“Everyone has a responsibility to appreciate what ‘makers’ do. The pandemic proved that manufacturing is able to change our processes – like what we did to make ventilator parts. It’s important that people know it’s a career path option.”
– Aneesa Muthana, CEO of Pioneer Service
Manufacturing is a difficult space to be in – especially in the United States. Margins and demand have been eroding over the years as global competition has arisen and supply chains have moved offshore. For any company to survive this competitive landscape, they need leaders who are clear-sighted, empathetic, and ready to roll their sleeves up and get dirty.
Aneesa Muthana is the CEO of Pioneer Service, a contract manufacturer of precision machine parts. She got her start in manufacturing at an early age in her father’s company, and over the years she has watched demand slowly go overseas, increasing the difficulty of running a profitable operation in the United States.
In this episode of Supply Chain Now, Aneesa tells host Scott Luton about:
· Why a company’s core values have to be actionable, always being checked and challenged by every member of the team
· How to compete with a business model that acknowledges your company does not offer the lowest cost parts
· The steps and investments she feels are necessary to make manufacturing a more inclusive industry, especially when it comes to women in leadership roles
Welcome to supply chain. Now the voice of global supply chain supply chain now focuses on the best in the business for our worldwide audience, the people, the technologies, the best practices, and today’s critical issues. The challenges and opportunities stay tuned to hear from those making global business happen right here on supply chain now.
Scott Luton (00:32):
Hey, good afternoon, everybody. Scott Luton was supply chain now welcome to today’s show. We’ve got a treat in store for you today. You know, I love manufacturing and we’ve got a manufacturing dynamo, and really someone’s really passionate about the industry and leadership that’s here today with us. We’ve got a business leader, a manufacturing industry, Titan keynote speaker, tireless advocate, and accomplished writer and mentor to many, you know, our guests has worn as has won countless awards and lots of recognition for work. She serves on many boards, including the board of the national association for manufacturing amongst others, regular modern machine shop contributor. We might touch on that too. Uh, so let’s welcome in, uh, Aneesa Muthana , president CEO, and co-owner at pioneer service. Uh, Aneesa. How are you?
Aneesa Muthana (01:18):
I’m wonderful. Scott, thank you for having me
Scott Luton (01:21):
What our, our, our pre-show conversation. I, I wanted to keep some of that, uh, for the show itself because you’re starting to tell some stories, but it’s such a pleasure to, uh, connect with you today. And of course, we’ve got a dear mutual friend in Hannah Kane that, uh, thinks highly of you as well, which, which, uh, we’re starting to uncover the legend of a Nissan Madonna.
Aneesa Muthana (01:44):
Thank you. Thanks. She is a trailblazer and someone that I look up to. So it’s, it’s an honor, you know, to have made her for her to have made this connection for me.
Scott Luton (01:55):
Thanks so much. Thanks for your time. I know you got a thousand things going on, so we’re going to dive right in. So, you know, on the front end, uh, just like I had a chance to get to know you a little better in my due diligence. And then when we connected prior to going live here today, uh, a sense of who you are and your journey, even before you became the leader at pioneer service that you are. So tell us a little bit, where’d you grow up and, and give us a couple anecdotes from your upbringing.
Aneesa Muthana (02:19):
Sure. So I was born and raised in Chicago. My parents opened up a clothing store when I was probably five or six years old. So right away the entrepreneurship was in our family and I was exposed to it very young. And then at age 11, my parents saved up their money and opened up their own machine shop and entrepreneurship and manufacturing is a very dangerous combination. It was, it was, it was great though. Uh, you know, growing up, I remember, you know, going commuting back and forth from my dad’s company and we would write down company names from trucks. Like if we saw bar stock on the trucks, we would write it down. That was our sales approach, you know, like cold calls. Oh yeah. So those are the types of things we’ve worked in the shop. We did it all my brothers and I did it all from cleaning out oil tanks to making cold calls, to paying bills, to, you know, leading and feeding bar stock into machines and lifting. And, you know, back then in the eighties, it wasn’t, it wasn’t like today. So a lot of hard work, but, but fun but fun. Really. It was our family time.
Scott Luton (03:36):
That’s an awesome and unique, uniquely engaging upbringing before we, we, and you’re kind of answering the next question I was going to ask, which was, you know, kind of, where did you, where’d you first get that inclination that you’re gonna, you know, spend almost three decades in the manufacturing industry and leading and doing and innovating. Uh, I’m assuming it was as early experiences in that family manufacturing business that said, Hey, I love this stuff and I can’t wait to do it next.
Aneesa Muthana (04:04):
Yeah. So we, my dad never really talked about the industries we serve. He just, you know, quality was very important to him. You know, he says to us, you know what I say to my team today, you guys are at my best salespeople. Don’t screw it up, you know, make a quality part. And, uh, and back then it was bar grinding. That was, uh, the difference between my dad’s company and my company today is that his is a bar grinding shop and mine’s a CNC Swiss shop. So, but quality, you know, applies to all. And so we realized that, you know, whatever we were making, whatever we were, you know, the grinding of the bars for was very important. It was touching lives. We knew that at a very young age and that importance of that and the importance of making the customer happy was really instilled in, in us at a very young age.
Scott Luton (04:58):
I love that too. Just a couple of quick follow-up questions before we get into what pioneer service does, you were telling me pre-show uh, about your mother and the trailblazer she was as well. And then you’ve, you’ve mentioned your father a couple of times. Tell us about, uh, in a nutshell, a little bit of your mother’s journey.
Aneesa Muthana (05:17):
Yeah. My mom came in to this country in the late sixties and, you know, she came from Yemen like my father. And when she realized that she could contribute to the, you know, to bring food and put it on the table for the family, she didn’t hesitate. She would take buses and she would work. She worked in a dirty grimy factory back in the sixties and seventies. And, you know, it was in a time where racism and sexism wasn’t anything anyone was talking about, or, but she didn’t care her, her, it wasn’t a career path for her. It was feeding the family. And even with her limited English, she was able to do very well for the company. She would get raises without asking. And we always had a home cooked meal. She really set that bar really high. I, I’m not going to touch it. She’s like, you know, she’s, she’s a, a powerhouse for sure. And, um, and to this day, she’s my rock, my rock star, um, my mentor. And so I love my mother. Not only because, um, she worked hard and paved the way for me because she’s got a heart of gold and she really does care about,
Scott Luton (06:30):
Oh, I love that. It makes you want to reach out and hug your mom right now. Okay.
Aneesa Muthana (06:35):
I’m gonna assume after the, after the second vaccine,
Scott Luton (06:40):
So what is, what’s your mother’s name? Sue. SWAT. Okay. So they call
Aneesa Muthana (06:45):
Her Sue. They’ve always called her sewer Susie.
Scott Luton (06:47):
Okay. Well all the best to Sue or Susie or Sue out what an inspiration. All right. So getting back, well, one moment, one more thing, one of to ask, you’ve kind of alluded to it twice. And I think for folks, you know, that there’s study after study, that talks about the stigma related to the manufacturing industry, right? Uh, how a lot of folks that may not know anything about manufacturing, they instantly go to what you kind of described in the sixties. That environment were dirty and you’re doing the same thing, you know, our in our out, but there’s so much that has changed in manufacturing industry, right?
Aneesa Muthana (07:19):
Yeah, absolutely. You know, those types of jobs are gone. They’re long gone. Uh, for the most part, I don’t want to say for everyone, but for the most part, they’re long gone. They, you know, today you go into, into my shop and it’s very high tech, you know, we have industry 4.0, we have automation. We have, you know, very complex parts that you need a skill you need, you know, we have engineers or quality department that, you know, it’s, you know, you can work in marketing and still be in manufacturing, but there’s the, the industry is extremely broad and, and, you know, it doesn’t necessarily even have to be machining. But I think that, you know, for the sake of, you know, American manufacturing, I think it’s a responsibility that everyone really appreciates what makers do. Uh, you know, the pandemic proved the fact that, you know, manufacturing, isn’t what it was before that we are able to change our process, change what we need to do to make ventilator parts and to make, you know, the things and get things done. And so it’s important that people at least know that it’s a career path option, whether or not they choose it. Uh, is it
Scott Luton (08:32):
So well said, and, and, you know, as we were very intentional over the last 18 months to find those stories of good news, because there’s so much else out there and there’s many factoring story after many factoring story, whether it’s the ventilators, you know, companies moving on a dime to make stuff that never had to jump into fight against COVID-19 or to your point, all the, uh, in the food manufacturing business, the, all the safety implementation management and safe distancing measures had to put in place, and they did it. And they took that curve ball had had a part to get back into production and it just story after story. So I really appreciate you sharing that. Let’s now I want to kind of shift gears to more of your professional journey and of course, what y’all do at pioneer service. So to set a table first, you kind of, you kind of mentioned some of your differences between your, your company and your fathers, but in a nutshell, what does pioneer service do?
Aneesa Muthana (09:25):
So we’re a contract manufacturer of precision machine parts. We have CNC turning centers, CNC Swiss machines. And we also have some of those grinders, which my dad also has, but we do piece part grinding and he does bar grinding. And so we serve a wide variety of industries, everything from aerospace to medical devices, to electrical vehicles. And yes, that’s Tesla. I get asked that all the time, when you say electrical vehicles, do you mean Tesla? Yes. I’m at Tesla
Scott Luton (09:57):
Almost like they’re the, uh, you know, like Kleenex has become the tissue. So almost like Tesla coming the electric vehicle. I mean, it good kudos to them, I guess.
Aneesa Muthana (10:07):
Absolutely. Absolutely. And we were in the battle against COVID through biotech equipment and medical devices, including ventilators. So we were extremely proud to be in that space and, you know, hopefully that’ll be behind us soon.
Scott Luton (10:21):
Amen. To that. We’re all looking forward to that day that we’re firmly in this post pandemic environment. So, um, now you’ve got a big anniversary run around the corner at pioneer service, almost 30 years, uh, at the company. And, and if you could just, uh, and we were talking, pre-show when you love what you do that 30 years feels like three or four, 13 weeks or something, but can you speak to your journey kind of where you started out in the business and, and as you moved into the C-suite.
Aneesa Muthana (10:51):
Yeah, so I left my father’s company when I was 23 years old back then it was even more difficult to succeed as a woman, honestly, uh, because I was his daughter, I was always labeled as princess, or, you know, that would be a good one, babe, or honey, you know, and it honestly, it wasn’t necessarily that I took offense to the words. It was more that no matter what I did, I couldn’t prove myself. And, um, and I would be in my brother’s shadows. So I had to really prove myself and leave that and go into business with my uncle. And my uncle actually also was in manufacturing and there was a little bit of rivalry between him and my dad. And I didn’t want to be part of that. And I didn’t want, you know, that same dynamic to happen again with my, with my uncle. So I told them, I said, okay, we’ll partner up. Cause he was in my ear and he’s, you know, we worked together in the eighties at my dad’s shop. I used to feed his bars and he used to tell me I was the best feeder.
Aneesa Muthana (11:59):
Oh, I know it was like, I was an accomplishment when I was 14, but nonetheless, uh, we partnered up and he agreed to be my silent partner. And that was back in 1993 when I took on the role of CEO, president, and co owner. And, you know, w it was, uh, dark, grimy, dirty back then. It was a screw machine shop, uh, Brown and sharps. Davenport’s very loud machines, manual base. And it took, I was, you know, what do they say? Uh, fat, dumb and happy. Uh, so for, for the longest time until really 2012, when I really transformed, we didn’t have much innovation or technology until around 2012. When I lost 90% of my business, it went to China. It was a very difficult time for us. And, um, and through that, you know, adversity, I, we paved the way for ourselves and learned Swiss.
Aneesa Muthana (12:56):
We learned CNC, I got out of my comfort zone and started networking, joining associations, listening, and taking notes. And, you know, I say it all the time. It’s a very, uh, famous phrase. Google is your friend. And I was on Google and YouTube until early mornings all night, trying to figure out what is it that we need to change to. And so the transformation, you know, sometimes I call it transformation from hell because it was nobody was on board, not even our sales team. They’re like, but what about these fit, you know, photos that we have, you know, on our website, I’m like, we, if we can change equipment, we can change photos. And so it was just like, it was like very difficult to convince others that we had to go. And I think it was partly my fault. I think the lesson that I learned was that, you know, you don’t want to send anyone home. You don’t want to close the doors. You don’t want to fail anyone. You, you know, the people that have been working for me, I wanted to make sure that they had a job. So it was a little bit too comfortable because then, you know, transforming themselves as the company transformed was really the biggest obstacle. And, um, but we got there and, um, I’ve, I’ve built a very strong team, very capable. And so, yeah, that was the, um, in a nutshell, that was the journey we had.
Scott Luton (14:16):
Like, I’ve gotten an MBA in the law, in manufacturing in the last five minutes, really, really impressive. And really, you know, as having been in manufacturing where I love that industry, that sector, and now as an entrepreneur for the last seven years, what you just shared really resonates with me because adversity is what, and I’m not a metallurgist. I know that, that you, um, do something to, to steal them and then you make it stronger, but w 44 just to write and you kind of put it through the ringer and you come out on the other side, much stronger. Right. And that’s, that is in a nutshell, that’s what happens for entrepreneurs that are willing to get to you point to your point, get out of that comfort zone battle to put the boxing gloves on and battle that adversity and come out, even when it requires a massive transformation of from where you started.
Scott Luton (15:01):
So I love that. I’m going to ask you one other question. So, you know, in my experience at least, and I know I’ve lost plenty of businesses in my life. I’m not sure if I’ve lost quite 90% of my business to China, but that is a huge that’s when life has thrown you a huge curve ball, clearly you fought through it. Uh, and, and in my, in, in those tougher days in my journey, I can, I can think of a few folks that man, they really picked me up and were rocks and, and, you know, help get through those days. Was there one, one individual or resource that, you know, beyond some things you’ve shared that really comes to mind there?
Aneesa Muthana (15:36):
Yeah, so we, we were very fortunate. We partnered up with a great organization, um, star Swiss machines. They really supported us. They provided train, endless training. It was, you know, I had, when I, when I think of the one person it’s Jose, Luis Hernandez, he’s actually on my LinkedIn, my, I think my latest post, I talk about them all the time. Anyone that knows me knows the pioneer of pioneer service and that’s him. He was here before I was here and he started to bring, and now he is our production supervisor, our lead set up and programmer. And I have to say, you know, he’s, he’s gone through hell and back he’s, you know, I remember at one point when we went into Swiss, he would come in on the weekend and not clock in and just try to figure it out. And he had the supportive star, which again, we were extremely grateful for, but there’s only so much they can do for you.
Aneesa Muthana (16:34):
You know, they’ll send in their team a few times, but you got to figure it out. And this was definitely out of his comfort zone. And that’s why, you know, he set the bar so high that it became, like, if he figured it out, if he came back, he came from the burring and running Brown sharps, you know, what’s your excuse. You know, we, we can all figure it out. So, so I think he did set the bar really high at my expectations aren’t as high for everyone, but he was the one person when I would get a print, especially in the very beginning. And I would be like, can we even do this? And star would say, sure. And then when it was time to deliver, he was the one that delivered. And so I’m grateful for that to this day.
Scott Luton (17:17):
All right. So we’re building a shortlist of superheroes. We’ve got Sue and now we’ve got Jose. So we’ll see who else.
Aneesa Muthana (17:23):
It’s gratitude. I’m grateful. I’m just grateful. You know, when someone and I, and you know, if, if anything like I, my message would be is, is that we can’t build a company alone. And, um, and he was, he was definitely by my side
Scott Luton (17:38):
That I love that I got to find, seek out those, those, uh, those big rocks. Okay. So now I want to talk about, you know, a lot of our listeners, you know, wherever they are across the globe, some of them are still in school. Others are maybe early on in their professional journey. Others may be, you know, several years in, and they’re, they’re identifying their strategy to get into, you know, the top tiers of leadership, you know, kind of where you are, and always like asking, um, you know, CEOs and owners and whatnot. What’s one great piece of advice. And they’ve already gathered, uh, an ISA from you already. I’ve got about 18 things that I think folks can benefit from, but, but speaking to that group, is there one thing that comes to mind that you’d challenge them with?
Aneesa Muthana (18:22):
So if, if you’re looking to build, if you’re looking to go into the leadership role and, and honestly you’re in a leadership role, whatever role you’re in, you’re a leader of someone or something. Right. But I think that core values, you know, need to be more than just pretty words on the wall. You have to really define what those core values are for you and make sure that who you surround yourself you’re day in and day out, are always in check, you know, towards those core values. Because I feel like there’s a lot of marketing that goes on. I feel like that people talk the talk, but, you know, walking the talk sometimes can be sometimes very challenging, especially in this industry because we’re being pulled in so many directions and we want to make everyone happy, right. We want to make our team happy.
Aneesa Muthana (19:10):
We want to make the customers happy. And so always just keeping yourself in check and making sure that those core values are really your, you know, your go-to it’s, it’s, you’re, you’re constantly, um, and allowing others to keep you in check. You know, I, we have core values and my management team knows that if I stray, they have every right. Privately of course, uh, and with respect and, um, but they have every right to come to me and say, ah, integrity, outreach, leadership learning. And so, yeah. So I feel like that that is the foundation of, of any, any, any, any success, any plan that you’re have that’s, that’s the foundation that everyone should have.
Scott Luton (19:54):
I love it when you’ve got those, those bedrock core values that, I mean, what a strong foundation to build anything, any organization, any industry. So thanks so much for sharing. All right. So we’re going to move from pioneer service and your role there and your journey there. And we’re going to kind of broaden out a bit and talk about manufacturing industry and, and to some degree, you know, global business, that’s the word we’re in and we’re never going back. And that’s a, that’s a beautiful thing. I think, I think, uh, the digital, the technology, uh, that, that is just growing by the hour has really made it a much smaller world that’s and that’s a beautiful thing. So as if you came to our listeners or folks, maybe viewing, uh, if you can’t tell, uh, and this has got just a little bit of passion about manufacturing, which is awesome. Um, what does that STEM from exactly?
Aneesa Muthana (20:43):
You know, um, I think it really, to basically any question you asked me, it’s people first it’s really putting and realizing, you know, whether you’re making something that touches lives and, and that obviously is people, right? It’s your team connecting and building partnerships with your team, with your customers, with your suppliers and having a purpose and not just making stuff, just to make stuff it’s not about the bottom line. It’s about really driving, you know, whether it’s innovation or continuous improvement or training your people, or, you know, making, you know, finding ways to make the parts more efficient. Those are all great, right. But what, what’s the purpose behind it? And when you have a purpose, when you have a calling, when you feel like you’re connecting the dots, then it all becomes more of a, you know what, this is the process, this is what it’s about.
Aneesa Muthana (21:45):
This is what I’m doing. This is, you know, the outcome may not be what we want, you know, many times it’s not, you know, unfortunately, but you can go home and feel good about what you’ve done. And, and, and, and tomorrow’s a better day. So I I’m, you know, I I’m always driving continuous improvement once. I, it was funny because for so long, I was again, just old manufacturing doing the same old, same old, but once I got a taste of innovation, once I got a taste of technology, and I knew that we’re capable of doing better, we’re capable of figuring things out that our customers haven’t even figured out. We look at a print and we know if it’s engineered based on what their application is, we look at a print and we find, you know, we quoted one way. We run at a different way. Sometimes it’s better. Sometimes it’s takes longer, but realizing that full circle and understanding that, you know, it’s blood, sweat, and tears that go into every part and hopefully less blood and tears, a little sweat is okay. Um, but, but knowing that, you know, and having that purpose and that that’s, I feel like that’s where my passion lies. And I, knowing that I’m touching lives in every way, in every aspect of what, what my job entails,
Scott Luton (23:05):
Love that. So, you know, beyond the huge task that you have and, and your journey, your own of leading your manufacturing company and impacting your team members lives and providing, helping to provide opportunities to growth and more jobs and more innovation beyond all that, your clone must also do all this other stuff that you do such as, you know, serve on the board of directors for the national association for manufacturers. So what w why do you feel compelled to, to, to serve as a volunteer leader? And what’s your favorite aspect around that role?
Aneesa Muthana (23:39):
Well, I serve currently on two boards and, um, they’re both very important. Uh, one is Nam and they are a huge advocate and a voice for manufacturers in DC. And so I feel like that that’s, you know, that’s extremely important that I contribute to that and that I also rubbing shoulders with the best of the best in the industry. You know, that’s great for my company. That’s great for me personally, I learn every day. And then I also serve on the PMPA board, precision machining products association. It’s a national board. I’m actually currently a first VP. And I, I, I’m always blown away. These are literally my direct competitors and we have listservs and we help each other. And during the COVID, you know, we had, uh, many of us were making parts for the ventilators and the opportunity. Some of us got the opportunity through PMPA and some of us had our own customers that needed parts for the ventilators, but when one of the members would have a machine down, they needed a tool or a gauge, or they’d send it.
Aneesa Muthana (24:48):
And people were sending gauges and tools on their own accounts, on their own ups accounts next day, earring, because they wanted to support that. And they, and they’re always talking about, you know, keeping, you know, manufacturing in this country. And so seeing that firsthand and being part of that, that comradery, you know, it’s true, there’s competition, but there’s more comradery and respect than anything. And, you know, again, you know, not giving back to the community for so long, I take it as a responsibility to do, you know, outreach is one of my core values and outreaches me serving on the boards, outreaches me out there, speaking outreaches also, you know, hosting students and hosting those that don’t necessarily would consider many factoring as a career. And not because I think that everyone’s going to join manufacturing, but because I feel that there’ll be advocates of manufacturing and we need advocates, um, actually in, we all know about the workforce gap. And so I now realize that my perspective has changed. My perspective now tells me that it’s my responsibility to serve on these boards and my responsibility to give back to the industry that has been my livelihood, my whole life.
Scott Luton (26:07):
So going back just a second there, you said it’s changed initially. You didn’t see that as part of your, um, your role as a leader.
Aneesa Muthana (26:15):
No. Of in 2012 that’s. That was when I first started to network. That’s when I first started getting out of my comfort zone and really just seeing what everyone else is doing and also sharing the information, because, you know, the thing is, is that when you’re networking, some people find it like, you know, either unnecessary or what am I going to learn? Well, what are you going to learn? Maybe you won’t learn something. Maybe you’ll talk through something and someone else will learn, and then you’ll build a partnership. And you don’t know that relationship that you know, where that’s going to end, because just like you and I are talking right now, and this opportunity came to me, it was through networking with Hannah. And if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have this. So, you know, I, you know, I talk about a personal board of directors, right? Those personal board of directors are basically your friends, your family, your mentors, those are the people that you really, you know, are aligned with and are learning from. And you’re not going to get that unless you’re out there. And when you’re giving, you know, you call it karma, you call it fate, whatever you want to call it in the end of the day, you’re get back what you w what you put out. And so it’s important that you’re putting out.
Scott Luton (27:29):
I love it. Gosh, there’s so many, and these are going to have to have you back. Uh, you’re dropping lots of clearly passionate, been there, done that leadership perspective that is, is applicable in manufacturing, but it’s also applicable in general to whatever you’re trying to do in life. And when you give you get, and not that you necessarily look to get because you give, you know, but it just that’s how it happens. Right. Um, let’s, uh, I want to talk to you about more of a, as we kind of leave industry leadership. I won’t talk about kind of a topic. That’s getting a ton of lip service, especially in the last 1824 months. And that’s the notion of, uh, near shoring and reassuring and, and, and a lot of folks were making bold predictions on, on where global supply chains will move from a procurement sourcing standpoint.
Scott Luton (28:18):
And, you know, and what I, what we’re seeing, right. You know, early on, we were getting calls for, uh, our, our take on, on, um, you know, as a pandemic, gonna move everything, all manufacturers come back to the States. Well, you know, I love manufacturing in the States, but also I’m a big believer in global supply chains exist for, for really important reasons. And you can still invest and grow manufacturing in the U S while making sure that the industry globally is, is healthy and growing as well. So it doesn’t seem like we’ve seen as many of the bold shifts as, as a lot of predictions were, were, um, clamoring for say six, eight months ago. We’ll see how everything shakes out. Clearly the semiconductor industry, you know, we’ve seen planting, it’s not gonna happen overnight, but we’ve seen some big investments take off here in States, which will probably be good for a variety of reasons. But, but anyway, that’s enough, in my opinion, I need some Athena. What is your take on this reassuring near shoring, any changes that, uh, that were in the manufacturer industries, maybe pulling a lever here and pushing lever there. What do you say
Aneesa Muthana (29:21):
After losing 90% of my business? You know, I’m not bitter. I honestly I’m, I’m glad that it happened. Obviously it was a struggle. It was a transformation that I needed to, to go through so I could survive and not just survive, but thrive in this industry. And so I’m okay with parts being in China. I don’t want those parts anymore. I’ve evolved. So giving that away or letting it go, you know, at first we had buyers that really did not understand the landing cost versus the unit price. So we had to educate them. And by the time they figured it out, it was too late. I changed my equipment and I moved on. And so I make really cool parts. I make parts, and I’m not looking to fight over pennies with China. I’m looking to build relationships and partnerships with my suppliers and with my customers and make them feel like the value that I bring.
Aneesa Muthana (30:22):
Isn’t the cheapest price, because that’s not what I’m, that’s not what we’re about. We’re about servicing them. We’re about Kanban. We’re about providing them a quality product. We’re about getting parts done in, uh, you know, record breaking time and not charging them any, you know, uh, you know, expediting fees, you know, sometimes they’re unavoidable, but nonetheless, when we can do it, we will do it for them. And those are the relationships and the partnerships that I want my energy spent on. I don’t want to fight over parts that are so simple and bring back equipment that I don’t want to bring back. Uh, I, I wanna, I want something that’s going to challenge me to be an innovator. I want parts to challenge me not to be the best price. I want to be competitive, obviously. Um, but I want to be efficient. I want my parts to be meeting, you know, above and beyond.
Aneesa Muthana (31:17):
As far as the quality requirements out there, I want to build, you know, more and more in my QMS and, and, and, and build processes and locked down processes where we know the innovation we’re done here. Let’s lock this down and let’s innovate here. I want, that’s where I want my energy. And so I’m not a believer about bringing all the parts back. I feel like there may be up some opportunities, for instance, the ventilator parts. I felt like that was almost like a shame on you. We should be making some of these parts here. So don’t put your eggs in all in one China basket, you know, don’t, you know, I’m just saying,
Scott Luton (32:02):
We’ve heard that we’ve heard a lot of that sentiment. And, you know, I would argue we’re still learning a ton of exactly kind of where the system broke down. I mean, there were some early lessons learned when it comes to global supply chains or any sector that makes up in a global supply chains. But I think between some of the changes already made some of the opportunities that folks are finding without being opportunistic, right. Which, which is another takeaway for us, you can find opportunity without being opportunistic, for sure. Kevin Bell with agg coined that. And then as we continue to see the, get into the post pandemic where there’s still other lessons to be learned, and which will definitely factor into some of the sourcing and procurement decisions that we’ve made, but I like your, I like your approach. And also like how you’re, you’re not bitter from that, that, that tough period of your business you invest in, in your company and you elevated the game and, and are able, now it sounds like to me, at least to bring so much more value to the table and you don’t look at it, transactionally, which, which the savvy business leaders, that’s what it’s, it’s about the relationship and the bigger picture value you bring to the table, right?
Aneesa Muthana (33:14):
All the time, every day that’s w those are the conversations that I’m having with my team. Those are the conversations that I’m having with my customers and suppliers, because of the fact that, you know, it’s not about one transaction, it’s not about making a killing it’s about building a relationship and being the go-to, knowing that they, that you’re on a very short list. I want to be on those very short lists. Do I have competitors? Absolutely. And I think that’s healthy. I think that it keeps us all in check, and this is the United States of America. That’s about opportunities. It’s about, you know, being better and earning your way and not just be being given those opportunities. But if, while we’re on the topic, what I would say, and, and, and we’re constantly challenging the government to remove these tariffs off of, you know, off of us, because right now, you know, the products that we’re getting from overseas, you know, are they’re fine, but the raw material, you know, us mills are closing and our options are, you know, becoming, you know, very, very, uh, limited and delivery now, uh, lead time for raw material. It’s, it’s out there now. We’re, we’re, we’re paying much more than Europe is paying. So I don’t want to get too political here, but at the same time, that’s something that I feel like where our energy should be spent is how do we make it easier for the manufacturers of this country to make good products and make them, and provide them as many resources as possible, whether it be raw material or training or opportunities for innovation. Uh, if we’re not thinking of that way, you know, manufacturing is going to be the dying industry
Scott Luton (34:56):
That is powerfully apolitical, what you just shared there. And, uh, I echo your sentiment. It’s interesting. I don’t have her name right in front of me. I was hoping I had a window with it. We’ve got a new newly confirmed by Congress trade representative to China. And, uh, from what I was reading in a great article over to supply chain Dov, which is a great publication for supply chain news, they’re gonna a priority for the bond administration is to grant a lot more exceptions to the tariff schedule that was implemented. So I’m hoping we get to a, um, a bigger win for all. And then in a, in a, in a more competitive position for the U S manufacturing industry. But Hey, if we can get some early relief with some of the, with maybe a ton of exceptions, Hey, we’ll take what we can get right now. But, but the greater picture. Yeah. Let’s, let’s find ways to invest and, and, and ensure that our manufacturing history here in the States can compete in a very healthy, healthy manner. So love it. And Lisa, all right. So where are we going next? I’m like a kid in a candy store so much. I want to
Aneesa Muthana (35:56):
Pose to you. All right.
Scott Luton (35:58):
So diversity and inclusion. Now, I love to get you to weigh in here. Uh, as you know, just like we talked about some of the other earlier topics of the day, we’re getting a ton of lip service and, you know, I would argue there’s a small bit of value, cause at least, you know, I hate lip service. I’m all about action leadership, but it gives the challenges more awareness. So, but we need, we need, we need more change. I just want wanna, you know, what’s your take when it comes to diversity and inclusion, and I want you to speak to this phrase. I picked up the use quite a bit is empowering without dividing. So what are your thoughts?
Aneesa Muthana (36:37):
You got two hours. So when I use that phrase, I was referring to women in manufacturing and it was, uh, empowering women and inspiring them because we need to recruit people, right. And we don’t have enough women in the industry. And so for that to really happen, uh, you know, the part of the advocacy are org, women groups, women, organizations, um, you know, women awards. And I feel that those are necessary because I feel like we need to again, empower and attract them to come into this industry. Right. But what I advocacy is not, it’s not dividing. And, um, we have to remember that diversity and inclusion represents, you know, the minorities represents women as far as gender, different backgrounds, different age groups, and it represents the old white male. And so when we portray, you know, a group of people as a village, as villains, and expect them to embrace change and diversity and inclusion, uh, without having the inclusion for them, it’s a, it’s a plant for disaster.
Aneesa Muthana (37:53):
And so, and I speak about that often and I get a double look like really? Yeah. You know, I’ve been, I was raised in this industry and the old white male is my mentor is, is the person that has paid the way. Those are the people that worked in this industry when it was old, dark and griming. And so for us to write them off or portray them as villains is not fair. And I feel like there’s a lot of lip service, like you said, that is really just, I think noise really because the actionable items is about empathy. The actionable items is about partnerships and relationships and respect. And so when you’re talking about a group of people that you want diversity and inclusion for at the expense of another group of people, then you’re not talking about diversity inclusion, you’re talking about the vision.
Aneesa Muthana (38:44):
And so I think it’s very important that our message is clear and that our intentions are intact. And so for me personally, I love that my team is it’s like looking at the United nations. I have, you know, I have a, an individual I can say is named John Schaffer. He’s, you know, retiring on April 9th. And you know, when we were doing some, uh, w somebody was interviewing us, they just grabbed him and asked him a couple of questions. And I didn’t know what they asked them. And I didn’t know what he answered. And then later on, when the video footage came out and this is an old white male retiring, right. And he was on camera with tears in his eyes. And he said, I’ve been in this industry for so long, and I’ve never worked for someone that cared about their people, like a Nissa. And you don’t see a lot of people like that. He didn’t need to say woman. He didn’t need to say he didn’t need to say anything. He just spoke from his heart. And how can that not move me to do better? How can that not, you know, am I going to write him off because he’s the old white guy. No. And he knows that. And so I just, you know, I say it like it is if you haven’t noticed already and very true,
Scott Luton (39:59):
I love it. We need more of that.
Aneesa Muthana (40:02):
Yeah. But I don’t appreciate people trying to represent who I am in a negative way at the expense of others. And, um, and I feel like if we don’t have empathy on all sides and our, you know, I don’t, I don’t mind breaking those barriers. I don’t mind paving the way and not everybody is equipped to do that. Not everybody wants to come into work and break barriers or paved the way for someone. They just want to go home and, you know, make a good living and take care of their family. And so for them to have the responsibility to take that responsibility, it’s not fair. So, um, for those that can sure, but not at the expense of others. And that’s what, that’s what I think about diversity and inclusion. And I’m a big fan of bringing more people from all different backgrounds, because we need that in, in manufacturing. And so when, when exposing those that wouldn’t necessarily consider manufacturing as a career and then filling those positions that we so need.
Scott Luton (41:00):
So you shared a ton there and I’m processing all of it. It, you know, I’ll tell you, it’s, it’s a, it’s a tough topic to talk through. I don’t know about you, but on my end, I like to have the conversation and further to dialogue and discussion. And, and cause I’ve learned a ton from suddenly conversations much like this one, but I don’t want to say the wrong thing. And everyone’s kind of got a different take on what’s the right thing to do or right. Thing to say, or what have you, I think oftentimes I’ll try to take your approach where I’m just going to be transparent and tell that my message might come out a little bit fumbled a bit, but, but the intentions and the, and the intentions, the act and take steps is there, um, what do you, and I really appreciate your message where let’s not, let’s not villainize and you didn’t say this, but I might say it let’s fill in as the folks that, that make victims of others.
Scott Luton (41:53):
Right. You’re talking about some of the things that took place when your mom was in the sixties and some of those that crazy societal norms that was in place in some of the workplaces that we’ve all read about, heard, heard about you name it, it’s neat to see that be completely not tolerated anymore. Right. Um, what w so switching gears, a smidge on the same subject, you know, with the manufacturing industry, uh, I love how you said it needs people from all walks of life. That’s a beautiful thing for innovation, a practically successful thing for innovation. How can, you know, if you’re speaking to a room full of business leaders, is there any best practices you might share so that their organizations and their cultures within organizations are open and welcoming, and that’s what it communicates to really, you know, have plenty of applicants, so to speak.
Aneesa Muthana (42:42):
Absolutely. So I feel like everyone wants a sense of belonging. And so, and that that’s the inclusion. And if everyone feels that they belong and no one’s on a pedestal, because I, you know, you don’t want to check off a box because diversity is not checking off a box, a political agenda playing the victim, you know, or the trophy employee. So if, if those aren’t your intentions and you’re transparent, there’s going to be bumps in the road. You’re going to likely offend someone, um, keeping yourself. Yeah. But, but, but human, you know, we’re, we’re human and we make mistakes. And it’s, you know, probably when I listened to this and be like, Oh, did I say, how did that come out? But you know what? My intentions are good. So I can put my head on the pillow and sleep good at night because, you know, if, if the perception is different than what my intentions were, I have no problem clearing it up and even apologizing.
Aneesa Muthana (43:48):
There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s that’s humility and we all should have that. But I think for us to broaden, you know, the, you know, the, the walks of life in our shops, in our, in our management team is that we don’t necessarily put them on, you know, as far as, um, a trophy employee, but we use the opportunity to really showcase that we are advocates of that, that we don’t just hire someone and put them in a corner and say, okay, I feel better. Now. I have, you know, a woman, I have a black person. I have, you know, whatever, whatever minorities, you know, checkbox that you you’re making. Right? You bring someone in the management, you actually listen to them, you check your intentions. If you’re hiring a qualified person to do their job. Yeah. It might being the first woman or the first, whatever, what fill in the blank, whatever that is, it’s going to be like, Oh, wow.
Aneesa Muthana (44:49):
And then just hold on. And sometimes you have to have those uncomfortable conversations with your team and say, you know what? You, those posters that you have on there, you got to bring those down now. Cause we’ve got a woman in the shop, you know, and they’re not going to like it. You know? And you may want to have those conversations before you hire the woman. You may want to build that cultural before you expect someone to just, it’s not a plug and play. It’s a building. The relationship it’s building a culture is, is an ongoing battle. It’s not a checking off a box. You know, I have my challenges. I hire people. I think they’re a great fit two months in that I’m like, Oh, what happened? What happened? So you just, you don’t know, you just don’t know. And, and, but if you make everyone feel like they belong and that sense of belonging will bring conviction, that conviction will bring the bottom line higher.
Aneesa Muthana (45:50):
And so that’s really what you want. You want peace. You want, when you put people first, you put all people first, you put everyone first, you don’t pick, you don’t have favorites. And if you do that and people will see right through it. If, if, if it’s coming from the top or if it is checking a box, and if people see that it’s really intentional and you’re, you’re treating everyone fairly, then you will, the filter out those that are not on board that are not aligned to your core values, they will end up leaving. Whether you, whether you ask them to leave or not
Scott Luton (46:25):
All people for you shared so much good to there, but put all people first. And, and also like how you alluded to that, you know, it’s not taking this one action here or that this one action here and making this one higher here, it’s a journey. And it’s a collection of decisions and, and, you know, hire talent, but be intentional about being inclusive and, and, and, and, and welcoming of all, you know, the best talent regardless of who they are. So what we’ve come so far, kind of, as we start to wrap, as we’re talking with Nissa, Madonna, president CEO, and co-owner at pioneer service, you know, w we love talking about Eureka moments here. Right. Cause we have them, they end day out sometimes, um, you know, and, and the last, uh, 18 months or so chock full of Eureka moments that go well beyond just supply chain or manufacturing, but leadership. Right. Um, what is your w what’s the, one of the Eureka moments that come to your mind here lately?
Aneesa Muthana (47:26):
Gratitudes, you know, um, my family’s healthy, no deaths in my team or their families that in itself, you know, is a moment of celebration. And then not furloughing my team, you know, being able to shift from making parts for Tesla, to making parts for ventilators, literally overnight, because the faucet was turned off, like all industries were done. And so we didn’t know for a while, what we’re going to do. We were making parts towards blanket orders that had no releases just to keep everyone busy. And then the ventilator parts increased. And then everyone, you know, felt very comfortable and worked with conviction. And so I felt that those are the moments that I felt like, you know, when you do put your people first, sometimes you’ll find people, they won’t appreciate it, the leave you for pennies. And I I’ve learned that the hard way, you know, I, I, I remember not even just one person, several people, you train them, you invest in them, you know, you, you put them in you and you try to empower them.
Aneesa Muthana (48:33):
And then your competitor comes and poaches them and, and, and for pennies or a dollar. And you’re was like, man, you know, not, it was not even with a conversation or a thank you or handshake, so you’re going to get that. But that doesn’t mean we should stop doing what’s right. And what’s right. Is giving back to the industry, giving back to our people, recognizing them, you know, I, I remember recognizing, uh, an individual that was very green, had no manufacturing experience whatsoever and, you know, got them on getting, getting them wards and putting them on social media and got all this publicity.
Aneesa Muthana (49:10):
He was building his resume and what walked out it was like. And so, and then,
Aneesa Muthana (49:17):
Then this year I did the same thing with someone, actually two individuals and my management team is like, are you
Aneesa Muthana (49:23):
Sure you want to go through the skin? I’m like, absolutely
Aneesa Muthana (49:27):
Because I have no regrets and, you know, and did I not make mistakes? Of course I made mistakes. Of course, you know, I might might’ve said something that offended him and he walked out and, you know, I don’t know. And, and, and if I knew I would apologize for it, but my moments of really inspiration is knowing that there are people that appreciate it, that there are customers that recognize our greatness, you know, and when we fall, it’s okay, we’re in this together. And this pandemic prove that, you know, we prove that competitors are comraderies, you know, uh, that, uh, customers are partners and they’re, you know, they understand, and we understand, you know, we’re in this together. You know, we have commitments prior to the pandemic. We’re not going to force it down your throat. We’re not going to make you take these parts. We’ll, we’ll work with you. And so those are the relationships that were pretty good to begin with and then just became stronger. And that’s, and that’s what I’m grateful for.
Scott Luton (50:30):
This has been a wonderful, wonderful conversation. I really appreciate your authenticity because it comes out just in droves from, from, from where you’re communicating, what you’re sharing, your journey, how you view manufacturing, how you view leadership, how you view, view your entrepreneurial journey. It is, uh, it is very inspiring. And, and it, it brings to me to my mind sometimes Scott, you just got to say it, say it, just say it and have had the tough conversation. You’re not always going to choose the right syllables or the right words, but to your point, the best of intentions are there. And if that can help you have the conversation where you can learn, regardless of any of these topics we’ve talked about, well, that might not be half the battle, but it’s a good chunk of it. So, uh, what an inspiring. So, um, what, one last question, uh, we’re gonna make sure folks know how to connect with you, uh, and pioneer service, uh, Nisa, but what is, um, what does the next chapter hold for the company? You think if you ended up, of course, no. And, um, don’t share anything you don’t want to share, but up at the art of the possible is what comes to mind when we’re sitting down and talking with you
Aneesa Muthana (51:40):
Expansion, you know, our goal is to grow and, and grow in a positive way, you know, not overburden ourselves, but at the same time, I believe that, you know, now that the pandemic is almost, I don’t want to take it for granted, but almost behind us. Uh, I think that right now manufacturing is booming. And, um, and we’re in a very, you know, um, niche in, and we know exactly what we can provide our customers. And now that we are making really complex parts and touching a lot of industries and diversified industries, diversified applications, you know, after my, the business loss that’s, that was a big one that I learned the hard way. Uh, but nonetheless, I, I feel like that there’s still parts that we really want to touch and, and start making and to do so we have to step up our game and get, you know, more machines, uh, maybe cooler machines, right.
Aneesa Muthana (52:41):
We we’re, we’re, we’re going to be in Swiss, that’s our niche, you know, we’ve, we have some turning centers and, and we’re able to make, you know, bigger parts, but really the smaller parts. Uh, that’s where we found that we can, um, we can do really good stuff. And so that’s, our goal is to really grow and, um, and to also, you know, um, you know, we want to be more in the medical industry. We, we, we do medical devices, but we want to, we want more in that space because we all know that it’s, that’s, you know, I’m not going to be a doctor at this point in my career, but making parts that, you know, help people get better. And, you know, I know that we’ve, we’re making parts, uh, to treat cancer patients, uh, for many years. And, and knowing that that’s, you know, one of the parts that we were making that, that really does put it into a full circle moment for us, especially if you have family or people that, you know, firsthand have suffered. Right. And so that’s, that’s my goal, um, for my company. And, um, and yeah, yeah, I’m, I’m, I’m looking forward to it.
Scott Luton (53:44):
We look forward to keeping our finger on the pulse and tracking your progress. It is such an amazing story already, so I can only wait and see what the next few chapters bring forth. So, but I love that sense of mission and purpose. There’s that noble element that’s part of the manufacturing industry. And, you know, that was one of my favorite parts of camaraderie that a spree decor you find in a manufacturer organization, it’s, it is a it’s addictive. It really is. So, uh, uh, Nisa, Madonna, uh, president CEO, and co-owner with pioneer service. How can folks connect with you and your organization?
Aneesa Muthana (54:18):
We’re all over social media. Um, LinkedIn, you know, uh, is a big one for us, uh, but absolutely email. Um, I’d be happy to share my email address, but yeah, I would love to hear from your listeners and, and I, I, you know, Lee hearing the feedback is really essential for me. It really drives me knowing that my story resonates with others and, and, and people are aligned to what I’m thinking. Um, it drives me even more if you can imagine.
Scott Luton (54:48):
Well, I think, I think they can already hook it, that he blocked electrical grid two yet, and we’d have green energy forever, but really, uh, admire. We need passionate, authentic leaders that, uh, are, are so laser-focused on establishing and acting on those core values that you spoke about. So, uh, a pleasure to meet you and sit down and learn more about your story and share it with our team or our organization and our community here at supply chain now. So all the best Aneesa Madonna president CEO, and co-owner at pioneer service. Thanks so much. Thank you for having me. Okay. So listeners, wow. If that doesn’t invigorates you, you better check your pulse. A lot of good stuff from a Nissa today. Hopefully you enjoyed it as much as I have a own that note, if you’d like conversations like this, be sure to check us firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you’ll have a one or wherever you are. Hope you have a wonderful, wonderful month of April, but most importantly, do good. Give forward, be the changes needed and all of that. And it was the next time here at supply chain. Now, thanks for buddy.
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Aneesa Muthana got her first taste of manufacturing as a youngster in her parents’ shop, M&M Quality Grinding. At first, she spent her days running machines and bounding over bundles of metal, but soon these tasks gave way to handling payroll, accounts receivable, sales, and other duties. In her early 20s, Aneesa left the family business to become CEO and co-owner of Pioneer Service, a small, struggling company in Addison, IL. Thirty years later, the company serves a variety of industries including aerospace, medical, and electric vehicles. In 2021, Aneesa returned to M&M as co-owner and CEO, coming full circle while retaining her role at Pioneer Service. Aneesa contributes regularly to Modern Machine Shop on a variety of topics and served on several boards including the National Association of Manufacturing (NAM) and has served as President of Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) 2021-2022. She’s won numerous awards including the 2017 Manufacturing Institute’s Award, 2019 NAWBO Woman Business Owner of The Year, Crain’s 2019 and 2020 Notable Woman in Manufacturing, SWE “Women Engineers You Should Know” and CIOGC 2021 Muslim Achiever Award. Outside of the shop, Aneesa advocates for DEI through outreach at various public speaking events. Her core message stakes its claim on hard work, not playing the victim, and disavowing the “us vs. them” mindset behind most harmful stereotypes. In her personal life, she always finds time for faith, family, and her four grandchildren, who remain the light of her world. Connect with Aneesa on 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.
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.
Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more. In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.
Director of Communications and Executive Producer
Donna Krache is a former CNN executive producer who has won several awards in journalism and communication, including three Peabodys. She has 30 years’ experience in broadcast and digital journalism. She led the first production team at CNN to convert its show to a digital platform. She has authored many articles for CNN and other media outlets. She taught digital journalism at Georgia State University and Arizona State University. Krache holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. She is a serious sports fan who loves the Braves. She is president of the Dave Krache Foundation. Named in honor of her late husband, this non-profit pays fees for kids who want to play sports but whose parents are facing economic challenges.
Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.
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, 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.
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.
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
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.
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, 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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.