“I joined Coca-Cola in 1991, right at the time when the wall fell in East Germany. One of the things we did was to actually go to Berlin and hand out free Cokes at the wall. It was such a powerful experience to be there in Germany at the time the whole country was so excited about the change. To be there handing out Coke, you could just feel the power of the energy that was going on at the time.”
Scott Armstrong, CFO for CONA Services LLC
To outsiders, Coca-Cola seems like one large company, but it is actually made up of a number of different organizations and business units, some of which function independently and some of which have either been kept in house or pulled back in house after being external. Coca Cola Enterprises, the major bottler for Coca-Cola is a prime example; they were brought internal in 2010, reformatted, and then spun back off. This blend of internal and external operations creates significant challenges for Coca-Cola’s IT operation.
Scott Armstrong is the CFO for CONA Services LLC, the IT Shared Services Provider for Coca-Cola’s North American Bottling System. His organization provides IT services to the 12 largest U.S. bottlers and essentially runs their IT operations on a day to day basis. They are responsible for designing new systems: the build as well as deployment and operations.
In this conversation, Scott explains to Supply Chain Now Co-hosts Greg White and Scott Luton:
· How CONA is investing in a blockchain initiative that will automate the ordering process between CONA and non-CONA bottlers working for Coca-Cola without requiring their systems to interface directly
· Why managing out of stocks at retail locations is one of their primary concerns
· The fact that we never know what is going to happen to us tomorrow, and knowledge of that fact should shape all of our personal and professional decisions in life
Intro – Amanda Luton (00:05):
It’s time for supply chain. Now broadcasting live from the supply chain capital of the country. Atlanta, Georgia heard around the world. Supply chain. Now spotlights the best in all things. Supply chain, the people, the technologies, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts.
Scott Luton (00:28):
Hey, good afternoon. Scott Lee, Greg white, and Paul Noble with you here at supply chain. Now welcome to today’s show today’s episode, uh, all focused on perspective from the C suite. In fact, we’re getting POV from the CFO. So stay tuned as we look to work hard to increase your supply chain, Accu Greg white. You liked that? Huh? Let’s get started PDQ with a CFO and get his POV. Oh, even better. Always one up by Greg Wyatt. Great to have you back. And, Oh, it’s great to be here. Great to have Paul here. So welcome. We were talking pre-show. It’s great to have Paul back as kind of a guest cohost. We were both in Arizona together, uh, before Modocs had a blast, gorgeous weather, great conversations. And Paul, great to have you back. Yeah, no, it was a lifetime ago. It seems, but we’re going to be back and, uh, glad to meet Scott.
Scott Luton (01:27):
Well, just prior to bringing on you, you almost let the cat out of the bag just prior to bringing on our featured guests, Paul, you know, you’ve been doing some big things since your last cohost when you’re not having fun with us meeting more intrigued, the most intriguing people across global supply chain. You’re leading the team over at verus and y’all been pretty busy, huh? Yeah. Things have been, uh, you know, different transitioning as everyone has to, uh, to remote work. Um, it’s been, uh, it’s helped us, helped us grow and control, uh, handle what has been, uh, a significant amount of inbound demand as supply chains are changing quickly. And, um, our ability to smooth support that remotely is, uh, kept us very busy. So we’ve been adding to the team and, um, looking ahead for some strong growth to finish out the year and, and beyond.
Scott Luton (02:22):
So truly blessed. And, uh, I look forward to what lies ahead. Outstanding. Well, great. How you back here? Um, quick programming it to our listeners. If you enjoyed today’s episode, be sure to find us and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from. We try to keep up with the global industry we publish every day. So, uh, and, and cover a different sector, different points of views every day. So check us out wherever at splotch and now where we get your podcasts from. Alright, no further ado. We’ve got a great guest here today. Scott Armstrong, chief financial officer with Coke, one North America, AKA Cona, LLC. Scott. Good afternoon.
Scott Armstrong (03:02):
Can I have new Scott? Thank you for having me on today. Appreciate it. Yeah.
Scott Luton (03:05):
Welcome. Welcome, welcome. Welcome. We really enjoyed the warmup conversations. Uh, you’re a friend w now we’re friends, but you’re all. We also have a common friend, uh, bill and bill Huber. Who’s who, um, has been a great dear friend of the show for so long. So great to have you here and looking forward to learn more about your story.
Scott Armstrong (03:24):
Thank you. Let’s get started. All right,
Scott Luton (03:27):
So we’re going to get started with the train dollar question, Greg. So Scott, tell, tell us about yourself and tell us a little bit about where you’re from and give us the goods on your upbringing a little bit.
Scott Armstrong (03:39):
Yeah. I grew up in middle Tennessee, a middle class family, uh, really focused on, uh, work school, academics and sports, you know, typical middle class America. Uh, I decided when I turned 18 to go to military college, which is a little bit different path than most people take. And, uh, so I applied to VMI Virginia military Institute, which is based out of Lexington, Virginia, and I got accepted and, uh, decided I wanted to try and commission as a Lieutenant in the army. So that was my, my, my goal at that time.
Scott Luton (04:13):
What did your folks think? Cause as you, as you mentioned, that’s going to military school is not the path of majority. Were they all for it?
Scott Armstrong (04:22):
And now they were floored pretty much. They didn’t want me to go, but you know, they supported me if that’s what I wanted to do. Uh, uh, my other job
Scott Luton (04:31):
As you speak today, right? I mean, you see some of the commercials about joining the military and mom or dad is usually, I’m not sure how I feel about it, but I want you to do what you want to do, right?
Scott Armstrong (04:41):
Yeah. Well, my other option was go to Vanderbilt and do the typical Southern college experience, but I really wanted something a little bit more challenging mentally and physically. And that’s, that’s what being my opera at the time.
Scott Luton (04:54):
Talk about that kinds of as a next step, we’re gonna get into your professional journey here momentarily, but, or some key learnings.
Scott Armstrong (05:01):
Oh, BMI is a very unique place. It’s been around over 180 years. It’s the oldest state supported military school in the country. And really, I learned three key things at BMI. I think a key life lessons that really provided the basis for my adulthood. One is perseverance. Uh, the first year there you’re, you’re called a rat and you’re basically all treated the same. You’re all your privileges are taken away and you really have to start from ground zero. You know, they shaved your hair and basically starting from nothing. And basically you build that bond with your teammates, your classmates, you build that camaraderie. It’s really, really, uh, really, uh, something special, uh, that brotherhood that you have. The second thing was really around humility. Again, you learn a lesson there, BMI, you can’t do everything perfectly. You need help. Then you have to learn to accept help. And a lot of people have an issue trying to accept help sometimes, but you really have to understand that you can’t do everything so you will need help. And the last thing was around servant leadership. I think BMI teaches you to lead from the front and, uh, that’s basically, uh, you gotta pay attention to detail
Scott Luton (06:06):
Universal lessons, uh, all three of those that you could apply to just about any part of your journey. Yep. Um, alright. So before we move forward into that next step, kind of what came after VMI, I want to go back cause I missed a important tidbit. Yeah. Cause you’re you said middle Tennessee. You’re from Lebanon, Tennessee. And let’s see if Greg had Paul prepped what famous iconic American restaurant is based in Lebanon, Tennessee.
Scott Armstrong (06:38):
I think we stopped them. Yeah.
Scott Luton (06:40):
Cracker barrel. Yes. Wow. A base right there in Lebanon. That’s pretty neat. Uh, Scott, probably people outside of the country that know that Smith is a world famous restaurant.
Scott Armstrong (06:53):
Yeah. And unfortunately we didn’t buy any stock in, in 1972 less.
Scott Luton (06:58):
That’s right. Oh, play the lessons learned. All right. So Scott, um, one last thing. What, what followed BMI? You had some, you had some pretty incredible educational opportunities that followed your time at VMI. I believe.
Scott Armstrong (07:11):
Yeah. So at BMI, I originally wanted to try it to be a Lieutenant and commission in the army, but I had a medical condition that would not allow me to do that. So I changed your course in my career. Halfway through BMI changed international business, uh, changed my major and uh, focused on building a career in international business, focused on Germany and accounting. So at that point I applied and got accepted to Thunderbird, which is a graduate school in Phoenix, uh, which, uh, at the time was one of the top couple of schools for international MBAs at the time in the eighties, still a wonderful school. So I packed up my bags, drove cross country and uh, start a new life in Phoenix
Scott Luton (07:53):
On that cross country trip. I know it’s a little while back. Um, I’ve made some similar journeys. My lifetime. Was there one memory or town you stopped in or experience you had on the trip out?
Scott Armstrong (08:05):
Yeah. Just how big Texas is. It takes forever to cross Texas. I’ll tell you guys. It is true.
Scott Luton (08:11):
So I actually, when I graduated from college, Scott, I only lived in Kansas. Yeah. And just, just crossing the panhandle of Texas seems like forever. Right. It is a massive, massive state. That is right. Absolutely. Absolutely. All right. So, uh, I think now we’re kind of segwaying, uh, as you Rachael jazz wrapped up your MBA, you had a big adventure. So Paul let’s dive into kind of what was next.
Scott Armstrong (08:37):
Yeah. So yeah, go to Phoenix and
Scott Luton (08:43):
Start your professional journey. Walk us through that, you know, that upbringing, that process and what led you to where you’re at today? Well, you know, that first job
Scott Armstrong (08:56):
Out of college is always a critical one in your formation for what you do. And I was, I was blessed to, uh, be recruited by a company that was an internal audit company. So for a finance guy, internal audit is a great starting ground to learn how companies work. And so that company hired me as an intern while I was at Thunderbird. And then they hired me after school, uh, full time. Then I moved to Germany after that with them.
Greg White (09:19):
Yeah. And then of those of those roles, as you continue to carve out your professional journey, um, what moment was it that you knew that’s what you wanted to do that Eureka moment that, uh, really continued to drive you?
Scott Armstrong (09:37):
Well, I think one of the first jobs I had with Coca Cola and I joined Coco in 1991, it’s right at the time when the wall fell in East Germany. And, uh, one of the things we did was actually go to Berlin and hand out free Cokes at the wall. And it was just such a powerful experience to be there in Germany at the time the whole country was just so excited to the change and to be there handing out Coke, you could just feel the power of the energy that was going on at the time. Wow. Yeah.
Greg White (10:08):
Did, did you get any, I mean, did you, do you have pictures that you took?
Scott Armstrong (10:12):
I did it, I got a piece of the wall. Wow.
Greg White (10:14):
Would you really? Wow, that’s impressive. Did you ever go to East Germany before the wall came down while you were there?
Scott Armstrong (10:21):
I did my junior year at BMI. We sent a group to Russia into East Germany, uh, on a study program. So I got to go then not at the time had watchtowers machine guns, guards, the whole thing. It was, it was real. And then just to be there and then when it all came down, it was just amazing. Just a great story.
Greg White (10:39):
It was the middle eighties, correct? Scott?
Scott Armstrong (10:43):
Yes. 1989. Yep.
Greg White (10:44):
Okay. So right when the Soviet union fell, right, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Did you sneak any, uh, any Levi’s five Oh ones into this union because that was good money back then?
Scott Armstrong (10:55):
No, but I did have a couple of CDs that were at work stairs. Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
Greg White (11:01):
Scott, the other thing about East Germany, is it, it kind of interwove with your professional journey? Tell us about your time with, I believe East German bottlers, right?
Scott Armstrong (11:12):
Yeah. So, uh, when the wall fell, Coca-Cola invested $500 million to purchase all the East German bottling companies that were former communists soft drink companies. We purchased the, you know, all the assets that they had and we just went in and built a business from ground zero. Basically they had to replace everything, all the production, all the manufacturing, supply chain, everything had to be built new. And so, uh, along with that investment, they needed an internal audit director to manage some of the controls around all that money. So they sent me over there and I got to work for three years. They, with all, uh, former East German people, it was this great experience. That’s
Greg White (11:54):
Really impressive. So you had to pay everything that was formerly gray red in the factory.
Scott Armstrong (12:00):
You know, that those guys, they just didn’t have a sense for, you know, double entry accounting or, or, you know, internal controls. All those things were, were not really in their day to day work.
Greg White (12:12):
Well, it didn’t matter. Right. They got paid either way and they got paid a pittance. So I mean, just really the quality didn’t really matter in it. And it’s interesting because I was there before and worked in Germany after, and to see the juxtaposition of the two Germanys was, was fascinating. Right. I mean one, so still so industrious and the other one needing to become, so again wow.
Scott Armstrong (12:41):
And they spend 20 years investing in the infrastructure to get it back up to the level that it needed.
Greg White (12:46):
Yeah. Very impressive. So, so that’s, while you were at Coca-Cola corporate rights, so tell us, how did you land at Kona and tell us a little bit about what Kona is and how it fits into the whole ecosystem at Coke. Yeah.
Scott Armstrong (13:03):
Well, I moved back to the U S in 96 from the time for the Atlanta Olympics. And at that time I started a progression of different career positions within Coca-Cola eventually ended up with Cona services. So part of what was happening in North America about six, seven years ago is that, uh, Coca-Cola purchased Coca-Cola enterprises. And, uh, as part of their system of the future work that we were doing, they wanted to refranchising North America. And so they took CCE, which turned into Coco refreshments, and then we refranchising into new or existing bottlers. And as part of that transformation, they had to have an it platform that could support all of that because you’re talking about doubling and tripling growth in the span of a couple of years, right? Let’s say some of these
Greg White (13:51):
For listeners that may not be completely familiar with the structure Coca-Cola enterprises was the bottling division, correct.
Scott Armstrong (13:58):
It was an independent company. It was the largest us bottler. Uh, it was about 80% of the U S which Coca Cola re uh, purchased back about 2010, brought it back into the house and then re formatted it and sold it to anabolic.
Greg White (14:16):
Right. Cause they, that had been, that had been, um, part of the organization franchise, then part of the organization then franchised out again. And this is kind of the third, I don’t know the history completely, but it’s third or so iteration of that, correct. Right over the last 30 years. Yeah. Right, right. Before, before we move into Kona, I want to go to something that came up in our, in our, some of our appreciate conversation, Scott. And when you were still in Germany and you’re leading these, these global initiatives, you developed a really appreciation for what,
Scott Armstrong (14:52):
What are the cultural differences across countries, as well as the role that it plays in your finance career? Right? So it’s your traditional finance training and an MBA school. Doesn’t teach a lot about systems. And of course maybe that’s changed over the last 30 years, but when I was there, uh, not a lot on systems and how systems impact finance roles. And so what you see here is a gradual progression over time is that it now plays a major role in finance and your career in finance. So I’ve seen that in a lot of different countries,
Greg White (15:24):
Bridging those cultural differences were a critical component of moving.
Scott Armstrong (15:31):
Yeah, you have to know every country you go into it’s a different, uh, style, uh, works better than others. You know, uh, had a lot of great experiences in the Philippines, China and Germany, totally different cultures. And to be successful in those countries, you have to approach it different ways. You have to be flexible.
Greg White (15:49):
One question, Greg, sorry. I know we’re getting the way that the Kona aspect, but yeah. I mean, may just give it, sorry. I interrupted first Scott, so it’s okay. Um, give us an idea of, of Kona and how it plays into the ecosystem and then an idea of what your role there is since CCE.
Scott Armstrong (16:09):
Yeah. So my current role is as chief financial officer for Kona, and I’ve been there since 2016, we basically started Kona from scratch. We created an it services company, uh, to support the U S bottling system in Canada. And, uh, basically we provide it services to the 12 largest U S bottlers and we run basically their, their it operations on a day to day basis. So we’re responsible for design of new systems, the build as well as deployment and operations of all the it systems.
Greg White (16:40):
So I know what a CFO and I bet a lot of people know what a CFO does by title or by typical role. But is there anything unique about your role because of, of the way that the company is organized or how it fits into the Coke environment that is unique?
Scott Armstrong (16:57):
It is, well, we have 12 owners, 12 bosses. So I spend a lot of time on managing the board, uh, relationships and making sure that they’re all informed on different financial matters. So it’s a, it’s a very, uh, intricate board structure that we have the 12 owners.
Greg White (17:14):
Yeah. So you’re really an outside, if you want to think of it that way outside CFO’s as much as inside, correct?
Scott Armstrong (17:21):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, no one owns a majority. Uh, everyone has a minority interest in this stuff, but 12 owners in total,
Greg White (17:30):
That’s a big board. It is a big board. I know Paul, I know that officially you are a cohost on today’s show, but something that Scott has said anything I know you’re not, you’re certainly familiar with leading big initiatives. Is anything, one thing that Scott has shared so far really stick out to you? Yeah. I think the, uh, the interesting thing that a of people don’t think about is, you know, the common thread between it and finance and the challenges in trying to overarch different organizations, but more importantly, different cultures. And you know, that the global language of supply chain, um, you know, has a lot of different, uh, aspects to it. And obviously technology plays an evermore important role, um, today than it ever has. And so, you know, having those two tied together doesn’t seem like the logical thread, but is certainly a very important driver of that.
Greg White (18:33):
Yes, we’ll put the language of global supply chain. I love, I love that Paul, and it really is interesting how often, um, I mean, of course you talk finance all the time when you’re in tech, because in the old days it was a huge capital expenditure. Now it’s a huge expense for the most part. Right. And it’s ongoing. So you have to have a sustainable business case for technology these days, rather than just that kind of one hit wonder where you had to convince Scott, it’s worth $500,000 to do this. Instead you have to convince Scott it’s worth a thousand dollars or a hundred thousand dollars a year to do this forever. Right. And, and, and build a really solid business case for those kinds of technologies. I’ve watched that evolution. And I know Paul, you have to watch that evolution occur and I’m sure Scott, you’ve been a huge part of that kind of thing.
Scott Armstrong (19:33):
Yeah, for sure. I mean, we, uh, every couple of years we’ll look at our platforms and potentially changing those based on technology and what’s happening in the market. Uh, but, uh, for sure the business case has become much more elaborate, detailed, uh, again, an intersection of finance and it, that able to explain that the value you’re getting out of it systems yeah.
Greg White (19:55):
As a, as an, as a tech guy, this is, this is an off script question, Scott, but I’m curious about this. Um, so I promise it’s not a gotcha, but one of the things that, one of the arguments that is made around cloud technology is that because instead of the big hit and then 20% maintenance every year or whatever it is, you get from regular tech and they usually pocket that in support or upgrade or, or, uh, maintenance, right. Instead, the theory is that you pay a little bit every year for much, you know, for every bit as long, but you get more incremental, more enhancement, more substantial enhancement of the product, along with the support over the years. Have you found that to be the case for the most part, uh, you we’ve had mixed
Scott Armstrong (20:48):
Results of that. Uh, we are just about every area of Kona. We’re looking at moving to the cloud where it makes sense. I don’t, I don’t think it makes sense in every case, it, depending on the business area. So you just can’t assume it, like, it’s just not a given. Yeah.
Greg White (21:04):
Is there one that jumps out at you that doesn’t make sense? I’m just curious.
Scott Armstrong (21:08):
Uh, well, right now we’re looking at the infrastructure and how that works infrastructure as a service. Yeah. That’s one of the, one of the areas,
Greg White (21:17):
You know, one thing I’ve seen again, sorry to take us so far off topic, but this, I think this will hopefully be interesting to folks. One thing I’ve seen is companies, their ERP investment often on premise, and what they’re doing is layering cloud technologies over the top of that, rather than trying to bring that whole technology to the cloud. Is that, I mean, again, you, you would only have the Coke experience, but have you seen that or have you guys contemplated that?
Scott Armstrong (21:48):
Yeah. I mean, we’re, again, SAP is our core ERP system, but we’re building best-in-class apps on top of that, where it makes sense. It’s not all SAP, right. So it’s a, it’s diversifying, let’s put it that way. It depends on the fins on the area of supply chain, uh, customer facing all of those, you know, we’ve looked at different applications to help us.
Greg White (22:09):
Yeah. That that’s, that seems like a common thread among companies is to kind of not muck with the core infrastructure. Right. Because it’s grooved, it’s been grouped for decades in some cases, but then to go deeper with some of those, those niche functionalities. Okay. Thank you for indulging me there a little bit. Tell us a little bit about some of, some of those are other changes that you and the team are, are driving at Kona.
Scott Armstrong (22:38):
Yeah. So we, uh, we have an innovation team at Kona. You know, what we try to do is add value for our bottlers, right? So one of the things we’re doing and, uh, got a little bit to our conversation a couple of minutes ago about optimizing the investment that you have. So one of the things we do is a thing called value optimization, where we send out teams of experts to look at how they’re using the system that we built. And majority of the time, they’re not using everything that we built in the right way. So we send in a team look at where it’s warehouse or whatever they’re doing and say, look, you need to be using X, Y, and Z instead of a, B and C in the right way. And making sure they’re doing the process. So we call it value optimization, and we saved the Butler several million dollars just by doing that, just using what we’ve done. Right. That’s what, that’s one thing we’re doing.
Greg White (23:29):
So that, I mean, that’s where your sort of foundational audit skills come in really, really handy, I would think right. Is,
Scott Armstrong (23:36):
Yeah. I mean, w we worked for the bottler, so again, we’re not really auditing them, but we’re running diagnostics and reports to see how they’re using the system. And we’ll just see that. Okay.
Greg White (23:48):
I can see where that, I mean, that intersection is really, really important for them to help them find efficiencies. Right. It’s a whole different kind of thing.
Scott Armstrong (23:56):
Yeah. We have, we have 80,000 users in the U S so not everyone’s using it to the depth that they probably could. Yeah.
Greg White (24:03):
And you talked about that, you talked about some implement certain things better than others. Some, you know, some of them are, maybe I would imagine more advanced in other areas than, than some of their cohort, but tell us a little bit about how you have driven that intersection. I think we used the term before of it and finance to really help these bottlers to perform better.
Scott Armstrong (24:29):
I’ll go back to our, um, one of the things we’re working on now is a thing called VIN prime. So it’s to help space to sales optimization in our vending machines. And it’s also to, uh, monitor the amount of visits we get from a service person and technicians. So we built an app that basically predicts, uh, what’s the right product. What’s the day’s optimal supply that we need in the machines for each brand or each product in the machine. And we basically built that internally, uh, in house. And we’re rolling that out to all of our Bowers, right? So that’s part of their investment. They get from Kona that innovation and where we’re driving value, uh, lowering their cost per case, which is their key metrics.
Greg White (25:11):
That’s valuable stuff. Cause that, you know, if I’ve seen anything in it and actually, gosh, it was, it was a few years ago. I think it was before the organization was called Kona. I worked with somebody at Coke who had a very, very similar initiative. And it was a struggle because a lot of the legacy, not, not, I don’t know if it was as much a struggle as it for Coca Cola, as it was, Coca-Cola struggling against the established system, for instance, the way that bottled or canned that’s the same concept, right. Product winds up in the store or the way that inventories are evaluated to determine what needs to be in a store or in a vending machine. They’re not dissimilar. And they are fairly archaic because of the infrastructure that you’re you’re selling into. Right,
Scott Armstrong (26:02):
Right, right. And you gotta remember each bottle had their own its platform and system with different data standards and technology levels. Uh, which is why, when Koeneke, when they did this refranchising, they needed an it platform that was sophisticated and could take them to the next level. And that’s what we did. So we, we rolled that out to each of these bottlers as they got new territory. It’s a five year process.
Greg White (26:27):
Yeah. Well, five years is nothing in Koch terms. I mean, think about it, right. I mean, it probably hurts. Scott hurts you a whole lot, Scott, but in the grand scheme of things, five years is not, not that broad of a, of a horizon. So,
Scott Luton (26:44):
So at this next, uh, big project, we’re going to be able to talk about blockchain, not in a lip service, uh, supply chain conversation required way, which has been the case for a couple of years. We’re going to talk about it in a really meaningful, powerful way, Scott. So tell us more about how you’re leveraging that.
Scott Armstrong (27:02):
Yeah. So again, our innovation team is working on a blockchain initiative. We’ve been working on this now for 18 months. And basically the use case was we have a Kona bottler Ancona selling product to a non Kona bottler. So the different it platform. So the situation was there would be, they would call in on the telephone, make an order. They delivered to this other bottler, but disparate systems wouldn’t talk to each other. And there was usually issues around what was on the truck, what got delivered, what that order, all of those things that go with that process. So, uh, we, uh, did an initiative of proof of concept around blockchain, where we linked up the independent Byler with the Kona bottler in a network that we, uh, basically automated that process, the ordering process. So now they can order and saddle and pay and all those things through the blockchain that we built. And that’s, uh, added a lot of value because it’s driven out out of stocks, driven out the wrong inventory, all of those things, manual processes and yeah, exactly. All of that. Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
Scott Luton (28:12):
Because I mean a lot of the independent bottlers they’re family owned businesses. I mean, they’ve been in these families in some cases for a hundred years.
Scott Armstrong (28:20):
Right. And most of them are not on an ERP, so they’re on a smaller version of something. Right. But they wouldn’t talk to our SAP. So that’s where we had to build something to connect it to. Right.
Scott Luton (28:31):
Paul, you’re going to say something a second ago just saying that, you know, blockchain in essence is distributed trust and, and I’m sure that helps between a sophisticated and unsophisticated systems. So well that, and I mean, and the independent bottlers have a fairly different business model in a lot of cases than the Cona bottlers as well. Right. So it does kind of create that trust where you’re, I imagine connecting a highly systematized, highly automated organization to one that’s much, much more manual, um, and even with probably substantially different business goals.
Scott Armstrong (29:13):
So we did that last year on a private, uh, network. And next year, we’re going to try a proof of concept on a public network. See how that works.
Scott Luton (29:20):
The innovation what’s interesting here. I know we were just talking about a couple of different examples, but, uh, Scott, as we are chatting a couple weeks back, uh, your organization Kona was, was recognized for its supply chain innovation at the Atlanta supply chain awards. Again, back before the world changed, uh, in, in early March here, at least in the States, right? Cause we all had different timeframes, uh, and that’s, what’s kind of cool on these shows. Verisign was also a Paul, if you remember, cause you were also there got recognized for supply chain excellence. So yeah,
Scott Armstrong (29:53):
I think that was my last live event. I went to
Scott Luton (29:57):
Those days, I losing those memories. I can’t wait to take some steps back in that direction, but, uh, but so Scott, again, what the culture that, that really makes it, that that allows innovation to thrive and encourages it in a real meaningful way, not innovation, the cliche that everyone throws around, but where the rubber meets the road and innovation really drives meaningful practical.
Scott Armstrong (30:23):
Scott Luton (30:24):
Allows that to happen at Kona?
Scott Armstrong (30:27):
Well, it’s a great network in relationships we have with our bottlers. And so we have an innovation council that’s run by our chief innovation officer. And the process we set up with them is, you know, we’re inclusive getting ideas from them, listening to our customers and basically taking that and trying to come up with ideas to make them more efficient and a lot of, a lot of things out there on the table. And, uh, but I think we have a pretty good process of how that innovation ideas get into the pipeline and prioritized
Scott Luton (30:59):
You’re you, you are an, an it infrastructure for businesses whose primary business, isn’t it. And because you come from finance and you’ve, as we talked about, you’ve met at that intersection of it and finance, is there anything that jumps out at you that really makes the magic happen really makes an organization more effective by leveraging the confluence of it and finance or,
Scott Armstrong (31:31):
Yeah, for sure. I mean, if you don’t, don’t control your costs for these major it platforms, they can really get out of hand quickly. And you’ve seen this hundreds of times with major initiatives that go over budget and then everyone loses competence in that team. And it’s just very difficult because when you’re talking about hundreds of consultants and software licenses, all the things that go into it, uh, we’ve been very proud of the fact that we managed cost under budget for the last five years. So we, we have a pretty good controls in place. We have good relationships with our board and I think they trust us. And that’s, that’s really where it starts.
Scott Luton (32:08):
I mean, that is a really great statement. You made me flash back to 2001 when I stepped into another fortune 500 company and they told me they were in the seventh year of their three year quote unquote ERP implementation, not to name any names. Um, and that’s not uncommon. And, and it did take, uh, even at that point it took a significant amount of effort to corral that thing in and sort of wrangle it into a reasonable and deliverable, um, methodology in it.
Scott Armstrong (32:40):
And it used to be, you had to fight every year for the capital for it, but I think things are changing. Like you said, we’re moving to more of an OPEX based model. So just gotta make sure that’s included in your planning process right
Paul Noble (32:51):
Before we kind of take a right turn and kind of go more broadly with the conversation pot, you know, a lot of, a lot of stuff you do when it comes to innovation and change management and the leadership behind that. What’s a, what’s a key lesson learned in your experience, Paul? Um, just one.
Scott Armstrong (33:10):
Paul Noble (33:13):
Um, no, I think as, as you talk about the shift from project base CapEx type investments made from a technology perspective, the way that supply chains are moving, um, and the speed, and then, you know, obviously with what we’re going through now, changing, you know, the historical nature of planning, um, across technology and organization, you see the need for technology to be supporting and being and breathing efforts right outside of, you know, your project, uh, project based plan because you know, what, what typically might take two to three years traditionally, you know, that solution may not be as sustainable or feasible for an organization. You know, we see that all the time speed to value and the impact on driving business value back to the stakeholders, the owners and your case, Scott, um, is pivotal. And, um, we’re seeing more and more technologies across every node in the supply chain, um, that are driving that thesis including ourselves. But, um, and, and it’s going to be more and more of a requirement, uh, for scalability issues in my opinion. Outstanding. Love that. What, alright, so, um, before we move on one final question for you, Scott, and Paul’s going to lead us into this next segment, uh, when you look back at, at the VIN prom and the blockchain initiatives, I know you have plenty of others, any, any, you know, last one big thing that, um, you know, helps really again, get these changes and these change initiatives to stick.
Scott Armstrong (35:00):
Yeah. I think, uh, like Paul said earlier, speed is critical. So if I heard feedback from any of my, all of my board members, we’ve got to go faster. So that’s a continual evolution of how we do things in it. Uh, it’s not traditional, not the way we used to. We’ve got to turn things around much quicker and of course it’s gotta be cheaper. So, uh, but I think speed to market with your idea is critical.
Paul Noble (35:27):
Outstanding. All right. So Paul, we’re going to go broad here, right? Yeah, yeah. Faster, cheaper, better, right? Yeah. Um, yeah, more broadly to global supply chain. And I know you mentioned black pain and some of the other, uh, predictive technologies you’re using, uh, from a vending perspective, what are you seeing broadly across the supply chains that are, you know, that are piquing your interest that you’re seeing throughout your organization and peer peers across supply chain?
Scott Armstrong (35:59):
I think watching out of stocks, especially in our industry is, is critical. And so any new tools or analysis that we have to help our supply chain people manage that is, is a very critical. So again, out of stocks in our line of business, out of stocks is a lost sales. So that’s something I think, uh, that’s something critical store industries to watch that.
Paul Noble (36:24):
Yeah. Yeah. And even more difficult now that demand is changing with, uh, as we were talking ahead of the podcast, uh, you know, we’re all working from home habits are changing, work habits are changing. Um, the plan off that has just been, we’ve seen just extremely difficult, um, to capture all the necessary signals, um, into that, into those models. Yeah.
Scott Luton (36:50):
Well, and we’re talking about Coca Cola here. I mean, I know we’re talking about a lot of other brands, but I mean, let’s face it. Coke is, is life right? To me, the delivery, the availability and the delivery of Coca-Cola, it’s not a luxury. It is life sustaining, particularly in my case, I consider it a service to society. And so seriously because though, because the brand is so prominent, the expectations are very high. Um, and, and you do have to deliver at a very high level. I can’t imagine what the world would have been like if we had been out of Coke on the shelves, instead of toilet paper, it could have been catastrophic. I feel like, but, you know, for a section of our listening audience, going back to an important thing that Scott shared kind of before we start talking about Greg and all of our affinity for, for Coke, especially diet Coke, I’m a big diet Coke.
Scott Luton (37:51):
Uh, uh, that’s my guilty pleasure, but, you know, Scott talked more about, you know, some folks may not connect it because it’s really a unique component, um, to businesses like Coca Cola, where when a customer walks into a store, if there’s not a cherry flavor, diet Coke on the, on the, on the shelves as a lost sale, you never get back. And, and that’s something that, that some consumers may not, you know, wrap their head or some listeners in our audience may not wrap their head around. So that’s why it’s so important to protect that product and that inventory, right.
Scott Armstrong (38:26):
Yeah, for sure. It’s a, it’s a loss sales, you know, with the COVID coming this year, it’s just been crazy trying to plan what brands and products get to the supermarkets really. Uh, and it’s just been an interesting year from a supply chain perspective, for sure. Uh, but, uh, once you lose that sale in a retail store, you never get it back
Scott Luton (38:47):
And you can lose it for good. I mean, this is a highly competitive environment, right? I mean, Coke has cut a significant number of brands out of the mix to be able to focus on the ones that accrue the most to the, not the brand, but also the market benefit as well. Right. They’re trying to, to reduce the dilution of effort around some of these fringe brands to be able to focus the effort and the performance on, on the brands that really, really are the core, really smart move, by the way. I mean, you know, to whatever extent you participated in that, uh, um, that is a really brilliant move and more companies should learn from that. We are far over mixed. I’m an old retailer by trades. I know that we are far over mixed in so many brands. We don’t need blueberry, um, blueberry muffins and blueberry chocolate and peach muffins.
Scott Luton (39:43):
We, you know, that some of this, this has gotten a little bit out of hand. I’m a little bit hurt that Odwalla when a went away. But, um, but, but, um, the, you know, it makes sense. It totally makes sense from a fiscal, a brand and a market service perspective to consolidate your efforts. We’re going to keep moving broadly because we’ve got, we’ve got, we did not get to some of the leadership lessons learned that we talked about kind of pre show Scott. So I’m going to go back to, you had a key lesson learned that is universal, uh, from what Robert Woodruff tell us more about.
Scott Armstrong (40:21):
Yeah. So, uh, Rob Robert Woodruff was the president of Coca Cola in the twenties, thirties, forties, through world war II and his on his desk actually, uh, in the Coke offices, you can see it. He has a motto that says, there’s no telling how far a person can go. If you don’t mind who gets the credit. Right? So then again, it’s all about being humble, working for the better of the team, not for yourself. So things good things happen over time. If you just keep doing the right thing,
Scott Luton (40:53):
I love that. And then I also want to ask you about something that got my attention now that the masters have, has been rescheduled. I think it’s scheduled for November, I believe, which is our, remember when I, when they moved the masters that like, that, that really put in as silly as it may sound to some, I mean, that is like a lock step. There’s no big, I mean, they are so tradition focused. So when they made the weather follows the masters, right. These LEDs don’t bloom until the, until Augusta says it’s okay. That’s right. Yeah. The good Lord has, has arranged a special situation with Gus and national. But, um, but so that’s coming up in November. I believe. So Scott, you’ve got a really intriguing personal story related to the masters. Tell us more about that.
Scott Armstrong (41:40):
Yeah. So two years ago I was invited to go to the masters. You know, it’s a once in a lifetime thing, if you ever get to go, it’s just so incredible. This was actually my second time to go. And, uh, I was on a bus full of other corporate people. There’s probably 20 of us that were invited and, uh, about 10 miles from the event, the bus crashed. So we actually had a, it was the first day of the masters two years in 2018. And all these people from Atlanta trying to get to the masters. I know they were mad cause we blocked the, the, the bus actually crashed. And, uh, the driver was under the influence of some type of something. So, but anyway, it turned out actually, uh, be a life altering experience. It’s one of those things where, you know, my motto is don’t put off things cause you’re never guaranteed what’s going to happen tomorrow. Right? What, it’s just something.
Scott Luton (42:33):
Yeah, it was, it was, it wasn’t just a re as a really bad accident because you spent several days
Scott Armstrong (42:39):
In the hospital. I was four days in the hospital. Luckily no one lost their life, but there was several horrible injuries on that. So it’s just one of those things that you just can’t take life for. Granted. You never know.
Scott Luton (42:55):
All right. So I gotta follow up on that story. What is, as that kind of has impacted your, your worldview can, is there one change that really sticks out that, um, that you made as a result of that experience? One thing you, you, you said you’ve been waiting to do and you did.
Scott Armstrong (43:15):
Yeah. Well, I actually, I don’t slice anymore, but I did control my golf swing. I slowed it down. Let’s put it that way with that, but no, I mean, yeah. I, um, am traveling a lot more, you know, the trips that you think you would put off, I don’t put those off anymore. I try to travel with my wife and we enjoy what we can do.
Scott Luton (43:38):
Well, yeah. Powerful lesson learned now. Absolutely, absolutely. Uh, uh, hate to learn, hate to hear that lesson being learned that way. But, um, I’m so glad that you’ve, you’ve, you’ve come back after, after, you know, spending days in, in the hospital and that no, there were no fatalities and you can have that perspective now. All right. So, uh, well, let’s make sure our listeners and, and Scott, as much as y’all got going on, I really appreciate the fact that you’ve spent the last hour and some change with us here and sharing some of your insights and expertise and experiences. How can folks connect with you and how can they, uh, you know, learn more about Kona?
Scott Armstrong (44:22):
Yep. So Kona has a website, uh, Cona services.com. Uh, anyone can access that. And of course my email, uh, as Armstrong may come the services.com be glad to answer any questions anybody has on Kona.
Greg White (44:36):
Outstanding. I really appreciate your time here. Scott Armstrong, chief financial officer with Coke, one North America, AKA Kona serves LLC. Thanks so much, Scott. Thank you guys. You bet. I don’t go anywhere. Cause we’re gonna we’re to do, we’re going to ask Rick likes to say, we’re going to talk about you as if you’re not here. Uh, Greg and Paul, there are so many different, um, intriguing elements of what Scott has shared both professional related, but also, you know, your universal lessons learned. So I want to ask you your favorite part before we wrap up here. And Greg, I’m gonna start with you. I’ll get you.
Scott Armstrong (45:10):
Oh, a little extra time. Oh, okay.
Greg White (45:13):
As I’m going to talk about Paul as well, because to me, one of the greatest takeaways was, um, well, I mean, it was probably accelerated, even though we learned about it later by Scott’s life changing event, it is, you know, do it now. Right? Um, I think both, both Paul and, and Scott, they referred to, let’s just take technology as that thing. Um, you know, big companies like SAP have learned and, and small companies and other companies like Verisign and others are already doing something that has been a change, be gotten by the network or by the, by the marketplace. And that is, they are doing smaller projects more quickly implemented more frankly, more risk averse and, and delivering value much, much sooner than a hundred million dollar implementation that might or might not return anything. Companies are requiring their technology partners to deliver early, to deliver those quick wins and to have those constant verification points that prove that this is something worth doing the entire, the entire model of technology implementation has changed.
Greg White (46:34):
And when, when both Scott and Paul talked about that kind of in tandem, it just really struck me that that is where the market is going and has gone. And it’s about darn time. I’m only saying darn because I don’t know Scott that well, but it is about time because some of these implementations have gone on for seven years on a four year schedule and they’ve cost a hundred million or 400 million or a billion dollars and delivered almost nothing but pain to the organization. I mean, you think of some of the famous bankruptcies caused by technology implementation implementations and things like that. And the model of companies like Verisign, who deliver something big in, in less than four months, 20 in one of their cases, $20 million in value in less than four months. Right. And there’s
Scott Luton (47:30):
Just so much opportunity there. And then it does make it easier for someone like Scott to say, okay, this thing delivered us $20 million in four months. If it doesn’t deliver another thing for the next four years, that can stay on the expense line. You know, uh, I love w we could book a second episode here to dive into some of what just Greg just shared. But yesterday, uh, Greg Paul and Scott, we had, um, a meteorologist owned the works for a supply chain technology platform. And he used his phrase, our eye rapid intensification about what they look for with these storms. Right. Well, I mean, really a spin on that on a much lighter note is this acceleration that Scott talks about, you know, um, uh, practical or real successful, uh, acceleration to these change, these massive change projects and how, how Greg, how that fortunately is more to be expected rather than these long delays that you’re kind of referencing. So that’s demanded these days, frankly. And I think it’s good that companies are doing it. Yeah, that’s a really good point. Yup. Okay. Paul, you had, you had a little extra time to think about your big key takeaway here from all this, all the good stuff that Scott shared.
Paul Noble (48:45):
Well, isn’t too much different. I think, you know, throughout the conversation, it was great to hear more about, and the thing it speaks to much of what, what I believe is the power of network and there’s no greater power, um, or greater network than the supply chain networks that kind of feed one another in a lot of different capacities. So, you know, power network, um, is, you know, the reason for Konas existence to bring, bring, um, many together for an enterprise trusted view of the business to support one of the iconic brands that Atlanta has and, and, you know, global brands. Um, and then what really resonated from, uh, is the, is the lift for now my wife and I were just talking about the same thing, Scott, um, getting back out and traveling and how that disruption, that, that one thing you were going to do or the pandemic, and then all of a sudden it’s just, or that life changing event that you went through, um, cherish, cherish, what you have and take advantage of opportunities, um, in this great world we live in. So,
Scott Luton (49:56):
Man, what a great note to finish up on Paul? Well, put, uh, really enjoyed this conversation, Scott, uh, I admire so much of what you shared and what, what you continue to drive, um, in your time there now at Kona. So I have to have you back maybe towards the end of the year and get an update on these big projects. Yeah. Awesome. No problem. Thank you, Scott. All right. You bet. All right. So to our listeners, first off, big, thanks to Scott Armstrong with Kona, Paul Noble, our esteemed, um, guest cohost, Paul, appreciate what you and the verus and team do. Greg big, thanks to you. We are production schedule. I’ll tell you everyone’s ready to get their thought leadership out there, here lately. Right? They are. And, you know, look, I mean, let’s think about what we touched on here. We talked about finance it and, and personal, personal improvement and goals, man.
Scott Luton (50:48):
This is the total package in terms of an episode, isn’t it? It’s rare that we get that human. I mean that human right? Yes. Agreed. So really appreciate that, Scott and we’re in the cat, we’re in the cat bird seat. We get, we get to hear firsthand from the folks doing it. So to our audience, hopefully you enjoyed this episode as much as Greg and I and the rest of the team here has a, Hey, you know, be sure to check us out wherever you get your podcasts from. If you enjoyed this subscribe. So you don’t miss a thing. This is Scott Luton on behalf of the entire team here at supply chain. Now, Hey, do good. Give forward. Be the change that’s needed and Hey, act. Now don’t procrastinate. If you heard anything here. So life is good. Take advantage of it on that note. We’ll see you next time here.
Scott Armstrong is the CFO for CONA Services LLC, the largest Coca-Cola North America Bottler IT Services Company. Scott is a 30 year veteran of the The Coca-Cola System and has worked extensively in various global financial and IT roles across his KO career. He started his finance career working as an international auditor in Germany in 1989 and then joined Coke Germany in 1991 to begin his KO career. Moving back to Atlanta with his family in the summer of 1996, he has held a variety of financial and IT related roles working on major system transformation initiatives over his career, including positions in Corporate Finance, North America IT and the global Bottling Investments Group. In January 2016, Scott moved into the role of CFO for CONA Services LLC and has been focused on helping build out, operate and enhance this new IT Services organization that supports the North America Bottling System.
Paul Noble is Founder and CEO of Verusen, a technology firm that uses AI to predict inventory and harmonize data organizations in a variety of industries. Verusen automatically integrates to your ERP and disparate data sources — single or multiple systems, one or many locations. Then, the platform’s Artificial Intelligence learns from your own inventory experts and encodes their knowledge to provide seamless inventory harmonization. With Verusen, you get automatic naming and categorization with 99% reliability at scale — a true material master. Paul’s passion for entrepreneurship has always shaped his approach for go-to-market strategies and tools, which was the driving force behind pursuing his dream of launching Verusen to improve the availability of easy-to-use technology for optimizing the supply chain for materials and MRO. Learn more about Verusen here: https://www.verusen.com/
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.
Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more. In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.
Director of Communications and Executive Producer
Donna Krache is a former CNN executive producer who has won several awards in journalism and communication, including three Peabodys. She has 30 years’ experience in broadcast and digital journalism. She led the first production team at CNN to convert its show to a digital platform. She has authored many articles for CNN and other media outlets. She taught digital journalism at Georgia State University and Arizona State University. Krache holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. She is a serious sports fan who loves the Braves. She is president of the Dave Krache Foundation. Named in honor of her late husband, this non-profit pays fees for kids who want to play sports but whose parents are facing economic challenges.
Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.
Founder, CEO, & Host
As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.
From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Allison Krache Giddens has been with Win-Tech, a veteran-owned small business and aerospace precision machine shop, for 15 years, recently buying the company from her mentor and Win-Tech’s Founder, Dennis Winslow. She and her business partner, John Hudson now serve as Co-Presidents, leading the 33-year old company through the pandemic.
She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Certificate of Finance from the University of Georgia. She also holds certificates in Google Analytics, event planning, and Cybersecurity Risk Management from Harvard online. Allison founded the Georgia Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and currently serves as Treasurer. She serves on the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board as its Secretary, the liveSAFE Resources Board of Directors as Resource Development Co-Chair, and on the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association Board as Membership Chair and is also a member of Cobb Executive Women. She is on the Board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Northwest Area Councils. Allison runs The Dave Krache Foundation, a non-profit that helps pay sports fees for local kids in need.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise
When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.
Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring
Talk about world-class: Chris is one of the few professionals in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS. He’s also the APICS coach – and our resident Supply Chain Doctor. When he’s not hosting programs with Supply Chain Now, he’s sharing supply chain knowledge on the APICS Coach Youtube channel or serving as a professional education instructor for the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistic Institute’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Center for Professional Education courses.
Chris earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University, an MBA with emphasis in Industrial Psychology from the University of West Florida, and is a Doctoral in Supply Chain Management candidate.
Host of TEKTOK
If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.
With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.
Host of Digital Transformers
Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog. He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community. Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix and IBM. Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane University, O’Reilly Media, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight. Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Carrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.
Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español
Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.
He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.
Host, Veteran Voices
Mary Kate Soliva is a veteran of the US Army and cofounder of the Guam Human Rights Initiative. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.
Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business. Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.
Chief Marketing Officer
Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or reading.
Business Development Manager
Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.
Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.
An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.
A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.
A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning. He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.
Social Media Manager
My name is Chantel King and I am the Social Media Specialist at Supply Chain Now. My job is to make sure our audience is engaged and educated on the abundant amount of information the supply chain industry has to offer.
Social Media and Communications has been my niche ever since I graduated from college at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. No, I am not a West Coast girl. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but my travel experience goes way beyond the garden state. My true passion is in creating editorial and graphic content that influences others to be great in whatever industry they are in. I’ve done this by working with lifestyle, financial, and editorial companies by providing resources to enhance their businesses.
Another passion of mine is trying new things. Whether it’s food, an activity, or a sport. I would like to say that I am an adventurous Taurus that never shies away from a new quest or challenge.
Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.
Sales and Marketing Coordinator
Katherine is a marketing professional and MBA candidate who strives to unite her love of people with a passion for positive experiences. Having a diverse background, which includes nonprofit work with digital marketing and start-ups, she serves as a leader who helps people live their most creative lives by cultivating community, order, collaboration, and respect. With equal parts creativity and analytics, she brings a unique skill set which fosters refining, problem solving, and connecting organizations with their true vision. In her free time, you can usually find her looking for her cup of coffee, playing with her puppy Charlie, and dreaming of her next road trip.
Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.
Host, The Freight Insider
Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics. He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.
Host, Supply Chain Now
The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.
He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.
A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Nick Roemer has had a very diverse and extensive career within design and sales over the last 15 years stretching from China, Dubai, Germany, Holland, UK, and the USA. In the last 5 years, Nick has developed a hawk's eye for sustainable tech and the human-centric marketing and sales procedures that come with it. With his far-reaching and strong network within the logistics industry, Nick has been able to open new avenues and routes to market within major industries in the USA and the UAE. Nick lives by the ethos, “Give more than you take." His professional mission is to make the logistics industry leaner, cleaner and greener.
Sales Support Intern
Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.