“I think the tools we are going to use this year and beyond have just gotten sharper and stronger. We’re more enthusiastic and more engaged and more empowered to move forward.”
– Meta Robinson, Business Partner, Sweet Unity Farms Coffee
On January 31, 1919, Jackie Robinson was born. Just over 100 years later, his son and granddaughter are carrying on his legacy of performance and social advocacy with Sweet Unity Farms Coffee, a retail coffee brand founded to have a positive impact on the poverty and underdevelopment faced by rural farmers.
David and Meta Robinson are both part of the leadership team at Sweet Unity Farms Coffee and David is the founder of Up-Country International Products Inc., the sole distributor and marketer of Sweet Unity Farms Coffee. They’ve had as difficult a year as anyone, especially with most of their sales taking place in airports. They have now made the pivot to eCommerce and are leveraging Meta’s digital marketing experience to survive in the new normal.
In this conversation, David and Meta tell Supply Chain Now Co-hosts Greg White and Scott Luton:
· How they have each been inspired by the courage and achievements of Jackie and Rachel Robinson
· The trends they are seeing around corporate and consumer interest in smaller suppliers
· The important role coops play in improving working and living conditions in our global supply chains
It’s time for supply chain. Now broadcasting live from the supply chain capital of the country. Atlanta, Georgia heard around the world supply chain. Now spotlights the best in all things, supply chain, the people, the technologies, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts.
Scott Luton (00:00:28):
Good morning, Scott Luton and Greg white was here on supply chain. Now welcome back to the show. Got a really special episode teed up this morning, right, Greg? Yeah, I’m a big fan of four two, and see how it didn’t exactly give it away. And, and of course, really honored to speak to folks who are not only associated with greatness, but creating their own greatness in their own. Right. And of course, part of our logistics with purpose series, which is everybody’s favorite, I couldn’t have put that better. Of course, logistics with purpose here in supply chain. Now PowerBar friends at vector global logistics. And on this series, one of our favorites, we spotlight leaders and organizations that are changing the world in some way, shape or form and say tune as we’re not only going to increase your supply chain IQ, but your leadership IQ and acumen, a quick program in it for we get started.
Scott Luton (00:01:18):
Hey, if you enjoyed today’s conversation and I bet you will, uh, be sure to find instance, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from. We’d love to, for you not to miss conversations, just like this. Want to welcome in our esteem special co-host here today and Ricky Alvarez and Adrian, [inaudible] both with vector global logistics. Good morning, gentlemen. Good morning, Scott. Greg. It’s. It’s a pleasure being here as always. And uh, yes, this is one of our favorite series and today’s going to be particularly special. I’m very excited about the opportunity to talking to, to our guest of honor. I cannot believe both of y’all have kept everything on the road. I tried my best, you know, what’s funny is they’re both right here. Like we’re hiding anything. So Adrian, good morning. Great to have you back here. We should give a special shout out to our friends at books for Africa, right?
Adrian Purtill (00:02:09):
Yeah, absolutely. Good morning, Scott and Greg and everyone on the call. A pleasure to be here as always. Yes. I’d just like to thank, uh, books for Africa for introducing us to, uh, to David and, and meta books for Africa is our very treasured customer, friend and partner. They do incredible work, uh, on the African continent, uh, sending over many, many thousands, hundreds of thousands of books, almost at the million, uh, at the, uh, 50 million bookmark. Now they do incredible work in Africa. And I know David has had some involvement with books, books for Africa for the last six or seven years. So thank you to them as well on the show as well. Right. That’s right. All right. With no further ado. Let’s welcome in our two guests here today. Uh, we’re so pleased to have both David Robinson, the youngest son of of course the legendary Jackie Robinson.
Scott Luton (00:02:59):
He’s also managing director of the hard ground development corporation serves also with upcountry international products and he’s a coffee farmer and all the extra time he’s got on L on his docket with MSG Kaimana farmers group, David Robinson, good morning honored for you to be with us, looking forward to learning a lot more from you, David. And you’re joined by your daughter, Metta Robinson, who also is it product manager and industry. She also manages the us operations for upcountry international products, which represents the really popular sweet unity farmers. Coffee met a good morning honored to have you both with us here. We’ve got so much. We want to pick your brain on and thanks so much for your time. All right. So Greg, where do we want to start with David and Metta? Well, let’s find out a little bit about him. What did he say first?
Greg White (00:03:54):
It is, it’s really an honor to have you both here. Uh, it’s clear that one job is not enough for either of you, so, uh, really appreciate your ambition, but David let’s, let’s start with you a little bit. Tell us a little bit about yourself. You are clearly something, I mean, clearly I’m sure an honor and I’m sure a real life family, and I bet there are some stories we don’t know, being a sign of the great Jackie Robinson, but you are more than that. And we’d love to hear about that as well. So tell us a little bit about yourself, share that with our community.
David Robinson (00:04:27):
You know, I, I, I think I was fortunate to have been born in an era in American society and certainly within a family wherein social, social purpose, social mission, challenging, critical issues was the, the message and meaning of the time, really what people did was measured by it, how it impacted on social development. And so I have been involved with my family, with my community in, in efforts, in social development, almost organically from childhood genetically organically. Absolutely. We were, we were raising money for the freedom whites in the 1960s when I was nine, 10, 11 years old. And, um, being part of the Robinson family, it really was all about social development. And I didn’t come along in 1947. I was not born at that time. So all of the excitement about baseball was not really the focus when I was beginning to be conscious. What I was conscious of was the impact that baseball ad on American society.
Greg White (00:05:53):
That’s powerful stuff. I got to tell you, you know, so many of us in the States
Greg White (00:05:58):
Of course grew up with that as one of our biggest history lessons, not just a sports lesson, but a big history lesson. I got to tell you, it was encouraging for me to understand that those kinds of things that were were happening and truly your father was just a hell of a ballplayer who at the time happened to be black. And I mean that, you know, there’s no way to really give that justice, but you know, the perspective as I had as a child, studying it in history was, you know, he deserved to be there and people thought alongside him to get him there. And, and that made a I’m sure a great found that foundation for what you all have done. So tell us a little bit about, maybe a little bit about any impactful anecdotes, but also a little bit about how that’s led you to do what you’re doing today. Dave,
David Robinson (00:06:47):
In our family, the first in an industry baseball, the first and most recognized as my father, my uncle was the first executive in a, in a law, in a major corporation. Another uncle was a first African-American in the post office. So again, and no one talked about money, really, you know, I mean, my uncle was in the post office, my father, who was a major league baseball, they were both first and barrier breakers to social integration and social development and the betterment of, of American society. And, and almost in my family, see, you know, as equals in terms of, of what they did was impacting society. Baseball was a great vehicle because it was the national sport, the sport that held the heart of the nation. And if you could show how that’s morphed and that nation were really cheating themselves in terms of talent and excitement and, and great play in a game by segregating, uh, members of the American society, you know, that, that translates to all of American history.
David Robinson (00:08:08):
And in my case, you know, in 1947, cars were made in Detroit radio’s evening, you know, everything was American issues or American we’ve gone from, from that domestic platform to really a global platform today. And it’s what my parents, I think set their children’s lives up for was to look where the big issues and where the big platforms were and, you know, do what you can. And, uh, I was given the opportunity to travel the world when I was young, went to Africa when I was 14 and 15 and uh, with my parents. And so that exposure took me to understanding or looking at the same inequalities and the same flaws that we had as a domestic society, where we segregated our population and segregated our ability to, to produce, uh, to be part of a global society and limited to that ability, those, the benefits.
David Robinson (00:09:20):
I was able to see that on a global basis. And I was able to see a continent of a billion people in Africa who were producers, but also segregated from the global economy and really excluded from the developmental relationships of their industry. And coffee’s a great example of that. That’s the industry that I’ve been in for the last 30 years in Tanzania, 90%, 95% of our farms have family owned, small scale farms, but we feed into a huge global industry. So I work in the global coffee industry is able to take back global benefits, right to the core of society, which is the family.
Greg White (00:10:09):
That’s powerful stuff. We’re going to dig more into some of that in the rest of the interview, but I appreciate you publishing that as a foundation for us, because I think that’s powerful that it was an entire family of world changers, really. And it sounds to me like you continue to do that. So Metta, tell us a little bit about what you’re doing. You literally have a day job and also you’re participating in what David’s doing as well. So share with us a little bit about that, a little bit about your upbringing. And
Meta Robinson (00:10:38):
So I, I was actually born in Kenya and I lived in Namibia for most of my life. I, um, came to the U S about 15 years ago, I came here for college and have them upstairs. I studied business. I remember during the early years of college working with my dad and he would send, you know, invoices for some framework, long emails about all of the different coffee work he was doing. And at the time you’re like, okay, got it. That has since grown into, what is it, dad? Eight, 10 years of us working full time.
David Robinson (00:11:17):
I, I was, I was saying a decade, yes. With a growing involvement.
Meta Robinson (00:11:24):
Yeah. And so we started off with, you know, here’s a lot of stuff for you to read and now I am recording my dad and the family on us operations of what is up country to national, which is our parent company. And the brand is what you need to farm. So I did, um, marketing in school. I started in tech about 10 years ago. Um, so I work now as a product manager for Revlon that my full time job. And I continue to support the business and both my worlds, which is my full-time work at Revlon and the coffee business. They work together in a way, in a powerful way, really, because I get to work at a great company in it, really pushing and pulling all of these different innovative projects. And then I get to scale that down to what is our family’s small family business, right? So it’s really learning from the big and applying it to the small and vice versa. So that’s what I’ve been doing. And we’re continuing to push forward with our e-commerce. So that’s my baby in terms of the business. I, you know, we love to work on our side trying to improve it. And again, just bringing both of my worlds together for my it world work at Revlon and the work I’m doing with my dad
Greg White (00:12:50):
E-commerce is a challenge unto itself. Isn’t it?
Meta Robinson (00:12:52):
It is so exciting too right now. Yeah,
Greg White (00:12:55):
Yeah, yeah, no doubt. Well, I, I got to tell you, it’s meta, it’s interesting how sneaky intentional parents can be in building culture and responsibility and knowledge. Just a few emails here and there. Right. And slowly building it over time. That’s really impressive. And clearly it’s part of your maybe literally part of your DNA, get intentional about these things.
Meta Robinson (00:13:21):
Yeah. I consider it to be one of my greater passions and the privilege, and honor, to be able to be something greater than myself and just earning an income. Right. So that’s, that’s, that’s been a great joy.
Scott Luton (00:13:35):
Hey man, love that David and Metta, we want to learn a little bit more. I appreciate what you all have shared already. And in terms of perspective and, and both family and business, I want to dive in a little bit deeper to not just Jackie Robinson, but also Rachel Robinson. You know, Rachel arguably gets overlooked because Jack has made such a big impact, but Rachel was a dynamo and I’d love to circle them back to you. David, maybe we focus on Rachel. What’s one key. You you’ve shared a few that lessons learned that that not only you garnered from your family, and it sounds like your uncles and other family members, but your journey, but what’s, when you think back to your father and your mother, what’s one key life lesson that you see play out every day that maybe you haven’t shared yet.
David Robinson (00:14:19):
My mother was also a professional woman. She worked, uh, she, uh, was involved with Yale university as a nurse and a professor. She was director of the Connecticut state mental health department, but she also had time to support and nurture her children. And from bedtime stories where, you know, I was part of King Arthur’s round table when trying to deal with the kingdom’s issues to traveling with her solo to Africa in 1965, she has been a huge impact. And I tell you, Scott, even before I never got to the level where I could read my mother’s professional books in clinical psychology, even with my limited capacity, when I saw your book titled group dynamics and human development, you know, that all impacted in terms of, uh, there are issues beyond the obvious. And so she definitely represented, she loved classical music, operas and symphonies. And those were wonderful for me as a kid, because there was no language involved or no language that I could understand involved in Bob breeze, but there was, there was emotion and that was in kind of an international, uh, and human dynamic, which, which, which, which goes across race, religion, nationality.
David Robinson (00:16:09):
And I was exposed to that as a, as a kid and the way an orchestra works together with the various component, the wins and the questions and the strings very much also a human dynamic of, of our different human personalities and cultures needing to work together in order to come up with a great final product.
Scott Luton (00:16:36):
Mm love that there’s a synchronicity. I can’t believe I said that word. Right. You know, we’re big supply chain dorks here, and it’s very meaningful in global supply chain, but to your point, David is meaningful across society. And there’s so much there that you shared. And, and I really appreciate you sharing some of Rachel’s accomplishments as a professional, as a, a nurse, a director of nursing or a researcher at these procedures, institutions all wow. You know, supporting her husband and those efforts and founding the, the Jackie Robinson foundation, uh, in 1973 and all, all of that program. And it’s helped so many people since. So just a tremendous it one hour, and even some change does not give this justice, but thanks so much for sharing that. David met up same question to you, whether it’s in the vein of your grandparents or whether it’s in the vein of your parents or your greater family. And what’s a key life lesson that that’s front and center view in day in day out,
Meta Robinson (00:17:34):
There is a dedication to work and community that I have observed in my own family, whether it’s my parents or my grandparents, my family, when I first came
Meta Robinson (00:17:50):
Here for school, my goal was you need to graduate college and that’s at the, at the top of your class. And so I committed myself for those four years to getting that done. There was a goal to be mad. And so I was goal-oriented and I pushed forward with that. The output of that was not so much about having a degree, but what do you do with the education that you have gotten? What do you do with the skills that you have gotten to improve your life, but, but also hopefully beyond your own life, right? The goal has always been to do beyond your own. So I think that that’s seen in, in the strength it takes to accomplish that has been a big part of what I’ve taken away from my family, starting with the work of my grandfather and the work of my grandmother, who I didn’t get to meet my grandfather’s. So my understanding of my grandfather, other than what you’ve read and hear about him is through the lens of my grandmother, right? So I’ve seen her live her life a certain way, and you cannot help, but appreciate and know that there is a continuation and a partnership that she had with my grandfather. So it’s not like she’s just continuing his legacy, something that they built together. So seeing her and she grandma’s 98. Now, I would say, I don’t know if she’s officially retired.
Meta Robinson (00:19:24):
No, I got to see her well into her, you know, eighties and nineties working, you know, continuing to part of the Jackie Robinson foundation gave me to be a part of other initiatives, you know, in education and beyond her, you know, her own, her own family. So I think it’s, it’s really that strength and, and just commitment and dedication to serving others and working hard to support yourself, but extending that beyond, you know, your own needs. And so that’s something I draw from my family. My aunt is a writer and you know, does look for children that, you know, you get to, you see her extending herself, even in the lives of young children. And, you know, I take my technology self and try to use that to, you know, have somewhat of an impact, take the work we’re doing with farmers in Tanzania and connect them to the site of the world. I love getting emails from customers, you know, saying I was on your website and I read this about your farm. To me, it feels like we’ve made the connection between the farmers. Some of whom I have met many years ago, right. And the people who are buying our coffee today and the people who are posting on our Instagram today, it’s beautiful for me to see
Meta Robinson (00:20:48):
The connection of those two
Scott Luton (00:20:50):
Completely agree. Well, very well stated to you both. I really appreciate your worldview and point of view that that work continued learned more and more about. So, you know, there’s no finish line in the journey continues. There’s always need as David put it in kind of in the family, one of the family models, it sounds like is look where big issues are and then go out and do what you can. And I, and I hear so much of that and how you both are, um, sharing your perspective here. All right. So to our audience for our baseball, uh, geeks like me, maybe this next question too, is going to be manna from heaven. So David, thanks for indulging us here. As Greg pointed out, look Jackie Robinson while he was a huge shade JAG. He was one, the heck of a ballplayer goes out saying six time.
Scott Luton (00:21:35):
All-star a major league national league MVP. He was rookie of the year, the year he broke the color barrier. I mean, that’s just how good he was. Change the game on a number of different facets. And of course, uh, elected to the hall of fame in 1962. And one final tidbit for David. I asked you to weigh in and maybe share an anecdote or two, uh, is number 42. And I’ve seen Metta some of your pictures at belt ballparks on Jackie Robinson day, where all major league baseball players were number 42 on April 15th of each year, which is we should have been doing that the year he left the sport. I mean, I mean, it’s such a overdue, but now how the appreciated a move by major league baseball. So, David, as you mentioned, you weren’t born when he broke just yet when he broke the color line and boy, those would be some incredible experiences. But talk to us, if you could, when he was elected into the sports, one of the sport’s greatest honors, any, any anecdotes or experiences that really stick out in your day
David Robinson (00:22:37):
One, thing’s got that, that my father told me in terms of his reflection on that moment, he was walking to his office in the streets of New York sometime before they announced his induction into the hall of fame, African American man walks up to him and says, Jackie, when you get elected into the hall of fame, that’s going to be the happiest day of my life. And my father thanked him and went on. But as he was walking away from the man and thought about what the man said, that when he, Jackie Robinson got elected to the hall of fame, that was going to be the happiest day in that man’s life. It impacted him in terms of his relationship with people, with the African-American community, with the sports community, with, with, with all of the, the change elements, uh, in America, um, that he was not just himself for himself, but he was this man. This man
David Robinson (00:23:46):
Was going to be his happiest day. And I think he felt hugely appreciative of what she was able to do for his family. Yes, of course. From the sport of baseball. Yes, but basically for across the board American society, I mean, she got into people’s lives and they were able to stand up and work a little harder to walk a little taller because of what he had done.
Scott Luton (00:24:15):
Wow. Such a powerful anecdote there, David Metta, I know you didn’t get a chance to meet your grandfather, but, uh, in, in talking with your grandmother and learning some of these experiences for that, that legendary on the field success and beyond what any experiences you’d like to share,
Meta Robinson (00:24:32):
Perhaps one of the things that stand out for me, I think of when I think of my grandfather and what he’s accomplished is the discipline. It took to do what he did or as long as he did. And under the circumstances, I stuck it as another discipline in too. And so I think I tried to think of what he has accomplished and what he went through and kind of bring it into the context of my own daily challenges and problems today. And try to dig a little bit deeper so that I’m not just looking at a problem at a surface level, I’m trying to understand something deeper about it and looking for a strength within me that is gone.
Meta Robinson (00:25:24):
So I, I I’ve, I’ve heard and seen, you know, different articles and movies and films about making him father. And I see this, I see this man who I deleted, she moved, I didn’t get to meet here. It’s kinda like, you know, someone that you’re like, Oh, I relate it to this person, but you’ve not met them. You’ve not had conversation with them, but you’re getting so much from who they are and what they have accomplished. And so really when I’m going through something or trying to sell something, I just write to the discipline and the courage it took for him to overcome what he did. And I tried to apply it to my own life and just constantly digging deeper and trying to move beyond, you know, what is the problem at hand? And that’s one thing that I look for for strength, but I’m also working on, um, cause they don’t always get it right.
Scott Luton (00:26:29):
That, uh, thanks so much. Uh, Rick, I know we’re, we’re shedding some light on your next question, but really quick for context for our listeners, you know, Jackie Robinson in, in the family, the impact didn’t stop obviously when he left the ball and he became
Scott Luton (00:26:44):
The first African-American TV analyst for major league baseball, I became the first African-American vice president of a major corporation, which sock full of nuts. I mean, he continued to break barriers just as a machine in that, in that fashion. It was just amazing. And as you both were speaking to, it was a team effort between Jackie and Rachel Robinson and just the immense change agents they were for, for not just a sport, but you know, as, as David, as you put it, baseball is like the microcosm of American society. And so what happens in baseball has that tremendous spillover effect. And that’s what we’ve seen thankfully. So Enrique, turn it over to you here. I know that there’s so much to ask David and Metta. Uh, what’s next. So again, Metta and David, this is, uh, an incredible credible interview. And thank you so much for sharing all this personal stories about you and your life and Metta in particular, you, I wanted to point out to a specific picture and I might actually go a little bit off of a script here. Uh, but in your website, uh, sweet unity, coffee.com, uh, under the, our story. There’s like, I believe a picture of your, I believe it’s your dad at the very top. I know if you know which picture I’m talking about, but, uh, it’s
Meta Robinson (00:28:01):
Farm and holding a little girl’s hand.
Enrique Alvarez (00:28:04):
There’s that one. And then there’s another one, uh, as well, similar to that. And so I just wanted to see if, uh, those were actual your pictures and your felony pictures. They looked like they could be,
Meta Robinson (00:28:16):
They are, but I don’t think I’m in any of them.
Enrique Alvarez (00:28:19):
That was gonna be, that was gonna be my next picture because they’re, uh, incredibly beautiful and they, they really portray what, everything that you guys have been saying about what you do and how you do it. So, uh, I was going to ask you about that. I said relates to the purpose that you have right now, you have a successful career. You’re helping your dad, you’re following on the footsteps of incredibly accomplished individuals on both sides of the family. It sounds like. How do you, especially in this year with coronavirus and everything we were struggling with, how do you take all that in and what would be your, your purpose, uh, going forward? What drives you to kind of, uh, accomplish what you want to accomplish? And if you could share a little bit more of your goal and your vision for the future.
Meta Robinson (00:29:09):
Um, my thing this year was, you know, it was a, uh, um, a curve ball for all of us. I started up the year with big plans, you know, resolution, all of the many things I wanted to accomplish. A lot of that has shifted for, for, for all of us. Our goals for the business has always been to continue to produce a good coffee, to continue to have the work that we do contribute to the producers and the farmers of our coffee. Um, my work has been focused on branding and marketing our coffee here in the U S so the goals have been the same. The drive has been the same and probably more so now this year, because of all of the many different challenges we’ve had, um, what was unique about this year and forever will be what’s that it changed. It changed the way we did business, right?
Meta Robinson (00:30:09):
Our, our business was primarily in the airport industry. We partnered with some great brands, um, you know, providing them a coffee in the airport and some streets, site locations with the impacts of COVID-19 a lot of that change. So all of the plans that we started off with, we needed to realign, like most things, I think businesses and individuals, you have the necessary tools to realign yourself this year. I don’t know. I didn’t know what tools to use to realign because everything was so unique about what was happening. We found ourselves in a position where you can do business, but you can really only do it online because people are not leaving home speed. People are not traveling. And so we had to look at our business structure and see how we survive for what we didn’t know. And maybe starting to feel a little bit more confident now, but what we didn’t know the duration, like we didn’t know how long this.
Meta Robinson (00:31:15):
So we’ve continued to invest in our, you know, our e-commerce business. We’ve continued to look at how we can reach more. People looked into ads. What we haven’t done and are still working on is not just reaching anybody. We wanted our message to, to reach. You don’t know if somebody is the right person until you reach them, right? And then until they resonated with your message, but to reach people with a message that we felt strongly about, our mission has always been, you know, sell a good product, bring it to this market, tell people about our story, tell people about the story of sweet unity farms, coffee, and the impact that it has in our local communities. Tell that story in the most authentic way to an audience that is dealing with bigger problems, right? That’s dealing with a pandemic that is dealing with, you know, economic crisis. How do we do that in a way that is still a Fentech that is still, you know, respectful, that it, and still has a place in people’s homes in people’s hearts. So our online business has, and is continuing to go through this realignment of like, who are we in? Who are we, but who are we also in this context? Right. So I feel like I’ve probably not answered a lot
Enrique Alvarez (00:32:40):
Of, no, no, no. I know.
Meta Robinson (00:32:43):
Um, so it’s just, it’s it, and that’s just from a business perspective, but I think even from a personal perspective, right, we’ve had to deal with so much in these last few months and, and the tools that used to work before weren’t exactly working this time or needed to even be realigned. You know, the things that grounded us, you know, we needed to dig a little bit deeper into that, whether it’s, you know, your faith and your family, you know, what are the things that are going to allow you to stay grounded while you wait out this very difficult period in, in, in our time and how do you set yourself up so that when this is over God-willing, you will be in a position where you can stand up and do more and be agile in, in, in this environment. So that’s how I’m rolling.
Enrique Alvarez (00:33:40):
No, that’s thank you very much for sharing. And you’re absolutely right. I mean, there’s, no, I never learned any of this at school, right? There’s no like a chapter on how to deal with global pandemics that I learned about. So, uh, how’s, how’s this whole change and adjustments made you and your company stronger you feel, and how are you better suited to handle the future?
Meta Robinson (00:34:02):
We learned a lot more this year than we did, maybe in any other year. My dad does a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of making sure we have coffee to sell. Um, you know, he does a lot of the work in Tanzania. I get the sweet job of, you know, getting to sell the coffee. That’s already here in America. My job has gotten my, the, the, the objectives have gotten clearer. I think I have a better sense of what we need to do. I think there are many examples of companies that are thriving in this time. So I, I’m a big, uh, I love workshops. I love things like LinkedIn learning and, and I take different courses. I love podcasts. So I’m always trying to figure out what other people are doing to survive the times. And so I think if anything, we’re, we’re stronger than we were at the beginning of this year. And, and we’re stronger going into a new year because of the challenges and, and some of the things cause, cause it, it really also highlighted some of our areas of, you know, mint or opportunity, right? Like maybe we’ve just gotten used to doing something a certain way. So now we know that that certain way will not allow us to bounce back when something else happens. And I think we should always remember that, you know, there are external things that happen that you won’t be able to control, but that will, you know,
Greg White (00:35:38):
You, and about 90% of the supply chain, that don’t feel like the lone ranger, because this whole situation has rocked company after company, even the ones who are, or in the press appear to be thriving were knocked backwards. That’s right. Large number of steps. Let’s bring in Adrian, Adrian. You’ve been so patient. We, we, we uncovered so much good stuff already. And now we want to go back Adrian to the Jackie Robinson foundation, right? Kristen, to you, David, you’ve been involved with the, uh, with the foundation now, since it formed in 1973. And, uh, we’d love to hear about it’s about its mission and some of its programming.
David Robinson (00:36:19):
It all flows off of the theme and the chairman Jews of my father’s baseball involvement and sort of development of, of, of people in any society education and an ability and the skill to compete and participate is coming to the success of integrating into a sport or a society. So, uh, my mother, my uncles, a very tight group of family, friends sat down in the living room and talked about how to continue the legacy and the opportunity that Jackie Robinson developed. And they chose style and ships for people of color who had great academic potential, but financial need. So over the years, thousands of students have been educated based on the contributions of individuals and corporations and institutions into that mission of preparing our youth. I’ve been living in Tanzania for the last 30 years. So I’ve never been able to be involved as much as I would like to, but in 2018, again, based on my mother’s particular, uh, history and vision, the foundation created a Rachel Robinson international fellowship, 12 grand, and the first year was 2018.
David Robinson (00:37:56):
And we, I, I, and one of my sons who live here with us and Tanzania, we’re extremely happy to welcome about 30 Jackie Robinson scholars who were studying at universities across America, into Tanzania for two weeks, for them to be involved in a work study program. That program carried on into 2019 and was discontinued this year, not discontinued, but put on hold this year because of the coronavirus. But basically it’s about the foundation has been about preparing people who have ability, but financial need to be able to get in and participate to their maximum in society.
Adrian Purtill (00:38:44):
Wonderful. Thank you for sharing that. Are there any programs that you, that you foresee that you’d like to, uh, to kick off, you know, in 2021 and beyond to add to what’s already been being done.
David Robinson (00:38:55):
Technology is an incredible tool, which I’m blessed to have them 10 children and they are my future. They are my life everlasting. Uh, Metta is our first graduate and she’s taken the, taking the role in the flow in the coffee industry, in terms of marketing and developing the finished product. She works with green coffee, taking it from green coffee to being roasted coffee, to be presented to the consumer community, delivered to the community, the consumer community, and the co and the consumer community paying back for their coffee and seeing that those funds go back to the producers, but her sisters and brothers, we spent 10 years starting a coffee farm and being part of a collective of coffee farmers and started a cooperative. We’re now both on the Jackie Robinson foundation level and on a level of cooperative coffee farmers using technology in order to enhance our educational offerings.
David Robinson (00:40:06):
The foundation is reaching out to thousands of more students who are not necessarily able to get scholarships, but who are able to benefit from what the information that will all of a thousands of scholars have had from the past that they can give to students who want to, who are embarking on going to college in our cooperative, we are now filming all of our educational presentations. So when you have a presentation to a hundred co-op members and you filmed it, now you’re able to welcome another hundred and another hundred, that same experience. And just this zoom experience we’re having. Now, we have members of our community who had never been to the Capitol city of Doris law, but through this technology where in 2021, bringing experts health experts, for example, for around women’s health, all women’s organization in the village will come together in an educational and a multimedia educational center that our co-op do and sit and have a zoom communication with a female doctor in the capital city of Dallas alarm to talk about health issues. So potential in terms of technology, huge potential in terms of bringing intellectual resources together. And, um, I’m extremely grateful in our family. We have worked from picking coffee, planting, coffee, seedlings, nurturing seedlings for four years, to up being able to process invoices, orders, customer service, making roasters, you know, I’ll producing an excellent coffee for, for a consumer who are our partners and, you know, esteemed clients,
Scott Luton (00:42:10):
Right. I love how David, you know, access to technology. If we’ve learned, if anything has really smacked us in the face here in 2020, it’s how we’ve got a lot more heavy lifting to do, to make sure and ensure that the rest of the globe has got access to technology. And I love what you’re doing there, David, through your efforts to, um, use and harness technology to help in the healthcare arena and beyond. So really admire that. I tell you, you and you and your family and Mehta and Dave and your family keep on giving and, and giving so much and, and such a heartwarming story. Greg, I know we’re kind of, we’ve touched on so much. So this point, and, and I kinda, I, I gotta keep fighting myself to go dive deeper on this and dive deeper on that. Cause it’d be an eight hour all day interview, but Greg, where are we going next? I mean, I think we’ve heard a lot about what you’ve experienced this year and in the past years, I’d love to get your perspective on, you know, what you have your eyes on or what you potentially see coming in the future. Is there a particular issue or a topic or a challenge or an opportunity that you is really got your attention right now that is in the forefront of your mind that you feel like acting on or following even closer. And I’m going to swap it up a little bit. Metta, let’s start with you.
Meta Robinson (00:43:34):
Um, yeah, I think when it comes to the work we’re doing, I think I touched on this a little earlier, just about looking a little closer at our, you know, e-commerce business and investing a little bit more into that. We’ve seen a trend where consumers are not just interested in buying from the companies, you know, they’re invested in buying and supporting small businesses, right? They’re, they’re, you know, there’s this big movement to merged supporting small businesses, supporting and supporting family owned and minority businesses right. To, to be Frank. So we have a unique product. We have a unique story. I don’t know of another family or a brand that can truly take the position or claim to be and distributors and marketers of their own product. So that is a unique feature that we have. It’s something that we want to continue to talk more about. We want to continue to let our customers understand the relationship that they get to have with coffee producers simply by buying this product and not just buying directly from farmers, but also the impact that they’re making. Right? What does your coffee sale mean to suit unity farms, coffee? So my, my goal and the issue that we want to tackle and that I’m, I don’t know if you guys can see my board, I have this board and another one.
Meta Robinson (00:45:21):
Yeah. You know, sometimes you write things in there all over the place, but I’d like to be able to bring that together so that we are coming out with a stronger position on how we engage with our customers. We are sharpening our narrative about who we are. We continue to tell the same story, but in a more powerful way. So, because the audience has also changed our customers that changed and good Lord this year will have changed. How, you know, people are looking at the world and how people are looking at businesses, right between the pandemic and the social unrest in this country and the world. It’s highlighted some big issues. It’s given people a chance to look deeper into how they want to participate in this economy, how they want to participate in this, um, society and, and, and who they get to see right through the work that is being done.
Meta Robinson (00:46:21):
So I think, you know, I’m proud of the work that my dad has done. I’m proud that he’s, you know, he started this 30, some odd years ago. I just got to join, um, you know, 10, 10 years earlier or 10 years ago. Um, so I’m proud that, you know, we already have this strong foundation that suite unity forums as a brand already has this strong foundation. This initiative is work that I know is not just a job to my dad. It is his life. It is the life of our family. It is not just sweet unity farms, coffee, coffee. It is the name of our farm. It means the world to us. And so the responsibility I feel, and the honor that I feel to be able to even be on this podcast purely because of the work that I’m doing. Right. And to be able to, as little as it may sound, have a website and an Instagram where we’re telling the story that, you know, that I’m proud of at the core of who I am, I am, and that I know means a lot others and has a greater impact on, on, you know, the lives of like the coffee farmers in Tanzania.
Meta Robinson (00:47:36):
So I think that the goal remained the same, but I think the, the tools we are going to use this year and beyond have just gotten sharper and like, you know, stronger. And we’re just sort of, you know, more enthusiastic and more engaged and more empowered, um, to move forward. And I don’t know if was, I think I read a question about predictions for 2021, or should I wait,
Greg White (00:48:06):
Go for it. Yeah.
Meta Robinson (00:48:08):
And the respond to that written down was like, I would not dare.
Greg White (00:48:13):
Yeah. Probably wise
Meta Robinson (00:48:16):
You, um, think 2020 for all of its lessons. And I look forward to 2021 in whatever shape it comes in,
Greg White (00:48:24):
David, same to you. I mean, what do you see? What kind of challenges or opportunities issues, you know, are in the forefront of your mind? And if you dare any thoughts on 2021,
David Robinson (00:48:36):
I would like to support and maybe expand a bit on what Metta was saying. I think people have seen, particularly in this last year, we have to become involved as individuals, as private companies, as organizations to impact our condition. Can’t depend on government, can’t depend on world organizations. And so we all will be looking for ways that we can impact social injustice is a disease worse than Corona. It’s been around longer than Corona, that we all want to see addressed the same way. We want to see a vaccination for Corona. We want to see social injustice because we’re seeing it creates turmoil in our lives, both domestically and internationally, and in the, in the international industry and in our own lives, we have to be prepared. So one of the things that I’m, I’m always excited about for our own cooperative phone producer group is that we are always educating ourselves.
David Robinson (00:49:54):
And the whole function of a co-op is to take a coffee farmer and turn him into and shooting into a supply chain partner wherein we can not just get the inequity and the, the donkey portion of the coffee, uh, economy, but really can become partners where we have the money to be able to develop our communities and continue to be global partners and citizens. And I think in countries like North America, I think people, companies, organizations are all ready for that because I think we see more. And in 2021, it was a great year to teach us both politics. So to conflict and health wise to teach us, we have got to be prepared and working on ourselves. So I’m looking for grateful. I’m looking forward to joining with people in 2021. Our co-op has developed a capacity. We’ve got millions of pounds of coffee grown by small scale family owned farms who are looking for partners who will provide a developmental relationship for our economy and our communities. And I believe that more and more they’re out there today in the American society, as I say, on an individual cooperated organizational basis. And we’re looking forward to joining with all of those parties to really come together just the way baseball came together in 1947 and make this globe a better circumstance and a better performer for all of our benefits
Scott Luton (00:51:43):
And Enrique. I don’t know about Jenna we’re. We want to finish on good news. I think this whole hour has been chocked full of good news about, you know, it has been great. And just that analogy and how powerful it is to realize that in this case, uh, as David put it, baseball is just a game. It’s an amazing, beautiful game for a lot of people, but we have to think and use it to, to resolve the bigger, bigger issues that are we’re facing as a society. So, David, thank you very much for that. Not only comment that you made, but just the call for action. It felt a little bit more like a call to action for people and everyone listening to us to really, really think about what we’re doing and try to improve rapidly for the benefit of the world and the communities.
Enrique Alvarez (00:52:27):
So thank you once again, without said and something that I think Scott does very well with his own team, he usually finishes with like a good news. Like he asked every single person in his team to share like good news. And just one piece of information short, sweet is something that has happened to you guys, maybe in the last couple of weeks that, uh, that you for you. It’s good news. So I’ll start with, uh, with you met, uh, some good news that, that you want to share with everyone to end up with a positive note
Meta Robinson (00:52:59):
For me, this is, um, waking up, getting to hear from my family. I think we are living in times where that is. We’ve always lived at times, forget we’re living in times. You’ve always lived in, you know, we’re aware that’s not always going to happen, right? So I find a lot of joy and pleasure in having some kind of connection with the people that I love at the top of the
Meta Robinson (00:53:26):
Morning. So this right now is good news. I’m seeing my dad all the way in Tanzania. I get to talk to you. Wonderful people. My mother was just calling in. So good news for me is connection with the people that I love and I’ll leave it at that.
Enrique Alvarez (00:53:49):
Excellent. No, that’s definitely agree with that. And David, for you, any good news in the last couple of weeks, something that you want to share, I’ll make it a little harder because I’m sure you’re going to at least try to say the same thing, cause I’m sure the feeling is mutual, but you can’t copy Matt on this, a new piece of good news that you might have other than your family, which I’m sure it’s very important as well.
David Robinson (00:54:11):
Can I talk about my grandchildren or you’re just cheating now you can talk about whatever you want. So coincidentally, I commit two years, I said for 30 years, a good, a piece of good news that has just come to me over the last couple of weeks is the existence of a program called supply chain. Now working in the supply chain, the, the dynamics of a supply chain are critical. And to learn that there is an organization or the program that you’re talking about, supply chain issues. That’s great news for me because you can talk about a system, a mechanism, procedures, partners, chips that can impact the world. Nothing is made domestically now. So you’re talking about the global supply chain. You know, if you can bring that to the consumer’s attention in terms of where the consumer can really benefit the global community, as well as themselves, I think that’s fantastic and I never knew that you all existed. So congratulations and keep up the good work.
Enrique Alvarez (00:55:27):
Thank you so much. And I think, uh, this is basically just a warm up, cause we should definitely schedule a couple more interviews with you to go even deeper, not only into, uh, your family’s history and your personal story, but I think we should talk a little more about supply chain. What do you, what do you think, Scott? I think this could probably be a couple more interviews in the future, easy question, but, and the good news is there’s so much good news and thanks Mehta and David for your con comments and just all that you’ve shared here today. One observation, you know, with sweet unity farms, coffee, if you listen to this conversation and you can’t really feel in a very meaningful way while they deliberately chose that name, you’re not listening and maybe you need to check your pulse because there’s so much passion behind really that global unity and bringing people together. And, and, and I admire that, that, that came out in all of your answers and to different questions
Scott Luton (00:56:24):
And, and on behalf of our community here at supply chain. Now, thank you so much. Uh, Metta and David Robinson, that means a lot to us and we’re we’re coming. Uh, David UN being in Tanzania in 2021, working with our partners at vector in it, a group called St. Picks. We’re going to be highlighting the spotlight and more of the supply chain community in Africa. And some of the outstanding things are doing there, the successes, the challenges, and really create more awareness because it is indeed a global community. So thanks so much for those, those comments, Adrian and Rica. And Greg, I had a high bar for this conversation because I’ve jumped out of bed this morning and excited to learn from David and Metta. And it far exceeded even that high bar. What about y’all Enrique?
Enrique Alvarez (00:57:10):
Yeah, no, for me it was very, uh, refreshing, definitely a good thing to have early in the morning, getting ready for the day. I think this is very exciting and I kind of leave very, uh, motivated to interview more energized. That’s the word I was looking for? Yeah, this is great.
Scott Luton (00:57:27):
In, in David’s words, you know, look where big issues are and do what you can. I mean, and, and, and I couldn’t, I’ve got about 18 pages of notes by the way. Uh, but thank you for that. Greg, give me one quick takeaway from this outstanding conversation.
Greg White (00:57:41):
This family is the vaccine for social injustice. It is my opinion. I would love Metta to meet your great grandparents. Imagine the people that raised your grandparents to be who they are to create the intentionality of this family. It’s a little dusty in here, frankly, truly this, this is one of the great global families I’ve ever met set 70 plus years. And that’s just what we know of, right. That’s just from 1947, right. But imagine what this family was doing before that. So it’s truly inspirational. And, and, uh, you know, I think regardless of baseball or coffee or whatever it is, this is a very intentional family with us with a real purpose.
Scott Luton (00:58:29):
And, and, and we couldn’t do it justice even in the, in the hour and some change today. And we’re just scratching the tip of the tip of iceberg in terms of the impact. So we’ll set Greg Adrian, we’ll wrap up with you once. What’s your favorite part about today’s conversation? I just wanted to say echo Greg’s sentiments, wholeheartedly agree with that. It’s just wonderful to hear David and David had made a story and how they’ve taken the legacy of the granddad and grandfather and grandmother, and just pushed it forward and made such a success of, of their lives, uh, and, and continue to have that mentality of, uh, you know, giving forward, uh, pushing things forward really inspirational completely. I agree. All right. So to our listeners, we’re going to add David and his contact information and organizations in the show notes, but circling back, final question we promise and metals start with you. How can folks connect with you and the
Meta Robinson (00:59:22):
Sure you can more about our brand, but you need the farm stock cough. So Jesus sweet unity farms, coffee.
Greg White (00:59:34):
There will be a.coffee before long. I guarantee it
Meta Robinson (00:59:37):
Surely we’re ahead of that unity.coffee. You can also find us there and then Instagram sweet unity coffee. I think you’ll find us. You learn about our history. There’s a contact page there. So you can reach out to us with questions and, and we are happy to serve and be a part of this. So thank you for having us. I have a quick question as a potential client, I guess a medical company
Enrique Alvarez (01:00:04):
Was going to reach out to you and, uh, now the holidays are coming. Some companies sexually want to maybe gift some coffee, especially if the coffee has a lot of purpose. Is it something that they can reach out to you and ask about it?
Meta Robinson (01:00:17):
Yeah. I mean, we’ve, we’ve partnered with, you know, small and big, you know, initiatives like that. So yeah, absolutely. You know, the contact us page, you know, comes to customer service. So I will, I will. Yeah, I’ll respond. And, and my dad and I would be honored to be a part of anything.
Scott Luton (01:00:38):
Outstanding. Thanks so much Metta and David, what’s the best way to connect with you and your organization? Oh, my daughter farms, coffee.com. Welcome. We look forward to hearing from as many people who want to talk well, huge, thanks to David Robinson and Metta Robinson. What a invigorating conversation here today that really setting the bar for E you know, we, we saw every episode here with, with, you know, do good gift forward and be the change. But Greg, this embodies that, this epitomizes that, and, and, uh, it means so much to, to our listeners. I hope you enjoy this episode as much as we have big thanks to our friends at vector global logistics, which power conversations, just like this. If you like these conversations and enjoy it, and they impart so much wisdom and really challenge to you as it does for our team, Hey, check us firstname.lastname@example.org. And on that note, be like Metta and Dave Robinson do good gift forward, be the change that’s needed. And we’ll see you next time here. Yes. With big dog people here in Loganville. So is that in Rick aides? Dog? Chica is an Instagram star 3.7 million followers. Now a way that’s way more like more like 35. Well, she is. Oh, no, that’s for sure. That’s for sure. More than me for sure.
Meta Robinson is an IT product manager with over 10 years of experience in e-commerce strategy, systems integrations and digital marketing. She is a business partner at Sweet Unity Coffee for the last 8-10 years; managing US operations for the company.
David Robinson is the founder and managing director of Higher Ground Development, an organization that works directly with coffee cooperatives. In 1998, David also founded Up-Country International Products Inc., the sole distributor and marketer of Sweet Unity Farms Coffee.
Enrique Alvarez serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as: Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials and Private banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.
He has a MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean and also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people and spending time with his wife and two kids Emma and Enrique. Learn more about Vector Global Logistics here: https://vectorgl.com/
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. Learn more about Vector Global Logistics here: https://vectorgl.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.
Data Analytics and Metrics Intern
Patch is a fourth-year Management Information Systems and Marketing major at the University of Georgia. He is working with Supply Chain Now in data analysis, finding insights and best practices to increase company efficiency. Patch previously worked as an intern at AnswerRocket, a data analytics company where he gained invaluable knowledge about analytics, webpage SEO and B2B marketing best practices. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis, going to concerts, and watching movies.
Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.
Founder, CEO, & Host
As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.
From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Allison Krache Giddens has been with Win-Tech, a veteran-owned small business and aerospace precision machine shop, for 15 years, recently buying the company from her mentor and Win-Tech’s Founder, Dennis Winslow. She and her business partner, John Hudson now serve as Co-Presidents, leading the 33-year old company through the pandemic.
She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Certificate of Finance from the University of Georgia. She also holds certificates in Google Analytics, event planning, and Cybersecurity Risk Management from Harvard online. Allison founded the Georgia Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and currently serves as Treasurer. She serves on the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board as its Secretary, the liveSAFE Resources Board of Directors as Resource Development Co-Chair, and on the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association Board as Membership Chair and is also a member of Cobb Executive Women. She is on the Board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Northwest Area Councils. Allison runs The Dave Krache Foundation, a non-profit that helps pay sports fees for local kids in need.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise
When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.
Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring
Talk about world-class: Chris is one of the few professionals in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS. He’s also the APICS coach – and our resident Supply Chain Doctor. When he’s not hosting programs with Supply Chain Now, he’s sharing supply chain knowledge on the APICS Coach Youtube channel or serving as a professional education instructor for the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistic Institute’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Center for Professional Education courses.
Chris earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University, an MBA with emphasis in Industrial Psychology from the University of West Florida, and is a Doctoral in Supply Chain Management candidate.
Host of TEKTOK
If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.
With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.
Host of Digital Transformers
Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog. He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community. Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix and IBM. Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane University, O’Reilly Media, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight. Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Carrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.
Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español
Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.
He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.
Host, Veteran Voices
Mary Kate Soliva is transitioning from active duty in the US Army. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.
Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business. Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.
Chief Marketing Officer
Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or reading.
Business Development Manager
Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.
Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.
An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.
A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.
A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning. He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.
Social Media Manager
My name is Chantel King and I am the Social Media Specialist at Supply Chain Now. My job is to make sure our audience is engaged and educated on the abundant amount of information the supply chain industry has to offer.
Social Media and Communications has been my niche ever since I graduated from college at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. No, I am not a West Coast girl. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but my travel experience goes way beyond the garden state. My true passion is in creating editorial and graphic content that influences others to be great in whatever industry they are in. I’ve done this by working with lifestyle, financial, and editorial companies by providing resources to enhance their businesses.
Another passion of mine is trying new things. Whether it’s food, an activity, or a sport. I would like to say that I am an adventurous Taurus that never shies away from a new quest or challenge.
Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.
Sales and Marketing Coordinator
Katherine is a marketing professional and MBA candidate who strives to unite her love of people with a passion for positive experiences. Having a diverse background, which includes nonprofit work with digital marketing and start-ups, she serves as a leader who helps people live their most creative lives by cultivating community, order, collaboration, and respect. With equal parts creativity and analytics, she brings a unique skill set which fosters refining, problem solving, and connecting organizations with their true vision. In her free time, you can usually find her looking for her cup of coffee, playing with her puppy Charlie, and dreaming of her next road trip.
Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.
Host, The Freight Insider
Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics. He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.
Host, Supply Chain Now
The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.
He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.
A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Nick Roemer has had a very diverse and extensive career within design and sales over the last 15 years stretching from China, Dubai, Germany, Holland, UK, and the USA. In the last 5 years, Nick has developed a hawk's eye for sustainable tech and the human-centric marketing and sales procedures that come with it. With his far-reaching and strong network within the logistics industry, Nick has been able to open new avenues and routes to market within major industries in the USA and the UAE. Nick lives by the ethos, “Give more than you take." His professional mission is to make the logistics industry leaner, cleaner and greener.
Sales Support Intern
Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.