Dial P for Procurement
Episode 43

I knew this was a David vs. Goliath story, and that this outcome was a possibility when I stood up to a company that makes billions and is used to doing things their way. They built their company on the backs of these small business owners, and yet they are wildly unresponsive to the very real financial struggle facing most contractors today.

- Official Statement from Spencer Patton

Episode Summary

FedEx has been in the news a lot lately, and for all the wrong reasons. They are facing a challenge from many of the 6,000 contractors that handle their FedEx Ground and FedEx Ground Economy deliveries.

Spencer Patton has been the loudest voice in the dispute. As FedEx’s largest Ground contractor – at least until August 26th when his contract was cancelled – he has used his voice to call attention to the financial and operational difficulties faced by contractors. Many of those independent service providers gathered together in person at the 2022 Contractor Expo, held just days before Patton was terminated and FedEx sued his company in Federal Court.

In this week’s Dial P audio podcast, Kelly Barner looks into the source of the dispute between FedEx and their Ground contractors:

• What is the current status of the FedEx Ground contractor dispute and where did it begin?

• What of we know about Spencer Patton?

• What are the contractors main pain points?

• What has FedEx’s response been?

• How does the ongoing saga look from a macro perspective – and what we have learned from FedEx’s recent financial disclosures?

 

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:01):

Welcome to Dial P for procurement, A show focused on today’s biggest spin supplier and contract management related business opportunities. Dial P investigates the nuanced and constantly evolving boundary of the procurement supply chain divide with a broadcast of engaged executives, providers, and thought leaders. Give us an hour and we’ll provide you with a new perspective on supply chain value, and now it’s time to dial P for procurement.

Kelly Barner (00:31):

If you are a regular Dial P listener, you know I always call for input. I want comments, ideas, reactions, differing points of view. After all, we’re not going to be able to solve today’s toughest challenges if we don’t all put our best ideas on the table. Shelly Phillips is a fellow supply chain colleague and a very active Dial P listener. In August, she reached out to me on LinkedIn with a video link. It was about the trouble hitting the news between FedEx and some of their ground contractors. She wrote in a note, I just happened to catch this short clip. You might already be aware of this, but I thought of you. This could really be a holiday mess. Now, I’m going to be totally honest with you. I did not know just how dependent FedEx ground is on independent service providers. Once I did, I started digging to learn more and what I found was a textbook dial piece subject.

Kelly Barner (01:35):

This situation is a mess. It’s ongoing, it’s newsworthy, and yet most of the meaningful details are being left out of the headlines. It’s an unbelievably complicated situation, so huge thanks to Shelly for reaching out and suggesting this story as well as to everybody that regularly participates in discussions about these episodes. In this episode of Dial P, I’m going to review the current status of the FedEx ground contractor dispute and maybe dig back in time a little bit to figure out where it all began. We’re gonna talk about who is Spencer Patton, the man that has emerged as the leading voice of the contractor pushback. We’ll talk about what the contractor are looking for and what FedEx FedEx’s response has been, and then we’re gonna wrap up by looking at how this particular saga appears from a higher altitude. When we look at it from a macro perspective, what can we learn about how the business operates and what connections can we make between this story and FedEx’s recent financial disclosures?

Kelly Barner (02:44):

Before I go any further, let me introduce myself if you do happen to be a new Dial P listener. I’m Kelly Barner. I’m the co-founder and managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point. I’m a partner at Art of Procurement and I’m your host for Dial P here on Supply Chain. Now, I’m constantly scanning the news for complex articles to discuss things that are interesting but may have escaped people’s notice. I also follow these stories beyond the headlines, and I stay on top of them until they go cold or reach a resolution. We release a new episode of Dial P every Thursday, so be on the lookout for future episodes and don’t forget to check out some of the past episodes as well. Before we get back to FedEx Ground, I have a favor to ask If you find value in the time we’re about to spend together, find a way to engage, give us a review on iTunes, share some stars or an engagement emoji on LinkedIn or Twitter or Facebook.

Kelly Barner (03:47):

Wherever you found this, there’s a way for you to engage. You can even take this episode and send it directly to a colleague that you think would benefit from hearing it. I’m always grateful for your interest and attention, and if there’s any question as to whether I listen to my listeners, you have episodes like this one and the Baby Formula episode I recorded back in May at the suggestion of Maureen Walsh Schlager from Vector Global Logistics. Thank you for continuing to play an active part in this podcast. All right, let’s get back to FedEx Ground. They have 60,000 national roots and they work with 6,000 contractors, which are also sometimes referred to as independent service providers or ISPs. These contractors provide delivery, pickup and line haul services, and they’re responsible for hiring their own employees and investing in their own equipment. Being a contractor is different from being a franchisee, mostly in that it limits their visibility into FedEx’s corporate doings and it lowers their negotiating leverage.

Kelly Barner (04:56):

The trouble here has been brewing for long before it started to make recent headlines, and some of the roots of the current difficulty are actually to be found in the history of the business itself. FedEx Ground began in 1985 as roadway package service or rps. They used a contractor only model to keep driver pay low and avoid offering full benefits because they were trying to compete with UPS’s price point. At the time in 2000, FedEx saw an opportunity, so they bought R ps and rebranded it as FedEx ground. Back then, most of the shipments were between businesses or they were commercial route and there were multiple deliveries per stop. Enter Amazon. FedEx was forced to adjust the ground model by having their ground contractors take on residential as well as weekend deliveries. Now, not only did this change the days and hours that they had to operate, it altered the profitability of the model.

Kelly Barner (06:02):

Over time, there have been a number of changes where services that were provided by contractors are the providers versus FedEx responsibility sort of shifted around. A notable example happened in 2021 when FedEx Ground contractors took over final mile ground delivery from the US Postal Service. You might have actually used this as a consumer. It used to be known as FedEx Smart Post where the mailman would bring your package for the final mile that became FedEx Ground Economy. They also took over all Saturday and Sunday deliveries, nearly all of which are residential. These residential deliveries are both less profitable and more expensive because of the distance between stops and because less things are dropped off each place. Contractors are paid 40% less for residential deliveries, then they are for commercial deliveries, and they cost more to carry out. That higher cost is actually acknowledged by FedEx in their service guide.

Kelly Barner (07:07):

Their 2021 service guide lists a $4 and 35 cents surcharge per package that applied to residential deliveries. Now, even though that seems substantial per package, it was also determined before gas prices rose to their current rate, and then there’s this issue of data and demand planning during the 2021 holiday season. FedEx overestimated the volume of packages that they would be moving according to supply chain dive, and because the contractors don’t have direct access to the data, they had to trust FedEx’s projections and take their word for it. We know now looking in the rearview mirror that consumers were in the process of transitioning their spending from e-commerce shopping where packages had to be delivered to their homes over to some of the experiences that they had missed out on during the height of the pandemic. Money started being allocated to travel and dining out and entertainment, so FedEx Grounds Contractors ended up hiring and investing in equipment in ways that they didn’t actually need, partially because they didn’t have visibility into the data, and while fuel costs may currently be down month over month, according to cnn, they are still up 52% since last year.

Kelly Barner (08:27):

The overall package volume has been down since January of 22 with all of those costs up, so you can see where this is not a sustainable situation. CNN also reports that 30% of these contractors are at risk of financial distress. Driver wages are up 37%. The cost of trucks is up 30%, and in addition to that, the contractors are competing with FedEx to hire the same drivers. The mix of shipments change during the pandemic with residential surging compared to commercial, meaning that it’s fallen out of alignment with the original RPS profitability model, and we’re not really on a trajectory for things to go back to the old normal anytime soon. Enter Spencer Patton. He is the man who has become the public or human, you might say, face of the friction between FedEx Ground and their contractors. He is the founder and president of Patent Logistics located in Nashville, Tennessee, and your perspective on him is probably connected to your view of FedEx.

Kelly Barner (09:38):

For instance, freight waves referred to him in one headline as a quote, militant driver contractor. Spencer Patton is FedEx ground’s largest contractor. He has 275 trucks, 225 drivers, and his territory covers 10 states in the Midwest. In 2021, his operation delivered 6.5 million packages representing half a percent of FedEx ground 60,000 roots. When he started as a FedEx contractor 10 years ago, he was making a 10% profit. Now he reports to losing between five and 10%. In addition to patent logistics, he owns a contractor consultancy called Root Consultant. On August 26th, 2022, FedEx sued root consultant and canceled their ground contract just a few hours later. Now the trucks are parked and the drivers are out of work. The FedEx lawsuit, which was filed in federal court alleges that Pat was creating a fictionalized crisis among other ground contractors in order to promote his consulting services. The company is looking for immediate injunctive relief, which means he has to stop accusing FedEx of things, and they also want monetary damages.

Kelly Barner (11:02):

You can bet that’s going to be a large number. Part of what determined the timeline around this actually refers to Route Consultants 2022 Contractor Expo, which was hosted in Las Vegas on August 20th and 21st. 60% of FedEx Grounds contractors attended the event. That’s over 3,500 companies, and that’s why just a few days later on August 26th, the lawsuit was filed and the contract was canceled. Spencer Patton has been very outspoken and he’s even calling for a Purple Friday this year instead of a Black Friday. Encouraging contractors to make their collective leverage known by affecting ground deliveries, FedEx views Patent is trying to position himself as a bargaining representative for the whole group of contractors. They seem to be looking at it as potential evidence that a union could be brewing. Now, that does constitute a breach of his contract with FedEx and contractors are not allowed to strike.

Kelly Barner (12:08):

That actually constitutes a violation of antitrust law, so these contractors are kind of trapped in a situation where they both can’t bargain collectively, can’t necessarily make a profit and can’t necessarily get out of the contract if they might want to. At this point, you might be thinking that FedEx is the bad guy here, and I’m not saying that they’re not, but I’m not saying that they are either. Remember, we don’t do simple here on Dial P. A key point of contention is how fuel surcharges are handled. FedEx collects those surcharges from customers and the contractors don’t believe those are being fairly allocated and pass along, but that doesn’t mean FedEx isn’t doing anything to help the contractors deal with higher fuel costs. They allow ground contractors to access FedEx fuel hubs, which offer reduced prices, and they also provide them with access to an app that flags low cost fuel locations in each contractor’s operating area.

Kelly Barner (13:12):

Most of these contracts last between 12 and 18 months, and FedEx has reported that they have allowed a record number of renegotiations in recent months to adjust to some of the higher costs and lower volumes. They also share information with contractors about how to improve the efficiency of their delivery route and how to plan out more optimal root lengths, but all of this may not be enough. The number of FedEx contractor businesses up for sale has increased by 65% in a year and asking prices are down. They have decreased by an average of 8% as a percentage of revenue. Now, I promised a look at the macro FedEx’s financials aren’t exactly rosy in and of themselves. On Friday, September 16th, they announced that they had missed their quarterly revenue expectations. FedEx ground alone came in 300 million below forecast. The company has pulled back the annual revenue estimates that they issued in June in order to redo them based on new data and updated assumptions.

Kelly Barner (14:27):

They have also announced that they will close five corporate locations, 90 retail locations, and ground multiple aircraft. They’re also suspending Sunday deliveries in some rural areas, and all of this has to do with offsetting declining package volume. The market definitely took notice. Shares of FedEx fell 19% in after hours trading and felt 21% the following day. That represents the biggest one day drop in FedEx share value. Since they went public in 1978, their fiscal year, which ended in May of 2022, lists their operating profit as being down by 17%. Even though revenue has sorted 60% since the start of the pandemic costs are just that high. Of the three main operating units, FedEx Ground was the least profitable, so FedEx Express and FedEx Freight did better. So even if FedEx ground contractors decide to stay with the company, they may not be profitable again in 2023.

Kelly Barner (15:38):

We have to ask the question, how long can this last consumer goods companies like Newell Brands and Scott’s Miracle Grow have noted that retail orders are down and retailers like Walmart and Target are stuck with a glut of inventory. They don’t want or wishes misaligned from a seasonal perspective. With all of this coming up the works, there are less things to move, so shipping volumes are down and overhead costs are both up and being redistributed across less packages. The pressure on the system and the model for FedEx ground with the contractors can only build from here. It’ll be interesting to see if Purple Friday materializes on November 25th, you can be sure I’ll be watching now. That’s my point of view on this situation, but I’m interested in hearing what you think as well. Let’s work together to figure out the best solution. Thank you for listening into this episode of Dial P for procurement, so this is where your work begins.

Kelly Barner (16:48):

I want you to join the conversation and let me know what you think. Will there be a Purple Friday, FedEx ground contractor uprising, or will it just sort of blow over and fall off the front pages? Is the current financial and operating model sustainable or does it need to be readjusted given the new mix of residential commercial seven day a week schedules, fuel costs, surcharges? Does it need to be revisited? What may FedEx corporate do to protect the profitability of their ground unit? And of course, the most interesting question of all. What will Spencer Patton do next? Find me find Dial P on LinkedIn and let me know what you think. Until next time, I’m Kelly Barner. On behalf of Dial P for procurement and supply chain now, have a great rest of your day.

Intro/Outro (17:43):

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Dial P for procurement and for being an active part of the supply chain now community. Please check out all of our shows and events@supplychainnow.com. Make sure you follow Dial P four procurement on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to catch all the latest programming details. We’ll see you soon for the next episode of Dial P four. Procurement.

Hosts

Kelly Barner

Host, Dial P for Procurement

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Adrian Purtill

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Joshua Miranda

Marketing Specialist

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

Donna Krache

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.

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Vicki White

Controller

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

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

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

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

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Allison Giddens

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Allison Krache Giddens has been with Win-Tech, a veteran-owned small business and aerospace precision machine shop, for 15 years, recently buying the company from her mentor and Win-Tech’s Founder, Dennis Winslow. She and her business partner, John Hudson now serve as Co-Presidents, leading the 33-year old company through the pandemic.

She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Certificate of Finance from the University of Georgia. She also holds certificates in Google Analytics, event planning, and Cybersecurity Risk Management from Harvard online. Allison founded the Georgia Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and currently serves as Treasurer. She serves on the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board as its Secretary, the liveSAFE Resources Board of Directors as Resource Development Co-Chair, and on the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association Board as Membership Chair and is also a member of Cobb Executive Women. She is on the Board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Northwest Area Councils. Allison runs The Dave Krache Foundation, a non-profit that helps pay sports fees for local kids in need.

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Greg White

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.

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Chris Barnes

Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring

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

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

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Karin Bursa

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.

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Kevin L. Jackson

Host of Digital Transformers

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

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Enrique Alvarez

Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español

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

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

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Kelly Barner

Host of Dial P for Procurement

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

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Mary Kate Soliva

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.

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Jeff Miller

Host

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.

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Amanda Luton

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.

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Clay Phillips

Business Development Manager

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

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Trisha Cordes

Administrative Assistant

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

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Billy Taylor

Host of Dial P for Procurement

Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.

An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.

A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.

A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning.  He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.

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Chantel King

Social Media Manager

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

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

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

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Lori Sofian

Marketing Coordinator

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

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Katherine Hintz

Sales and Marketing Coordinator

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

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Ben Harris

Host

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.

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Page Siplon

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).

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Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Kevin Brown

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Sofia Rivas Herrera

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

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

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Demo Perez

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

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

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Kim Winter

Host, Supply Chain Now

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

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

A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. 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).

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Nick Roemer

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Alex Bramley

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.

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