind of sink into to understand, you know, where there might be opportunity for them?
Stacey Key (42:23):
You know, one of the things – by the time this airs, this would have happened – for the State of Georgia, our governor, our cities, and counties have declared Minority Business Opportunity Week, which will be September the 20th to the 24th. As part of that –
George Richter (42:38):
Sorry, Stacey. October 20th to the 24th.
Stacey Key (42:41):
No. It’s September 20th through the 24th.
George Richter (42:43):
Oh, I thought it was October.
Stacey Key (42:45):
It’s September. It’s September the 20th through the 24th is Minority Business Opportunity Week.
George Richter (42:49):
Stacey Key (42:50):
And so, Cox took the lead in pulling together a consortium of some of the iconic brands, the Coca-Cola Company, Delta, UPS, all working together during that week to put together a forum with their suppliers, with their prime suppliers. Bringing their prime suppliers to the table, not just the company, the big audacious companies that they do business with, bringing them to the table for them to bring opportunities to minority businesses. And so, those are the kinds of things. But, again, that’s part of the history and who Cox is, as George talked about the DNA of the company. Again, when I think about them as a founder, you have no idea. I’m truly appreciative of the support and the guidance and their leadership in this space. But those are the kinds of things that they do. They don’t have to do this, but they do. And they set the bar high in how they do it, a billion dollars. They’re going to be in the BDR. I’m going to do everything I can to help him get there and he will get there.
Scott Luton (43:54):
All right. So, Ben, man, everyone needs to hear that. The passion, the intent focus on real action, connecting people with meaningful purpose to help grow their business in ways that they haven’t had the opportunity to in recent decades even, however far you want to go back. And doing it, not in a hundred years, Ben, but do it in 15 years or perhaps less. Stacey, who knows? Don’t sleep on Stacey. We’ll blink and they’ll cut that goal in half. I don’t know. But, Ben, I know there’s a couple just final questions we’ve got for Stacey and George before I make sure folks know how to connect with them. What else we want to ask this esteemed duo right here?
Ben Harris (44:35):
Hey, George. I want to get your thoughts also on some recent opportunities working with Stacey, going back to those tangible opportunities. Were there specific RFIs or RFPs or things of that nature, where you guys were looking for specific services or suppliers or whatever that may be, where Stacey was able to jump in and assist you guys?
George Richter (44:55):
Yeah. I mean, there’s one very specific one, which is, we participate in the Mentor Protege Program that the GMSDC sponsors. And I’m not sure, Stacey, you may want to speak to the process that you use to select the businesses on your side. But when we get to be a mentor to a minority-owned business, two things happen, I think, from that. The first is you get to make a really deep connection. So, it’s beyond just, “Hey, can you respond to the RFP? And I’m going to hold you at arms-length and sort of evaluate you and compare it to everybody else.” If you’re going to have a mentoring relationship, you’ve got to really break down those barriers and start having conversations and treating each other like people. So, that part of the program is cool.
George Richter (45:42):
But the other is, it’s sort of a multiplier effect. So, if I can not just have that connection with a business from a mentoring relationship, such that that business might be more successful with me as Cox representing Cox, but can I help that business to be more successful in general, so that they’re going to go out there and not just get my business, but get other companies businesses. So, we like that program that the GMSDC offers.
George Richter (46:10):
We actually have a program that we call the SBLA, Small Business Leadership Academy, and that’s where we’ve actually partnered with organizations, universities in our markets. So, we’ve done this in places like Las Vegas, for example, where we have partnered with universities and they’ve developed a business curriculum for small businesses. And then, what we do is we nominate our suppliers. Sometimes we also nominate some of our small businesses that are customers. So, we actually look at both sides of it. But we nominate our small businesses and we give them scholarships to participate in the SBLA.
George Richter (46:45):
And, again, it sort of has that multiplier effect. We want these businesses to be successful. We want these businesses to grow. I mean, one of the reasons that we’re in this and we think it’s so important is that there’s a huge wealth gap in this country. There’s a huge gap in terms of quality and how that wealth is distributed. And one of the reasons that that gap exists is because business ownership has lagged for minorities. And business ownership is one of the ways that you can build generational wealth. And we really want to support that. So, anything that we can do, not just to make sure that our own dollars are flowing into those businesses, but that we’re finding other ways to make those businesses successful.
George Richter (47:19):
So, when Stacey talked about – I think we called it – the value chain voyage, this is where we are getting our prime suppliers. And I apologize for correcting you on the date, Stacey. I had it wrong. I just happened to have a note here. So, it’s definitely my fault. But that’s what we’re trying to bring in our prime suppliers and say there are reasons why these prime suppliers might still have to be the direct connection to Cox and that they are getting our business directly. But then, we want to encourage those suppliers to find minority-owned businesses that they can then rely on to help deliver the goods or services that they’re ultimately delivering to Cox. And we think tier two is another example of how we can amplify the effect we have to continue to make sure that it flows through to these minority-owned businesses.
George Richter (48:18):
Now, as a practical matter, yeah, we are always eager to share the calendar, if you will, of what RFP categories are coming up when. I talked to you about how much we were investing in our network before COVID, and then when COVID hit we had to increase that dramatically. Well, guess what? All of that activity that we have to have out there in the network, all that construction activity, those are huge opportunities for minority-owned businesses. We can’t get enough of those businesses right now. We need those services. And so, we are always eager to work with organizations like the GMSDC, share the calendar, if you will, the different categories, where are we going to be, when are we going to be running RFPs for this particular area, for these services, for these goods. And then, Stacey will help figure out across her member base who are the members that are most likely to be successful and that can really help us.
Scott Luton (49:19):
So, on that note, I appreciate you laying that out, George. And as much as I appreciate your passion, I even more appreciate the real action and the opportunities that, clearly, the Cox Communications team, the Cox team, is committed to. So, we’ve got a little celebration, I hear, some recognitions and accolades. And I know you probably have a big trophy case, Stacey. I know it. Just send us a snapshot. I can only imagine. I feel like you can move mountains here. But, Ben, I believe the NMSDC, which we’ve mentioned earlier, has bestowed a pretty big honor here fairly recently to Stacey and the team, right?
Ben Harris (50:00):
That’s right. She GMSDC, I believe, Stacey – I’m going to let her talk about it – you guys were recognized as NMSDC Counsel of the Year a few years ago. So, I guess my question to you is, you know, what makes the GMSDC so special compared to other chapters?
Stacey Key (50:20):
You know, what I will tell you, I can tell you that GMSDC, it’s really the staff, and it’s really our corporate members, and our MBEs. That’s really what makes the difference. I’ve got the committed corporate partners like Cox. I’ve got some phenomenal minority business organizations. And, really, the magic sauce all comes together with my staff. They’re the ones day-to-day that make things happen. And so, I will tell you, it’s the whole GMSDC family that really makes this council one of the best in this network. The commitment, the passion, they get it done, the impact, all of that rolled together is what really makes the impact on what we do every single day. Again, I will stand up my corporate members. And I tell the people in the network, “I’ll stand up my corporate members, my staff, and my MBEs against any in this country.” I’m telling you, they are big, bad, and audacious.
Scott Luton (51:18):
All right. So, two quick follow up questions. And I promise that we’ll bring it up to a close. I’m sure y’all got a thousand things going on. So, for MBEs that aren’t a member that want to join, is it a pretty simple process? Do they start by going to your website and applying? How does that work, Stacey?
Stacey Key (51:36):
Yeah. They go to our website and start the process to get certification. It’s never been defined as simple. So, let’s just be totally transparent here as we get going.
Scott Luton (51:44):
But, Stacey, probably nor should it be, right? Because you’re vetting these folks.
Stacey Key (51:49):
That’s exactly correct. And you know what, Scott? I got a spot for you on my team. I see potential here.
Scott Luton (51:54):
Let’s do it. Let’s do it.
Stacey Key (51:54):
I see potential here. But you go to our website at www.gmsdc.org, and it says get certified. And it tells you everything you need. We host recertification briefings every single month to help you through the process. We want companies to be successful. Companies, like Cox, have supported our disaster relief fund from the COVID. We’re paying for companies to get certified. We’re supporting them. And so, again, we’re in interesting times, so as a result, we do some things differently. So, again, if you’re interested in getting certified, go to our website, see what you need, and we’ll work with you taking it from there.
Scott Luton (52:36):
Wonderful And the website again was?
Stacey Key (52:38):
Scott Luton (52:44):
Wonderful. And we’re going to have that link in the show notes. One click away from easily starting the process, at least that seems to be pretty easy. And then, one quick follow up, I know this isn’t your forte. But there’s been an explosion of veteran entrepreneurs in recent years, which is a wonderful thing. And there’s also plenty of resources as you pointed out earlier. Is there an organization that comes to mind for folks that want to get certified as a veteran-owned business? Would you point those folks anywhere?
Stacey Key (53:10):
I would. And when you said it, there’s an organization that just certifies veterans. If somebody is interested in that, they can contact me via our website and I will connect them. And I see his face, but I can’t tell you his name off the top. And so, I will connect them. If somebody is interested from a veteran, just send them my way.
Scott Luton (53:31):
Well, you know what? I wouldn’t dare send anyone around you, Stacey. They’re going to benefit from you being a part of their network. And you’ll probably brighten their day along the way. So, we’ll make that happen. I really appreciate it. You know, it’s a blessing to rub elbows with leaders that get it. They can’t be about lip service leadership. There’s got to be results for all parties. So, I admire both y’all’s approach. So, Ben, I think we know how to connect with Stacey, gmsdc.org. That will be in the show notes. George, how can folks connect with you and the Cox team?
George Richter (54:08):
Well, any minority-owned business can just go on our website at cox.com. And there is a section that we have for suppliers, and specifically for diverse suppliers, to fill out an initial form, introductory form, just giving us the basic contact information. And that is always an interesting way to get started, because the immediate reaction that I’ll get – luckily, not from Stacey – from most MBEs or most minority-owned or diverse-owned businesses is, “That’s not going to work. That’s a black hole. I never get an answer.” And we pride ourselves in making sure that anybody that registers with us we’ll get contacted.
George Richter (54:53):
It’s always a challenge to figure out if the goods and services that somebody happens to offer is a fit for Cox, happens to be what we need when we need it. And so, we can’t guarantee that that’s going to be the case. But anybody that goes and registers, we will make sure that we make contact with. We are highly motivated to do that. In addition, people can reach out to me directly. I’m pretty straightforward, firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m not much of a social media type, so I don’t post an awful lot out there in the world. So, usually, just direct communication is kind of the best answer as far as I’m concerned.
Scott Luton (55:31):
Can they flag you down from 25,000 feet?
George Richter (55:36):
Absolutely. Or meet me at an airport anytime.
Scott Luton (55:40):
I love it. Okay. George Richter, Senior Vice President Supply Chain Management at Cox Communications and Stacey Key, President and CEO – fearless CEO – of the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council.
Scott Luton (55:49):
Hey, really quick, before we say goodbye, Ben. I appreciate you bringing this conversation together. I appreciate your efforts and the Chamber’s efforts at furthering, not just the Atlanta ecosystem – of course, it’s where y’all’s focus is – but what’s good for Atlanta is certainly good for industry. And Atlanta is a beacon for how things should work in many ways globally. So, Ben, how can folks connect with you in the high-flying Metro Atlanta Chamber team?
Ben Harris (56:15):
Yeah. Scott, I was going to say to your point earlier, Atlanta affects everything. I’ve seen that shirt on a couple of people here in Atlanta, and I firmly believe in that. But if you do want to get in touch with me, I’m very active on LinkedIn at /benjaminjharris1 on LinkedIn. I’m not as active on Twitter as I used to be. I took a break. I liked the break. I’m going to stay on break, I think, for Twitter. But if you want to get in touch with me, obviously on a personal scale, Instagram is always fun @benjaminjharris. But, yeah, email is great too. To George’s point, I love direct communication. It’s just email@example.com, as in bharris@Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.com.
Scott Luton (57:02):
Wonderful. And we’ll have that information posted. I appreciate what you do, Ben. Ben, it’s a pleasure to cohost one of our longest running series here at Supply Chain Now, all about Supply Chain City. Folks, if you do love Atlanta, and your business in Atlanta, and you love furthering the ecosystem here, make sure you use #supplychaincity. This is the supply chain capital of the known universe, at least, at this point in time. So, Ben, thank you so much. Ben Harris for the Metro Atlanta Chamber, again, Stacey Key with GMSDC, and George Richter with Cox Communications.
Scott Luton (57:35):
With that said folks, hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this conversation as much as I have. I’ve gotten a kick out of this. I’ve learned a lot and we all have our blind spots. And sometimes you fill that in just by what you do. And other times you kind of deliberately fill that in. I’ve learned a ton. I feel like I’ve got a certification now after the last hour. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have here. Most importantly, hey, be like George, be like Stacey, be like Ben. I challenge you, do good, give forward, be the change that’s needed. Take action today. And on that note, we’ll see you next time right back here on Supply Chain Now. Thanks everybody.
Thanks for being a part of our Supply Chain Now community. Check out all of our programming at 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.
Stacey Key is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council (GMSDC) – the state of Georgia’s leading authority on supplier diversity and minority business development. The GMSDC is one of 23 affiliate councils of the National Minority Supplier Development Council, the only organization providing a nationally recognized minority business certification. Under her leadership, the GMSDC has grown to be one of the top performing councils in the NMSDC network, receiving numerous community awards for their efforts to create jobs and drive economic growth. Today, the GMSDC serves more than 900 Minority Business Enterprises and over 400 corporate members. As a seasoned corporate executive, Key has more than 25 years of experience driving sales, marketing, operations and customer service at global brands like IBM, AT&T, Schlumberger and Samsung Telecommunications. She is also an accomplished entrepreneur, with more than 15 years of experience at the helm of a successful family business. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Computer Science from Western Kentucky University, and an MBA from Kennesaw State University. She also holds a certificate in Mergers and Acquisitions from Kennesaw State University. Key is actively involved in the community and serves on numerous boards of directors including the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Emory University Center for Ethics Advisory Board, the Metro Atlanta Chamber Advisory Board and the Midtown Alliance Board. Key also represents the 5th Congressional District on the State Transportation Board, a seat she’s held since 2013. She is the proud mother of one daughter who is a college student. Connect with Stacey on LinkedIn.
George Richter has been the Senior Vice President of Supply Chain Management for more than a decade. He oversees $7B in supplier spend and nearly $2B in cumulative savings spanning across Cox Enterprise, Automotive and Communications. In this role, George is responsible for developing, implementing and executing end-to-end supply chain strategies to deliver fit-for-purpose solutions encompassing product and network materials supply planning, enterprise-wide strategic sourcing and procurement, supplier diversity, warehouse operations, forward and reverse logistics and inventory management and more. George previously served on Cox’s National Diversity & Inclusion Council and continues to take the lead of D,E&I initiatives to embed practices into the Cox culture. The award-winning Supplier Diversity Program continues to innovate. In 2021, Cox is on track to exceed its goal of spending $700M with diverse vendors; consistently placing the company among DiversityInc’s ‘Top 50 Companies for Diversity.’ Since 2016, he has chaired the Cox Environmental Council where he is accountable for Zero Waste to Landfill and carbon/water reduction efforts at CCI.
Prior to joining Cox, Richter spent more than 12 years with Arrow Electronics Inc. Outside of work, George enjoys flying planes, climbing mountains and spending time with family. A native of Canada, Richter earned his MBA from Concordia University in Montreal. Connect with George on LinkedIn.
WEBINAR- State of the Supply Chain Report – Priorities for Building Resiliency in Your Supply Network
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.
Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more. In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Cisco, Microsoft, 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 University, O’Reilly Media, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight. Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Carrier 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.
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.
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’.
Host, Veteran Voices
Mary Kate Soliva is a veteran of the US Army and cofounder of the Guam Human Rights Initiative. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.