“You just kind of learn by doing and the greatest teacher in the world is experience.”
Shane Buerster, Founder of Z Beans Coffee
Every entrepreneur needs a ‘why,’ and Shane Buerster found his ‘why’ on a coffee plantation while watching a young boy – just 8 or 9 years old – swing a machete to clear overgrowth near the edge of a field. Rather than playing baseball, or going to school, or spending time with his friends, that little boy was helping his family put food on the table. In that moment, Shane’s eyes were opened to the relative ‘riches’ of his upbringing and how different the experience of others around the world is.
Z Beans Coffee is sustainably farmed through farming cooperatives in Ecuador. Shane spends two months of every year in Ecuador working with the farmers and local operators and then he manages the entire supply chain all the way to his four coffee shops in Georgia.
In this podcast interview, Shane tells Supply Chain Now Co-hosts Greg White and Scott Luton about:
· Whether shared values are enough to serve as the foundation of a lasting business model
· All of the different companies, agents, and representatives Z Beans has to coordinate in order to manage his annual import process
· What it has been like running not only a global business, but what is effectively multiple, small localized businesses during the age of COVID
Intro – Amanda Luton (00:00:05):
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 (00:00:28):
Hey, good morning, Scott Luton here with you on supply chain now with a whole team. Welcome back to today’s show today’s show. We’re continuing art logistics with purpose series, which is one of our favorites. This is all about, uh, organizations and leaders that are all changing the world in some way, shape or form. It’s powered by our friends over at vector global logistics. And you know, if you listen close a promise, you you’re going to be able to increase your supply chain leadership RQ quick programming note, before we get started, if you enjoy today’s episode, Hey, check us out wherever you get your podcasts from and be sure to subscribe. So you don’t miss a single thing. We’ve got a screen full of folks. Got a whole team here. I want to introduce our cohost first, our fearless esteem. Co-hosts we’ve got Greg white cereal supply chain tech entrepreneur, and trusted advisor, Greg.
Greg White (00:01:13):
Good morning. How are you Scott? Doing fantastic. I’m excited about this. This is two episodes. So I don’t know if people know how we work, but this is two episodes today for logistics, with purpose. And, you know, we love this series. It’s inspiring, you know, it’s just great. Great to, I don’t know. It’s a really impressive Testament to how vector works that they do business with all of these charitable and give forward type organizations. So it’s, I dunno, it’s rewarding for sure. It’s fun. Yeah. Well, we’ll put their thinking of back to global logistics. We’ve got Enrique Alvarez managing director with global good morning Enrique. Good morning, Scott, Greg Gunn, money grade. Great to see you today and thanks for having us. It’s, uh, I’m excited and looking forward to our conversation today. Absolutely. And Monica Hernandez, also a vector. Good morning money.
Monica Hernandez (00:02:11):
Hi, good morning to everyone. It’s a pleasure for me to be here today. Duck, you know, about am all these amazing company that we are helping to change
Scott Luton (00:02:25):
Money. Well, put, you know, that’s the common thread in this series is these folks that are like Greg said, and like, you’re talking about giving forward. They’re innovative, they’re changing the world. Uh, they’re helping others. It’s just really, it’s been a hit after hit inspiring innovative leadership stories. So we get the impression doing our homework, that this is going to continue that trend. So with no further ado, let’s welcome in our featured guests here today. Shane beer, founder of Z beans coffee, Shane. Good morning. Good morning to all of you Scott Moni Rica, Greg, thanks for having
Shane Buerster (00:03:00):
Me, uh, very excited to share the story of Z veins and to discuss the real benefits that a shared value supply chain can create for all of us. Love that, man, you got our hair.
Scott Luton (00:03:15):
So before we talk about Z beans and some of that, that your professional journey, let’s talk more about shame beer stir the person. So for starters, tell us where you’re from and give us a story or two from your upbringing chain.
Shane Buerster (00:03:27):
As Scott said, my name’s Shane barrister. I’m 24 years old. Uh, I’m from Pooler, Georgia, currently living in Macon where I’ve been since I went to mercy university, uh, here in Megan, I graduated the spring of 2018 and uh, started Z beans, actually my junior year of college, which would have been 2017 after going on a Mercer on mission academic based trip, the summer of 2016. So it’s been quite the journey since then. And so a few stories from my upbringing, entrepreneurship really always been in my blood while my father was not an entrepreneur himself. Uh, he was always very in preneurial within the businesses within the business, which he’s worked for. So he’s worked for tubular steel for the last 40 years, and they’ve always given him this massive amount of, uh, leeway to really do what he wants to do. And in turn, he’s created a supply chain and an operation that is really second to none with, you know, throughout their entire organization.
Shane Buerster (00:04:26):
Like a lot of young kids and entrepreneurs started with cutting grass. So I had 15 yards by the time I was eight, nine years old. And you know, we keep up with those regularly. Then it turned into focusing on baseball and so much a sport. And, you know, we can go into this and then in further detail, but so much of sport is very much entrepreneurship as well because you really get to control the product okay yourself that you put out on the field. So I’ve always been really interested in entrepreneurship. And when I went to school Mercer, wasn’t exactly set on being an entrepreneurship major. Rather I wanted to acquire a skillset that would enable entrepreneurship, knowing that to be successful, I’d ultimately need to be able to build a team around myself. So I was at marketing economics and Spanish major at Mercer, which really fit perfectly into a doing international business and working with those and Latin America. So that’s a little bit of background about myself, uh, started from, um, you know, Mo and yards, the pal. I want to sell some coffee, love that.
Scott Luton (00:05:27):
All right. So Moni is going to ask you about your professional journey a little bit more in a moment, but two quick followup questions. First off you mentioned some mission work and submission travel international travel. You took at an earlier age. What was one really important lesson learned from your travels?
Shane Buerster (00:05:43):
So I’ve only ever went to one place I’ve only ever flown to one place and that’s to Ecuador. And so this, uh, the purpose of our academic based mission trip with Marsha was to see if coffee was a viable, alternative to gold mining. So the, we went about that was we interviewed as many coffee farmers as we could in the auto region of Ecuador. And we only had three weeks. So, you know, Tom was stairs. Uh, we didn’t know anyone and still, we relied upon a tour guy by the name of on Hill Arturo opinion after Romano, who has since become a really good friend. So we relied on him to get us, you know, to, as many patients could, at the end of the three weeks, we rationally concluded that we didn’t think coffee was a viable alternative to go monic, just cause we didn’t think there was enough there.
Shane Buerster (00:06:28):
We didn’t think there was enough scalability in it. And so effectively we wrote the project off as a group through that mission trip, I had the real ability to, to immerse myself into the culture. And as I said, the friendship that I was able to gain with Arturo has since proven invaluable, uh, because once I returned to the States, as I said, I wasn’t a Spanish major. And so it was a real goal of mine to achieve real fluency and efficiency and speaking the language. And I just couldn’t do that. And only in class, you know, it was so hard for me to get over this concept of messing up and in sounding illiterate and speaking in another language. But you know, one of the things that I’ve found with Arturo is, I mean, I didn’t really have a choice. You know, if we wanted to communicate, I was going to have to get over this nonsense, messing up, speak his language so we could talk.
Shane Buerster (00:07:15):
And that really helped me, you know, start improving drastically. And when I returned to the States, after that initial trip, our tutor and I didn’t have plans to start a coffee business, we were just talking three to four times a week to, uh, you know, improve my Spanish. But as you can imagine, not really having any topics, there’s only, only, only so many Como stocks, you know, you could ask, you have to cry. How is your dog? How many times can you say that? Right. So, uh, it turned, it turned a business, but, um, that was really what I found out and just, just this real interest in, uh, other cultures, um, you know, the Ecuadorian culture is a room culture, specifically the small town in Ecuador where our turtle lives, where our original trip went. They’re just so welcoming and the cultures are so different. So it really just spurred my interest for, you know, other cultures and wanting to create something in a, in another, in another world, basically
Scott Luton (00:08:08):
Standing one last question for you. We transitioned when you’re not hard at work at growing your business and spending time with the team and, and customers, you name it. What do you do in your downtime?
Shane Buerster (00:08:21):
Well, I’ll be honest. I don’t have too much downtown. And truly I say that because the business has never been work. You know, I mean, when I go to Ecuador now for about two months out of every year, while it is, you know, a little stressful trying to get the coffee out of the country and doing it through our way of direct trade and not, you know, having a Whopper to, to, to rely upon. Um, and it really, you know, being upon my own back, I mean, I enjoy that so much the ability to do that. And so I think that’s why we’ve been able to, to grow as much as we have just because of the business. And I’ve tried to create that with everyone, you know, within savings. Now the 40 teammates that we have is like, what is everyone’s interest? Like how can I create this in preneurial spirit within them though that they’re working within CBS, which is my entrepreneur entrepreneurial adventure. It’s just, it’s just a joy. I mean, I enjoy watching sports and, you know, doing stuff like that, but really don’t have too much time to do that outside of sleep and work and eat sometimes. Right. Sometimes some Monica, but let’s talk more about Shane’s professional journey.
Monica Hernandez (00:09:26):
Uh, Shane, please. Uh, tell us about your professional journey prior to your current role in particular, any roles that shaped your world.
Shane Buerster (00:09:38):
Certainly. So, um, I haven’t had many, I’ve never worked for, uh, another company. You know, I had the yards that kept out with when I was a young kid, but what I can really say shaped my entrepreneurial spirit was, was baseball. I, you know, I, I chased the game for 20 years. I played it for a year and a half at Mercer. I tore my labor and my rotator cuff, my senior year of high school, which really set me back. I didn’t get the scholarship that I wanted. And so I had to walk on to the Mercer’s team. And so as the story goes, I walked on as a catcher at Mercer and I’m my freshman year, you know, I really earned, my keeps, did a lot of bullpen catching. I got a few at bats, but I didn’t have many opportunities outside of that.
Shane Buerster (00:10:21):
But what I did realize is just how much time I was spending on the game and, uh, how valuable my time was becoming, you know, my window was shortening to be able to get something going while I was in college. And so going into my sophomore year, when I met with a coach, I told him that I wanted the opportunity to, uh, plan outfield, you know, actually get some time to play on the field because we had two All-American catchers ahead of me. I knew it wasn’t going to happen. And so our term, my sophomore year, and the coach has told me that, uh, well going into my sophomore summer, the coaches told me I was gonna get this opportunity. They wanted me to slim down and get faster. All right, no worries. So going into my sophomore year, that’s exactly what I did. I come back that sophomore year, I have a meeting with the coaches and they tell me that I need to catch.
Shane Buerster (00:11:05):
And so this, this point right here in my life is where I thought I can go one or two ways. One people are going to continue to tell me what I was going to do though. I worked really hard and I can hold them, you know, to be a man of their word or give in and just go about doing whatever they asked me to do. And so, you know, my thing was, I need to hold them. I need to hold them accountable. You know, this is what they told me. I would get the opportunity to do. Anyway, I go in there, I tell the coach this, and it said the end of the fall, that, that conversation didn’t sit well, but it worked out for the best for myself. I was cut from the baseball team and then four months later, I went down to Ecuador and met our tuna. And so that one key moment right there, I’m only 24 years old. So I don’t have very much professional experience, but that one moment right there where I could no longer go to my father and, and asked him for advice
Shane Buerster (00:11:54):
And help them get me through the situation. But I had to really do it myself. That’s what, you know, kind of gave me the experience to be very confident in the decisions I make. I mean, there will never be a, no that I may hit here if I’m trying to sell my product or, uh, you know, if I have an issue in Ecuador that will ever imply, hurt me as much as having baseball stripped away that, you know, I mean, for every young kid, that’s just given everything to the game. I mean, that’s all I ever wanted to do, you know, just play baseball. And so to have that just ripped out, have to make that decision. I mean, really propelled me well to go on and, and, and be very confident with the decisions that I make moving forward. So, you know, I know this is not the perfect, perfect answer for the professional experience, but that’s where I got, I think it is frankly, I mean, that’s 20 years of your life at 24.
Greg White (00:12:48):
That’s I mean, think about that. You started must’ve started with T-ball or coach pitch, right? So, I mean, that’s a significant part of your life and frankly, as a parent of someone your age, I think that’s an incredibly mature decision to make. And the thing that you took away from it that I heard loud and clear was you couldn’t lean on your parents for that, right. That is life changing. That is transformational as a human being to be able to do that. Right. So, you know, I’ve often said, baby birds don’t fly because they grow wings. They fly because mom pushes them out of the nest. And it sounds to me like, you didn’t even need that push to, you know, to that same extent you learn to fly on your own, and I know not totally on your own, but that moment was pivotal for your life.
Shane Buerster (00:13:38):
So I would not minimize that at all. That is it’s important. Clearly you recognize that. I think it is part of your professional journey because it put you on this path that you’re on right now. Certainly. And I think, you know, I think that’ll resonate with any young entrepreneurs, especially because there’s so many decisions that literally every single day still, um, I’m making decisions on stuff that I’ve never experienced before. You know, so I have to just be confident and trust in the decision that I’ve made. Like, I don’t have a program that go from for another business that I may have worked in to know that this is the right direction to go. However, I have to be confident because, um, you know, like one of my mentors has told me calm is contagious when everyone looks to me to make sure, Hey, is the, you know, 35 pounds shit ain’t going to get in on time because we’re running low on coffee. You, of course it will accomplish with, which is a, uh, it’s contagious and everyone feeds off of it. So, so Monica, we’re curious about, uh, what other revelation he’s had, right.
Monica Hernandez (00:14:39):
Do please. The us has been [inaudible] moment,
Scott Luton (00:14:46):
You know, as, as a young boy growing up in Savannah, Georgia, we always had, uh, you
Shane Buerster (00:14:52):
Know, the poor and, and Savannah’s one of the largest on the East coast. If not the largest. Now I know they just treasure it, but I’ll always see the big boats, you know, coming in as, as a young kid. And I’m always just kinda like, man, what in the world it’s, you know, on those boats, you know, and so, you know, perhaps this wasn’t Eureka, but certainly the coolest moment that I’ve experienced so far is the first time where I had the opportunity to work with vector and get our first container. And it was only 14,000 pounds. It wasn’t even halfway full, barely came up to stacks high, but, uh, nonetheless it, uh, it came in. And so I remember sitting there at the, um, on Bay street in Savannah and seeing the boat come in, I knew which vessel it was on. It was a Sunday.
Shane Buerster (00:15:32):
And so everything was pretty much closed down, uh, near the ports. And so we had went, you know, I saw the boat, you know, come in. And so we went over there. I was with my girlfriend and we went and looked at the container and trying to find out which container it was, you know, it was about Mona my entire life thinking that man, that boat was, it was something as a young kid that I just marveled at and wonder what exactly it was. But another story that is probably the biggest, like another Eureka moment is it’s my junior, no, this would have been my junior year of college. I’m sitting in my dorm room with my friends and we were just bringing in a 300 pound shipment. So this was before I was introduced to vector. There’s a 300 pound shipment coming in from Ecuador.
Shane Buerster (00:16:19):
Toto was sending three, you know, 100 pound bags of coffee. And it came into the port of Miami, but I didn’t know anything about customs, brokers. I didn’t know anything about freight forwarders. And so it just came in and I got a call from someone at the, at the ports. I’m not exactly sure why, you know, why they call it or what possessed them to actually want to help me out. But I got a call and someone said, Hey, you know, we have a package here. Do you have a customs broker and a freight forwarder to receive it on your behalf? So we can clear it through customs. And I’m just kind of like, what in the world is that like, where do I find one of those? And I’m going to Google it and hung up on me. And so I typed it in like freight forwarders, Miami you’re like customers, brokers, Miami, and I’ve found this one called Benny express at that time that could just help me just, you know, find a way to get it to me.
Shane Buerster (00:17:08):
So needless to say, that was the most expensive $300, 300 pounds of coffee in the world. But nonetheless, I, uh, I quickly learned about freight forwarders and customs brokers. You know, it’s really just kind of symbolic for the whole growth of Z being so far as, I mean, everything has been touring into unknown territory, you know? And so you just kind of learn by doing and the greatest teacher in the world’s experience. And so I just do it and learn from it. That’s, that’s probably one of the greatest ones. Cause it’s by far, the most beneficial piece of knowledge I have now is, you know, to, to utilize customs brokers and freight forwarders appropriately. What a great story. And Greg, I know we’re about to dive into a sea beans coffee, but real quick, that going back to his first Eureka moment about, uh, seeing
Scott Luton (00:17:50):
His container coming in Savannah is really cool in that when you’re down there on river street, you feel like you’re like an arms linked to these massive ships and even I’ll tell you not having ever any had anything on that I’ve shipped in via one of those containers. I’m mesmerized every time when we’re down in Savannah, the kids love it. The city’s massive ships that make global supply chain happen come right. I mean, just almost you can almost jump on one. It feels like, cause it’s just that close and it’s massive. Well, they are massive. And if you’ve ever been on river street, when wa RI river street, for anyone who doesn’t know, Savannah is a huge party area, it’s kind of like the French quarter of Savannah and people are walking up and down that street all the time, sometimes stumbling, but what’s amazing is there are hundreds, thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of people on this street.
Greg White (00:18:42):
But when one of those big ships comes through, the whole place stops and turns towards the river. And it’s amazing the universality of the, of the fascination with those ships. And, uh, it is it’s, it’s like the, it’s like the toys you played with as a kid Lifesize. Yes. And it’s right there, you know, unlike many other ports where you, uh, you, you, you can’t be right there at it. Savannah is unique in that regard. So if anyone’s listening, you haven’t been to Savannah, uh, make the trip, especially if you love supply chain, cause you can see it front and center. She loves supply chain. Or if you love taffy go the Savanna candy company, by the way.
Enrique Alvarez (00:19:22):
No, I’d say it’s a great story. I mean, um, I think, uh, just makes, makes it real, I mean, uh, here at vector, the first container will be removed as well. Despite the fact that we didn’t really see it. It was not, uh, uh, I wouldn’t go to the port where it was going to be, but it, it, I totally relate to your story Shane in the sense that it just makes it so real when you, you know, that your product is inside that container. And it’s just somewhat to big milestone. Cause a lot of people, a lot of entrepreneurs might have great ideas, but they never really go through the process of making them happen. So I think that going from the, your trip to Ecuador at one point and meeting Arturo and becoming good friends to having the idea to actually seeing coffee inside a container heading your way, I think that’s, that’s great.
Enrique Alvarez (00:20:09):
And yeah, congratulations. Very few kind of entrepreneurs take it that far. So, so you’re definitely an inspiration for a lot of the younger entrepreneurs out there that, uh, that are kind of want to be like you at some point. And what would you tell them just briefly? I mean, what would be your advice? How do you go from baseball to pay? I, my first container coming to the port, my favorite book that I’ve ever read, and that is a very, it’s almost cliche now, cause it’s so good. It’s Simon Sinek start with why that baseball always gave me that purpose always gave me that why in my life that was fulfilling and what permitted me to want to work countless hours on it. And, um, stay focused on it.
Shane Buerster (00:20:48):
The discipline is evening’s has done the same thing, you know, as soon as I met Arturo and started meeting the farmers and you know, started getting to know the farmers and, and, and you know, one of the stories when I was down in Ecuador on that initial trip, I was with Arturo and my professor, dr. Serabia and we were interviewing farmers. And so we’re walking up to the plantation and it’s Wednesday, you know, nine o’clock, 10 o’clock like everyone should certainly be in school. There was a young boy, probably eight or nine years old, swinging a machete, you know, just cleaning the shrub around the coffee plantation. So we walked up and, you know, Arturo goes, don’t be a start to a pot, like where’s your father. And so he calls me
Scott Luton (00:21:26):
His father over and we interview the
Shane Buerster (00:21:29):
Farmer and his young son and just like that, we leave, you know, we’re and we’re walking up, leaving the plantation and I’ll never forget it. Like it’s ingrained in my image and my mind this, uh, there’s this deflated soccer ball that was at the end of the fence. And that soccer ball just immediately hit me that like, man, if that were my baseball, like I’d be playing with it instead. He’s worried about putting food on the table and he’s not able to go to school. And so it just, you know, it really saw like the privilege with which I lived, like how much it cut me to lose baseball. Like man, what a, what a real privilege it is to be worried about losing baseball. You know, this young boys is worried about putting food on the table. I’ve never had to worry about putting food on the table.
Shane Buerster (00:22:10):
My mom was shooting me a text and said, Hey, dinner’s ready when you get home, you know, and I’d be in the cage hitting ball baseball. So it’s, uh, you know, it, it really just opened my eyes. And um, you know, once I established that, why of like, man, this is something certainly greater than myself, something greater than I’ve ever been able to do. I mean, and if I can put like measure my success and then one day that farm or being able to potentially say, Hey, my son has been able to graduate high school or my son has been able to go to college. You know, the average farmer sun’s dropping out in fourth grade to help his father on the farm. You know, farmers were literally telling us that they have sons to help them the plantation. That is the purpose. And so that just stuck with me and that that’s always been the, you know, the driving factor of the why.
Shane Buerster (00:22:51):
And so, you know, while we may have success bringing in containers or opening up a new coffee shop, whatever it may be, that’s just never like gratifying enough to just want to stop like the ultimate measure of my own personal success with Z beans is a let’s let’s try and get a farmer’s son through high school. That would be, that would be a, a lightwell lift. So that’s, um, that’s, that’s what I would have to say. You know, let’s find that why, and, and don’t be afraid to, to be brutally honest with yourself, you know, when I had to come to realization like, man, you’re quite privileged to be able to, you know, worry about losing baseball.
Scott Luton (00:23:23):
Yeah. That hurt. But it was, it was the honest truth, you know, at the same time, I think about your, your first container. Right. And you knew what your, why was then I, I assume your first container is like hoisting the world series trophy for the first time as a, as a ballplayer. If you think about it, right. It’s the moment you thought would never, you never really about when it would come or whether it would come or what you would do when it came, but when it did every bit as excited, I’m sure as, you know, as winning a trophy, any trophy, you won in baseball as a kid. So you you’ve done a great job clearly of transferring that desire, lifelong desire for baseball, into a lifelong desire for giving. And I think it’s really commendable, particularly because you spent so much of your life playing baseball. And I think that’s a great example. If you lose something that important to you, find something else to channel that energy into and you know, once you’ve given up on your dream, right. Find a new dream to go after. And I think that’s an important lesson to learn here already. And I think we’re about halfway through the episode. So you feel like this one is this one’s every bit as much learning as we had with Joel Manby this morning. Right. So yeah.
Shane Buerster (00:24:40):
You’re a great storyteller too. Shane
Scott Luton (00:24:42):
It’s making it incredibly, uh, incredibly, uh, yeah. Energizing, I guess. So, so we’ve talked about kind of a piffle and Eureka moments and that sort of thing. And I want to hear about XE coffee and what it, what it’s all about and what it does, but I have to know this. So I’m going to go off script a little bit here. Shane. I have to know how you and Arturo got to fork out from four phone calls a week to, to talking about business, to turning it into a business. How did that happen? How did it become a business?
Shane Buerster (00:25:16):
We are talking four times a week and eventually those phone conversations turn into like, let’s start a business together. He knows I’m interested in entrepreneurship. He knows that I’m an economics marketing and Spanish major and wanting to do work in Latin America. And so that was a, a common theme. He knew that that’s what I wanted to do and our Tuto, uh, he, he is now our tutor, not a farmer, our Tuto in work in agriculture. So he’s a 65 year old man who had worked in agriculture since he was a young kid when Arturo and I started talking, you know, he re revisited this concept of coffee. And I told him, I was just like, Arturo. The issue is, is there’s not enough coffee. And so Arturo’s first challenge of the mini, you know, millions of challenges. He’s now given to me and told me to figure it out myself. He said, well, why in the world would we just import from El Orono when we can import from all over the country? You know, where we can export with coffee from Ecuador, from all, from, from towns all over the country, you know, to the States. And so, you know, when he said that, I said, well, I mean, you know, that makes sense. As a whole art Ecuador produces far more coffee than what I could ever do with, you know, especially for the first 20 years of the business,
Scott Luton (00:26:23):
Three months later, 65,
Shane Buerster (00:26:24):
How’s the coffee ride, my parents’ doorstep and Pooler. I get a call from my mom. What in the heck have you gotten into, there’s simply five pounds of these green looking beans from Ecuador. And I was like, Oh no, no, no, mine is, you know, it’s completely fine. It’s just coffee and from some Arturo. And, uh, and so, all right, well, so I went and got him, got him roasted and gave it away and everyone really, really enjoyed it. And so as I started doing some research on Ecuadorian coffee, I realized that very, it wasn’t, it’s not very popular here in the States, just because of these cooperatives, which the coffee game really utilizes to help with logistics, marketing. There’s just, there’s not many in Ecuador and farms are so spread out just, but, you know, based on the geography of Ecuador, I mean, yeah, low hyper doors are big producing region, but we get coffee from Los LA Haas, which is far Southern Ecuador, 30 minutes North of Peru, all the way up to [inaudible], which is 30 minutes South of Columbia.
Shane Buerster (00:27:23):
And so the, the, the logistics behind how a cooperative really can work efficiently. It’s just not there, you know, inequitable this, this game and this kind of like chess, this game of chess. And this puzzle that we had to start piecing together is what became really interesting to me. Like, man, how can we do this? So anyways, I get a 65 pounds and I had some money saved up. So I purchased that 300 pounds that I’ve already told you the story about. And so, or pounds comes in. And then, and that’s how I learned about customs brokers and freight forwarders. After that 300 pounds, I started selling, I sold, you know, a good bit of that and everyone really enjoyed it. And then from there, I, uh, got my first loan from an angel investor, which, you know, very grateful. It was my, my uncle who is an entrepreneur himself.
Shane Buerster (00:28:10):
I wrote up a business plan, then I submitted it to them and I asked them, clearly, pick it apart, let me know everything that you dislike about it, that worries you. Uh, and so this business plan had nothing to do with building a retail brand whole concept, which is, you know, sourcing green coffee beans from Ecuador and flipping them here in the States. And so uncle Phil gets back to me two days later, he has one question and I said, well, you know, what’s that he said, can you trust him? And so our direct rates, supply chain still to this day, uh, we don’t offer, we don’t operate off of exclusivity contracts. A lot of it’s, um, shaking hands and just operating through this principle of shared value, doing right by others. You know, and it’s, as I told up to Phil at that time, and as I still say today, as long as it’s more advantageous for all of us to work together, why would we ever go behind each other’s backs?
Shane Buerster (00:29:04):
And so I’ve just made sure to set up our supply chains, where it’s advantageous for us all to work together, you know? And so that’s what I told them. And then I feel I need $30,000. I want to buy 4,000 pounds of coffee. Can you help me out? Thankfully, he was able to loan me the money and was able to purchase the first 4,000 pounds. So when I brought that 4,000 pounds in and I actually bought it in biplane, horrible idea, a little bit expensive, I sold that my whole senior year of college. And yeah, so I would just go door knocking on businesses, doors, uh, you know, just trying to sell the coffee any way possible, but all along, I was trying to build a team, you know, and start adding people to the team that, that complimented my skillset. Where was that deficient and where can I add?
Shane Buerster (00:29:49):
And so, you know, thankfully I was able to, um, add two key partners. One’s now the chief operations officer of all of our coffee shops. And one’s now our chief financial officer. And from there I met a girl who started doing our graphic design. He’s now our chief marketing officer. And so, you know, we’ve started adding pieces to the team and adding accounts slowly but surely. And, um, then we, upon graduating after my senior year, we opened our first coffee shop. And so it really just from there, you know, just growing and, uh, the more I’ve grown to understand the supply chain, uh, and how to source coffee from Ecuador, the easier that aspect is become, and the more confident I becoming become in doing it. So that’s really how we’ve been able to get from that ground up of phone calls to now where we are today. So is the company today,
Greg White (00:30:40):
Is it predominantly coffee roasts,
Shane Buerster (00:30:43):
I think for other shops or is it your own shops? Yeah, so we have, uh, four coffee shops. Okay. And we also have a wholesale sector of the business. And so one of the things I did early on is I split the business into two, knowing that each will grow at different rates and that, you know, intrinsically, I will always be attached to the, uh, the wholesale side of the business. And so the, the coffee shops, you know, they they’re, um, they’re run as, as coffee shops. And then the wholesale side, we do private labeling where we roast for other companies. You know, we also sell some green coffee beans, you know, in regards to that selling of the green coffee beans, why I deviated away from it was because as I said, I brought that forth thousand pounds of coffee in my plane that was extremely expensive, green coffee beans.
Shane Buerster (00:31:30):
And when I started giving those samples out to other roasters, I quickly realized that there have to be non-negotiables in business, but most importantly, there have to be nonnegotiables in life when they started, you know, they would ask what the price is. And I told them, uh, they would say, man, I’m normally buying coffee at under $2. And I said, well, you know, I’ll never pay a farmer less than $2 in Ecuador. And so it’s a, it’s a nonnegotiable for our business. You know, all the coffees are specialty coffees, but we don’t pay no farmer receives any less than $2 per pound. Because again, that kind of goes to this transparency and to the trust. I mean, I need each of the farmers and each of our partners to trust me just as much as I need to be able to trust them. And one thing that we have them do is we have them submit over like, what’s their cost of goods.
Shane Buerster (00:32:16):
So, you know, cause sustainability needs to go both ways. I need to have a sustainable business here. They need to be. And so they’ll submit in, you know, their cost of goods sold. So Milton, everybody, NEDA is coffee costs them a dollar 20 last year. And we had purchased this coffee at $2 and 40 cents a pound. And so these sorts of margins though, he’s at the very bottom of the supply chain supply, the raw material, he still has the ability to grow, but so do we. And so it didn’t bode well trying to flip the green coffee beans because that’s, that’ll never be the business that I’m in, you know, just because at the end of the night I have to live with myself. I’m the one who has to sleep. No, when I do that was okay. Uncle Phil has grown to understand, and people have appreciated that, you know, transparency and, you know, social mission behind that.
Greg White (00:32:58):
And the roasting is the value add you can provide that allows you to give the margin too, to your farmers, right? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Brilliant. That’s a great transition of the business to meet your why. Right. We’ve learned a little bit about what you do all day, but you know, CEO, it seems like there ought to be more letters in CEO because, you know, you’re, you’re in front of three CEOs right now and not one of us does the exact same thing or, and even in different businesses, we haven’t done the same thing in those businesses. So tell us a little bit about what CEO means in your world today.
Shane Buerster (00:33:36):
Well, first and foremost, I’m incredibly grateful now for the team that we have, as I said, my whole goal all along is creating Onpro in preneurial spirits, within everyone. How can I get everyone to have this mindset of being a CEO within their realm of the business? You know, this will relate to another question that I know y’all ask later, but the biggest thing that we discussed is trust and accountability, trust, and everyone to do their job well, thus, you know, I w I will trust them, but I’ll also verify, you know, that they’re doing a good job. So, you know, my day to day is, is focusing on expansion. You know, I like to say, you know, to, to the guys, when were around CEO, for me means chief expansion officer. And so any, uh, any ability to try and expand and to find new opportunities is what I think I’m pretty good at, you know, and our operations officer Carter bargain he’s, he’s fantastic. And, uh, really wears a lot of the burden that comes with issues we may have in the coffee shops, you know, that we may have with HRL on the inventory side. And so it it’s, you know, a fantastic team. And I mean, I could only be successful. Zumiez means is can only be as successful as our team is. My ultimate role is expansion trying to find new opportunities for us and trust in our team to be able to do everything else. Hey, real quick,
Greg White (00:34:49):
Before I ask Moni to share about your company, where are your shops?
Shane Buerster (00:34:55):
So all of our shops currently, uh, are in middle Georgia. All right. We have three in Macon, Georgia. And again, this is where we started the business. We have aspirations to start trying to grow outside of it. Um, and then we have one coffee shop in Columbus, Georgia. So we’re developing these kiosks, um, inside of hospitals. And so two of the kiosks are inside hospitals, you know, partnering with other social mission like-minded organizations that create real congruency and really put us in a, in a, almost an incubation space customers. And then, um, our wholesale facility is in downtown Macon as well.
Scott Luton (00:35:29):
Moni, I know you work with Shane and the crew pretty frequently, and I’m sure you know, a lot about their, so I’d love to
Shane Buerster (00:35:38):
Hear, I think our listeners would love to hear what you admire about Shane and the company and, you know, some of their story or the organization that really stands out to you.
Monica Hernandez (00:35:49):
Well, uh, I think, uh, the history is amazing and very Motiva motivational for all the persons that are, um, now hearing this history. And I think that, um, that the most that I, that I admire, sorry, is that at his age, how long has been he’s had he had, uh, grow up? You know, I think that a little, uh, people cannot think as the same as he thinks now. Uh, maybe sometimes, uh, that age, we just think about going to party or going, uh, with friends, you know, and I know now he’s just doing, um, making an impact in the world, you know, and I found that vector can match with a seed beans company because, uh, one of our purpose for both here in that avatar, it’s also to change the world at nine. I think that to change the world, you need to be a little bit of your best, um, work with job, um, to the, to the people, you know, so I think that for shame, the most important thing is not to, to, uh, to have money, you know, it’s to help help people and to help all the farmers, uh, in Ecuador and to, to have, uh, some, uh, great, uh, grateful, you know, for the people that they’re.
Monica Hernandez (00:37:28):
So for Victor is really, uh, ablation to work with him because, uh, it’s an amazing story, you know?
Shane Buerster (00:37:37):
Yeah. It sounds like it, and I’m hopeful that you’re saving him a pile on, on importing and freight forwarding as well. Cause he should not be left to those decisions, clearly, Mony to take good care of him. Now, I would like to say, you know, just take some time to, to think vector because, um, and explain how, you know, came into contact with them and the real need that they have filled in business. So one of the difficult things about our direct trade supply chain is, as I said, like it’s very much been left up to myself to try and build our logistics team and to be able to consistently get product out of Ecuador. One of the biggest things is Marine Fabrizio Penedes. They actually live in penis Ecuador, and that’s where our processing facility is. And so the simplicity behind our supply chain is literally how the farmers get their coffees down to the processing facility.
Shane Buerster (00:38:25):
None of the processing facility, we process everything down. We get a container from the port city of [inaudible] to penis, and then from there and returns to the ports and ships to Savannah. So I like to think about it in those layman’s terms. Like I need it to be as simple as possible for not only myself, but also for Maria, for barista who are not exporters, you know, they don’t, they don’t exactly know. And so we have an agent in Ecuador that is really good friends with Maria Fabrizio named Enrique. And so Enrique has been a tremendous help. He helped us get the original 65 pounds of coffee out of the country, but Marine, Fabrizio just feels so confident in working with them. You know, they have this thing called a token where he can just sign it, anything he needs on their behalf, that’s how they prefer for it to work.
Shane Buerster (00:39:08):
And so one of the biggest things that I was worried about, like finding an agent in the States is like, alright, nowhere, you know, a really unique concept here. Like we have an agent in Ecuador that’s really a non negotiable. Like I need you, you, you have to work with them. You know what I mean, for this whole thing to work. And not only that, you know, he can only speak Spanish. And so I needed to find a way to connect these two links perfectly, and then also with, with Z beans. And so obviously I would say I’m a seven out of 10 or eight out of 10 in speaking Spanish. I’m very confident in doing it, but when it comes to the nitty gritty and on the back end, like I prefer to be delivered the tough news or like really difficult info in English.
Shane Buerster (00:39:45):
And so just back to really just mesh all of this together perfectly, you know? And so when it comes down to, uh, every summer and it’s time to import, you know, I simply, you know, tee up, uh, an in an email creating a new email thread. I mean, I was going through, uh, just yesterday looking at all the ones from the previous years, and it’s just one long email thread for the whole import year. And so, uh, you know, I’m incredibly grateful for that and, and their ability to be malleable, um, themselves, you know, and to fit within our supply chain. And that’s, you know, that’s really, really helped us. That’s what we’ve seen. I mean, you know, we know Enrique is a friend as a fellow board member on logistics, uh, on the logistics summit here in Georgia and, and that sort of thing.
Shane Buerster (00:40:26):
And we’ve learned a lot about, and Rica and Moni and the rest of the team at vector. And I don’t mean to turn this into an ad, but frankly they facilitate business in the way that they’re what we’ve seen over and over and over as they facilitate business in the way that their client that’s. Right. Well, and I really think it’s just more working with people like Shane. Right. So, and I’m just going to flip this back to you, Shane cause it’s very similar to the example you gave about you kind of, uh, you don’t feel like you’re working, you’re just enjoying what you do. And I think just for us, a Eureka moment a couple of years ago is we can pick who we work with. Right. And then, so we started this series and we started to be able to be more picky and we started to select the clients that we want to work with. And honestly, we’re working with people that believe in what we believe, right. So we want to change the world. It’s incredibly naive if you just say it out loud, but we truly believe in that. And I think that, uh, working with companies like you and, and, and just sharing the same values, it just makes our days a lot more, uh, enjoyable. And we believe that we can, um, give more impact and change the faster we just
Enrique Alvarez (00:41:34):
Partner with you. And then you put it like very, very well, right. It’s just, as long as everyone’s benefiting from this, the world will be a better place. Right. And, and so for us, we love working with you. And of course, uh, one thing that I really admire about you and your company is just your, your passion and commitment and just awareness and money mentioned a lot about someone your age. And I’m just going to expand that a little bit, because honestly you, that same message that you’re giving to all the people it’s applicable to everyone. I mean, me included, and I’m not your age clearly, but, uh, but I think, uh, I think you can, um, you can definitely teach a lot of entrepreneurs out there regardless of their, their ages. So thank you. Thank you very much for, for being so mindful. And, and so, uh, so clear and transparent about why you’re, what you’re all about. I think we need more business leaders like that.
Shane Buerster (00:42:24):
Greed and Enrique is actually 26. So he just got you back a couple of years, or just a couple of years.
Enrique Alvarez (00:42:29):
It’s the beard I need to shy. I ended to up,
Scott Luton (00:42:32):
But, you know, so, so not that we’re outsiders per se, because we certainly feel be part of the vector community. And we really seen that firsthand from this logistics with purpose series, but Greg hearing, Shane and Monica and Enrique share perspective on how they view the world, I mean is a natural synergy. And you’re right. You know, it kind of doubles down on what Enrique was just saying about picking and choosing where there is kindred spirits, you know, when you can. So that that’s certainly been part of our journey, at least part of my entrepreneurial journey, one of my most favorite aspects of that. Uh, and it’s, it’s beautiful to see it play out in from a supply chain standpoint and being a supply chain nerd. I am, and I love hearing all three of y’all talk about the relationship and the impact you’re having together, working together. So, all right. So in Reiki, I know we also want to, you know, Shane’s already touched on some of the things outside of the business, but we want to continue down that path as we start to wind down the interview, right.
Enrique Alvarez (00:43:31):
It’s been a challenging year to say the least, right. Tons of different things happening. Um, and so as an entrepreneur, as a business leader, how do you manage this time? So I guess broadly put what happened to the, to the, to your coffee shops. Did you have to close them as they’re, uh, what’s the impact in Ecuador? How are the people in Ecuador fearing with the, with the pandemic? I mean, what can you tell everyone out there that maybe doesn’t know as much about Ecuador and then also, what are you personally keeping track off more closely? Is it whatever indicator that you want to share with us? Sure. Yeah. The really hard, um, especially black yield to port city that we utilize and Ecuador is such a communal culture. You know, like
Scott Luton (00:44:17):
When we go there, we’re constantly around 10, 15 people. And from what we understand, yeah.
Enrique Alvarez (00:44:21):
And what I understand about the virus, what we’ve been told is, uh, uh, that’s
Scott Luton (00:44:27):
Completely counterintuitive to preventing the spread of it. You, and so it,
Shane Buerster (00:44:32):
It, it, you know, just as a byproduct really hindered their, uh, their, their culture and really hit it hard. And so it’s, uh, uh, like for our tutor, I know he has not left his house in quite some time. I mean, he’s an older gentleman, certainly lives a pretty hard life. And, uh, I’ve been worried about him, you know, I trust that he’s gonna make the right decisions. And I trust that he knows the value that he brings to dizzy beans, but most importantly to his family. And so, um, you know, we’ve talked to every single day and, and, uh, what’s funny is everyone that I’ve been worried about an Ecuador. I was the one that ended up getting sick. So they’ve been in, they’ve been, they’ve been fine. Now our tool keeps calling me, like, how do you feel? How do you feel? And so, uh, that, um, you know, I’m, I’m grateful for that.
Shane Buerster (00:45:13):
And when it first happened, one of the most difficult conversations I’ve ever had had was with all of our baristas in our coffee shops. And I told them all that, unfortunately, we’re going to have to put everyone on him on unemployment. There was just no way. Yeah. You know, I foresaw us being able to keep up with cashflow, knowing how much demand was going to be stricken. Fortunately, as I said, I, we have an incredible team Carter, our CFO and Ben, or excuse me, Carter, our COO and Ben, our CFO. Uh, we sat down and each had a conversation. They said, listen, don’t want any money. You go work, one shop, I’ll work another and I’ll work the other. And so for almost a month, every single day, we logged every hour. And those coffee shops didn’t shut the shop down once. And didn’t take a dime out of the business.
Shane Buerster (00:45:59):
I mean, we had some days where we made 55 bucks and we had other days, you know, as soon as we started getting a little bit better, but, but you know, no matter what we’re able to keep paying our landlords, we didn’t fall behind there. And we were able to be diligent with the opportunities that came about, you know, through the triple P and L. And so, uh, you know, we put ourselves in a position to, to stay afloat and to stay alive. So I’m in, I will forever be indebted and grateful for their friendships and for their hard work, you know, and their trust and commitment. They have to see veins moving forward. One of the key words and the indicators of our success and ability to be successful. And I encouraged for entrepreneurs interested in working in international landscapes is trust. Like I can’t stress enough how important the word trust is, and in a supply chain, because sure we can document every single thing.
Shane Buerster (00:46:54):
I can have a contract signed by every farmer, but when it comes down to it, if a true, just an authentic relationship, I mean, I have the phone numbers, WhatsApp numbers of every farmer today. I received a message at nine 30 from Diego Haya, from Los LA house. And he was five minutes out from the processing facility and penis about the drop off the coffee. I mean, these sorts of authentic relationships, why would they ever, why would I ever have a reason to not trust, you know, their friends just like order. And Ben is though they’re 5,000 miles away, you know, to put in the time and, you know, spend two months in Ecuador and just, you know, invest, invest time in this time, that’s helped our supply chain, the, uh, um, you know, be able to overcome the Corona bars. No, this will be the first year where I’m not able to get into Ecuador to export the coffee.
Shane Buerster (00:47:40):
And we’re also exporting, uh, the most popular we’ve ever export it, you know, but I’ve received a call from every farmer to ensure that, Hey, everything’s fine or throw, send everything’s fine and reinforce ratio. And so I have no reason not to trust that it’s going to turn out just fine. It’s, it’s, it’s certainly not easy. And trust is certainly earned, but I do think is entrepreneur yourself, um, it’s your responsibility to go and, uh, be willing to build that trust. Eh, another book by Simon Sineck cliche leaders eat last one part of eaten last is taking the time to build the relationships that will allow you to eventually eat one day. I think, you know, having two months, every year, it’s probably a real overkill to spill in Ecuador. Does it hurt our expansion here in the States? Certainly, you know, cause no one can truly go and talk about the business with the same passion that I can, you know, we’re trying to open new accounts, whatever it may be. And I understand that, but also understand that, you know, it, it takes a lot of time and a lot of maintenance to maintain those relationships and you don’t want to forsake that.
Scott Luton (00:48:42):
Wow, let me digest that you shared so much good stuff there. Uh, we need to have a, uh, an additional hour to dive into a lot of just what Shane shared in the last three or four minutes. But Shane, what a remarkable journey, especially at this early age, you’ve already led. I know we’ll all be here. Keep putting our finger on the pulse of what’s next for Z beans coffee. Let’s make sure folks know. And, and, and Monica and Enrique and Greg FairWarning, I’m gonna come back around and ask you for your one favorite aspect of what Shane shared. So there’s your, there’s your warning. Shane let’s make sure folks can connect with you. Let’s make sure they can purchase the beans, coffee, visit your stores. What, what’s the best way to connect with you in the company?
Shane Buerster (00:49:24):
XE beans, coffee.com is our, is our website on there. There’s hundreds of blogs that I’ve written about my adventures in Ecuador, early on Z beans. Uh, well, you know, it was very small and it only meant a lot to one person and that was well perhaps to myself and our two them. Um, and so, you know, I wanted to be able to look back when at one day and realize how far I’ve come, whether or not it’s successful. Um, you know, it important, you know, being able to see all that I’ve done. And so, uh, there are tons of blogs you can read on there as well. You can see our product, we ship all over the States, uh, regularly on a daily basis. Um, we have, uh, you know, medium, dark roast coffees, but we also important natural honey process. We do a create your own land, where you can blend your own. So, uh, you know, it’s especially coffee, it’s a specialty product, but most importantly, what we do behind every single one of our products is we put a face behind every cup. And so every time you receive a coffee, you’re going to learn everything there is to know about your farmer is plantation, is plantations, coordinates, uh, fun facts about
Enrique Alvarez (00:50:28):
Altitude level processing methods. And so that’s one thing that we’re trying to do to distinguish it. You know, these relationships that I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to be able to build with them, trying to relay those onto you. And so then if you go to our social media platforms at Z beans, coffee on Facebook, Instagram, wherever I actually w w when we make posts regularly, we will, uh, tag farmers. And so you’ll have the ability to, you know, reach out to your farmer. We’ve highly encouraged him to show them how to get Facebook Instagrams. And I’m trying to create a truly personal connection and relationship with them. You can also email me Shane dot [inaudible] dot com. I welcome all emails. I’ll have a good bit of filters. And so if, if it’s, if it’s spammy, it’ll go to spam.
Enrique Alvarez (00:51:12):
I welcome all your emails. So Shane dot [inaudible] dot com at Z beans, coffee across all our platforms and it’s coffee.com for our website. We’re going to put an order in today. We’re going to find out which of our team members here at supply chain now drive to make coffee and which, yeah, we can drive the Macon. That’s even better. I did Greg or Columbus, right? Shane, Shane, beyond the perspective you shared just the passion and energy and, and your intentional purpose that you bring to the conversation is, is overwhelming our cup overrun. And that’s, Hey, that’s the rewarding part about our journey is, is meeting in getting stories and find stories like this. So thanks so much what you bring to the table, but don’t go anywhere. Cause we’re gonna go around the horn and we’re going to see what everyone else loved about what you brought to the table today.
Enrique Alvarez (00:51:56):
And so we’re gonna start with Enrique and we’ll go to Monica next Enrique. What’s your one big favorite thing from Shane? Well, tons of really good learning experiences and good suggestions and just good ideas in general. Like you can clearly tell just by listening to Shane for a couple of minutes, he’s just incredibly authentic, right? I mean, he means every word he says, he’s the real thing. And I think that’s actually, again, very refreshing, uh, and the world needs more leaders like that. People that are not afraid to just tell the story the way it happened without kind of sugarcoating it or without any kind of agenda behind it. And so for me, uh, the way you explain how baseball was kind of stripped away from you and I can relate, cause I, I’m still trying to make the Mexican soccer national team. So I still need to probably, uh, so you’re so far ahead of me when it comes to that maturity level, but, uh, but know that that story was great and the way you handle it, it’s just, it’s amazing.
Enrique Alvarez (00:52:53):
Yeah. Congratulations. Thank you. Love it. I love it. And we’ll be in Reiki. We’re pulling for you if you need Qatar, the next one, I’ll definitely make the next one. Well, uh, I’d offer you all of my soccer expertise, but that’d be a very short conversation. That’s right. I just did. Uh, all right. So Monica, what an inspiring story here. I’m jealous of you, you get a chance to work and help companies like this day in and day out. What was your favorite component of the conversation today? Oh, I see that it’s very inspirational. Listen, a story
Monica Hernandez (00:53:26):
Like this and someone like this that is really commitment with all the people with his own company, you know, and again, I am in breasts in Brazil, in Brazil about his story and about how he’s growing up, you know, because I think, um, I remembered the first shipment with us West and LCL Schumann, and now it’s, it’s, it has been full containers, you know, so that the moment that, that he fought us, that when he received, uh, the first container, I cannot imagine me doing that. You know, I can make it how, um, happy I feel and look in my container writing, you know, that moment. So I think it’s really inspirational, uh, for everyone that is listening now.
Scott Luton (00:54:20):
Outstanding. All right, Greg let’s, let’s, let’s conclude this round about with you. What was, what’s one big thing that stood out? Well, you know, if you give me one, I’m going to take two. The first one is, uh, what Moni just said and how engaged she is in the success of Shane and his team. How, how inspired and tied into what they’re doing is, and how much it means to her, for them to be successful. I think that is commendable. And not that we wouldn’t expect it, but I’m not sure that everyone out there listening can understand just how much, how engaged and regained his team get with their, with their customers. And in addition to that, I would echo a bit of what Enrique said and the level of maturity Shane that you you show. And the amount of introspection, I think is the biggest thing.
Greg White (00:55:14):
You know, when I think about how you’ve internalized so much of what you’ve learned and how you can express it, as Enrique said, you know, his level of maturity as he hasn’t let go of, of the Mexican national team, my level of maturity is it’s exceedingly difficult for me to tell people how I’ve done things as a leader, and that you’re able to enunciate that as is not only it doesn’t only help your business today, but I really think it’s something you should consider in the future sharing with the world, because that’s so valuable for other leaders. We want to read your book, Shane. Yeah, that’s it? Yeah. If you could publish all this blog articles, you get, you got to have half of it. I didn’t realize how much those blogs would eventually, you know, grow to main to me. Um, and you know, now it’s, it’s, it’s always committed to myself. I would never write those blogs. If it felt like a burden, I felt like I was just trying to get it in really quick. I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t do it. And so, um, I’ve been away from him for a little bit, but, you know, inevitably I always return, uh, when I’m looking for that need to be introspective, it’s certainly a need that I, that I have. And, you know, and I’m very grateful that I have the ability
Enrique Alvarez (00:56:24):
To fulfill it myself and to have the experiences to be able to do it.
Scott Luton (00:56:27):
Yeah. I enjoy those blogs and we look forward to sharing a couple. In fact, we’ve our, team’s already found XE beans, coffee on Twitter and to our audience, you can also find Shane beer stir and the whole Z beans coffee team at Z beans, coffee.com and across social media, as you just shared Shane, thanks so much for taking time out and letting us feel a part of your story here today. And hopefully our audience enjoyed it as much as our team here did. Yeah. Thank you so much, guys.
Enrique Alvarez (00:56:53):
Thank you. Thank you so much, Shane.
Scott Luton (00:56:55):
That’s great. All right. Shane beer, stor uh, founder of Z beans, coffee, Z beans, coffee.com. I also want to thank Enrique Alvarez and Monica Hernandez with our friends and partners over at Bector global logistics folks, Monica and Enrique love what y’all bring to the table, these stories and, and you know, your culture. I know that y’all, don’t want everyone to make this a commercial, but really y’alls culture just,
Enrique Alvarez (00:57:20):
Yeah, you guys gotta to try harder.
Scott Luton (00:57:23):
Well, you don’t want to make it one, but we do. We do. We believe in this journey, we believe in what you’re doing. It’s it speaks to us in the right way and in a certain level. And hopefully in our little neck of the woods, being able to put our little spotlight that we’re growing and investing in every day on these stories, these journeys, these companies out there changing the world and it’s, it is so rewarding to be part of it. So thank you to you both. And you can learn more about vector, vector, gl.com, right?
Enrique Alvarez (00:57:53):
Okay. That’s correct. And no, thank you too, as well. Uh, Scott and Greg, I think it’s very important that you, that you gave voice to, to leaders like Shane. I think that’s very, very valuable, especially this day. So thank you both for kind of just being the medium in which everyone else can, can share some of their experiences. Cause it’s, uh, it’s very exciting and entertaining and very educational as well.
Scott Luton (00:58:17):
You said it, you said it’s all about giving voice to the industry, giving voice to global supply chain leaders and organizations within it. So thank you so much, Greg. What a, what a home run morning, but certainly a home run conversation here today. Did you enjoy it? As much as I did it more, I feel like we need to connect Shane and Joel Manby. Yeah. I’ve of course enjoyed it. I mean, this has been a great morning and I’m not going to say anything more great about vector because I’m afraid Enrique will hit. Um, but I’m I’m I really enjoy this and it’s energizing to see. It’s great to see young people, young professionals, whatever. It’s great to see people a purpose higher than the business for it. You know, basically Shane is he’s saving the world a dollar 20 a pound at a time, right.
Scott Luton (00:59:10):
To two 40. I think it is, but he’s putting a buck 20 out this way. I look at it into their pocket, right? Making sure that they make a hundred percent margin is, and it’s what enables it’s what embeds the trust in Shane, from his growers. And it’s what enables him to be able to trust them is because they know that he is out for their, their best. Well put on that note to our audience. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this as much as we have. You can learn more about our programming supply chain already.com to hear more stories, just like Shane and Z beans, coffee, find, subscribe, wherever you get your podcasts from. Hey, the challenge we put out to our audience, same challenge. We challenge ourselves with a do good, give forward, be the change that’s needed. Hey, drink more coffee too. Cause you help folks around the world as illustrate with a story here on that note. We’ll see you next time here.
Shane Buerster – On a Mercer On Mission trip during the summer of 2016, Shane Buerster, a rising junior at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, met Arturo Penarreta Romero, a 65 year old man from Zaruma, Ecuador. Throughout Shane’s junior year of college, Arturo and Shane spoke on the phone 3 – 4 times a week, as a way to improve Shane’s Spanish. But, the conversations quickly started focusing upon the idea of building a direct trade supply chain that’d enable the import of Ecuadorian coffee from small, micro-lot plantations. A few months later, Arturo sent Shane 65lbs of coffee, which arrived at his parents doorstep in Pooler, Georgia. After roasting the coffee and getting feedback from coffee connoisseurs, Shane decided to dive into the coffee business, birthing Zaruma Beans – or better put, Z Beans.
The summer leading into his senior year of college, Shane secured his first small angel investment, enabling him to import 4,000lbs of Ecuadorian coffee. During his senior year, he began selling the coffee and adding key members to the Z Beans team. Upon graduation in the spring of 2018, Shane and his team opened their first coffee shop, while importing 14,000lbs of coffee from Ecuador that summer. Over the past three years, Z Beans has continued to grow. From a 23,000lb import during the summer of 2019, to four coffee shops and a roasting facility, Z Beans has become a staple of the Middle Georgia community. However, as the business grows, one key relationship remains at the forefront – that of Arturo Penarreta Romero and Shane Buerster.
Enrique Alvarez 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 a 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 also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people and spending time with his wife and two kids Emma and Enrique. Learn more about Vector Global Logistics here: https://vectorgl.com/
Monica Hernandez serves as Sales Support for Vector Global Logistics. She has been working at Vector for one year, and loves the culture and the purpose behind the business. She believes in the mission at Vector, to give forward, and put people first in business, and loves the fact that they help people through logistics. Learn more about Vector’s giving initiatives here: https://vectorgl.com/giving.html
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.
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.
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.