Supply Chain Now
Episode 481

Episode Summary

“When you think about empowering people, whether it be on the shop floor or in the field doing service, or what have you, what you’re really trying to do is enable them to make the right decisions based on real time content.”

Robert Merlo, Vice President of Digital Supply Chain Solution Marketing, SAP


“This is not the time to panic. In, in chaos, there’s opportunity.”

Mike Lackey, Global Head of Solution Management – Digital Manufacturing, SAP


No one would deny that supply chains have always been complex, but they have grown steadily in strategic importance over the last few decades, contributing as much to brand value, customer retention, and corporate reputation as any other part of the business. 2020 has presented many challenges (and we’re not even going to mention toilet paper again…), and yet the greatest opportunity/challenge is still before us: Industry 4.0.

Robert Merlo is the Vice President of Digital Supply Chain Solution Marketing at SAP, responsible for marketing the SAP Digital Supply Chain solutions globally. Mike Lackey is SAP’s Global Head of Solution Management for Digital Manufacturing.

In this conversation, Mike and Robert share their thoughts on a number of topics with Supply Chain Now Co-hosts Greg White and Scott Luton:

· How industry 4.0 is broadening the scope of each production facility beyond its physical walls out into the supply ecosystem

· Why we can’t just be focused on collecting ‘big data,’ we need to be focused on collecting the right data and putting it into the hands of the people who can use it

· Some of the positive trends and amazing innovations they are seeing in companies today

Episode Transcript

Intro (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 and Greg white with you here own supply chain now welcome to today’s show. And so they show Greg, we’re going to be talking with business leaders that are fueling industry 4.0, and they’re going to be sharing a lot of their key takeaways from a wide variety of initiatives right here with our audience. This should be a great show. Don’t you think?

Greg White (00:48):

I guarantee it, first of all, both really talented cats and, and great personalities. So I know you’re going to get to hear what they think. I agree in doubtedly.

Scott Luton (00:59):

and you get a Greg white guarantee. So we’ll see a money back guarantee, but Hey, we’re going to be working really hard to increase your supply chain IQ. You here right here at supply chain now. So more to come on that just in a moment, but Hey, quick programming note. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to find us and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from.

Scott Luton (01:17):

You don’t want to miss conversations like this. All right. So Greg, with no further ado, let’s bring in our two esteemed featured guests here. We’ve got Mike Lackey, global vice president of solution management, uh, digital manufacturing with SAP and his colleague Robert Merlow, vice president digital supply chain marketing with SAP Mike, Bob. Good afternoon. Good afternoon. Thanks for having board. Yeah, thanks for having us. Definitely. You know, we really enjoyed our prep conversation the week or two back love to hear all the different conversations and initiatives. I’ve been a part of with a wide variety of business leaders across sectors. And I think that’s where our audience is really gonna see a lot of value in today’s conversation. So y’all ready to get started. Yeah, let’s go. Let’s go. So before we get into work, Greg, we want to get to know Mike and Bob a little bit better so that our listeners can enjoy, um, you know, their background like, like we have.

Scott Luton (02:15):

So for starters and Mike, we’re gonna start with you tell us, okay. Tell us where you’re from and give us, you know, give us an anecdote about your upbringing.

Mike Lackey (02:23):

It’s pretty basic. Yeah. I grew up in a suburb of Atlanta out in Lawrenceville, Georgia. I’m fortunate to, uh, go to Georgia tech and got the education I wanted to here locally and, um, you know, married a local girl. So, uh, you know, Georgia born and bred, um, you know, the, the education at Georgia tech opened a lot of doors for me. And, um, my, my biggest fear in life was I would always be stuck, you know, in Georgia, you know, in Lawrenceville. So I’ve been very fortunate to travel the world, meet with companies, you know, on a global basis and, uh, really expanded my horizon. So, uh, yeah, I’ve been pretty fortunate to have good roots

Mike Lackey (03:00):

And being able to take advantage of Delta airlines and all the good things that Atlanta offers to be here. Love it,

Scott Luton (03:06):

Including, uh, most of the time the world’s busiest airport that can put you anywhere in a short amount of time, anywhere in the world, you can pretty well get direct,

Mike Lackey (03:16):

You know, driving up well in rush hour, about two hours in the morning, I get there about 40 minutes.

Scott Luton (03:23):

Well, I appreciate you sharing that and let’s switch gears for a minute. Uh, Bob, tell us where are you from? And, you know, give us the same thing. Give us a good story from your upbringing.

Bob Merlo (03:33):

Well, as Mike knows, um, I was born in st. Louis and I’m a very diehard st. Louis Cardinal fan, um, have been for a very, very long time. My dad actually played with both Joe Garagiola and Yogi Berra. Wow. I’m very proud of that. And, uh, I actually played a little minor league ball myself, but never quite made it to the bigs, but Hey, that’s okay. Um, spent a lot of time in Colorado. I grew up in Colorado and skied and a lot of winter sports. I’ve been all over the place. I mean, in terms of where I’ve lived, I’ve moved about, let’s see, seven times, I think. Um, this is my second stint in Dallas, Texas, and I love it here. And I’m not going back to the snow. I’ll tell you that.

Scott Luton (04:20):

So one quick follow up question before Greg dives in deep to your professional background, Bob, what position did you play? You know, as you’re in the minors?

Bob Merlo (04:29):

Well, believe it or not, I used to be pretty fast. So I played center field wow.

Scott Luton (04:36):

In our field. All right, man. We’re going to all right. So we’ve got, we’ve got some sports programming on the tap. We’re gonna have to bring Bob back around for that. Greg.

Greg White (04:44):

Immediately went there. All right. So I guess we could count minor league ball as part of your professional background, but let’s leap ahead just a little bit and talk about how, how each of you and Bob let’s have you go first, but how each of you landed here, um, with the positions that you have in kind of shaping, uh, the solutions that we’re, we’re looking at.

Bob Merlo (05:07):

Well, I did quite a number of different startups, but I’ve also been at Autodesk for example, and I ran their PLM environment from a marketing perspective for several years. But the thing that really brought me to SAP was the acquisition of a company called right hemisphere, who I worked for and helped co-found. And it was a really interesting 3d sort of modeling tool solution that we use for engineering, but also for engineering to utilize, um, those models downstream. So we had a lot of assembly operations as Mike, very well knows that you could do three D visualizations of and even maintenance and repair operations. So once SAP bought the company, I, whenever I was with a startup, I usually left right after somebody would do something like either we’d get acquired or we’d sell off the technology or what have you. But I stayed at SAP now, 11 years, unbelievably, um, because I really love the culture here. And I really love what we’re able to do in helping our customers really improve their operations.

Greg White (06:13):

Very cool. So as you’ve gone through your journey, Bob, other than I have to keep going back to baseball, Scott, but as you’ve gone through your journey, give us kind of a pivotal epiphanal or aha moment that you’ve had

Mike Lackey (06:27):

You mean Greg, when he got to the big leads SAP, how the modern,

Greg White (06:33):

Before you hit the big leagues. Yeah.

Bob Merlo (06:37):

Um, I’ll tell you, it’s interesting. A pivotal moment for me in my life was when I realized I actually wasn’t good enough to play professional baseball and I had to take another route. Um, and it was hard for me to swallow, but it did sort of shape myself. I mean, when you were playing with a team and it’s interesting in the minor leagues, because most of the time you think of teams as you know, being supportive of each other, when you’re in the minor leagues, everybody’s trying to get to the major leagues. So there are no longer so supportive. They kind of hope you strike out or you drop the fly ball or whatever, because they’re in competition with you. But it really helped shape the sort of drive and competitiveness that I have always carried with me throughout my career.

Greg White (07:26):

So centerfielder is also have a very distinct psyche. Every ball is theirs until somebody else proves It’s not so like,

Bob Merlo (07:35):

just like a shortstop.

Greg White (07:36):

Right. So, um, so Mike, how often does Bob take your work off your plate? I’m just getting, tell us a little bit about your dad.

Mike Lackey (07:48):

Yeah. He used to be faster when he was fast or he took a lot more work, you’re going to find out, you know, mine’s real simple, right? My dad was engineer and he was, he probably influenced me so much just the way he thought and attacked things. We, I grew up on a farm, so we were mending fence all the time and he always had a way to make it, make it simple. So, you know, I went to Georgia tech, I got industrial engineering degree. And then I spent my first 12 years in a factory as a manufacturing engineer. So I learned from the ground up. And then I got the opportunity to go to a startup that wrote software, matter of fact, engineering software that automated what I used to do, you know, time studies and things like that. And, uh, you know, and then that company kept growing.

Mike Lackey (08:36):

And next thing I know we’re a part of SAP and, and, you know, I’m just one of these lucky guys that, uh, I’m still doing what I went to college to do and make an impact. And, you know, I have street cred because I grew up in a factory and, um, that’s why I love what I do and the impact that you know, that Bob and I get to make every day is we’ve been there, done it, and now we’re innovating at a level to help the next generation, you know, achieve that success with that digital transformation and, you know, for the next five, 10, 15 years.

Greg White (09:06):

So, same question for you extracting the baseball question, give us an idea of, of your pivotal or epiphanal or life, even life changing moment. I mean, what really helped kind of shape your worldview or, or how you have attacked your role in business today?

Mike Lackey (09:26):

Yeah, it was, it was when I left manufacturing and moved into the soft software side, you know, with that startup the speed at which we weren’t trying to solve a problem for my, for that one plan or, or for that one company, you know, we were looking at solutions that cross multiple industries, multiple customers, and I got exposed to so much, you know, innovation and technology. And this is challenges that it really, you know, brought a much bigger thinking that I then I had when I was just in the factory, right in the factory, you’re like three to 5%, you know, efficiency gains and you’d had a good year. And now we’re trying to, you know, talk about jump steps here, double digit enhancements across the four companies and, uh, to deal with companies that have 400 plants. Wow. You know, it’s a, I really love the backing that SAP can provide with the resources when we get into those customers that have serious and in business problems that we need to solve. So yeah, making that jump from, Hey guys, I want to pay you for that knowledge you have on the shop floor. And by the way, we’re a startup and we have a release out, here’s your sleeping bag. Nobody’s going home tonight. So yeah, it was a big change for me.

Greg White (10:39):

So you’re going home every night. Well, and you touched on this and this, I think this is, this is something we, we’ve all we all want to ask. And YouTube both have a really macro view of the marketplace. So Mike, let me start with you and say, give us your bird’s eye view of some of the macro things that have happened this year. Obviously COVID, um, trade, trade challenges, um, Brexit, other things that have impacted the marketplace and just kind of give us a macro view of the dynamics that you’ve seen.

Mike Lackey (11:14):

Greg. I think you, you know, you started that path here, right? I mean, what, two, three years ago, Brexit, did anybody see that, that come on? And then as soon as you got through Brexit here came the trade wars and you know, in Paris and they’re not going away, guys. I mean, you know, they’re a way of doing business. We’ve got to prepare for, then the pandemic hit. You thought you had control. Now, if you look the last 10 years, everybody’s been really been investing in streamlining driving costs of the supply chain. So what happened when these pandemics happen? You know, you’ve got a single threat, um, and it wasn’t bringing the workers back safely that, that shut down the plants, it was the plants run out of material. You didn’t have the materials to manufacture. So know that changed. That changed a lot. Um, the conversation that I’ve had Mike before, COVID-19 80% of my business was a book.

Mike Lackey (12:09):

I sold the restaurants. You know, I I’ve manufactured in bulk. I showed the bulk. I, you know, my processes were based on, you know, large fulfillment and today 70% of my business is consumer the grocery store. You know, I had, I have to think that, well, that’s simple. No, you’re, you’re packaging the smaller, your, your distribution channels, two totally different, you know, the way they did business six months ago, isn’t cutting it today. So the speed at which we must move, let’s take, let’s take bicycles. You know, last December you went to the store, get a bicycle where you a bicycle, no problem stores full of, try to bicycle buy a bicycle lately. These guys are trying to figure out is this a hockey stick, and it’s going to continue, or I’m just on a spike and it’s going to come down. How do I invest?

Mike Lackey (12:59):

Where do I invest? Um, right. What are the large, um, you know, uh, home health, uh, treadmill company, their biggest competitor bought their manufacturer cause their third party and everything, their supply chain got turned upside down. So, you know, these are challenges that are happening in during this time. And companies are looking at, uh, the best example that I’ll turn it over to Bob, you know, in January, I mean, I’m talking with the customer just a month ago. They said in January I had 900 retail stores. By the end of this year, I’ll be down to a hundred. Okay. When you go to online, you don’t have as long, a lead time and visibility, your demand, it changes faster. They can cancel orders really quickly. Um, so when I had 10 to 14 days to fulfill, I got two to four today. So how you’re able to have agility and resilience into your manufacturing operations to respond to that is huge. And it’s not just to keep number one in my market. It’s about survival today. And I think that’s the biggest change. This mindset about, you know, my business changing in the boardroom. My process has got to change to support it. And Bob and I have this conversation and written a lot of blogs and white papers on that. But that’s the big thing,

Greg White (14:20):

That’s a really, that’s a really stark and impressive and accurate, uh, analysis is it’s not even about, Oh, outreaching the market these days. It’s about survival. Right? And, um, we’ve seen, we’ve seen, we have hundreds of the hundreds of these discussions. So we’ve seen that frequently. So Bob, tell us a little bit about what you’re seeing, give us some insights that maybe Mike didn’t cause I know you’re not competitive in any way. So

Bob Merlo (14:55):

Well, first of all, my kid on very many really good points, um, no doubt about it. What I would add to that is that this affects the entire enterprise. It’s not, even though supply chain. People think about supply chain is having goods on the shelves at a grocery store or to Mike’s point having a bicycle that I can buy. It’s far greater than that. The reach is far broader than that. Um, you are impacting all of your business and all of your suppliers and the ability to get things through your process and out to the marketplace has been just in incredibly straining. And people have had to make some very tough decisions about where they’re going to invest in their business. And it’s hard to be seeing your business in a sense, going down in revenues and perhaps even up in costs and saying, well, I actually need to invest.

Bob Merlo (15:58):

I need to invest in my manufacturing operations. I need to automate it. I need to make it more digital. I need to invest in my logistics networks. I need to invest in the intelligence of my products. All of that is a real challenge to do when you’re in the downside of an economy or in the, um, in your business. But if you don’t do that, when it does come back and it will, then you’re going to be faced with a different challenge. How do I meet that demand? How do I meet all of the requirements that customers now need and expect to have very quickly and with high quality

Scott Luton (16:36):

And the risks as both of you are speaking to are huge. It’s one thing to make these decisions when you’re not facing survival. Um, like you’re both, you’re both speaking to, but let me ask you, um, you know, as, as Greg alluded to, we have tons of these conversations, they’re all fascinating. We’ve certainly picked up on a, a much heightened sense of urgency when it comes to industry 4.0 and acting on the very real opportunity that these business leaders and organizations have. What, and Mike, let’s start with you. What, what do you see behind this quick move to embrace industry 4.0, perhaps like never before

Mike Lackey (17:14):

We know industry 4.0 has been around since about 2014, it was an academics study. You know, SAP was there in those days. We, we, we help with the use cases. What was driving it right now is the customer demand is changing so fast. Right. And you have so many options. I mean, do you really look at the brand or do you look, Oh, that thing, that brand got five thumbs up, I’ll give it a try. Right? So how do you, how do you keep that customer for a lifetime it’s really changed? So, um, you’ve gotta be faster to respond. Lot of sizes are getting smaller. I mean, you used to do, okay, I’m going to do mass production and I’m going to have, you know, a few options you can change, right? Not today, you know, customers want what they want, how they want it, and they want it when they want it.

Mike Lackey (18:02):

And if you can deliver someone else will. So, um, you know, this whole digital transformation, that industry 4.0 driving is a new level of automation to the shop floor. Um, work, I hear it over and over. I can’t find workers. I was down in South Georgia, kind of in the middle of nowhere. And with a big plant, I go, you probably have plenty of work, cause this is no, nobody wants to work the midnight shift. They’d rather work at the convenience store, you know, so they can be at home all the time. And so when I look at their warehouse was what they did fulfillment and replenishment at night, totally automated AGVs robots everywhere. So how do you maintain that? So, um, that’s the big pride we’re seeing it. So you can’t, as your business changes, you can be more responsive and responsive to that customer.

Mike Lackey (18:57):

I had, I had a customer tell me that advanced signal last about 72 hours. Then after 72 hours, he goes to, okay, I don’t care where you get it from, and then it’s gone. So it’s not like I’ve got two weeks to respond. I’ve got about 72 hours to deliver. You know, I have capacity of 20,000 units per month. I got exactly 72 hours to build 5,000 or I’m going to lose 60% of that order. That’s why you just got to seize the opportunity. Exactly. Carpe Diem. You gotta, you gotta seize it. That’s right. And I think that’s driving a lot of

Scott Luton (19:39):

Mike, uh, Bob, same questions. Give us some, give us some insights along those lines. Why now, why is the sense of urgency? So strong beyond what Mike has shared,

Bob Merlo (19:49):

As Mike mentioned, you know, the market is changing and you see manufacturing companies being challenged by, like Mike said, mass production to individualize production. And that’s a very difficult transition to make, and it doesn’t occur in all industries, but it occurs in a lot. Um, when you go to a automobile website and you start to look at all the options that you can put on your order, it’s incredible. And you take that order and now you have to run that through the whole manufacturing operations. And that’s a very challenging thing to do. But as I mentioned earlier, I think the challenge goes far beyond just the product design, the product configuration. Um, as you do that, and you start to see these different product designs going through and different individualized products coming into the play, think about that as a manufacturing shop floor guy, it’s like, these are all different, everything that comes through a different kind of product.

Bob Merlo (20:50):

And then the expectation that you have to have it delivered logistically in a highly sustainable way. I mean, at times, have you heard people talking about zero carbon footprint, you know, and that’s something that’s really important to the economy. So when you think about Amazon becoming carbon neutral, that’s an incredible initiative to do that really fundamentally changes their business. And then you’ve got things on the other side where people are saying, well, I don’t really want to own this product. I just want to rent it and buy it from you from a service perspective. And that had to has changed a lot of business models that we didn’t see previously. I mean, I think I look at my son he’s 17 and, um, you know, he has his own car, thanks to dad. But, um, eventually I don’t think the millennials are gonna want to own a car. They’ll want the insurance. They don’t want the gas expense. They don’t want all these things. They’re just going to use an Uber or they’re going to use some kind of a part time kind of use of, of automobile assets. Right. And that fundamentally changes business in terms of how you generate revenue and how you operate.

Scott Luton (22:03):

Well put, I love that car example.

Mike Lackey (22:05):

Hey, Greg, let’s fill this right here. Let’s think about this before. COVID-19 absolutely. I, uh, it was, it was, it was Uber. It was, you know, share rides is this right? And then I think automotive, you were heading in a direction, then COVID comes up and I don’t know how clean that car is. And now you’re seeing a move back, to buying cars, and we’re talking in a seven month period, you know, I mean, it’s like, you’re right. I mean, my daughter has, has, you know, has her car. He goes, dad, why do I have to make a car payment every night? When I, you know, every month we only drive this car about two hours a day. Well, that’s how you own a car now, you know, she’s the one of the lucky ones because she has a car and everybody’s afraid to do, to do these share rides because of the COVID-19 how quickly that changed.

Scott Luton (23:04):

I know you’re right. And, and, you know, we, we, we’ve talked a lot about how the rules have changed so much so that, uh, Greg and I really enjoyed this recent analogy we’ve uncovered and shared one minute, you’re playing chutes and ladders the very next minute you’re playing monopoly and maybe 3d monopoly. Um, because of all these factors, both of you are speaking to. So, um, I want to help our listeners with something. Cause if they’re at they’re folks like me, I’m not an industry 4.0 expert. They may want to really dive into what the different components that make up industry 4.0, and that’s where I want to go next. So, Mike, I want to keep driving with you here. So when you think about industry 4.0 and the solutions that really are comprised in that space, what are the four elements there that come to mind

Mike Lackey (23:52):

To me, industry 4.0 Really started, you know, focusing on manufacturing, but it’s much bigger than that. You know, if you’re not, if you’re not planning correctly in getting your demand signal as soon as possible and to get that, and then understanding, I used to think it was get the order in the manufacturer. Now it’s getting the customer’s requirements. So you’ve got to have a method to collect exactly what that customer wants. Then you got to know in real time that I can build it in that timeframe at the cost they’re willing to pay. Then you’ve got, you know, assets that are in that manufacturing force, so how you manage those assets and keep their utilization because it goes down and you’re, you know, you’re at full capacity, you’re not going to deliver. Um, and then you’ve got the logistics is not enough the manufacturer and then have a sit on your dock for two days.

Mike Lackey (24:40):

You want to, matter of fact, as it comes off, that drone picks it up, you know, um, uh, it goes on a ship, it goes on a truck, but it’s in transit automatically to you. I mean, let’s talk about, remember when you know what I remember back in the day, if I could get something ordered in 72 hours, I was happy. Then they went to 48, 24, six hour delivery, you know, Amazon and Alibaba and, and in China now in some cities two hours, right? I mean the expectation of how quick is changing. So I think you can not look at manufacturing as a key component, but you have to look at how you are delivering innovation in products, how you’re capturing that plan, that optimization, then, you know, you have a logistics, the materials, and then maintaining those assets. So I think it’s, you know, you have to look at the whole picture, not just one piece, if you’re going to be successful, because if you, if you innovate in a silo, it’s going to affect other components. So I think you have to really dream big and look at the whole, the whole ability of what it takes to be in the supply chain.

Scott Luton (25:45):

Yeah. We’ll put so many different elements. That’s what you gotta turn the experts that know it. Especially if you know, big enterprise wide transformation effort, you gotta rely on the folks, know. Bob speaks to it a little bit, speak to the different elements that Mike was speaking to. And I know that one thing that we’re all kindred spirits around is how technology is empowering people. And that message doesn’t get enough airplay.

Bob Merlo (26:06):

No, it really doesn’t. And it’s more than ever, probably important than it ever has been. So when you think about empowering people, whether it be on the shop floor or in the field doing service, or what have you, what you’re really trying to do is enable them to make the right decisions, the smart decisions based on real time content. So they are getting information that they need in real time to make really solid decisions. And that doesn’t, as Mike mentioned, it’s not just manufacturing. It goes well beyond that. You know, when you think about the supply chain and how complex the supply chain is, and I don’t think anybody actually even thought about it until COVID hit, when all of a sudden you couldn’t get toilet paper or paper towels or whatever, people realized that the supply chain is an extremely important facet of our economy. They didn’t know that,

Greg White (27:01):

They didn’t even know what supply chain meant before. Right? Right. This is right.

Scott Luton (27:06):

This is the reality. And as much as the part of four of us are probably sick and tired of hearing about toilet paper in 2020. However, we’ve got that to thank because one of the silver linings here to your point, Bob and Greg is the consumers are so much more aware of the supply chains behind these products we use every hour, every day, you name it. And that is, in a historically challenging year, like 2020, where there is a ton of bad news in this sphere, that certainly one of the big, great pieces of good news.

Bob Merlo (27:36):

Why don’t we take it? I think we take it for granted sometimes. And that’s the problem. People don’t understand the complexity. And, um, that’s, it really is a complex system. I remember just doing a diagram the other day for somebody, with regard to getting a particular drink that they wanted. And did they know all of the things behind getting that can or bottle in their hands, it’s an incredible complex process.

Scott Luton (28:06):

And for, for that same used aluminum can to get back into the system. I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s fascinating the different elements of the industry. All right. So Greg, but one question rises to the top. What does that?

Greg White (28:21):

Yeah. Well, I mean, and I think also we have to acknowledge the supply chain is more complex than even most supply chain professionals recognize because we left out the critical element of the supply chain and that is the consumer, right? I think a lot of people, I know that a lot of people in supply chain envision the supply chain stopping when it got to the store door or whatever you want to call it. They never thought of the consumer as part of the supply chain. And we learned that in spades when it came to toilet paper, right? So that creates a really, really complex environment. That many even lifelong supply chain professionals aren’t, don’t feel equipped to attack. So when you think about industry 4.0 and, and, and how it can be applied and what it means for it to be applied, a lot of people are asking the question, okay, I’m buying right. I’m with you, Bob, Mike, I agree. How the heck do I get started? So share a little bit, Bob, if you would, about how companies people can, can get the right mindset and get the right actions in place.

Bob Merlo (29:35):

I think it’s something that Mike and I deal with on a daily basis in terms of helping customers understand where do I begin this journey to digitalization? And where do I begin? This journey is industry 4.0. It’s interesting because I’ve said many, many times people can’t come to SAP and say, Hey, can I buy your industry 4.0 software? No, it doesn’t work that way. You go just buy industry 4.0 software. Um, you have to look in my mind at the key points in your internal processes that are causing delay or causing breakage. So if your intent is to streamline that and to do things far more efficiently with lower cost and higher profit margin, you have to look at those bottlenecks that you’re faced with and focus on those areas first. And once you’ve established this as a philosophy, because it is a philosophical change. Once you have established it as that philosophy, then you can take the initial start of what you did be in manufacturing and logistics, wherever, and start to broaden that scope. And the way we see industry 4.0 Is not just broadening the scope in the four walls of your factory, but into the networks of all of your suppliers, all of your manufacturing partners, all of your distribution channel, et cetera. And that’s where you start to gain real value.

Greg White (31:04):

The mindset that you mentioned, right? That mindset shift is the critical recognition to getting started. In my mind. There are so many technical things that you have to do, but that mindset shift is what’s so important. Isn’t it? Cultural recognition and cultural change. Mike, tell us what your perspective is on that.

Mike Lackey (31:24):

So I get that question all the time from customers, right? And it’s like these guys, I said, you got dream big. You go not about collecting data.

Mike Lackey (31:34):

It’s about collecting the right data and getting the right data in the hands of really smart people to make the decisions You’ve got to dream big. What is your business Going to look like next month, two years, five years, 10 years down the road. And if you dream big bill, the processes today Have to change. You have to build more agility into it.

Mike Lackey (31:56):

And, um, but then you’ve got to choose a project that has high visibility and a really good ROI. So now you can get the CFO, the CEO, and everybody behind you. And when you get that thumbs up at political class, it’s a short period of time. You’d better be able to, to act fast, prove it out, get the backing from the boardroom and just accelerate. You’ve got to you. You’ve got to just, um, you know, you got

Greg White (32:37):

Step on the gas and go forward, right. At some point you just gotta go. Um, all right. So, well, thank you. Because I think that, I think that’s really helpful for companies to get started, right? Eat the elephant one bite at a time as people say. But I think what you’ve said, both of you have said is a lot more practical, a lot more informative than just that philosophically. Um, so look, this year has been a challenge for everybody. Um, and everybody had a plan going into this year and to quote the great philosopher, Mike Tyson, everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face, but to give people some hope and in the spirit and in the spirit of Atlanta, Mike Lackey, let’s take Evander Holyfield approach of having a plan before you got punched in the face and a plan after you got punched in the face and somehow beating the great Mike Tyson. So give us some examples of companies that you have seen kind of roll with the punches or overcome a challenge, or even embrace a challenge and, and shift to, to tackle that and see some success in this unbelievably challenging year.

Mike Lackey (33:50):

Yeah. First of all, I think you have to go with, um, you have to have a plan when you have both ears and then when you have a plan when you lose part of your ear, okay, absolutely.

Greg White (34:04):

I’ll send some people to Google Mike that,

Mike Lackey (34:07):

Yeah, listen, you have, this is not the time to panic, right? In, in chaos, there’s opportunity. And to companies that are going to come out on the other side are looking at their business. There’s a company I was working with and they have multiple, multiple divisions, multiple companies, and they’re in their brand portfolio. And you know, one of them makes containers in there and just pedantic. Their factories are for,eign you know, people, sprints, uh, you know, I’m going to have like sit for the toilet paper up. I don’t know something happened to them, but about food storage and things like that. But then they made discretionary products like candles. Their factories are at 30% capacity. So, you know, where are they doing? He says, I don’t care what the brand is at the top. You’re all in my portfolio. I’m moving production to meet my customer’s demands.

Mike Lackey (34:56):

So you’re not going to be single threaded in a factory. I’m going to make only this. I am now going to expand into other areas and make sure that I, regardless of the factories that I can manufacturer in that any standardized processes that means setting up, you know, different supply chains. So those are the companies that I see that really coming out on the other end that were able to respond fast. That weren’t so rigid, right? I talked to a lot of the automotive companies about how SAP can help them make respirators, you know, the speed at which I walked up, these meetings, I’m going, it’s going to be six months before they make the impact. And what happened? The respirator company. He said, you know what? I just bought the factory next to me, that was vacant. And I’m setting up a new factory.

Mike Lackey (35:47):

I’m moving quick. And well love was the thought of the agility that they had. And I really think that that’s the companies that are gonna make it are the ones that think outside the box and think, you know, and, and reach out to how can I be prepared for the changing demand in, you know, into I’ll give you the best example. And this company has spoken at Sapphire. Hunter Douglas makes window blinds. He says, window blinds, nothing to it. Right? Even before the pandemic, a year before, in eight months, they went from making 50,000 orders to stock, do ship to home Depot and Lowe’s in eight months, it changed to 40,000 Make the order coming directly from the contractors. Wow. And they, we weren’t set up for that. We, you know, we were all about the Maples and that lead time, if the stock was 12 to 14 days when it moved the, he came four to six days.

Mike Lackey (36:50):

So that affected the whole supply chain. And I looked, some of these got us talk and everybody in the audience were just like, unbelievable that here’s a industry you don’t think is very innovative. Yeah, they are. And they, they changed on the dot. They went live with new processes in 14 factories in 18 months, wow. 14 factories in 18 months where all the factories were the same. Everything was standarized. They were able to move production based on demand and what region, what country, it didn’t matter to them. And those guys was so when the pandemic came, who’s in a better position to way to waiver. This is those guys. And I was just one example, but they were one of the most impressive that stood on stage with me when they got through to log while. And this is, this is best practice. This is best of breed. This is innovation at its best.

Scott Luton (37:45):

That is an outstanding example. Talk about a complexity going from making a stock at that scale to made the order. I mean, huge and especially that many factories. So, uh, I appreciate your sharing. Let’s get, you know, Bob, uh, kind of along the lines of Greg’s question here, the good news. So give us, what, what, what good story have you seen out there in this, in this tough year?

Bob Merlo (38:09):

Positive thing that I’ve seen is that companies are really changing the way that they operate. They’re changing to adapt to what the market requirements truly are. And that’s important because this is not going to go away. The thing is about this whole thing, this whole pandemic, what I think it brought to light was that you have to build a supply chain that has insulation from disruption. And it’s not just the pandemic. I mean, it can be trade wars it can be Brexit. It can be hurricanes. It can be flooding who knows all of those things have an effect. And we see companies like index Virg, for example, who are taking their, um, manufacturing and maintenance operations, completely virtual and online. So they’re no longer going on site. They have people in the plant that have taken on the maintenance and operations, um, issues. And they’re helping them do that completely online with step-by-step work instructions, technical support, et cetera, et cetera. So businesses are changing to adapt to the environment. And I’m certainly hopeful that the environment will change based on some of these things that we’re stuck with doing. And I asked my son, for example, how many of these kinds of things that you’ve seen change, whether it be curbside pickup, or what have you, is this a permanent thing? I think it is.

Scott Luton (39:41):

Amazing times we’re living through right now. And, but going want to go back to the point that we were talking about a second ago. So we really want to echo it because Greg and I are big believers in this year is how technology the best apply it to that. That truly empowers our people. And for folks that may out there in our audience that may fear technology or, or what that may mean for their role. Gosh, if you’re willing to learn something new and really step out of your comfort zone and walk through these doors of opportunity, it is going to open up so many, so much opportunity for organizations and for their people. So that’s exciting and a great message.

Bob Merlo (40:18):

I think Mike, um, Mike actually made a point earlier about getting the information. It’s getting the data that you need to be a better worker. And the thing is data for data’s sake is useless. It has to have meaning it has to have context. It has to have relevance to what you’re trying to do to improve your job, your productivity, whatever it might be. And I think that’s the important thing. What is a ton of data out there these days? And that’s great. If you can call it that.

Scott Luton (40:53):

That’s noise here, Bob, a lot of noise out there. You gotta pick for the signals, but that’s a great point to kind of start to wind down the conversation. Greg, I know this kind of tickles our fancy, we’d love to have several hours to talk about industry 4.0 with Mike and Bob we’ll have to have him back on, but, um, you know, before we make sure our audience knows how to connect both with these, these two business leaders, Greg what’s what’s, I know you’re itching to kind of share one of your key takeaways from time. And it’s funny that Bob mentioned culture as a differentiating factor in, in success and a critical factor in success to change during these times. And Mike gave a premium example that at Hunter Douglas, clearly, if, I mean, look, I watch football. So they have blinds to go on commercials on there.

Scott Luton (41:43):

So clearly Hunter Douglas was responding to the fact that you could do that. You could get blinds custom made for your home, right? And so they saw that they saw that change coming. They made it part of their culture. They made it part of their operations. And then when a real catastrophic change came, they were that much more equipped. So that cultural change is as important as any technological or operational process change. And I think that’s something that people need to recognize. And I think it’s a really mature perspective for folks to recognize that cultural and human capital design change that needs to occur before you can undertake digital transformation or industry 4.0 Or any, any kind of automation initiative. Yeah. We’ll put there Mike, you like how we all talk about you as if you’re not in the same room with us, but we really have a pre

Mike Lackey (42:40):

You just connections come down and right. So waited. Yeah. We’re just planning for that.

Scott Luton (42:48):

Hey, we really, uh, both of y’all, we’ve enjoyed the prep conversations and this episode, you know, kind of carried that through. It’s a really enjoyed what you share looking forward to having you back on. Let’s make sure though our listeners know how to connect with two pros when it comes to industry 4.0, Mike, let’s start with you. How can folks connect with you now?

Mike Lackey (43:06):

The best way is just a contact me via email mike dot It’s a, you know, I keep it simple and, uh, and I’d be more than happy to share best practice and talk with what we’re doing at SAP and What are other customers doing? Uh, we’re all in this together. So, um, let’s change the world.

Scott Luton (43:25):

Now I’m ready to run through some walls with you. Mike loved that and we’ll try to make it easy for our listeners. Again, the one-click approach. We’ll, we’ll drop some things in the show notes to really make it as easy as possible for them to connect with Mike and Bob. All right. So Bob, same question. How can folks connect with you?

Bob Merlo (43:41):

Same way, right? Robert Dot Merlo without the T cause my parents forgot that. So it’s just um, at SAP. Um, sorry. Um, so that’s, that’s probably the best way to get ahold of me. I’m pretty active on LinkedIn. So you can just look up my profile there and I do respond to, um, inquiries there and respond to messages there. So I think that’s also another good channel. I’m not a big Twitter guy, so we don’t have to argue with you. That’s true. So, um, but I think the important message here, and I think Mike said it as well, is that, look, if you are looking to improve your operations, if you were looking to improve your business, we believe that we have some ideas on how to do that.

Bob Merlo (44:32):

And so please reach out to us and let us see if we can help your business grow and prosper in these very violent even right. Yes. Thrive. Right. Bob and thrive. That’s going to be online. You handle from here on out. Yeah. Well Greg fascinating conversation, we really enjoyed chatting with Mike Lackey, global vice president of solution management, digital manufacturing with SAP and his colleague, Robert Merlo, vice president digital supply chain marketing with SAP. We’ve gotten, uh, Greg White’s hot takeaway already. We’re ahead of schedule Greg. But you know, we want to really encourage connect with both these leaders, but also if you enjoy conversations like this, you can find a lot more at [inaudible] Find us wherever you get your podcasts from and subscribe. So you don’t miss more, uh, wisdom from industry leaders like we’ve had in this conversation here today. All right, Greg, in a very small nutshell as we wrap and right before we sign off, give us one key.

Scott Luton (45:34):

If you listen to anything, what are those? Our audience need to really grasp a grasp on to this conversation here.

Greg White (45:42):

2020 is just the start of changes. And it’s just the most stark recognition that the supply chain is always in a state of disruption. Accept it, adapt to it, build your culture and your operations and your technology approach around it and be ready for it.

Scott Luton (46:00):

Outstanding and own that note to our audience. Thanks for tuning in. Hopefully you enjoyed this conversation as much as we did. Hey, challenging our audience. Just like we challenge ourselves. Do good. Give forward, be the change that’s needed. As Mike said, let’s change the world. Love that. We’ll see you next time here on supply chain now.

Would you rather watch the show in action?

Watch as Scott and Greg welcome Mike Lackey and Bob Merlo to Supply Chain Now through our YouTube channel.

Featured Guests

Mike Lackey joined SAP in 2008 through the acquisition of Visiprise and is the Global Head of Solution Management, Digital Manufacturing. With previous roles at Visiprise, NetVendor and Teradyne Manufacturing Software Group, Mr. Lackey has a unique set of knowledge that covers both manufacturing software and design collaboration along with over 30 years of experience in the manufacturing sector. Early in his career, he started as a manufacturing engineer with DCA/Attachmate, which provided him with invaluable first-hand knowledge and understanding of how SAP customers can use SAP’s Digital Manufacturing Solution Portfolio to improve their global operations. Mr. Lackey earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and an MA in Business Administration from Mercer University with dual concentrations in International Business and Marketing.

Robert (Bob) J. Merlo is the Vice President of Digital Supply Chain Solution Marketing and is responsible for marketing the SAP Digital Supply Chain solutions globally. Joining SAP from Right Hemisphere, where he held the Vice President of Marketing role, he brings more than 25 years of software marketing expertise covering a broad range of industries and application areas. Prior to Right Hemisphere, Bob was the Vice President of Marketing for Autodesk’s Manufacturing Solutions Division and served as CEO of ChipData Inc. Bob is recognized for his broad marketing and operational experience in software and services companies and for his significant background in enterprise marketing and business development for PLM, CAD, Internet, telecom, and business process management software companies.


Greg White

Principal & Host

Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

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Kim Winter

Host, Supply Chain Now

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

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

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

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Joshua Miranda

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

Donna Krache

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

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Vicki White


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

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Katherine Hintz

Creative Director, Producer, Host

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

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Kim Reuter

Host, The Freight Insider

From humble beginnings working the import docks, representing Fortune 500 giants, Ford, Michelin Tire, and Black & Decker; to Amazon technology patent holder and Nordstrom Change Leader, Kimberly Reuter has designed, implemented, and optimized best-in-class, highly scalable global logistics and retail operations all over the world. Kimberly’s ability to set strategic vision supported by bomb-proof processes, built on decades of hands-on experience, has elevated her to legendary status. Sought after by her peers and executives for her intellectual capital and keen insights, Kimberly is a thought leader in the retail logistics industry.

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Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Sofia Rivas Herrera

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

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

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Demo Perez

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

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

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Mary Kate Love

VP, Marketing

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

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

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Adrian Purtill

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.

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Kevin Brown

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Nick Roemer

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Allison Giddens

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.

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Billy Taylor

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.

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Tandreia Bellamy

Host, Supply Chain Now

Tandreia Bellamy retired as the Vice President of Industrial Engineering for UPS Supply Chain Solutions which included the Global Logistics, Global Freight Forwarding and UPS Freight business units. She was responsible for operations strategy and planning, asset management, forecasting, and technology tool development to optimize sustainable efficiency while driving world class service.

Tandreia held similar positions at the business unit level for Global Logistics and Global Freight forwarding. As the leader of the Global Logistics engineering function, she directed all industrial engineering activies related to distribution, service parts logistics (post-sales support), and mail innovations (low cost, light weight shipping partnership with the USPS). Between these roles Tandreia helped to establish the Advanced Technology Group which was formed to research and develop cutting edge solutions focused on reducing reliance on manual labor.

Tandreia began her career in 1986 as a part-time hourly manual package handling employee. She spent the great majority of her career in the small package business unit which is responsible for the pick-up, sort, transport and delivery of packages domestically. She held various positions in Industrial Engineering, Marketing, Inside and On-road operations in Central Florida before transferring to Atlanta for a position in Corporate Product Development and Corporate Industrial Engineering. Tandreia later held IE leadership roles in Nebraska, Minnesota and Chicago. In her final role in small package she was an IE VP responsible for all aspects of IE, technology support and quality for the 25 states on the western half of the country.
Tandreia is currently a Director for the University of Central Florida (UCF) Foundation Board and also serves on their Dean’s Advisory Board for the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Previously Tandreia served on the Executive Advisory Board for Virginia Tech’s IE Department and the Association for Supply Chain Management. She served on the Board of Trustees for ChildServ (a Chicago child and family services non-profit) and also served on the Texas A&M and Tuskegee Engineering Advisory Boards. In 2006 she was named Business Advisor of the Year by INROADS, in 2009 she was recognized as a Technology All-Star at the Women of Color in STEM conference and in 2019 she honored as a UCF Distinguished Aluma by the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems.

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

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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

Mary Kate Soliva is a veteran of the US Army and cofounder of the Guam Human Rights Initiative. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

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

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

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Greg White

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

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

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

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Chris Barnes

Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring

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

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

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Tyler Ward

Director of Sales

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

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

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

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Kevin L. Jackson

Host of Digital Transformers

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

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Enrique Alvarez

Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español

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

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

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Kelly Barner

Host of Dial P for Procurement

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

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Constantine Limberakis


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

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Amanda Luton

Vice President, Production

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

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Clay Phillips

Business Development Manager

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

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Trisha Cordes

Administrative Assistant

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

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Chantel King

Social Media Manager

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

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

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

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Lori Sofian

Marketing Coordinator

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

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Katherine Hintz

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.

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