Supply Chain Now
Episode 974

These suppliers feel as though they're not being heard; this is their last resort. That's a pretty dangerous game because it will be a long time before some of these larger organizations will want to work with a partner that goes to the press when they have challenges. But if they don’t feel like they're being heard, then there's not really anywhere else for them to go.

-Philip Ideson, Art of Procurement

Episode Summary

With today’s challenging economic conditions, all companies are under pressure to remain profitable and hit earnings expectations. Retailers may be feeling the greatest stress of all, simultaneously dealing with inflation, changes in consumer sentiment, and loads of unwanted inventory. The result? Working capital problems galore.

Watching for evidence of how retailers handle this combination of circumstances is an education in and of itself. In some cases, it is instructional and in others it is a clear what NOT to do.

Case in point… a recent news story involving Target, Walmart, and a few suppliers who are decidedly unhappy with recent changes in their business arrangements. According to those suppliers, they have been asked to pay for their own logistics costs, hold inventory longer than expected, and accept reductions in order volume. How do we know about this frustration? They spoke to the media about it: on the record.

Philip Ideson is the Founder and Managing Director of Art of Procurement. In this Dial P for Procurement crossover interview, he and host Kelly Barner discuss this scenario and apply their own experience to pull out as many lessons as possible for the rest of us:

– Why retailers currently find themselves in this challenging situation

– How the strain is affecting their supplier relationships in the short and longer term

– What options might have been better to pursue – perhaps preserving the effectiveness of the supply ecosystem

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:01):

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

Kelly Barner (00:31):

Hi there. I’m Kelly, your Barner, your host for dial P for procurement here on supply chain now, and welcome to my monthly video interview. Um, now I’m joined by a very familiar face, at least a very familiar face to me. Uh, and we were joking before starting to record that these end up being weird interviews because we spend so much time discussing these things offline. Um, but I’m thrilled to be joined by my partner at art of procurement Philip eon for what is I think going to be a very interesting conversation. So hi Phil. Thank you so much for being here.

Philip Ideson (01:07):

Hey Kelly. My pleasure. Thank you. And as we was saying beforehand, it’s always a little bit different being the, uh, interviewee versus the interviewer. So it’s gonna be an interesting one. I’m under the spotlight this time

Kelly Barner (01:18):

Under the spotlight, and yet we’re kind of flipping things. So people know the two of us for advocating for procurement, helping people imagine the art of the possible covering some supply chain issues. But today we’re gonna talk about a news story that gives us an opportunity to look at things from the supplier perspective and maybe advocate some solutions to the challenges that everyone is seeing. Um, but really keeping that supplier experience and perspective in mind. Um, now before we get to that, for anybody that hasn’t met you, I wanna give them a little bit more of a chance to know about your background. So you’ve worked as a procurement practitioner, mm-hmm <affirmative> in the past. Can you talk a little bit about where your experience is there?

Philip Ideson (02:02):

Yeah, and I was thinking beforehand, you know, I’ve got 22 years in procurement, um, and it seems like it it’s so quick that you keep adding a number to that. Um, uh, and of that 22 years think about 12 years was a practitioner 10 years as been as a consultant and advisor, uh, running the at of procurement, doing a bunch of other things. Um, but that 12 year of practitioner experience really actually started. Um, I did an internship with GM, um, where I was in material control. So I did a material control internship there, and that led me to go to Ford motor company when I graduated. So I graduated through the Ford, um, scheme, uh, in the direct materials perspective. And so I started my procurement career in direct materials and I probably spent half of it in that, in the direct space and half of it on the indirect side, you know, across sourcing category management transformation, uh, supply risk management, um, running a captive shared service center, uh, up to a head of international procurement. So I kind of always deliberately tried to check a lot of different boxes. And then from an industry perspective, auto pharma, CPG financial services, you know, those were kind of my practitioner days, but then as a consultant, um, and a provider, you know, touched a bunch of other industries, um, aside from that,

Kelly Barner (03:22):

Now one of the points that you made, and I actually wanna pause and clarify this, cuz I know the terminology can be different, but this is gonna be really important to our conversation. Today. You talked about the fact that you were in direct materials. Yeah. So when we talk about direct versus indirect, and I know I grew up in retail, we called indirect not for resale mm-hmm <affirmative> um, so when we’re talking about direct materials in any company or industry we’re talking about the product or the service or the technology that’s being resold for profit, right?

Philip Ideson (03:53):

Yeah. Or any of the components are pieces that go into that product. Um, you know, different companies, different industries may define the direct on the indirect side, slightly different, but the general rule of thumb. Yeah. The direct is things that are going into that product. That’s resold indirect is everything else essentially.

Kelly Barner (04:11):

And so before we get into the, the story we’re gonna talk about today, there’s one more thing I wanna get your read from, cuz again, I think this is material mm-hmm <affirmative>, we’re now over two years into this business about the pandemic, we’re almost two years into every single headline being either supply chain, crisis or supply chain disruption. What would you say is the general tone of the conversations that you’re having of the attitude that you see evidence through social media posts? Where do you think people’s minds are dealing with the economic conditions right now?

Philip Ideson (04:44):

Yeah, I think that, uh, you know, one of the words that comes to mind is fatigue. I think folks are fatigued with everything that’s going on and the unknown, especially as a procurement professional where, you know, you’re judged in a lot of organizations on either are, are both these things, you know, the ability to make sure that the company has the right product or service at the right place at the right time at the right cost. And right now we’re struggling with the right place, the right time and the right cost. Um, through factors that in a lot of cases are kind of beyond procurement professionals control, but procurement is really trying to manage. But then when you look at your, your, your self worth as a procurement professional, if you’ve always judged it on things running smoothly and saving money, which a lot of procurement professionals do, then it’s been quite a beating, you know, the last couple of years on both those fronts.

Philip Ideson (05:35):

So I think there’s fatigue. Um, there’s still at the unknown. Um, but you know, we’ve talked about for a long time about the UN unknown being the new normal. Um, and I don’t think that’s gonna change anytime soon. And then I see a lot of op of individuals, but also that rolls up to organizations based on our leadership, seeing this as a huge opportunity. So actually is this an opportunity for procurement to step up and show a greater value proposition to their organization? Um, and those that have embraced that I think are really, um, you know, are really doing well in their organizations and repositioning the role of procurement.

Kelly Barner (06:10):

Now, it’s interesting. I used to have this good friend that would talk about when things get stressful. She would say, we all have a dance or a set of behaviors that we fall back on. And procurement has worked for a long time, truthfully to get away from being cost driven, to get away from bullying suppliers. But as the fatigue grows as the pressure mounts, we’re starting to see, I think maybe evidence that a few companies are falling back to that dance or instinctive set of defensive behaviors. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and a recent example of that was covered in a news story. Uh, the news story happens to mention target and Walmart specifically, but there are many other companies dealing with this, especially in retail. And it talked about the fact that between inventory disruptions and, uh, just playing far too much inventory on hand, they’re starting to respond to the stress and the cast flow pressures by mounting what they expect of their suppliers.

Kelly Barner (07:13):

And so there were a few things about this particular story that were interesting. One is that the suppliers were named and quoted as complaining about these large retailers that they’re working with. That’s pretty unprecedented. Uh, but we also have some words from the retailers about how they view, how they’re dealing with this with regards to suppliers. So even some of the suppliers that were concerned about having empty shelves, uh, we know Walmart and target both chartered their own ocean freight. In order to get inventory here from China, they were concerned about seasonality and empty shelves. Uh, now they have the opposite problem. Target in particular has $15.1 billion worth of inventory that they wish they did not have. And unfortunately, as a result, their net profit margin is down by almost 50% year over year. Now add to that, the fact that consumer demand preferences continue to be fickle. People went from spending on home improvement to spending on trips and experiences in restaurants. And you have a very complicated situation where they’re turning to suppliers and saying, here is our expectation of what we want you to do in terms of handling this. And those suppliers are not happy. Uh, so before we get into the details, any initial thoughts or perspectives based on what you’ve heard, what you’ve read about the situation that these retailers find themselves in?

Philip Ideson (08:44):

Yeah. The first thing I would say, um, is that, you know, target and Walmart and really our discussion goes, it’s really more on retail as opposed to focusing on those specific companies, but they were kind of of between a rock and a hard place because you have, um, you know, uh, chronic shortages. So you were the natural reaction to chronic shortages is to invest in inventory. You’re investing in inventory then going into a possible recession where demand softens. But if they hadn’t done that, I mean that they were, they were investing in their own brands to be the place where people know they can get the things they need when they want them. And so, you know, they took the car to invest in this inventory because they wanted to make sure the shelves are fully stocked because if they weren’t, then that’s gonna have a big brand hit from them as well.

Philip Ideson (09:27):

We went to target and there was nothing on the shelves. So we went to Walmart, there’s nothing on the shelves. Um, so you can certainly see why they made the decisions that they made. And no one really had perfect information. Then the question is, okay, once you’re in that situation, what do you do about it? So now they’re obviously trying to mitigate the, um, the impact of, of buying the inventory into a softening market. Uh, but I mean, we’re gonna see this play out everywhere. We’ve talked about chips for the last two years. That’s right. So for the last, I dunno, three, four months, we’ve been talking about, uh, you know, with some of the guests on that procurement around well chips. Now, now we’re investing in all this capacity. We’re gonna build over capacity going into a weakening market. We’re gonna have the same problem. The prices are gonna sink. We’re gonna get deflation rather than inflation. Yeah. And this is kind of the cycle that’s gonna play out the next couple years. So we’re probably gonna see that in, in these situations with retail as well.

Kelly Barner (10:22):

Absolutely. And in the short term, what we’re hearing from the suppliers at least is that retailers are saying, hold onto that inventory for us. Mm-hmm <affirmative> I know we said we wanted it, but we’re not ready for it just yet. They’re saying, you know, instead of us coming and picking that up from your warehouse in China, how about you pay to ship the inventory to a warehouse in the us, and then we’ll get it from you when we’re ready or simply, and this is an oldie, but a goodie payment terms being extended people, just not paying on the agreed upon schedule for the things that they’ve ordered. And in this particular article, there’s one quote that I wanted to share. And I double checked this, this is a real company, the company’s called exploding kittens. They make card games. Um, and their chief executive officer has said, we are having to hold back some orders in China.

Kelly Barner (11:18):

We now have stock in China that target does not need. So we are shifting that stuff to the United States and have to use our own freight, ultimately eating into margins. And that’s from Carly McGinnis, who is the, the president of exploding kittens. Now there are a couple of things that are particularly interesting about this situation. We’ve talked about the difference between direct and indirect. Yeah. So this is a supplier of card games that would go on the shelves in target for customers to buy that’s sort of the first part. But the second part is there have been exclusive collaborations between exploding kittens and target in the past. So games that the company makes that can only be purchased at target mm-hmm <affirmative>, which would suggest a closer than your typical even direct supplier relationship. Yeah. Now the funny thing is, and I’m gonna have you translate this for me. So this is in corporate speak. This is in buy side speak. So I’ll give you a chance to think about it. And then you can try to put it into common language for us. Target spokesperson said, quote, we have maintained open and transparent conversations with our vendor partners. So we heard what exploding kitten said, and now we’ve heard Target’s official line. Yeah. Any translation into what that actually means in real life.

Philip Ideson (12:37):

So, you know, obviously without knowing fully the meaning of what targets said, but being able to apply that to situations where I’ve been in automotive. Yeah. Um, that basically means we’re telling you what, what is happening. Um, we’re telling you that, like, it’s essentially, it’s a one way communication of this is this is what’s happening. You know, you will be, um, we require you to do these additional things because we are not taking on board the inventory. And there’s not a two way dialogue about that. Let’s say, this is what’s happening. We’re being open. We told you the situation, we told you why we, we need to do this, but you know, you don’t have any say in this, this is what we are doing

Kelly Barner (13:14):

Now. Are you surprised at all? And there were three different suppliers that were named in the article that you and I both read, but are you surprised at all? Not only that these suppliers are pushing back, but that they’re doing so publicly through quotes from the C level at their organization in the media.

Philip Ideson (13:32):

I mean, that’s unusual. Um, but they’re either doing it because they have a tremendous amount of leverage. So they’re in a situation where it’s not like they can be, uh, swapped out for another supplier. Right. Um, or they’re doing it because they’re at their wits end. They’ve tried everything else. Communication’s not getting through. Uh, they’re not getting any responses. They’re not feel feeling like they’ve been heard. And therefore this is their last resort. But as a last result, I mean, that’s a pretty dangerous game because, um, you know, it’s going to be no doubt. If, if that’s the case a long time before some of these larger organizations will want to work with a, a partner. Again, I say a partner or supplier again, that go to the press when they have challenges. But if they’re not being felt like they’re being heard, then there’s not really anywhere else for them to go.

Kelly Barner (14:19):

Now, we had also talked about the fact that at least the three examples in this article are all direct or merchandise suppliers. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And again, we’re just guessing, but if this is what we’re hearing from suppliers on the direct side, which contributes directly to these retailers top lines, can we extend that at all? To what we might anticipate is happening with indirect suppliers that are less recognizable and a little bit further from the customer

Philip Ideson (14:45):

Possibly. I mean, in the direct space, that’s those materials are, uh, they’re. They have the more direct impact on the bottom line, a quicker impact on the bottom line. But what happens in the direct material space is that you’ve got things that are engineered into a pre product, or, you know, you have, uh, household brands that those retailers, that the customers demand those brands. So there’s a lot of leverage in those. Uh, there’s a lot of switching costs and it’s hard to get out. And sometimes you’ve created yourself, monopoly situations. Um, you know, that doesn’t stop a buyer. And again, I did this in the automotive world 20 years ago, uh, going to your, uh, supply base and saying, I’m gonna take a blanket 5% cost reduction. And then, and if you don’t agree to that, then you’re not a true partner of, of mine, which ultimately is how some of these things go now in the indirect space.

Philip Ideson (15:37):

Um, it’s again, depends on, I would say the leverage, um, that you have, and it’s a little bit more nuanced because of the different ranges of products, some things it’s tough, you know, your, your electricity supplier. You’re not going to go and, uh, have a, um, a backwards and forwards over pricing and, and demand and, and supplier or anything like that. But, you know, I’ve been in situations where, um, I’ve, um, been responsible for a contract that outsourced HR services for seven years for a company that only believed they were going to grow. And then the recession hits and you go back to your provider and the provider is well, the contract’s the contract. Um, and so, you know, you may think that you can, um, uh, bully me around in terms of trying to renegotiate the contract, but I’m gonna stick behind the contract. And again, that’s because in that instance, that supplier had all the leverage in the relationship. So, I mean, that’s really where it lies. Um, it’s it’s relationships and leverage that are gonna determine, um, who does what to whom and who tries to do what to whom, you know, as a result of, um, of all these challenges

Kelly Barner (16:43):

Now, to your point about contracts. It’s interesting because we do talk relationships and we hopefully work through relationships, but at the end of the day, in reality, everyone is reliant on that contract. I do not know, but I have to think that a lot of the things that are becoming points of contention between retailers and suppliers were specified in contracts, does this raise concern that even though things are in writing, we can’t necessarily enforce them into being,

Philip Ideson (17:11):

You know, I would question whether they are in writing or not in contracts or not, because, you know, in some cases those contracts or tra be as loose as possible around, uh, no actual numbers, what are you actually committing to, you know, in the direct side, you may commit to a hundred percent of volume, um, or 50% of volume without saying what your volume’s going to be. And you can get forecasts around what that volume is, but those forecasts aren’t contractual. So when it comes to actually the, the order, the PO that has a volume on it, there’s nothing until that PO that is ever, um, committed to what the volume is. Um, and you know, it’s, it’s really just, well, we think it’s gonna be this. We think it’s gonna be that. So I think in some cases you probably got that, which is then leading to this. Well, you intimated the volume would be whatever, and the volume is significantly lower. Well, there’s nothing in the contract. Yeah. But you told us, you know, we’ve amortized our da, uh, fixed costs over this volume, cuz that’s what you suggested. Um, and that’s probably where some of the back and forwards is coming from

Kelly Barner (18:13):

Now, we sort of started with this issue happening because retailers were trying to protect their customer experience. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and they’re sort of losing their supplier experience and partnerships as a result of the approach that they’re taking. Yeah. But I know you actually have some, some interesting and I’ll say entertaining thoughts about how this might actually be affecting the customer experience, even though companies don’t realize it. Where do you see the connection between these two things?

Philip Ideson (18:40):

Yeah, it’s, it’s interesting, as we said, right at the beginning, everything is now a supply chain problem. Um, you know, we have an in, uh, an example where, um, I know in may timeframe, we bought an interior door for our house, uh, and you placed the order. And, uh, I guess there’s a shortage of doors, interior doors and who knew, you know, when the kids decided to put a hole through, on the bathroom doors. Um, and so we placed the order. We told that the order is gonna be, I think it was early July. So about six week lead time through a national retailer, um, to just get a door. And then of course they delay it and they delay it. They delay it to a time when we’re outta the country for a significant period of time. And then tell us that it’s our problem, that we’re not gonna be around in five days to pick it up because, um, you know, we’re outta the country, even though it was them that delayed it.

Philip Ideson (19:28):

So there’s this big disconnect, you know, which then creates lots of stress, you know, calling from overseas. And it took us probably, I dunno, three or four hours just to get somebody to say, okay, well, hold on to this staff are you until the day you get back from your trip, but don’t be late. Um, and so now I’ve got a negative opinion of my experience with this brand, you know, over something that was probably out of their control, but the way that they managed it is actually what’s creating a negative customer experience. I think that people are empathetic generally to the fact that there’s delays in supply chain, especially those of us in supply chain. But it’s how you manage that as the, um, as the, the retailer in this case, that actually goes down to what my opinion of the retailer, because the way they handled the situation

Kelly Barner (20:14):

Well, and it is interesting because over the last couple of years, everyone and their mother is now an expert in supply chain mm-hmm <affirmative>. But I think with that gradually over time has come a level of understanding and sophistication that we’re no longer at the point where any retailer or provider can just wave their hands and say, well, you know, supply chain right now, people are starting to understand, okay, there are retail points, there are distribution centers. We hear things about long beach California. So we understand there’s shipping containers on ocean faring vessels. I do think we may be coming to the end of the window where simply invoking supply chain crisis is going to apologize for every poor experience.

Philip Ideson (20:58):

Yeah. I think people will try it for as long as they can get away with it. You know, we’ve traveled a lot over this past month and all these hotels and airlines and airport, they’ve all complained about, uh, supply chain issues for reasons why they can’t do things, but, you know, they’re still happy to, to oversell their flights and, um, you know, try and work on the revenue side to maximize the revenue while cutting down on the cost side, uh, and blaming supply chain issues as a result of that, which I think is causing big issues from my customer experience perspective, but something that I was also interesting that I noticed in England when I was there for a few weeks, is that now company’s ability to hire is now in some cases being connected to supply chain. So I saw a couple of times where the employee supply chain was the reason why something couldn’t happen. So it wasn’t because they couldn’t hire people or because they didn’t pay enough wages to hire somebody for the positions they needed to fill. It was now a supply chain issue, but relating to the supply chain of people. So, you know, I didn’t know that people were part of a, I mean, we, it’s interesting. We talk from a risk management perspective all the time about supply chains in service businesses. Um, but now that’s making its way out into, you know, the excuses for why things aren’t available, um, is there’s people supply chain.

Kelly Barner (22:14):

So let’s say if we can attempt to brainstorm some potential solutions, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, you know, I look at every sort of bad news story as an opportunity for all the rest of us to say, what would I do if I were in this position or what would I not do and potentially learn from the choices of others. Um, if you are in procurement, in a retailer that finds itself again, net profit margin down over 50% year, over year, 15 billion worth of inventory that you wish you didn’t have, where do you even start to address this problem what’s within your control?

Philip Ideson (22:49):

Yeah. And I think there’s always short term and long term yeah. Solutions, you know, short term is about the situation now. And long term often gets overlooked, which is, you know, how can we stop this from happening or protect ourselves against this happening in the future from a short term perspective, you know, when you have issues like this, um, you know, in this instance that we’re talking about today, it’s actually an oversupply mm-hmm <affirmative>, um, you have to work really, really closely with your suppliers. Um, you know, it’s communication is so important. Um, the why, why you’re trying to take the decisions, what are the outcomes you’re trying to drive? Um, what’s your line of thinking, you know, what does the future look like? Or what, what are the data points are informing your view of the future? Because if you’re managing this collaboratively, your suppliers are gonna be in a much better position to try and do everything that they can do to help mm-hmm.

Philip Ideson (23:41):

And they’re willing to invest in you. If they think it’s a short term, like this is gonna be short term investment, that I’m gonna hold onto this stock, for example, because I know that in six months or nine months, or when something turns around the net impacted me doing that is gonna be something that’s good for me, cuz these are the reasons, you know, when you’re facing shortages on the other, the other hand, because right now we’ve got this Glu here, we’ve got shortages over there. You know, it’s, how can you help your supplier secure? Our sub components are, you know, what, it basically put yourself at their mercy to help them support and service you, um, and doing that is what creates those bonds and those relationships versus just writing a letter to your suppliers and saying, I mean, that’s the thing that I hated the most in automotive that we would do writing a letter supplier saying, dear supplier, we’re gonna take 5% down from you.

Philip Ideson (24:29):

Or this is a situation that we’re gonna force you to hold onto your inventory or whatever it is, you know, yours, yours in partnership, uh, Mr. Or Mrs. CPO <laugh>, you know, and we do that or, or VP of supply chain or whoever it came from. And we do that all the time. And then, and then think that when things start to turn around that, that these suppliers gonna be our friends again. Um, and typically it’s all through because of this, this notion of leverage. And we’ve got this, it’s like one of the, I think one of the big, the worst things to come out of the professionalization of procurement is this focus on leverage. You know, when you think of the, uh, the crowd check matrix and leverage suppliers, um, this idea that we’ll just use our power to get whatever we want. Um, we’ve gotta get away from that in the short term and the long term, but the short term, especially to have these, to be an open book, um, you know, long term, it’s more around risk management, um, you know, having alternative sources of supply, um, having more flexibility, building optionality and contracts.

Philip Ideson (25:30):

There’s a lot of structure you need to set up to enable all those kind of things at scale. Um, but I’m always reminded of what a chief risk officer told me a good number of years is that, you know, whoever bears the risk essentially is the one that, that, uh, the, the wins financially, you know, there is a cost for bearing risk and as large company buyers, we like to push as much risk as possible onto our supply base. So you should expect to pay for that.

Kelly Barner (25:55):

Well, and it is interesting because we’re able to look at the set of circumstances that have played themselves out and say, okay, this wasn’t a great idea. That’s not a good look. Uh, maybe we understand why they did this in the beginning, but it certainly didn’t play out. Retailers have ended up with all this inventory and not enough cash flow, but we will never know, let’s say one of the other alternatives was to sort of roll the dice and assume that supply chain disruptions were not going to be as bad as we were potentially projecting and risk that there would be things on shelves. We are never going to know in that alternate universe, how would that have actually worked out? Right. And that’s sort of the difficult thing about the situation we find ourselves in.

Philip Ideson (26:36):

Yeah. It’s very hard to scenario plan. Yeah. Right now, because there’s so many different possibilities and it’s hard to game out every potential. Um, so you can’t, I mean, you can’t build risk mitigation plans for every single eventuality, but you can look at what’s the greatest points of failure, you know, where are the, where are the places where, um, you know, the risk is the highest and the impact, the severity is the highest and at least understand those points and connections within your supply chain. So you can plan mitigations around those and from all the teaching and education and things that we do around that, we find that folks, generally organizations generally don’t take that in procurement seriously, as they should do. And it comes to the, for when there’s events that are happening, like events that’s happened over the last couple of years, it’s gonna be fascinating to me to see when whatever normal looks like becomes normal. Whether we forget everything again, or whether this has been such a big shock to the system, that it actually changes the way that we think about our suppliers and about risk management and about the value proposition of procurement

Kelly Barner (27:37):

Well, and what I wonder too, and I’m gonna date myself by sharing this. But I remember when I was in college watching the Jerry Springer show mm-hmm <affirmative> and there would always be some horrible fight between friends or family members. Invariably, someone would throw a chair. I don’t know where that milk always came from, that people were throwing, but I used to wonder what’s the ride home in the car? Like <laugh> assuming they came to the studio together and are leaving the studio together. And I wonder that a little bit about these relationships between these retailers and especially the specific suppliers that have spoken out publicly about the conditions that they’re being forced to handle. Yeah. Would your gut be that these specific supply relationships can be saved or do you think these suppliers are just assuming that by speaking out, they’re trying to cover the risk they’ve already taken on and that it’s over anyway, mm-hmm

Philip Ideson (28:32):

<affirmative> I would say, uh, you know, a couple of things, one is, um, cuz it depends, it depends on the way in which an organization worked with a supplier to help yeah. Overcome some of these problems, you know, was that, um, was the buyer an advocate of you or was he a bully to you? Um, the other thing is, you know, when, when all the dust is settled, one of the biggest determinants of future relationships is with those actions that that buyer, that client took based on truth are based on trying to take advantage of a situation. Um, and because I’ve been in negotiations where, you know, I’ve as a service provider in a large organization, some, a, a buyer, a client has come to the table asking for huge cost reductions based on, you know, financial struggles and then the financial results get published at the end of the quarter.

Philip Ideson (29:26):

And you see there’s really no such thing. And so you think, well, was that really based on truth, uh, that damages the relationship forever, frankly. But if you see that it’s BA that everyone’s trying to chip in and maybe the mode that they did, it wasn’t the best mode of communication, but it’s a real problem that is trying to create an ecosystem that strengthens all its components coming out of it. Then you can kind of say, okay, it was hard, but it was necessary. And maybe wish they’d had done it a little bit, uh, a little bit better in communication, but I can see what they were trying to do. And you know, I’m going to benefit from that coming out of it. Um, those are, it, it, it differs from company to company, but that’s what I would say in terms of whether a relationship can be saved or not.

Kelly Barner (30:10):

Now here’s the harsh reality. Do consumers really care? Mm-hmm <affirmative> if these retailers are bad to their suppliers. So is there actually anything at risk? We talk about what procurement should do, the type of relationships we want companies to have with their suppliers, but does the consumer actually care to the point where it creates a disincentive for these companies to behave badly?

Philip Ideson (30:36):

I mean, um, there’s reputational risk for sure. You know, as you’re looking at all kinds of different risk factors, when you’re building a third part of risk management program, you’re gonna look at reputational risk, uh, as one of those components for you to do the right thing. Um, it, I guess it depends on the relationship you have with your customers. You know, if you are relationship with your customers is based on being good for the world. Um, then if you are seen as not doing that and not upholding to that value, then it’s probably going to impact your customers. If your value proposition, um, you know, to the market is I’m gonna be the cheapest, then they probably don’t care how you, how you are able to provide those part, those, um, you know, things on the shelves or the services or whatever it is at that lowest price, cuz all you really care about is the price.

Kelly Barner (31:19):

Well, and it is interesting looking at this in the macro trend of ESG. So environmental, social and governance based initiatives because especially B2C companies like retailers have made a concerted push over the last few years to connect with local communities, support small business, increase the diversity of their supply base and have really put on a very strong promotional front about that so that consumers would know mm-hmm <affirmative>. So part of those brand value propositions are in fact, based on at least a perception that these companies care about the world, that they care about communities, that they care about, people that they care about workforce mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so that does sort of raise the bar, even if it just creates sort of an elevated concern around controlling the message yeah. Of how this gets out to the, the consumer base. We caught this article going through, but I don’t know if the typical consumer would catch it right. And yet these things always have a way once that mindset shift takes place, once people revert to the old dance and way of handling things, I have a feeling it sort of leaks out into other choices and will eventually become apparent.

Philip Ideson (32:34):

Yeah. I think that, you know, practices in one area of a business probably reflect, uh, a culture across multiple areas of the business that that will show themselves, you know, in different ways that I’m not smart enough to understand or project how, but you know, that, that there’s a culture that exists to do things in a certain way, you know, but that might be in a way that consumer expects because they only care about low prices as an example, you know, having the right things on the shelves at the right price at the right time. Um, my experience has been, um, does the com does the culture of a company see every single stakeholder as being a potential customer or not? So if you look at all your suppliers and see every single one of your suppliers as a potential future customer, then you’re going to treat those suppliers differently than if you don’t take that view because I’ve worked as a consultant with organizations who do take that approach. And so they, their approach to procurement was very different. And this is a, a huge global organization with a very, uh, well known brand. You know, they see every stakeholder as being a potential customer or a customer. Uh, they approach their supply base in a very different way than those that don’t necessarily think like that.

Kelly Barner (33:48):

And to that point about culture being pervasive, even though it might be different teams in an organization, I have to think it’s an incredible challenge to on the one hand, try to create a positive, rewarding, frictionless experience for your consumer base. While, you know, with the other hand behind your back, you’re sort of bopping a supplier over the head and forcing them to help you deal with these inventory and cash flow issues. Those two experiential ends of the supply chain. It does feel like they meet in culture.

Philip Ideson (34:18):

Yeah. I think the, what, you’ll what you find and I found this in automotive again, is similar. Those directives, you know, they are led from the very, very top of an organization because at the very top of the organization, they’re looking at, you know, the do and the senses and figuring out how do we overcome these problems that we see in a way that is going to, um, maintain shareholder value that is pushed down in terms of actions, the folks who are undertaking the actions to make that, you know, to, to operationalize that direction, um, you know, are probably caught in this balance between, you know, making sure that they’re portraying the, the message and the strategy of the business while recognizing that sometimes they’re asking for extraordinary things from their partners. Yeah. And so the way that they do that is the way that suppliers will come out of that experience.

Philip Ideson (35:10):

You know, that, that, yeah, the whole experience, are they gonna come up with that thinking, look, I know this is from above, don’t really agree with it. I know you’re trying to help, you know, you’re trying to protect me from the system, I’ll try and do that and we’ll figure out how we can collaborate together. Versus are you being the bully who is saying, this is the directive I’m gonna hide behind this. And I’m just gonna send email after email demanding that you, um, do what this says, because that’s how I measured an enforcement. It, it really it’s on us as procurement professionals to decide how we’re going to manage that. Even if the requests don’t seem fair in the nature.

Kelly Barner (35:47):

Now we have quotes from three suppliers in this article, but we know that large retailers have many, many, many more suppliers than that. If, instead of being managing director at art of procurement, you were say the president and CEO of exploding puppies, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, uh, that made card games and, and board games. What advice would you take? So what, how would seeing this article, how might hearing this conversation, um, affect the way that you deal with retailers in protecting your business? Yeah. Any advice for other suppliers?

Philip Ideson (36:23):

Um, I’ve probably changed my brand from exploiting puppies. <laugh> um, <laugh> but, um, I mean, it depends on how important a client, you know, well, most likely this isn’t a, a client by client issue. You’re gonna get it from across the industry. So as an industry, you’re gonna recognize, you know, these are kind of hard times to my industry. How can I best support my clients, get through this time in a way that doesn’t negatively impact my business? You know, if the extent where I can no longer support and provide whatever I is that I’m servicing to my clients. So you’ve gotta recognize that this is not just a problem that is once supplier that has, it’s gonna go across the board. Yeah. Um, you know, at that point, you kind of deciding from, from a portfolio perspective, which of the clients strategically do I wanna align myself most costly with because of where the future of my business is going.

Philip Ideson (37:13):

And is there reactions and the way that they’re handling this a determinants in where I believe that should be, because I think it’s fair to say, you know, even people who say this, isn’t true as a business owner, you invest the time you go above and beyond the car of duty with those clients who you have a really strong relationship and believe would return the favor, um, and those that you want to invest in. So that’s really where you’re looking is where is that now? You know, I know from automotive, there’ll be times when, uh, because in, in automotive there are so few end customers, you know, in the us, you had the big three. Well, if, if you’re in thewe, if you’re a Midwest provider of automotive plastic moldings, you’ve got three suppliers, uh, three suppliers to supply to. So, and all three of those have probably got faced with the same issues at the same time. Um, if you make enemies of one, then that’s a third of your potential, total, total market gone. Um, and so sometimes you just gotta take it. Um, and that’s one of the things that I really struggle with, you know, and one of the motivators for starting out procurement was to get out, to get procurement outta that way of thinking. Yeah. When you provider that’s kind the reality of the situation. If you are, uh, in an industry where you are taking yourself down a pathway, you only have two or three or four potential clients.

Kelly Barner (38:30):

Now, what lessons should the rest of us take from this? To some extent, we’re all dealing with the same challenging circumstances. Um, we have varying options and alternative alternatives available to us. Uh, but what are sort of the general takeaways, uh, from, from thinking about this story and watching the impact that it’s having throughout the supply ecosystem?

Philip Ideson (38:54):

Yeah, I would say from a buyer perspective, sometimes you can’t change the fact that you, your company needs to make hard decisions and do things that you may believe are out of, uh, you know, beyond what is reasonable, uh, things to ask your suppliers, the way you, what you are as a professional is in control of how you manage that situation. And so the way that you manage it, you know, the empathy you show, the communication kind of being as open book as possible can change the outcome. You know, it’s not gonna change how difficult it is on a supplier, but it may change them from saying, well, no way, and getting into a fight, you know, where people start talking about contracts and then start talking to the press versus how do we work this out. I can’t really do that. Can do this.

Philip Ideson (39:38):

Maybe there’s something you can do over here. If you can reduce my cost to serve you over there a little bit, that gives me a little bit more wiggle room. How can we be, um, collaborative to solve the problem? Um, I think that’s the first thing. And the second thing, you know, that I’d always say is around risk management and optionality and just, you know, how are we thinking long term around what are points of failure of having multiple sources, um, and you know, not creating monopolies where ultimately the supplier, uh, actually has the leverage because you’ve got no one else you can buy from,

Kelly Barner (40:08):

You know, it’s interesting cuz you’ve mentioned empathy a couple of times today. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and I happen to know this is sort of like time travel by the time people are watching and hearing this interview. The episode of dial P that was previously released is about empathy. Okay. Because I do think we’re in very difficult times. I think you’re spot on with your points about fatigue. You know, we’re so focused on supply chain resilience, but the human resilience I think, is starting to fall off mm-hmm, <affirmative> our tolerance for uncertainty. We’re just, we’re exhausted. And yeah, it seems like so many of these problems, the longer they go on the fewer solutions we actually have. And yet you’re also right that as a business owner, you have to make tough decisions sometimes mm-hmm <affirmative> um, knowing that I’m totally catching you off guard with this, any final thoughts that you wanna share on this topic of empathy? Um, because I do think it’s hard in ordinary times, but it’s that much harder given where we actually are today.

Philip Ideson (41:10):

Yeah. Look, you know, people buy from people, we’re all we we’re, we’ve all got this, this cloak of a corporation behind us of, you know, a corporation of one or a corporation of a million, but we’re still just individuals trying to transact and do business with each other and, you know, make our days as, um, as simple as possible, uh, you know, in, in service of reaching all of our goals and achieving our goals, you also have no idea what any one person is dealing with at the time when you’re, uh, engaging with them. So empathy I think is always really important. Um, you know, you think about how, if you are a supplier, how do you react? If you get an email that’s really threatening, demanding, and bullying, um, versus getting an email or a phone call from your buyer, which explains the situation, talks about the challenges and offers up, like how can we figure out, you know, how we get through this together. Um, and that just changes the conversation in my mind, um, and shows that, Hey, we’re working together individual to individual rather than I’m gonna hide behind this big company that I am and a directive that they’ve sent out. It’s because you know, it’s not my problem

Kelly Barner (42:19):

Now to that point, I feel like I would be messing up what people would ask if I didn’t bring this conversation full circle and ask, did you get the interior door yet?

Philip Ideson (42:28):

We’ll see. By the time this goes out, it will be clear. They gave me until today to pick it up. Um, as an extension to my, um, you know, the five days are something that we’re supposed to, uh, uh, have now I’m kind of 50 50, whether it’s gonna be there when I turn up. So, uh, we shall see to be continued.

Kelly Barner (42:49):

And to that point bonus credit for being here with me, recording this interview, as opposed to being at the retailer, picking up your door. So yeah, especially if you get there and the door’s gone, I feel like you at least get extra credit and bonus points for, for making the choice to be here.

Philip Ideson (43:05):

I know who to blame <laugh>

Kelly Barner (43:07):

Well, fortunately I live too far away to help. Yeah. And you really don’t want me installing doors. So, um, hopefully it’s there when you get to the store to pick it up. Um, Phil, this was fun. I think informative, hopefully educational for people. If people watching this interview later have questions, including the installation status of your door or anything really about what procurement can do, how we should working, be working with our suppliers through these times. And even generally speaking the role of empathy and relationships in business, what is the best way for people to get in touch with you?

Philip Ideson (43:42):

Yeah, I’d say a couple of things. You know, one is that, uh, all these types of topics, we create a lot of contents on at, at, at procurement. So anybody always go, you’re going find blog posts, podcast videos, the whole works on a lot of, um, a lot of topics related to procurement that that can help you. If you’d like to reach out one on one, I’m always available on LinkedIn. So send a LinkedIn request over. Um, I will, uh, you know, I read everything and respond as quickly as, uh, as I can. So that’s probably the best way, uh, to connect personally.

Kelly Barner (44:15):

Awesome. Please do check out out of procurements resources, please connect with Phil on LinkedIn and of course follow dial P on LinkedIn, reach out to me. If you have comments, I always encourage people. Don’t just listen, let this be a two way discussion. So you can always add comments under any post on any social media platform where you find this, you can direct message me, um, and please make sure anyone that you think would benefit from this conversation and information gets it, send it over to them, and then let us know because it’s important for me to know which topics and conversations resonate and how we’re actually helping everyone handle today’s challenges better. So thank you, Philip IEN, managing director, art of procurement for being with me today. Thank you to everybody that’s listening and watching later on. I’m your host Kelly Barner here on dial P for procurement on supply chain. Now thank you for joining us and have a great rest of your day.

Intro/Outro (45:14):

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

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Featured Guests

Philip Ideson is the Founder and Managing Director of Art of Procurement. Art of Procurement helps inspire and guide procurement leaders as they position their team to enable company growth. Prior to Art of Procurement, Philip led procurement transformation, category management, and sourcing programs for clients of Accenture. Previously, Philip was Head of International Procurement, Sourcing & Third-Party Risk Management at Ally Financial and has worked across the direct and indirect procurement value chains. Connect with Philip on LinkedIn.


Kelly Barner

Host, Dial P for Procurement

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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.

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

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Demo Perez

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

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

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Kim Winter

Host, Supply Chain Now

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

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

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Adrian Purtill

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.

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Kevin Brown

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Nick Roemer

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Allison Giddens


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.

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Creative Director, Producer, Host

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

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Tandreia Bellamy


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Tandreia is currently a Director for the University of Central Florida (UCF) Foundation Board and also serves on their Dean’s Advisory Board for the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Previously Tandreia served on the Executive Advisory Board for Virginia Tech’s IE Department and the Association for Supply Chain Management. She served on the Board of Trustees for ChildServ (a Chicago child and family services non-profit) and also served on the Texas A&M and Tuskegee Engineering Advisory Boards. In 2006 she was named Business Advisor of the Year by INROADS, in 2009 she was recognized as a Technology All-Star at the Women of Color in STEM conference and in 2019 she honored as a UCF Distinguished Aluma by the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems.

Tandreia holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University and a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management Systems from UCF. Her greatest accomplishment, however, is being the proud mother of two college students, Ruby (24) and Anthony (22).

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Marty Parker


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Laura Lopez

Marketing Coordinator

Laura Lopez serves as our Supply Chain Now Marketing Coordinator. She graduated from Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente in Mexico with a degree in marketing. Laura loves everything digital because she sees the potential it holds for companies in the marketing industry. Her passion for creativity and thinking outside the box led her to pursue a career in marketing. With experience in fields like accounting, digital marketing, and restaurants, she clearly enjoys taking on challenges. Laura lives the best of both worlds - you'll either catch her hanging out with her friends soaking up the sun in Mexico or flying out to visit her family in California!

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Jake Barr


An acknowledged industry leader, Jake Barr now serves as CEO for BlueWorld Supply Chain Consulting, providing support to a cross section of Fortune 500 companies such as Cargill, Caterpillar, Colgate, Dow/Dupont, Firmenich, 3M, Merck, Bayer/Monsanto, Newell Brands, Kimberly Clark, Nestle, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Sanofi, Estee Lauder and Coty among others. He's also devoted time to engagements in public health sector work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. At P&G, he managed the breakthrough delivery of an E2E (End to End) Planning Transformation effort, creating control towers which now manage the daily business globally. He is recognized as the architect for P&G’s demand driven supply chain strategy – referenced as a “Consumer Driven Supply Chain” transformation. Jake began his career with P&G in Finance in Risk Analysis and then moved into Operations. He has experience in building supply network capability globally through leadership assignments in Asia, Latin America, North America and the Middle East. He currently serves as a Research Associate for MIT; a member of Supply Chain Industry Advisory Council; Member of Gartner’s Supply Chain Think Tank; Consumer Goods “League of Leaders“; and a recipient of the 2015 - 2021 Supply Chain “Pro’s to Know” Award. He has been recognized as a University of Kentucky Fellow.

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Marcia Williams


Marcia Williams, Managing Partner of USM Supply Chain, has 18 years of experience in Supply Chain, with expertise in optimizing Supply Chain-Finance Planning (S&OP/ IBP) at Large Fast-Growing CPGs for greater profitability and improved cash flows. Marcia has helped mid-sized and large companies including Lindt Chocolates, Hershey, and Coty. She holds an MBA from Michigan State University and a degree in Accounting from Universidad de la Republica, Uruguay (South America). Marcia is also a Forbes Council Contributor based out of New York, and author of the book series Supply Chains with Maria in storytelling style. A recent speaker’s engagement is Marcia TEDx Talk: TEDxMSU - How Supply Chain Impacts You: A Transformational Journey.

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Luisa Garcia

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Luisa Garcia is a passionate Marketer from Lagos de Moreno based in Aguascalientes. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes, Mexico. She specializes in brand development at any stage, believing that a brand is more than just a name or image—it’s an unforgettable experience. Her expertise helps brands achieve their dreams and aspirations, making a lasting impact. Currently working at Vector Global Logistics in the Marketing team and as podcast coordinator of Logistics With Purpose®. Luisa believes that purpose-driven decisions will impact results that make a difference in the world.

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Astrid Aubert

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Astrid Aubert was born in Guadalajara, she is 39 years old and has had the opportunity to live in many places. She studied communication and her professional career has been in Trade Marketing for global companies such as Pepsico and Mars. She currently works as Marketing Director Mexico for Vector Global Logistics. She is responsible for internal communications and marketing strategy development for the logistics industry. She is a mother of two girls, married and lives in Monterrey. She defines herself as a creative and innovative person, and enjoys traveling and cooking a lot.

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Sofia Rivas Herrera


Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey University, class 2019. Upon graduation she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management (GCLOG) 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. Former Data Analyst within the airport industry in Latin America at Pacific Airport Group, performing benchmarking reports and predictive analysis of future market behavior.

Currently working as Sr. Staffing Analyst within the S&OP team in Mexico at the biggest ecommerce company in Latin America: Mercado Libre. Responsible for workforce forecasting and planning through the analysis of demand, productivity, capacity, cost & time constraints. Sofia self identifies as Supply Chain Ambassador, sharing her passion for the field in her daily life. She has been recognized as upcoming thought leader in the field and invited to participate in several podcasts (Freight Path Podcast, Supply Chain Revolution Podcast, Let’s Talk Supply Chain, Industrificados) to discuss topics such as digital transformation, automation and future skillsets for supply chain professionals.

She is a frequent featured guest at Supply Chain Now and appointed co-host for their new series Supply Chain Now en Español. Global Ambassador for ISCEAs Sustainable Supply Chain Professional Certification (CSSCP) and keynote speaker at World Supply Chain Forum 2021 by ISCEA Indonesia.

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Karin Bursa


Karin Bursa is the 2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year and the Host of the TEKTOK Digital Supply Chain Podcast powered by Supply Chain Now. With more than 25 years of supply chain and technology expertise (and the scars to prove it), Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and share their success stories. Today, she helps B2B technology companies introduce new products, capture customer success and grow global revenue, market share and profitability. In addition to her recognition as the 2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year, Karin has also been recognized as a 2019 and 2018 Supply Chain Pro to Know, 2009 Technology Marketing Executive of the Year and a 2008 Women in Technology Finalist. 

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Vin Vashishta


Vin Vashishta is the author of ‘From Data To Profit’ (Wiley 2023). It’s the playbook for monetizing data and AI. Vin is the Founder of V-Squared and built the business from client 1 to one of the world’s oldest data and AI consulting firms. His background combines nearly 30 years in strategy, leadership, software engineering, and applied machine learning.

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Amanda Luton

Vice President, Production

Amanda is a production and marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Amanda currently manages, produces, and develops modern digital content for Supply Chain Now and their clients. Amanda has previously served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah, and founded and managed her own successful digital marketing firm, Magnolia Marketing Group. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now production team, you can find Amanda in the kitchen, reading, listening to podcasts, or enjoying time with family.

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

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

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

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Greg White

Principal & Host

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

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

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Chris Barnes

Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring

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

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

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Tyler Ward

Director of Sales

Tyler Ward serves as Supply Chain Now's Director of Sales. Born and raised in Mid-Atlantic, Tyler is a proud graduate of Shippensburg University where he earned his degree in Communications. After college, he made his way to the beautiful state of Oregon, where he now lives with his wife and daughter.

With over a decade of experience in sales, Tyler has a proven track record of exceeding targets and leading high-performing teams. He credits his success to his ability to communicate effectively with customers and team members alike, as well as his strategic thinking and problem-solving skills.

When he's not closing deals, you can find Tyler on the links or cheering on his favorite football and basketball teams. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing pick-up basketball, and traveling back to Ocean City, Maryland, his favorite place!

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Kevin L. Jackson

Host of Digital Transformers

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

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Enrique Alvarez

Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español

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

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

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Kelly Barner

Host of Dial P for Procurement

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

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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

Mary Kate Soliva is 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.

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Constantine Limberakis


Constantine Limberakis is a thought leader in the area of procurement and supply management. He has over 20 years of international experience, playing strategic roles in a wide spectrum of organizations related to analyst advisory, consulting, product marketing, product development, and market research.Throughout his career, he's been passionate about engaging global business leaders and the broader analyst and technology community with strategic content, speaking engagements, podcasts, research, webinars, and industry articles.Constantine holds a BA in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an MBA in Finance & Marketing / Masters in Public & International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.

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Clay Phillips

Business Development Manager

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

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Trisha Cordes

Administrative Assistant

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

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Chantel King

Social Media Manager

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

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

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

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Lori Sofian

Marketing Coordinator

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

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Katherine Hintz

Director, Customer Experience

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

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Mary Kate Love

Chief of Staff & Host

Mary Kate Love is currently the VP of marketing at Supply Chain Now focused on brand strategy and audience + revenue growth. Mary Kate’s career is a testament to her versatility and innovative spirit: she has experience in start-ups, venture capital, and building innovation initiatives from the ground up: she previously helped lead the build-out of the Supply Chain Innovation Center at Georgia-Pacific and before that, MxD (Manufacturing times Digital): the Department of Defense’s digital manufacturing innovation center. Mary Kate has a passion for taking complicated ideas and turning them into reality: she was one of the first team members at MxD and the first team member at the Supply Chain Innovation Center at Georgia-Pacific.

Mary Kate dedicates her extra time to education and mentorship: she was one of the founding Board Members for Women Influence Chicago and led an initiative for a city-wide job shadow day for young women across Chicago tech companies and was previously on the Board of Directors at St. Laurence High School in Chicago, Young Irish Fellowship Board and the UN Committee for Women. Mary Kate is the founder of National Supply Chain Day and enjoys co-hosting podcasts at Supply Chain Now. Mary Kate is from the south side of Chicago, a mom of two baby boys, and an avid 16-inch softball player. She holds a BS in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Joshua Miranda

Marketing Specialist

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

Donna Krache

Director of Communications and Executive Producer

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

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Vicki White


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

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