“We have more and more customers coming to us to talk about sustainability. When we say sustainability, we mean increasing the renewable power supply that’s in their energy mix as well as energy efficiency and other demand reduction strategies they can use.”
-Brian Rich, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience & Technology and Chief Customer Officer at Consumers Energy
Although most people probably focus on the energy aspect of the Consumers Energy brand, the more interesting part of their name is actually ‘Consumers.’
The energy industry has come of age as a “regulated monopoly” as Brian Rich, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience & Technology and Chief Customer Officer at Consumers Energy puts it. The notion of a customer is relatively new in the utility sector, but they are working hard to make up for lost time.
Brian works with Consumers Energy’s residential and industrial customers on their energy needs, ranging from day in, day out electricity needs to helping them address sustainability.
In this conversation, Brian provides interesting insight with Supply Chain Now Co-hosts Greg White and Scott Luton about:
Intro – Amanda Luton (00:05):
It’s time for supply chain. Now broadcasting live from the supply chain capital of the country, Atlanta, Georgia, heard around the world. Supply chain now spotlights the best in all things, supply chain, the people, the technologies, the best practices, and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts.
Scott Luton (00:28):
Hey, good afternoon, Scott Luton here with you on supply chain. Now welcome back to the show. On today’s episode we’re speaking with one of the leading energy providers in the United States. Uh, this interview is part of our continuing collaboration with the automotive industry action group. So stay tuned as we look to increase your supply chain act. Two quick programming note before we get started. If you enjoy today’s conversation, be sure to find us and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from. Want to welcome in my fearless Steen cohost here on today’s show, mr Greg white, cereal supply chain, tech entrepreneur and trusted advisor. Greg, how are you doing? I’m doing very well, Scott. I’m earning my trust lately. Let me assure you. Well, it is a gorgeous day in the Atlanta area. I hope it’s gorgeous up where our featured guest is from. Uh, and Greg, we’ve got another great guest lined up in a series of hits here with the AIAG, uh, keynotes and panels.
Scott Luton (01:25):
Yeah, I really love what Jim and Tanya and team are doing. Um, you know, with the corporate responsibility summit and, um, we’ve had a slew, no pressure, but we’ve had some great discussions. Absolutely. So with no further ado, I want to welcome in our featured guests here today. Uh, Brian Rich, senior vice president and the chief customer officer at consumers energy. Brian, good afternoon, Scott. Greg, great to be with you guys. And Greg, I welcome the, uh, the expectations that you said were thrown down the gun. Yes. Well, outstanding. Well, uh, Brian, as we do with each of our episodes, we try to, you know, give our audience the opportunity to get, know our guests a little better. So tell us about yourself and give us a couple of snippets from your professional journey, especially any roles that really helped shape your worldview. Sure thing. Well on the personal front, I am speaking to you now from my home in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Brian Rich (02:23):
So go blue. I live here in Michigan, but I uh, I have lived uh, everywhere. I grew up, born and raised in New Jersey. Uh, then went to university and lived for a while afterwards in Washington, D C I lived in Montreal, I lived in San Francisco and then about six years ago moved with my family from the Bay area too in our permission and have absolutely loved every moment of living in the Midwest and being part of a college community. Mmm. Two kids, two teenagers. So when people ask me what my hobbies are, it’s whatever they do, driving them around team sports, school activities and I love every minute of that
New Speaker (02:59):
Brian Rich (03:00):
what, uh, of all those activities, what’s, what’s one that you spend a lot of your time at with your kids? Well, my son, I have a son and daughter. My son is actually on a travel baseball team that I am one of the assistant coaches on. So I’ve been at that for about four or five years and that is a great thing for him and I to be able to do together. So I would say that is where I spend most of my collective time with that. I love that. So, um, kind of switching gears more on the professional side, what, what kind of led up to your current role? Yeah, well, I’ve been really in the energy sector my entire career, electricity and gas. I started right out of university with one of the big, I guess at the time, big six consulting firms.
Brian Rich (03:41):
And I, um, spent 15 years doing consulting. But most of that time that I was with in the consulting industry, I was consulting too, uh, electric and gas utilities in the United States and Canada. So 15 years going in and out of about 10 or so clients during that time, working on different technology and customer related problems. And then, um, about 10 years ago I left consulting and moved to one of the large utilities in California and worked there for the period of five years. And that was when there was a lot of going on around California, kind of setting the tone on sustainability and renewable energy entering the fold and energy efficiency. And then about six years ago, I moved to the utility here in Michigan. Consumer’s energy. And my role today is, I am the, as you mentioned, the senior vice president and chief customer officer.
Brian Rich (04:32):
So I work with our, uh, customers, both residential and our largest industrial customers on their energy needs, ranging from day in, day out kind of electricity needs to um, helping them set their sustainability future. Hmm. Well if fact go back before we dive more into consumer’s energy, going back to your time as a, as a consultant with the big six, speak to that. Um, you know, if we can relate to anything right now, it’s uncertainty. It’s, uh, challenges around corners. Uh, yeah. And of course trying to get things done and, and drive change during tougher times. Yeah. I don’t know if that’s feels familiar to your consulting experience, but yeah. Yep. Speak about that. How, how, how tough, what did you find that driving change when you were consulting? And is there a key element that is important for anyone that’s looking to do, you know, drive change, lead change right now?
Brian Rich (05:28):
Well, you know, it’s, it is interesting because energy and auto have a very similar, um, similarity in that they’re both very asset intensive and have long cycle times for planning. So when we build a power plant, uh, we, it takes us four or five years to get through that process and then we intend to have that plant for 40 years. So, um, when you think about the electricity grid’s need for stability and reliability, uh, you create an environment that can be very changed at birth for good reason, uh, because it’s critical infrastructure and it is a, uh, essential service and essential trust for the company. So driving change within those environments are challenging. Mmm. However, uh, we really are at an inflection point in our country. When you think about the amount of critical infrastructure that’s coming to it’s end of life, retirement. So all of our coal, so heat for example, is near end of life.
Brian Rich (06:18):
Uh, renewables and battery storage and energy efficiency technologies are more affordable. So we’re at kind of at this inflection point where we have an opportunity to really replan the future, uh, in a much different way than the past luck. It’s super exciting. Absolutely. Absolutely. The conversations around infrastructure here in the States, uh, it can’t get enough attention right now. I was reading a report card that the, I think it’s the American association of civil engineers puts out every couple of years and I think we’ve got a D plus R D minus I believe, uh, with the latest one that that came out. So a lot more, a lot more work to be done there for sure. So, Greg, I’m sorry, go ahead. No, I was just agreeing with you. More work to be done. Absolutely. So Greg, let’s dive into consumer’s energy. Yeah. So, um, interesting that you come out of big, uh, whatever the number is now.
Brian Rich (07:12):
Right, Brian, but, um, six when, when you were, when I started. Yep. Yeah. Um, before they all started acquiring one another. Right now that’s not a dissimilar situation though. Not rarely across the state boundaries with the energy trade as well. Um, so I’m, I’m curious about how you see the business changing. I mean, I’m sure you’re not the person I call when I hear a transformer explode, but it sounds like you probably have you part of your team probably deals with that, but tell us a little bit about how consumers energy interacts with especially folks in the, in the automotive trade. Sure. Well, uh, you know a little bit about consumers energy for your listeners. So we are, um, one of the, we are the largest utility in Michigan. Um, if you think about, I can’t say Michigan without holding up my hand, so forgive me guys.
Brian Rich (08:07):
But that’s what we do. And we provide electricity and gas to every County in the lower peninsula of Michigan. So we have a wide ranging set of customers, but it’s kind of where you were alluding to Greg. A lot of our large industrial customers are either OEMs are in the auto supply chain. Um, so electricity is a critical and vital service to be able to keep production when we have little clickers or momentary outages or even long sustained outages. Those have dramatic effects on our customers’ ability to produce and really have dramatic impact on the entire supply chain. So, um, when we go talk to our industrial customers, uh, the service we provide is a, um, I would say is very visible, uh, very real and very critical to their ability to operate. [inaudible]
Brian Rich (08:55):
yeah. I don’t think a lot of people understand that when you deal with big businesses like automakers and some of their OEMs, I’m sure that they are such significant consumers of energy. They often have a very specific arrangement with right, with consumers, with your, with your company. I assume not only that, but the level of sophistication from our large, what we call our energy intensive customers. Um, they have, uh, facilities, personnel and um, sustainability organizations that are every bit, uh, as engaged in our tariffs and the service that we provide and the engineering of our service. Then we are, uh, incredibly impressive organizations that are able to line up with us and work on energy challenges.
Brian Rich (09:48):
Yeah. And that’s often a very active, I mean very active, um, cooperation, collaboration to help them use it more effectively and advise them on it. I mean, to significant extent like this plant is viable, this plan is not, that’s exactly right. And you know, we find, um, we get very involved in the economic development activities that happen across the country and clearly here in the state that when a supplier or no OEM is looking to set up facility, um, and they’re looking at different States and different facilities and contemplating the different characteristics of what might be important to them. Uh, proximity is to infrastructure and the reliability of the infrastructure and the price of the energy and electric service is at the top of their decision making criteria. So is that, is that, that must be part of where you spend your time, but can you give us an idea of in your role, which it is all encompassing because we’ve basically cut out a couple of points of your, of your title.
Brian Rich (10:54):
So you handle a lot of aspects of the business. So can you give us an idea of what your day to day looks like? How you, um, spend your time? Yeah, I, you know, I think about, um, my role with my customers and if you kind of look at it in a, in a, in a graph or, you know, a square at the one top is I’m thinking about our residential or commercial, which is really our small business customers and our large industrials. And then on the other block, I’m talking about thinking about customers day in day out needs. So we have a lot of customers that call us with billing questions or reliability issues or they’re setting up your service or they’re moving into and just making sure that we have all the appropriate channels in place and solutions for customers. But increasingly where I’m spending most of my time is actually more on the longer range, uh, items.
Brian Rich (11:39):
So we increasingly have more and more customers coming to us to talk about sustainability. And when we say sustainability, we mean increasing the renewable, uh, a renewable power supply that’s in their energy mix as well as taking measures within their and plants on energy efficiency and other demand reduction strategies that they can take. So increasingly working with customers to help author their sustainability plans and then provide solutions that helped meet them, uh, achieve the needs of that’s a more sustainable future. Mm. So as we segue here, Brian, and to the bigger picture and get your take, get you to weigh in on a couple of things. Um, before we do that, um, customer experience, uh, that means so much more today than even probably a couple of years ago. It seems like so many companies are really investing in that area to not just make sure we’re delivering a, you know, a world class, uh, positive customer experience, but also measuring that.
Brian Rich (12:38):
Um, any, any thoughts on kind of the state of customer experience and how we go about that, at least from in your industry? I think you’re, you’re spot on, Scott, about the journey that we’ve been on, particularly in our industry. So it’s worth noting that, you know, we’ve grown up as a regulated monopoly. So for many, many years, uh, the notion of a customer was something that wasn’t really contemplated within the walls of the utility because customers didn’t really have choice. And what we’ve found over the last five to seven years is increasingly customers have more choice. Uh, there are more energy solutions and energy choices that customers could take. And, um, being front of mind for our customers is more important than ever before. That’s number one. And then number two, Mmm. When we think about our energy mix for future, uh, we are now leveraging, uh, customers to activate and participate in supplying energy as much as we’re actually, it’s applying it ourselves.
Brian Rich (13:32):
So whether customers are actually generating electricity on their own or even more important that they’re leveraging energy efficiency techniques that avoid us from having to build out our infrastructure. Okay. You can’t do that without a deep, a rooted trust and relationship with your customer. We work, we walk up to a customer and ask them to take measures to make their plant more energy efficient or Mmm. Work with them to take measures that on certain hot days of the year, we’re going to ask them to curtail and we’ll give them a price break on the other days of the year. These are, these are things that are rooted in a deep customer relationship. So increasingly having a good customer experience is not something that’s a nice to have, but it’s actually become a business imperative for us. And that’s a long way from a regulated monopoly that didn’t traditionally think that way.
Brian Rich (14:17):
Well-spoken. I really appreciate you sharing that. Um, um, yeah, and you, you, you mentioned the big word there that the T word trust and I’ll tell you, Greg, um, you know, we’ve never been busier, right? Sharing more stories and thought leadership out there and in the last three or four weeks or maybe going back a month, we have heard the word trust probably more than any other element or theme in these conversations, Greg. Well, we, you know, we, we’ve seen during this, this health and, and economic crisis that companies have to work together in greater measure than ever they did before. And that takes a significant amount of trust to do that. And the companies that have develop that trust, even prior to this crisis are clearly weathering it much, much better. So it’s really interesting. More than collaboration, more than cooperation, more than integration.
Brian Rich (15:16):
That trust is the thing that facilitates all of those things happening. Yep. I also liked something that Brian shared there around basically innovating with, with their customers is such a critical element to you named across industry regardless of what sector you’re in. Um, okay. So Brian, let’s keep kind of going broad here. Um, when you, yeah, look at the global, you know, end to end supply chain industry or for that matter, even the, the energy, um, sector. What’s, what’s a trend or or a development or innovation or w what is, um, what are you tracking more than others right now in terms of topics or subject matter? I think for us, what’s been, what’s been so Mmm, so, so big for us over the last couple of years is the fact that there used to be this notion of you can have clean energy but it’s going to be more expensive where you can have dirty and cheap energy.
Brian Rich (16:12):
And for us what’s really happened over the last 24 months is that we actually believe that that’s a sucker’s choice. And through the combination of renewables and, um, eventually battery storage and leveraging energy efficiency and other types of customer demand approaches, it’s actually a cheaper energy system. And you know, I’m going to say something that, um, it would probably be, uh, I think unique to people outside the energy sector, but we have a lot of capacity that sits idle. But for a few days a year when, Mmm. You know, those hottest days of the summer, we have a lot of capacity that’s sitting there idle, but for a couple of days a year and there’s a lot of cost tied up in that. And in the day where we were actually the energy efficient energy consumption in the country was increasing. That capacity was worthy because eventually we would grow into it.
Brian Rich (16:59):
But now that every home that’s built is more efficient than the home that replaced every building, every extension that some that some industrial customer does onto their facility or factory is more efficient than the one that I replaced. We’re not seeing a growth in electricity consumption and actually not having a system that isn’t overbuilt, but actually it’s fit for fit size and matching demand and supply is actually a more affordable next. So we’ve really, um, change in our thinking of the last couple of years about the fact that you can have a clean energy system and an affordable one so you can right size your energy production. You know, we talk a lot about right-sizing. Right? That’s interesting. And it’s new to us because we have not traditionally matched supply and demand, but it’s something that we’re working on hard on the last couple of years. Yeah. I got to tell you, maybe I’m late to the party, which is typically the case here, but
Scott Luton (17:50):
you know, getting, um, just like the energy industry is getting smarter, finding efficiencies, leveraging as you put it, Brian renewables and battery storage, the on the demand side basket and savvier and smarter as well. And everyone’s winning when we’re finding these efficiencies and, and this new, a better way of doing things. The whole ecosystem gets better.
Brian Rich (18:12):
That’s exactly right. Yup. Okay. Anything Brian I would love, I would love for you to, um, I really love the idea of Teslas, beautiful and energy efficient roof tiles, but I fear they may never actually produce them. So, um, maybe you can help. We, um, you know, it’s, it’s interesting, we’ve, for a long time we, we questioned whether or not solar would actually work in Michigan. It’s not, I’m not one of the sunnier places in the country, but actually, as I mentioned, we have a system that is driven by Mmm. Summer, summer. Yeah. I mean that’s, the entire system is driven by that. So on those few days a year where we really need it, uh, solar is actually a very reliable resource even in places like Michigan. That’s fantastic. And especially, you know, as Scott was talking about with battery storage and whatever other options you guys have. I mean, I, yeah, if all it is, is a non augmented service. Yeah. And it’s helpful, isn’t it? Right.
Scott Luton (19:13):
Speaking of batteries, you talk to talking about a highly innovative sector that’s on the move. Of course the battery sector will be one of those. And Brian, if you can’t share, no worries. But when it comes to leveraging that battery storage as part of your overall strategy, do you look to outside partners or how do you approach that?
Brian Rich (19:36):
Yeah, we, uh, we typically will, um, and we’re doing a couple of battery pilots now. Um, and what we’re finding is when you pair batteries with renewables, uh, they’re actually quite effective. So for example, if the sun stopped shining momentarily, having a battery backup, or if the sun sets at five o’clock, but you have blood people coming home from work and Mmm. Starting to a ramp up their electricity consumption from five to seven, having batteries that can kind of help you live through that peak a little bit more. They’re becoming incredibly more and more cost effective and they’re becoming part of our supply mix. We do work with suppliers that we don’t, we don’t manufacture batteries ourselves, so we work with different suppliers to actually put them into our systems. Hmm. So we, you know, we’ve seen in automotive and other industries, new battery technology, it’s, it’s safer, more effective, even more economically or, uh, environmentally friendly and economically friendly, um, to build as well.
Brian Rich (20:38):
And actually we’ve talked with some folks, um, around the, the summit about that topic. So as we think about what AIG has brought together here with the corporate responsibility summit, we’re asking everybody, what, what do you see as, as the value in your participation in AIG or in these summits or that sort of thing. What do you feel like you get from the, these things? Well, let me just, Mmm. Oh, I’ll answer that first with our battery conversation, then I’ll, I’ll lift up a little bit. Um, I mean we’re, we’re about to have hundreds of thousands if not millions of batteries on wheels. Uh, so I think that the convergence of transportation, electricity is becoming closer and closer and we have obviously being here in Michigan are great partners with the OEMs and, um, I think that’s a critical partnership task. But most importantly, and I’ll go back to the, the customer experience conversation we were having.
Brian Rich (21:40):
Um, we want to be where our customers are. So our customers, uh, value being part of AIG and um, yeah, as I mentioned, energy I think is a vital service to a lot of the members, attendees. So I think us being able to tell our story and, and understand what’s on our customer’s minds. Thanks. This participation, uh, something that we incredibly valuable for somebody like me who works hard to really understand what’s in my customer’s thinking in minds and plans. These are the types of forums that we seek out. Sounds like you have a generally inquisitive nature. I mean, especially having come out of big six, right? And seeing, seeing the parallels between some of the experiences you’ve had there, the automotive and the energy industry. I think having someone with, with a genuinely inquisitive nature is particularly good in these times, especially as we’re trying to transition to new means of energy production and conservation and that sort of thing.
Brian Rich (22:40):
Absolutely. We’re looking forward to it. You know, I’ll just close by saying on that topic that, you know, we talked a lot about customer experience and trust and cocreation. I mean, one of the things I think we’ve all learned is to build good customer experiences that you actually have to go listen and not come with a solution or the answer. And I think participation in something like AAG and allows us to do that, to listen to Mark agreed. That’s a Sikh Siki first understand, right? Lean in and engage. Mmm. So let’s make sure this has been a Brian Euro. Your message is right on point and you’re very efficient at making your point. So we’re going to finish ahead right on time here. But, um, Brian, let’s make sure folks know how they can connect with you. And of course with consumer’s energy. I bet there are some other, uh, utility companies, energy companies. I may want to, you know, benchmark some of the, some of the neat things that you’re up to. So how can they get in touch? Well, uh, obviously consumers, energy.com is the best place to go and, uh, customers can learn a lot about that. And as for me, uh, I’m on LinkedIn, uh, Brian consumer’s energy
Scott Luton (23:46):
and happy to connect with anybody that’s listening to this. There will be part of the summit. Outstanding. Yeah. Well, really appreciate your time, Brian. Greg, great conversation here on the area. Really we haven’t, uh, we haven’t talk to enough probably around the energy sector on splotchy now.
Brian Rich (24:02):
It’s good to get, yeah, to get on this side of the table, right? To understand how it’s produced and where it comes from and, and the initiatives that exists in the industry in particular with with consumers energy. I mean, I think it’s a, it seems like it would be a, it’s a fun place to be and you’re still making new discoveries, which seems weird when you think about it. When we’re talking about
Scott Luton (24:28):
a utility. Well that, and uh, I found it pretty intriguing. Never thought about how, how much the utilities are evolving. And I loved hearing Brian talk about how they’re viewing consumers and really engaging them and, and, and innovating with them. That was a big takeaway for me. So yeah. Nevertheless, big thanks to our featured guests on this segment, Brian Rich, senior vice president and chief customer officer at consumers energy, uh, to our audience. Be sure to check out a wide variety of industry thought leadership at supply chain now, radio.com fondness and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from. On behalf of the entire team here, including Greg white, this is Scott Luton wishing you a successful week ahead. Stay safe. Please follow the expert advice and precautions that have been distributed. Uh, and no this broader days. Certainly lie ahead. We’ll see you next time.
Brian Rich is Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer of CMS Energy and its principal subsidiary, Consumers Energy. He was named to this position in 2019. Rich is responsible for the company’s overall customer experience and satisfaction, and for customer programs such as energy efficiency, renewables and economic development. He also oversees customer operations, digital and IT and security. Rich last served as Senior Vice President of Customer Experience, Technology and Chief Information Officer (CIO). He was responsible for the company’s technology strategy, security and IT operations. Rich joined CMS Energy as CIO in 2014 to advance the company’s strategic goals with resilient integrated information technologies. Rich is an energy industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience, including more than 14 years at Accenture and four years as a vice president at San Francisco-based Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Rich holds a bachelor’s degree in management information systems from The George Washington University, and completed an executive management program in cyber security policy at Harvard College in 2015.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.
Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more. In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.
Director of Communications and Executive Producer
Donna Krache is a former CNN executive producer who has won several awards in journalism and communication, including three Peabodys. She has 30 years’ experience in broadcast and digital journalism. She led the first production team at CNN to convert its show to a digital platform. She has authored many articles for CNN and other media outlets. She taught digital journalism at Georgia State University and Arizona State University. Krache holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. She is a serious sports fan who loves the Braves. She is president of the Dave Krache Foundation. Named in honor of her late husband, this non-profit pays fees for kids who want to play sports but whose parents are facing economic challenges.
Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.
Founder, CEO, & Host
As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.
From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Allison Krache Giddens has been with Win-Tech, a veteran-owned small business and aerospace precision machine shop, for 15 years, recently buying the company from her mentor and Win-Tech’s Founder, Dennis Winslow. She and her business partner, John Hudson now serve as Co-Presidents, leading the 33-year old company through the pandemic.
She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Certificate of Finance from the University of Georgia. She also holds certificates in Google Analytics, event planning, and Cybersecurity Risk Management from Harvard online. Allison founded the Georgia Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and currently serves as Treasurer. She serves on the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board as its Secretary, the liveSAFE Resources Board of Directors as Resource Development Co-Chair, and on the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association Board as Membership Chair and is also a member of Cobb Executive Women. She is on the Board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Northwest Area Councils. Allison runs The Dave Krache Foundation, a non-profit that helps pay sports fees for local kids in need.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise
When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.
Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring
Talk about world-class: Chris is one of the few professionals in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS. He’s also the APICS coach – and our resident Supply Chain Doctor. When he’s not hosting programs with Supply Chain Now, he’s sharing supply chain knowledge on the APICS Coach Youtube channel or serving as a professional education instructor for the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistic Institute’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Center for Professional Education courses.
Chris earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University, an MBA with emphasis in Industrial Psychology from the University of West Florida, and is a Doctoral in Supply Chain Management candidate.
Host of TEKTOK
If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.
With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.
Host of Digital Transformers
Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog. He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community. Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix and IBM. Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane University, O’Reilly Media, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight. Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Carrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.
Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español
Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.
He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.
Host, Veteran Voices
Mary Kate Soliva is transitioning from active duty in the US Army. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.
Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business. Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.
Chief Marketing Officer
Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or reading.
Business Development Manager
Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.
Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.
An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.
A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.
A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning. He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.
Social Media Manager
My name is Chantel King and I am the Social Media Specialist at Supply Chain Now. My job is to make sure our audience is engaged and educated on the abundant amount of information the supply chain industry has to offer.
Social Media and Communications has been my niche ever since I graduated from college at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. No, I am not a West Coast girl. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but my travel experience goes way beyond the garden state. My true passion is in creating editorial and graphic content that influences others to be great in whatever industry they are in. I’ve done this by working with lifestyle, financial, and editorial companies by providing resources to enhance their businesses.
Another passion of mine is trying new things. Whether it’s food, an activity, or a sport. I would like to say that I am an adventurous Taurus that never shies away from a new quest or challenge.
Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.
Sales and Marketing Coordinator
Katherine is a marketing professional and MBA candidate who strives to unite her love of people with a passion for positive experiences. Having a diverse background, which includes nonprofit work with digital marketing and start-ups, she serves as a leader who helps people live their most creative lives by cultivating community, order, collaboration, and respect. With equal parts creativity and analytics, she brings a unique skill set which fosters refining, problem solving, and connecting organizations with their true vision. In her free time, you can usually find her looking for her cup of coffee, playing with her puppy Charlie, and dreaming of her next road trip.
Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.
Host, The Freight Insider
Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics. He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.
Host, Supply Chain Now
The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.
He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.
A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Nick Roemer has had a very diverse and extensive career within design and sales over the last 15 years stretching from China, Dubai, Germany, Holland, UK, and the USA. In the last 5 years, Nick has developed a hawk's eye for sustainable tech and the human-centric marketing and sales procedures that come with it. With his far-reaching and strong network within the logistics industry, Nick has been able to open new avenues and routes to market within major industries in the USA and the UAE. Nick lives by the ethos, “Give more than you take." His professional mission is to make the logistics industry leaner, cleaner and greener.
Sales Support Intern
Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.