Supply Chain Now
Episode 725

Episode Summary

In this episode of the Freight Insider, Page Siplon speaks with Christian Fischer, President & CEO of Georgia-Pacific. Christian relates how his time on a cargo vessel made freight come alive for him and what he learned on that journey that influences his perspective today.

As the leader of Georgia-Pacific, Christian oversees one of the world’s largest consumer and forest products companies, based in Atlanta, Georgia, with nearly 30,000 employees.

Christian shares the focus of the Georgia-Pacific, including:

  • The role of business in society, which for Georgia-Pacific means improving the lives of their customers through products and services that are highly valued, while consuming fewer resources
  • How embracing perpetual transformation allows Georgia-Pacific to adapt to the changing world and to serve customers and partners with better alternatives
  • How partnering with providers in transportation and logistics offers mutual benefits as well as various avenues to respond to customer needs

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:03):

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

Page Siplon (00:31):

Good afternoon. And welcome to today’s episode of The Freight Insider podcast, where we are opening the doors to the business of freight. I’m your host, Page Siplon. I always say that freight is the common denominator in this complicated math problem that we call our economy. Literally, every business is touched by freight, but of how it touches us and how it touches companies really varies greatly. Some exists to move the freight, others track it, some manufacture it, while others receive it and share it with consumers and other businesses. The business of freight is complicated, exciting, and, frankly, all too well kept of a secret weapon for business.

 

Page Siplon (01:04):

Today, I have a really special guest joining me, an old friend you could say. He has over 30 years of experience in manufacturing and marketing paper and tissue products, packaging cellulose, specialty fibers, building products, and a whole bunch of other related materials. The list is long for sure. Starting with the company in 1989, he relocated to Europe from Atlanta in ’92, and has led many divisions of his company for many years. In 2017, he was named President and CEO of Georgia-Pacific. Today’s guest is Mr. Christian Fischer. Welcome to The Freight Insider, Christian.

Christian Fischer (01:39):

Page, I’m happy to be here. Thanks very much. It’s so good to reconnect. [Inaudible].

Page Siplon (01:42):

It’s been too long. Thank you. Thank you for joining us. We’ve got a lot of great content to cover, and a lot of great stories about your journey, and about Georgia-Pacific’s journey when it comes to freight. Just to sort of kick things off, like we were discussing before the show started, we’d like to start off with your own personal freight journey and kind of where you built up to and where you are now as CEO and President of Georgia-Pacific.

 

Page Siplon (02:07):

But, you know, interestingly, I was in the Marine Corps and I often joke that I used to be freight, and was shipped around the country and is shipped around the world as cargo as freight. And you grew up in Germany, your Southern accent sort of gives that away. But you lived in Brazil. I know you’ve got an interesting story of actually kind of being freight yourself and getting over here to the United States on a cargo vessel. Tell us a little more about that beginning of your journey together.

Christian Fischer (02:31):

Yeah. Thanks, Page. Indeed, you know, when it was about 1920, I had finished high school in Brazil, and for whatever reason, I knew that I needed to go back to Germany, where I grew up as a kid up to the age of ten, to go to university. And at that time, I mean, air tickets were just more of a luxury good than they are today to many of us. And neither did my mom had that much money to kind of spurge on an airline ticket. But at the age of 20, you got time, right? And I had time. So, I had heard from a friend that you could actually get over the Atlantic Ocean from Brazil to Europe on a cargo ship, a container vessel, if you qualified to work on there. So, you had to work while you’re on. At that time, it took – I don’t know – more than two weeks, maybe 17 days, I don’t remember. And you had to get on, and you had to work yourself over that, and that was it. And I said, “Wow. That’s what I’m going to do.” And after a few attempts, I really got hired.

Christian Fischer (03:39):

I remember one thing painfully, Page, I had just, I think, broken or at least severely injured, I think it was the ring finger of my right hand and I’m a right-hander. And the thing, “Well, that’s going to be both very well for physical labor for two days.” But, of course, I couldn’t tell anybody about that. And as soon as I greeted the captain and he squeezed my hand, I was just saying, “Oh, my gosh. This is going to be a long trip.”

 

Christian Fischer (04:03):

Anyway, but really, so container vessel and as the guy on the bottom of the totem pole, you get to do all the work that nobody else wants to do. And this was like cleaning out rust, painting, fixing little things, washing the deck every day, and so on and so forth. You get a little bit of insult and injury, too, from the crew that says, “Okay. It’s the new guy. Let’s throw a bucket of water on him at 6:00 a.m.,” that kind of stuff.

Page Siplon (04:31):

[Inaudible] work ethic for sure.

Christian Fischer (04:32):

Absolutely. Absolutely. So, look, this was, I would just say, my first personal longer, more intimate journey, if you will, really, figurative again. And, really, with freight, where I felt a little bit like I was part of the cargo issue well. But many learnings. Of course, I picked a few things up about how a vessel works, and what it does, et cetera. That freight piece, if you will. But, secondly, I would just say the lessons there, too, and the respect that you build for the people that are in that profession of making freight happen, in this case, people on a boat, the crew. But it’s not hard to connect that to pilots that spend a lot of time away from their family, to truck drivers who spend endless days and weeks on roads, et cetera. You really gain a lot of respect for the personal sacrifice and contributions these people in those professions make. And last but not the least, you learn something about life on that too. And you learn how big the ocean is because there’s nothing else to see for 17 days or so. Anyway, I leave it at that. But, again, a journey that really made freight come alive for me.

Page Siplon (05:56):

You’re right, it’s a people business, for sure. And I think it’s probably why you’re partly such a great leader at Georgia-Pacific and everything you’ve done through your journey. You know, learning about the people first and foremost, and that it is a people business. We joke in the trucking industry, those trucks don’t drive themselves.

 

Christian Fischer (06:12):

No. Not yet.

 

Page Siplon (06:12):

I mean, it’s coming. It’s a whole other podcast we can do. But it’s certainly a people business. So, you got to Brazil and then you continued your journey professionally. I have in my notes here, you were a market pulp sales manager, which I guess describes itself. Tell us kind of where you went from there.

Christian Fischer (06:30):

Yeah. I mean, I’ve even started a little bit earlier, but it’s just for context and not for your audience. But when I then got to Germany and I needed a job to get me through college on the other side, I found a job in a Brazilian pulp company and that’s how I got into the pulp or cellulose business. This was a small office, four or five people that manage all aspects of selling and distributing the product in Europe. And in such a role, you get into everything, because it’s just too small an office to kind of compartmentalize things. So, one of the tasks I had was cargo inspection, bill of lading, reconciliation or distribution, booking freight, that could be truck, that could be inland marine transportation, you name it, I got into that.

 

Christian Fischer (07:23):

Five years later, I was hired by Georgia-Pacific in Europe as a pulp sales manager, also a very small office. I would say with more capability coming back out of the United States, but still a heavy element of what I described in my earlier job. So, I think the moral of the story here, this was my upbringing, if you will, and learning in freight business was by doing, by looking around, by doing, by learning a lot from freight forwarders, from truckers, from boat people, et cetera. And it was a kind of, you know, a super education in that context. And I think the other thing you learn that I learned is how important that is to actually service your customers well.

Page Siplon (08:14):

Yeah. And actually doing it. You don’t learn that in college. You don’t get that out of a textbook.

 

Christian Fischer (08:18):

I don’t think so. I didn’t.

 

Page Siplon (08:20):

Yeah. Well, I think a lot of great leaders are like that, who have done it. The stories have been told about UPS, for example, you know, all the executives in your role as CEO started off as a driver in Home Depot. I know Mark Holifield – who we both know well – spends time going into the stores and interacting with customers and really getting down to the grassroots, if you will. I think it’s an important part of all the freight journeys that we’ve talked about with guests. So then, we fast forward, you’ve had multiple roles – and people can check out the website and read your bio the different roles you’ve had over the years, a long tenure with Georgia-Pacific. And, now, you’re the President and CEO.

Page Siplon (08:59 ):

Just for our audience’s background, unless they’ve been asleep under a rock, Georgia-Pacific is one of the largest manufacturer of consumer and forest products. Nearly 30,000 employees based in Atlanta. Georgia-Pacific operates three key businesses: building products – lumber, plywood, panels, wallboards; packaging cellulose – container board boxes; and consumer products – bath tissue, paper towels, disposable plates, cups, cutlery, a variety of other consumer products both for the home and away from home. Georgia-Pacific’s big brands include Angel Soft, Quilted Northern, Brawny, Dixie cups. Really, if you’re looking at a paper product or anything consumable in the grocery store or at the Home Depot, it’s probably made or Georgia-Pacific has their hands in it as well. Georgia-Pacific is part of Koch Industries, one of America’s largest private companies. And so, with all that going on and all that freight moving around, it seems like sort of a rhetorical question, but why is freight so important to Georgia-Pacific? I mean, you’re not a logistics company, but it seems like you couldn’t do what you do without freight and logistics.

Christian Fischer (10:14):

Number one, first of all, you’ve done your homework. You summarized what GP does and where we are.

 

Page Siplon (10:19):

It’s easy to do.

 

Christian Fischer (10:20):

And the only thing I add is, again, most of our manufacturing – and that’s key to answer your question, Page – is actually done in the United States. But, again, we source materials for it and we ship our goods all over the globe. So, we make a lot of stuff, we buy a lot of stuff, and we ship a lot of stuff, and that’s where freight comes in. So, really, I would just say this, we couldn’t do what we do if we didn’t know the business of freight well. Although – I don’t know – we probably own a couple of flatbed trucks and some rail cars here and there, but that pales into comparison about what we ship every day. But we got to do it really well, be really knowledgeable, and it is a source of competitive advantage, one. I mean, if you don’t pay attention to that, with the billions of dollars we spend a year of, again, moving stuff around, then you can be uncompetitive. And, two, it’s the key to serve your customers well. And I think these are the two key takeaways, Page, so that you say without it and without knowing it, we couldn’t be successful.

Page Siplon (11:43):

That’s right. I mean, just a couple of stats here that you had: 1,800 trucks coming into your facilities every weekday, 5,000 loads of logs, 1,500 loads of chips every weekday, 50 million pounds of finished goods coming out of your facilities. It’s information that your team has provided. You know, it’s just incredible. And you talked about serving the customer, I mean, those are all things your customers are depending on whether it’s, you know, toilet paper during a pandemic and other times, for sure, whether it’s logs for our building communities. It’s huge what you guys do. So, understatement of, probably, the century saying you guys ship a lot of stuff. Most about everything. So, tell me a little bit more, obviously freight is a big focus of your role and your many employees and your team’s role, but what are some of the things that Georgia-Pacific is focusing on from a freight perspective or freight related perspective these days in particular?

Christian Fischer (12:39):

Page, I always like to start at a hundred thousand foot level because if people get that, then they know what guides our thinking and actions and everything. Not always perfectly, but that’s the intent and the aspiration. And some of that is timeless, if you will, but sometimes you really need to, again, refocus as an organization on those things. So, at the highest level, Page, what comes to mind is really making sure that all of our employees, but also our business partners, understand one thing. What we are really focused on, intentional and purposeful, is to fulfill the best in how we interpret the role of a business in society, plain and simple. But what is that for us? Well, it is to really help our customers improve their lives, you know, in the space that we’re in. And where we can make a difference.

Christian Fischer (13:35):

That doesn’t mean we, alone, will change their lives, but we will help them improve their lives, one. And how? Well, by giving them better alternatives than they otherwise have, one. And, two – and this is very, very important because at the heart of it, it has the message of stewardship and some people call it sustainability – doing that while consuming fewer resources. So, you know, you don’t waste stuff. You take care of the environment. You really are thoughtful about how you produce things and so on and so forth, very key. So, focus on that.

 

Christian Fischer (14:09)

Within that, you know, you have a vision where you say – and that’s what I meant by from time to time you got to refocus the organization on that even more so than in the past, maybe – focus on the customer. So, your most important constituents. If they pay the bills, if we don’t have them, everything else becomes fiction. So, focus on the customer very well. And how do you focus on the customer very well? Well, you are guided by a couple of – we call it – principles or underlying key things that you always got to keep in your mind. One is to say, “Hey, look. We’re only working here for mutual benefit.” Because if the customer doesn’t take any benefit from dealing with us, [inaudible]. Two, you try to actually, again, give them better alternatives, which means what we’re really trying to do is become their preferred supplier. We call that, develop those preferred partnerships. But they’ve got to choose you as the preferred partner. It’s not just you choosing them. So, you got to do that.

 

Christian Fischer (15:13):

And the better alternatives in a world that we interpret today as moving fast, to changing faster, being disrupted, more fast, including on freight, more than ever in history, certainly in most of our lives, you just say, “Well, I got to stay really in tune with what’s changing.” And embrace something – which is key here – which is a concept of we are in this game called perpetual transformation. Don’t transform once and then think I’ve arrived. No. No. You’ve got to perpetually transform because the world’s transforming. Otherwise, you don’t serve your customers with better alternatives. That’s that.

 

Christian Fischer (15:54):

And the last thing I’ll say to that is, of course – I say, of course. I want to call it out – there’s more constituencies than your customers. But I started with the customer. But, obviously, if you are not a good partner and the best partner in the community in which you produce, if you’re not a preferred partner of regulators, if you’re not a best partner of suppliers, well, then again, you’ll become weaker in servicing your customers. But the absolute key without which none of that happens is our employees. So, really creating the environment where everyone can actually, to the best of their specific innate capabilities, contribute to the success and have personal journey of transformation and, ultimately, fulfillment. And we call it self-actualization. Then, all bets are off. And maybe we’ll talk more about focusing very much on creating that environment where that is not just a bunch of nice words but where that is really lived everyday.

Page Siplon (17:01):

Yeah. No. That’s a great point. I mean, to use my words, status quo can be a killer for business. I don’t care if you’re a paper company or not. I mean, even technology companies. I love the way you described transformation of your business, but also transforming and continuing to evolving your culture. You talked about your employees. Not to jump ahead too far because I’m sure the pandemic and how it’s affected your company will come up, but companies are transforming themselves now from a culture perspective on how they need to better serve their employees as their customers. Because you got to think of them as customers as well. We’ve gone to more of a hybrid role here in our office here at Team One Logistics. And it’d be interesting to hear how you are moving along. So, talk a little bit about what you’re most excited about, what are some of the, you know, maybe pet projects, if you can talk about them? Or what are you most excited about at Georgia-Pacific, you know, now into the short-term future?

Christian Fischer (17:58):

Yeah. Well, you can always follow up with more questions here in more specificity, if your audience likes that. But there’s a lot of – call it – tactical or even structural stuff going on in our markets as we interpret it. That is really exciting, right? I mean, one of them is coming out of the pandemic. For example, while people bought enough toilet paper along the way and now are kind of destocking to kind of normalize what they have in their pantry for good reasons. One trend seems to be sticking around, which is a higher sensitivity need/want appreciation for hygiene in general. So, we see a lot of that in our way from home business where people say, “Hey, look. I had something else on my wall or nothing.” It could be an air blower. It could be you just took towels out of a stack to dry your hands. I now want it to be not air blowing around there and disseminating germs or something like that. But I want it to be good paper towels, but I don’t want to touch the device from which they come. So, there’s a lot of emphasis or renewed emphasis on touchless hygiene – let’s put it that way – away from home.

 

Christian Fischer (19:23):

But, also, in terms of our towel business – and my competitors from the best we can tell are seeing the same thing – is people are just using more of that one time cleanliness aid – call it – paper towel to dry your hands, to wipe off stuff more often at home. And we think that’s a trend that will stay. To what extent and for how long? I don’t know. But, anyway, so that’s pretty exciting how you position yourself to take advantage of that.

 

Christian Fischer (19:51):

The other one, I could mention certainly about our building products. A business where it’s just fascinating to see how much of an emphasis and spend and focus people had put during the pandemic or the worst part of the pandemic in putting money back into their house and, you know, repair remodel, et cetera. That alone could have kept us busy. And, now, you get this pent up demand on housing that who knows how long that will stay around, Page. But it’s just absolutely crazy. And how do you position yourself to service your customers better than that?

 

Christian Fischer (20:25):

And last but not least, just to have one example for another business. I mean, obviously, more stuff is landing in our doorstep day to day. We all got accustomed to ship it home. And so, more boxes are landing at our doorstep every day. And that in itself is a very, very interesting opportunity, but also challenge because people say, “Oh, that’s good. Now, I have all these boxes at home. Is it going to waste?” Or how do you think about that? And there’s a little guilt out there. So, great opportunities to work with, you know, the broader consumer base to take advantage of that.

 

Christian Fischer (21:02):

But I put all those in tactical. I go back to a couple of things. What I really feel super excited about is, one, that transformation and that world that’s going on and changing so fast. Does it cause some stress on me and my people? You bet. You bet. It’s a question of survival. But, of course, we want to thrive. But, of course, there’s always tension there. But the transformation going through all that change in our lifetime right now is so fast and trying to figure out how to position myself is super exciting.

Christian Fischer (21:33):

Secondly, again, we talked about these preferred partnerships. I think when you have that purpose and deliberately pursue it to really go deeper and say, what does this mean? And what do I really do differently and better? So, all these different constituents choose us to be their preferred partner. I think that is, I mean, super exciting journey. And last but not least, I go back to the people and enabling the 30,000 people, but also our business partners to really contribute to the best that they can. And then, how do you actually wake up in the morning and say, “This is my mission.” Because from that, good stuff will happen. Just trust that it will happen. I think that gets me out of bed in the morning.

Page Siplon (22:24):

Yeah. Well, I think the first step is getting out of bed in the morning and saying this is my mission. And then, going, like you’re talking about, having to execute on it. I mean, that’s key. So, you talk a lot about transformation, both, again, I think really important, not just from a business perspective, but from a culture perspective and transforming to make your workplace a better place to drive your internal customers, as well as your employees, as well as your external customers. What are some other examples of the way you’re transforming your approach to freight and supply chain partnership-wise, perhaps, and how you’re transforming your supply chains, how you handle freight?

Christian Fischer (23:00):

Well, I’ll start by saying this, again, go back to what you observed. I mean, we do a lot of freight but we don’t own any. And as a big and important [inaudible] component of our daily business, we know that we don’t have all the answers. So, it’s been a few years ago, maybe it’s decades, I don’t remember it because I wasn’t in our consumer business at that time, Page. But they had developed an in-house capability, which they called KBX Logistics. It’s still called KBX today. And KBX used to handle the freight for the consumer business division. Today, it’s kind of morphed, if you will, evolve into a capability that handles the freight, not just for all of GP, but also for all of Koch Industries.

Christian Fischer (24:05):

Add on top of that, the capability which gives us – we are convinced, actually, in many aspects – a competitive edge is also being brought forth to third parties out there. Anybody who wants to do business with us, those can be customers, they can be suppliers. And a lot of partners, obviously, did have the hard stuff, the rail, the trucks, and so on and so forth. We live by the partnerships and the mutual benefit, again, that we create with those folks. I mean, other than that, it would be a one-sided story and it will be a short term story. So, by allowing KBX to be the capability that leverages our scale, but also the information they have, and being – call it – a one-stop point of access and cooperation with our vendors in freight is one of those things. And it’s through those cooperations, quite frankly, that you, again, create capabilities that would otherwise be outside of our own and we would never get there.

Christian Fischer (25:04):

So, a couple of examples maybe that are not always directly related to KBX, but things on how we think about that in practice. So, one example, stay within KBX for a second. With KBX and the business, you can obviously cooperate very, very transparently with one another, because we work for the same owner. So, we’re in the same sandbox, if you will. So, by cooperating with KBX, we actually contributed to them developing a smart logistics freight system that helps schedule and avoid empty trucks going back and forth, optimize between different points suppliers and buyers. And I would not give you the right number of mileage and hours and gallons of fuel saved, Page, but it goes into the millions of miles spend, trucking hours spend, fumes exhausted are not put into the air, and this is real money saved. So, again, here, good business and good environmental outcomes on top of that, and then the broader society. And, you know, I got many EPA awards for Smart Freight, et cetera, that we’re proud of. But, again, great work as an example.

Christian Fischer (26:28):

Another one that goes a little bit, again, more into the innovation side, cooperating with a third party, in this case, Outrider is the name of the company. We have a lot of warehouses and distribution centers, some attached to our facility, some not. So, one of the areas that is always a challenge and gives us a lot of headache, not just from operational side, but also from a safety side, is, those yards where a lot of empty trucks sit and get paired around with cargo, and move up to the facility, and get loaded and unloaded, and get spotted, et cetera, very tricky environment, very challenging environment.

Christian Fischer (27:26):

With Outrider, they developed a capability that we’re piloting right now that, essentially, gets all the people out of that business. And through sensors and self-driving vehicles and software and algorithms, et cetera, they get the job done better and without putting anybody in jeopardy. So, that’s one of the experiences we would say that, again, we couldn’t come up with that. And they need a place of lap where people are saying, “I’m going to be willing to try it out.” So, that’s a second example.

 

Christian Fischer (27:58):

The third one is a company that since, I think recently, they’ve actually been acquired by somebody else. So, they must’ve done a good job and maybe we helped them do a little bit of that. The company is called ClearMetal. And ClearMetal started out at least with an edge to say, go back to shipping. And our cellulose business that shipped 70 percent of their business outside of the United States in containers and other boats. But any country around the world pretty much. But, really, did we know when our cargo would actually arrive at the customers early, late, or on time? No. We only knew once the customers told us. Where it’s been, well, at that time, they knew. But that’s not how things prick today.

 

Christian Fischer (28:43):

ClearMetal had developed a really smart way of anticipating, probably, better than even the ocean freight liners, and the logistics folks in between, and the customers, and ourselves about when the cargo would arrive at your dock, and, ultimately, at your destination. So, by working with them, we were really able to make a big difference, Page, on giving our customers more visibility and tools to plan their operations and the purchases by cooperating with a third party. So, those are some concrete examples of how we work also with others.

Page Siplon (29:25):

Those are great examples. You know, the transparency of information, we’ve talked about supply chain visibility in the textbooks at Georgia Tech and other places. But sometimes that information is even more valuable from the cost perspective than the actual cargo it’s carrying sometimes. And that knowledge can be real power.

 

Page Siplon (29:46):

I’ll back up, you mentioned transformation, you mentioned sustainability, and being in the forest products industry. I know sustainability is a cornerstone of your business and all your business lines. I’ll fill in a couple of gaps here, because I happen to have these numbers in front of me. So, going back to the KBX and the transformations that KBX has brought to all of Koch Industries, but GP in particular, allowed you to cut four million unnecessary non-revenue miles for 2,000 drivers saving 600,000 gallons of diesel and eliminating engine idling in our facilities saved 400,000 gallons between 2018. That removed 4,200 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. And I’ll brag for you since you’re a humble guy, those are numbers that are applausable and very admirable, and I think worth putting out there. And you’ve had three different EPA SmartWay awards. [Inaudible] give me the data.

Christian Fischer (30:42):

I think that is a great example of, again, going back to the role of business in society, where it tells you in consuming fewer resources. I mean, this goes hand in hand, right? You provide better alternative and you consume fewer resources. There’s your textbook example.

Page Siplon (31:00):

Right. I mean, it’s a perfect example. Not to throw those numbers in there, but I think our audience really needs to hear how big of an impact that your company is really having on that number of many products and, actually, doing it in a sustainable fashion, for sure. So, we talked about transformation. Green – I don’t even think they use the word green anymore – but sustainability – green for business, too, right? I mean, it doesn’t have to be red. It can create black for your business from a profitability perspective. How, in your words, do you think winning at that transformation from whatever perspective, how do you think that’s going to help shape the future of your young company?

Christian Fischer (31:41):

The young company. Yeah. We’re pushing a hundred years.

 

Page Siplon (31:45):

You’re an old startup, right?

 

Christian Fischer (31:46):

Yeah. That’s right. 1927, if I got that right. So, soon to be a hundred. But, you know, I like to say this, Page, that there is really no alternative, but this perpetual transformation. There just isn’t. Because if you believe that the world is in constant creative destruction, it’s always around, sometimes faster, sometimes broader, sometimes slow, et cetera, but it’s always around us. You have no alternative to transforming. And there may be a lot of details buried in it. But if we go back to the S&P 500 and look at who was around 20 years ago and who is not around today, I mean, 50 percent of those companies that were there 20 years ago are gone. Now, some of them may have been absorbed by others, et cetera. But it tells a pretty big story that not transforming is just not an alternative. So, that’s number one.

Christian Fischer (32:43):

And, therefore, I think, Page, to make that really come alive to our 30,000 people, but also our partners in business, is key, that’s one thing. And number two, basically, you’re never done, folks. We’re never done. But if you think about, “Wow. It’s happening so fast and it’s all the time, how do I survive without just going, like, I break up. I’ll explode. I can’t do it anymore.” Well, I think this is where, again, we need to create an environment where we, including myself, understand that we’re running a marathon. But within that marathon, you have a lot of sprints. But you can’t just sprint all the time 100 percent of the time all the time, you’d just blow up. I mean, at least that’s what I believe.

 

Page Siplon (33:37):

You won’t make it.

Christian Fischer (33:38):

You’re never done. You always get to transform. Amongst those things, there’s projects, there’s transformation things that you got to be really fast.

 

Page Siplon (33:50):

Innovation.

 

Christian Fischer (33:50):

Yeah. And make your mistakes early. Figure out what doesn’t work. That’s part of that. And not get discouraged by it. I mean, that is key in there. And, again, who is going to make it happen but individuals. You’ve got to bring this point home for people to feel excited about this, embrace it, know that they’re constantly learning, and that the company is there, not just in words, but there in actions, to help you, to enable you, to do the journey yourself. I mean, that’s how we will win that transformation meaningful to people.

Page Siplon (34:29):

No, you’re right. I mean, that transformation is key. And that’s part of why we’re doing this podcast is to share that story. I think that I felt I’ve talked about it publicly for years, that we have a problem of perception in our industry, in freight and supply chain, trucking in particular where we have major shortfalls in the number of professional drivers that we need. And that impacts your business. It impacts everyone. So, how do we get that message out there? It’s part of the reason we wanted to hear your personal freight journey and get people excited. You know, freight is sexy. I think, you know, when we need to be able to tell that story and get great people into your business and into the logistics industry and into manufacturing companies that really get it and are excited about transforming and the innovation that is inherent as part of the supply chain.

Page Siplon (35:12):

So, that said, you know, that problem of perception, that communication issue that we’ve had, and this is a decades old problem. It’s only that story. So, you’ve been out of this for a minute, 30-year journey, on containerships, and from Brazil and Germany, and through the ranks at Georgia-Pacific, if you were going to go back to the Christian Fischer getting ready to shake that pilot’s hand and have him crush your broken finger, what would you be telling him as sort of some tips and tricks or things you’ve learned along the way that would help guide some of the younger folks and others that are just starting their freight journey today?

Christian Fischer (35:48):

Well, you know, a combination of things comes to mind. Let me reach back through this first. I think, like on anything, and freight – and we agree, right? – especially, if you’re in a manufacturing business and you really live off making stuff and, ultimately, delivering stuff to someone and buying stuff to make all that happen, et cetera, you cannot not think about freight as an existential and competitive advantage to better serve your customers, one. So, I would challenge anyone who is in that world, and I’m just saying, “Hey, do your own personal journey.” Whatever it might be, I don’t know if that’s driving on a truck or working somewhere. I mean, find a little bit more of that personal connection to it, to have a deeper appreciation. It won’t make you an expert unless you want to go on that trajectory, but it gets you some grounding. It gets you some appreciation. It creates some respect. And I think then you can build it from there. So, that’s the number one. For simple thing, for show business, I would just say, “Hey, make your own journey. Take the boat,” is I would say. So, that’s number one.

Christian Fischer (37:08):

But number two, to the challenges but also opportunities in general, but also in freight, I could look at a glass half empty, a glass half full, and all this stuff. All the changes and the stuff we’ve been joking about or referring [inaudible]. Driver’s [inaudible] very well. Maybe tomorrow, whenever tomorrow is, maybe there won’t be drivers. Or it will be restricted. Now, you can restrict it. Meaning, fewer drivers for different uses. Maybe. I don’t know. So, there will be disruptive elements and there are disruptive elements out there. And those changes will change how we do business, right?

Christian Fischer (37:47):

I mean, if drone deliveries become that much important, if self-driving cars will get drugs delivered to the home at a different cost structure. And they can always be circling because you don’t have a driver that gets exhausted, et cetera. The database or the data that can be gleaned off all those touchpoints and freights, et cetera, and optimize locally and around the world through additional visibility. I mean, on the one hand you can say, “Oh, my gosh. This is going to be terrible.” Yeah. It will disrupt some businesses for sure, especially those that don’t transform. But on the other, how exciting is it? How much opportunity does any great, super opportunity for people that want to learn, and apply, and try something new to do just that? And it opens new worlds that I’m super, super excited. I think that’s the story and that’s what I would emphasize in here. And that’s what we’re all trying to embrace and constantly learn [inaudible].

Page Siplon (38:49):

Yeah. Keep your eye on the ball and just start the journey. There’s so many different pathways, whether you’re, like you said, manufacturing. I said it at the intro to this podcast, it’s the whole idea. It’s a complicated ecosystem, whether you manufacture it or ship it or track it or make it, logistics and the different paths that young folks and older folks can get into and be part of as part of their freight journey.

 

Page Siplon (39:12):

Well, Chris, this has been great. If people want to get engaged, if they want to join your team – I can imagine many would want to come work for you and your team at Georgia-Pacific or one of the other partners that you mentioned, how can they connect with you to reach out and learn more about Georgia-Pacific or some of your other partners?

Christian Fischer (39:31):

I mean, since you touched on two dimensions, I’ll answer at least on those two very briefly. If it comes to the business of freight, you know, selling cargo, buying cargo, you got an idea but I got something that you guys might be interested in, willing to try, et cetera, can solve your problem, go to KBX. Simple, go to kbx.com, figure out. They will respond. They’re very responsive. That is their business. So, that’s number one.

 

Christian Fischer (40:04):

Number two, if it is more on the personal level and it would always be great in the big context of we want to be the employer of choice. If anybody says, “Wow. That sounds like an interesting company.” And you really look for a specific job. Well, I’m just saying, “Hey, look. It’s easy.” Go to jobs@gp or jobs@kockindustries, and – whoop – there’s more than you care to know in terms of [inaudible]. And we’ve got lots of openings that we have, and we’d love for people to show interest and connect to us.

Christian Fischer (40:34):

And last but not least in that same vein about getting to know more people, in many places, at least 150 across the nation, and especially also in Atlanta, you’re bound to know somebody who knows somebody at GP or Koch Industries. If you want to know more about the company and opportunities and how we can cooperate, hey, just ask around, you’ll find somebody. And that somebody will connect you with the right person. So, I hope that we triggered or strengthened some of the interest in our company. It’s a great one to work in. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been there for 32 years.

Page Siplon (41:11):

Yeah. It’s a testament to how great of a company that you’re running now and that you’ve been part of for so long. And I would argue creating how great it is today. Christian, this has been fantastic. I’ve got a hundred more questions and I’m sure our audience does. I’d love to dig into the KBX some more and get into some more details there, maybe we can continue that conversation in a later podcast with some of your colleagues. This has been great. Hopefully, you enjoyed listening. Christian, thanks again for your time. On behalf of The Freight Insider podcast, thank you for joining us. If you enjoyed listening to Christian and other executives like Christian, make sure to like us and follow us so you don’t miss anything. And remember, as Christian said, enjoy your own personal freight journey. Thank you.

Intro/Outro (41:54):

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.

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Featured Guests

Christian Fischer is the CEO of Georgia-Pacific.  In addition to English, you may hear our CEO speaking German, Portuguese and Spanish. Born and educated in Germany, Christian also lived in Brazil and began his career with GP in Europe in 1989 as a market pulp sales manager. Christian assumed his current role as president and CEO in 2017. He previously served as executive vice president of the packaging and cellulose segment, responsible for GP’s containerboard and kraft paper, corrugated packaging, bleached board and cellulose (pulp) businesses for seven years. After relocating from Europe to Atlanta in 1992, he advanced through the organization in market pulp and containerboard sales. He is involved in the forest products industry and serves on the board of The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA). He is also a member of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce board of directors and recently joined The Board of Councilors for The Carter Center. In addition, Christian also serves as vice chairman of the board of Atlanta International School and personally supports several charitable organizations in the Atlanta area.

Hosts

Page Siplon

Host, The Freight Insider

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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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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.

Patch Reilly

Data Analytics and Metrics Intern

Patch is a fourth-year Management Information Systems and Marketing major at the University of Georgia. He is working with Supply Chain Now in data analysis, finding insights and best practices to increase company efficiency. Patch previously worked as an intern at AnswerRocket, a data analytics company where he gained invaluable knowledge about analytics, webpage SEO and B2B marketing best practices. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis, going to concerts, and watching movies.

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Vicki White

Controller

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

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

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

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

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Greg White

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

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

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

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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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Karin Bursa

Host of TEKTOK

If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.

With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.

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Kevin L. Jackson

Host of Digital Transformers

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

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Enrique Alvarez

Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español

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

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

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Kelly Barner

Host of Dial P for Procurement

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

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Jamin Alvidrez

Founder & CEO, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now, Veteran Voices, This Week in Business History

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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Jeff Miller

Host

Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business.  Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.

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Amanda Luton

Chief Marketing Officer

Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM.  When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or singing second soprano in the Grayson United Methodist Church choir.

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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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Allie Krasinski

Marketing Coordinator

Allie is currently completing a degree in marketing with a certificate in entrepreneurship at the University of Georgia. She got her social media start through an internship with Shred, a personal training app, and she’s been hooked ever since. She works to optimize our following base while assisting the team with content creation, influencer outreach and other marketing endeavors. Allie can’t wait to keep growing alongside Supply Chain Now.

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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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Jada Carson

Marketing Coordinator

Jada is a recent graduate of Old Dominion University, having earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Communications with a media studies concentration and marketing minor. Jada got her start producing content at 16 years old, while attending a radio and broadcasting journalism program in high school, and hasn't looked back!  She is an asset to the Supply Chain Now team as a media specialist, podcast and media producer, and production coordinator.  Outside of Supply Chain Now, Jada is a big Lakers fan, and also a music journalist and enthusiast.

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Ben Harris

Host

Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.

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Page Siplon

Host, The Freight Insider

Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).

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Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.

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Kevin Brown

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics.  He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.

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Sofia Rivas Herrera

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Demo Perez

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

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

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Kim Winter

Host, Supply Chain Now

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

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

A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).

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Nick Roemer

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Alex Bramley

Sales Support Intern

Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.

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