Logistics with Purpose
Episode 55

We're not a jacket company. We're part of a movement of doing good. And we're an organization that is focused on fighting and eradicating poverty in the world. And we do that by making really fun outdoor gear.

-Davis Smith

Episode Summary

After launching two businesses and snagging his MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Davis Smith was ready for something different. So why not change the world? Drawing from his childhood family adventures across Latin America, he launched Cotopaxi to eradicate poverty through unique, sustainably sourced outdoor gear. Don’t miss this chance to hear the whole story as Enrique sits down with this fascinating world traveler and change maker.

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:02):

Welcome to logistics with purpose presented by vector global logistics in partnership with supply chain. Now we spotlight and celebrate organizations who are dedicated to creating a positive impact. Join us for this behind the scenes glimpse of the origin stories, change making progress and future plans of organizations who are actively making a difference. Our goal isn’t just to entertain you, but to inspire you to go out and change the world. And now here’s today’s episode of logistics with purpose

Enrique Alvarez (00:34):

Good afternoon, and welcome to another very exciting episode of logistics with purpose. My name’s Enrique Alvarez today my guest, this an incredible person with a great trajectory and me personally, a big fan of his brand, his company, and he has done, he has managed to not only work with, uh, multiple organizations to make APositive impact in the world, but he has also, uh, started founded a really cool outdoor gear company. So without her to do Davis Smith, founder and CEO of coax Davis, thank you so much for being here. This is a pleasure.

Davis Smith (01:09):

Yeah. Enrique. Thank you. Thank you for having me. This is exciting.

Enrique Alvarez (01:12):

I never ask you if you actually spoke some Spanish, by the way, during the pre-show.

Davis Smith (01:16):

Oh, I do speak Spanish. Yeah. I, uh, I could

Enrique Alvarez (01:19):

Have done this in Spanish then

Davis Smith (01:22):

The audience might be a little different, but, uh, uh, yeah, so I, I moved to Latin America when I was four years old and, uh, I’ve spent all my childhood and into my youth there and then a lot of my adult life, uh, back in Latin America. So I moved, I moved to the us about eight years ago, uh, from south America.

Enrique Alvarez (01:40):

That’s awesome. And well, again, thank you so much for being here. I’m sure that, uh, just like me, there’s tons of huge fans of you and your brand and what you’ve been doing, uh, among supply chain professionals. So thank you for doing this. And before we kind of like deep dive into your successful career and, and, and your company, could you tell us a little more about yourself and how your kind of upbringing kind of look like?

Davis Smith (02:03):

Yeah, absolutely. Um, you know, as I mentioned, uh, my family left the United States when I was four. Um, my dad had been, uh, he’d been a Mormon missionary, uh, missionary for the church of Jesus Christ of latter saints when he was 1920 and 21 years old, uh, down in Argentina. So he spoke Spanish and then he came back, uh, after his two years, uh, of, of mission work, he came back to the United States and, um, went to college here, met my mom and, uh, started his own, his own business, uh, as a builder. And eventually he, he heard of an opportunity to move to Latin America and take a job, uh, where he could, uh, uses Spanish. And he thought it’d be really cool for his kids to grow up in a different part of the world. And so, uh, that’s how I ended up growing up.

Davis Smith (02:49):

I spent all my childhood into my teenage years living, uh, living abroad and, um, you know, my dad, uh, I think actually in the pre-show we were, we were talking if he about like your, your dad and his love for the outdoors and, uh, which I was shocked cuz you know, you grew up in Mexico city, right? How many people in Mexico city grew up kayaking and, and backpacking and camping and rock climbing. Um, uh, similarly my dad loves the outdoors and um, so we, you know, we always had some crazy adventure play land. Um, he would, uh, you know, we went and floated the Amazon river on a self-made raft and we’d fish for Piran that’s, that’s awesome. Uh, you know, we’d go survive on little uninhabited islands. Uh, when we lived in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean, we’d go on these little islands and we’d make our own Spears and we’d spear fish and eat coconuts to survive.

Davis Smith (03:38):

Uh, you know, I, I, I grew up just loving the outdoors and you know, but I think more importantly, I, I developed a deep sense of empathy for others. And um, one, you know, one of my earliest memories as a child was seeing children three or four years old, my age completely naked on the sides of the street. And you know, at that young age, you know, trying to reconcile why my life was different. And you know, what I learned from that, from that very young age was that, uh, I wasn’t special. I, I wasn’t smarter or harder working or more deserving. Uh, I was simply born in a place that gave me opportunities that uh, these other people would never have. Um, and from the time I was a kid, I knew that this is what I wanted to spend my life doing. I wanted to spend my life using whatever talents I had to lift other people.

Enrique Alvarez (04:28):

And it’s unbelievable. Right. It’s well, it’s amazing that you so early on you actually kind of knew what you wanted to do and you weren’t exactly sure exactly how that would look like I’m guessing, but, but you, you had this deep breathed sense of helping others. Um, how many siblings are you in your family Davis? Cause you mentioned your brothers.

Davis Smith (04:45):

Yeah. There’s a lot of us. There’s eight of us, so I’m

Enrique Alvarez (04:48):

Awesome.

Davis Smith (04:49):

Yeah. I’m the second of eight siblings. So I have an older brother and then I have three sisters right after me and then three younger brothers and so pretty, pretty good, you know, big spread of ages. My youngest brother, uh, is just finishing, uh, law school right now. And uh, so you know, we’re, uh, we’re a pretty close family though. We, we spent a lot of time together still and um, you know, a bunch of us are kind of spread around, uh, around the United States, but we still find ways to get together pretty frequently.

Enrique Alvarez (05:18):

No one, no one, uh, remained in Latin America, south America at this point,

Davis Smith (05:22):

You know? Uh, no one’s there currently. Uh, but we’ve, you know, we’ve had some of us living down in Latin America at different times, but right now we’re all back in the United States. And I think some of us are anxious to get back at some point, but we’ll, we’ll see what happens.

Enrique Alvarez (05:36):

I read somewhere and you actually, uh, uh, mention it a little bit, like you have this trips through the Amazon jungle or river and you were trying to survive I guess, or, or, or just use your own means to survive. I read somewhere that you just recently had a trip like that with your dad and your brothers as well. Right. So this is like an ongoing thing. It’s not something that happened in your childhood. You still do all those crazy trips.

Davis Smith (05:57):

We still do it. Yeah. A couple weeks ago. We, uh, we just got back from a trip where we spent a week, um, surviving. So yeah, we, uh,

Enrique Alvarez (06:04):

That’s awesome.

Davis Smith (06:05):

Yeah, we got a couple little tiny little sailboats. They fit about three to four people in your gear, no outboard engine or anything, tiny little boats. And we got two of ’em when we just sailed from island to island and, uh, you know, we sped and ate fish and stingray and uh, um, you know, ate lobster and con and it was, it was awesome. We lost a few pounds, which is always a good thing, especially when you have some COVID weight, you know, it’s like losing a pound or two isn’t bad. So we had a really nice time together.

Enrique Alvarez (06:36):

It’s sound. It sounds amazing. And one of those, uh, live changing trips and experiences, but going back to your, to your childhood, so very early on, you kind of knew that you were basically lucky right. To have all these opportunities, but, um, tell us a little bit more, I mean, anything else that you, that you can remember from, from those early years, uh, with your dad, your, your siblings, uh, I, and where, where in south America were you at at that time? Was it Ecuador?

Davis Smith (07:01):

Yeah, so we were, we, you know, we started in the Dominican Republic. We lived there for a few years. Then we moved to, to Puerto Rico where we lived for five years, then we moved to south America. Um, so we lived in Ecuador, um, during part of my childhood and into my teenage years. And we lived in keto, which is the capital city, uh, uh, high up in the mountains, uh, beautiful, beautiful part of the world, amazing people. And you’re surrounded by these snow capped mountains all around. Um, so we’d, we’d spend the weekends going and climbing mountains with my dad. And, um, you know, it was a really, I, you know, it was a really important part of my childhood and, you know, the Cotopaxi was a of big volcano outside of keto. And we, we spent a lot of time at that mountain, uh, as a family camping and with my dad and brother. Um, so, and then the school I went to was called academia, so named after this volcano. And so, you know, when it, when I had the idea to build this brand and I had to choose a, I knew I wanted something that was connected to Latin America, where, you know, where I grew up and that was connected to this, to the adventure and this love for the outdoors. And so that, that name was, uh, a special name for me. So yeah,

Enrique Alvarez (08:10):

It’s a, it’s a cool, strong, short name. And, and, and of course the Lamas also make the whole thing flow and I, I love it. I mean, I, it, it makes sense. And before we get into that, I know that everyone that might be listening to this already itching to get into kata PAX. And how did it happen? Why, but after that, so tell us a bit more about your, uh, professional career at that point. You knew that you love nature. You were with your siblings and, and dad doing all this, uh, great adventures. Yeah. And then what did you study? What do you want to what happened next?

Davis Smith (08:41):

Yeah, so, uh, you know, I, I went to college at, at BYU in Utah, Brigham mill university, and I took two years away from school to go down, uh, and be a missionary myself. I was a missionary in Bolivia, uh, which is, uh, now has become one of my favorite places in the whole world. I, I go back to Bolivia every few years and meet up with my friends there. And, um, I have, you know, I lived in little communities all around Bolivia and I just, I try to go back to all these little cities I lived in and reconnect with the people. And, uh, it’s just a really special place. But after those two years, I came back and, and, you know, for two years, you know, uh, as a 19 to 21 year old, you know, usually at that age, you’re pretty focused on yourself.

Davis Smith (09:21):

You know, you’re trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do in life, and you’re in college and it’s really all about you, but when you’re a missionary, it’s the opposite. It’s, it’s never about you. And every single day is about other people. And it was a really great process to go O through over two years where you, you kind of strip out a lot of that thing, a lot of those feelings that you might have at that age, uh, that are more self-centered. And when I got back, um, I mean, I was overwhelmed with joy to see my family again, uh, to be back home. And, uh, as we pulled up to my parents’ home after they picked me up at the airport, um, you know, as we’re pulling into my neighborhood and up to my home, um, I just, I, I was overwhelmed with almost like a feeling of guilt.

Davis Smith (10:05):

Like, why do I get to live here? Uh, what have I done to have this life when these amazing people that I just loved were, were living in extreme poverty, many, many of them on, under a dollar a day. And so I became really committed when I came back from those two years that I was gonna find a way to help. And so when I was in school, I started studying international studies. Um, I kind of suspected I’d work in the nonprofit world. I thought that might be an obvious place for me. Uh, kind of thought, maybe I’d go into law school and somehow using law to like, make a difference somehow. And, uh, I was doing an internship in Peru, uh, working for a nonprofit when I met an American businessman. And, uh, I started talking to him and we just became friends. And in fact, we still are in touch that with that, you know, we, we got together just a few months ago and, but he was, you know, he encouraged me.

Davis Smith (10:55):

He’s like, you know what, every lawyer that I to, they don’t love their lives. He’s like, you should, you should think about business and, uh, and maybe start thinking about business, but it’s like, how do I, how do I use business to, to help anyone? Like, I’m not, not exactly sure how to do that. And, but it kind of got my, my mind kind of thinking a little bit differently. And when I was in, in college, I met a man, a mentor who, uh, this man who had become, uh, he’d been a successful entrepreneur and then started a school in the Philippines, teaching entrepreneurship, uh, to people that, to, to get them out of poverty. People lived in extreme poverty and he dedicated his life and, and his, and his fortune to using it, to help other people. And I decided I needed to work for him. And I tried to convince him, let me work for him. And instead he convinced me that if I really wanted to make an impact, I shouldn’t work for a nonprofit, but that I should become an entrepreneur. And so, um, that’s the path that I ended up going down. So I, when I graduated, I started my first business and, uh, it’s been almost, almost 20 years now that I’ve been, uh, an entrepreneur

Enrique Alvarez (11:56):

Well, and before we touch a little bit on that first venture, and then the second one, which, uh, I think it might be more interesting as well. Uh, couple of us, couple of questions, real quick, Mr. Burn, uh, who is he, Mr. Uh, I’m probably pronouncing his last name incorrectly, but I think, uh, he was one of your teachers at some point, Mr. Beki or,

Davis Smith (12:16):

Yeah. How do you know about, how do you know

Enrique Alvarez (12:18):

About him? I tried to do my homework cuz you’re I admire what you’re doing. So I, I read it some somewhere I’m like, this seems like a really interesting story. Uh, I, so who is he and what did he teach you?

Davis Smith (12:31):

Yeah. You know, so, uh, so it’s interesting. I had, when I was in, when I was in Ecuador, I went to a school that I mentioned, academic Oxi, where, uh, an international school where you have, um, you know, classmates from all over the world. My best friend was from Denmark. Uh, I had all sorts of friends from all every country in Latin America, from Asia. So it’s this really diverse, multicultural experience. And your teachers are fascinating. You know, they’ve lived, they’ve lived all over the world and they’ve, they they’re, they’re teaching there because they love adventure and they love teaching. And, um, they love cultures and languages. And, um, I actually had a, a teacher. Her name was, uh, Mrs. Beski and her husband was also, uh, a teacher there. And he, I was the, the vice principal of the school as well, but, um, Mrs Beski was amazing.

Davis Smith (13:19):

And she, I, it was partially through her that I really developed a love for geography in the world. And, um, she’d previously lived. They, her and her husband had lived in Africa before. And, uh, I loved hearing about the stories there and her, and, you know, for that class, for that class, we had to like memorize, um, all the countries in the world and geo, you know, geographical features, mountains and rivers. And I still, to this day still remember all sorts of crazy GE you know, geography facts from that class. It just stuck. It just stuck in my head for some reason, but I love, love the world. And, uh, you know, sadly Mr. Beki died of cancer a number of years later, as, as a very young man, he must have been in his forties. And, uh, but Mrs Beki and I have stayed in touch and, uh, you know, she’s, she’s just an amazing person.

Davis Smith (14:09):

She lives in Texas now. And, um, you know, she was, I remember she was pregnant when she was my teacher and she ended up, uh, her son, uh, that was born there. He he’s gone to Stanford and is just a really, really bright kid. And it’s just really fun to kind of, it’s fun to reconnect. I have a few teachers that I’ve stayed in touch with over the years from elementary school, through high school. And those are really special relationships, relationships for me, you know, they, those teachers help shape the path that I’m on. And so I’m just really grateful for, for her and for all the teachers that I’ve had along the way.

Enrique Alvarez (14:41):

It’s, um, probably not something everyone can say, right. Keeping, keeping in touch with their teachers. Uh, but it sounds like it has, has worked incredibly well for you and has given you that kind of grounding and kind of, uh, knowledge of where you come from and what you’re trying to do. So I, thanks for sharing the story and just jumping back to, to where you were before I sidetracked you with this question. Um, so you graduated and you decided that entrepreneurship was your thing first venture. What, what was that first venture?

Davis Smith (15:12):

Yeah, so a very random business. You know, my, my cousin and I, uh, were the same age we’d been close. You know, when I lived in, in Latin America, his family would come down and visit us. And, and every summer I’d come back to visit my grandparents in the United States and I’d see him. And when we were in college, we became really close and we’d share kind dreams together about what we’d wanna do. And we both kind of had this entrepreneurial bend and we started talking about what if we started something together and we both started brainstorming a bunch of ideas and we dabbled in a few different ideas. But one idea that had come to me through talking to a, a friend was an idea of, uh, of starting our own business, selling pool tables, uh, which is incredibly random. I don’t even really play pool.

Davis Smith (15:55):

Uh, you know, my, my grandparents had a pool table in their home, so that was kind of the extent of my, my knowledge of pool tables. But, um, you know, I had the idea and I, I went on, uh, eBay and I started tracking the sales of, of other brands selling pool tables. And, uh, you could walk all the listings. So I kept a spreadsheet where I just tracked every single listing and what the product sold for. So after a few weeks, I had a, you know, some data of like what product could sell for. And then I started Googling, uh, pool table factory. China found some factories in China that made pool tables and started getting some pricing. And so I had a good sense of what I could them for and what I could sell them for. And, um, so we ended up creating a listing and we, we, uh, ended up starting to sell pool tables on eBay. And, uh, I, I had just taken my first job. I just graduated and I’d taken a job for a company that I’d done an internship for in the Cayman islands. They, they had a, a, a corporate office here in Utah. So I was working for them. And on the side, on, in nights and weekends, I was selling pool tables on the internet. And, um, we ended up doing a million dollars in sales our first year. So like the business,

Enrique Alvarez (17:05):

Oh, that’s amazing.

Davis Smith (17:06):

It worked, you know, so about six months in, uh, I ended up quitting my job and, um, my cousin and I just, we put everything into this little business and, um, you know, we, we just bootstrapped, it, it wasn’t something that could get venture capital or anything. And we borrowed money from anyone we could get money from. We came from very middle class homes, so we didn’t have a lot of money or access to capital, but, you know, we ended up getting my parents and my in-laws to, to mortgage their homes, which helped us finance the business us. And that was very stressful. But, um, after six years we ended up selling the business and we, we went to business school. Um, my, my cousin went to Harvard business school and I went to Wharton. I’d always wanted to go to Wharton. Uh, they have a program there called the water Institute, which is a dual degree, an MBA. And I did an ma in international studies with an emphasis on Latin America. So, um, it was, uh, it was the only place I applied and I was just, I felt so lucky to get in. And, uh, it, it was one of the best decisions I ever made to go back to school

Enrique Alvarez (18:05):

Also. Perfect timing. Right. I mean, right after you sold your first company, you come in with all this amount of knowledge and experience, especially in your case. Cause you’ve been living all over the world or not in America. Uh, sounds like a great story. And now are you good at pool?

Davis Smith (18:20):

No, I’m not very good.

Enrique Alvarez (18:24):

Your background’s all about, uh, exploring and hijacking and I’m like, you’ve got a pool table company. I’m like, wait, what, that’s the, that’s the opposite of nature and outdoors that

Davis Smith (18:35):

I know, I know it’s, it’s a very random thing. You know, the interesting thing about that business, you know, we sold it over a decade ago.

Enrique Alvarez (18:42):

That’s awesome.

Davis Smith (18:43):

But, uh, I ended, we kept a little bit of ownership in the business and after after 10 or 11, 12 years, uh, the guy that we’d sold it to, he was in his sixties. And, uh, last year he contacted us and said, Hey, I’m, I’m gonna sell the business. I just wanna let you guys know. And, uh, he found a buyer, a small public company that was gonna be buying the business and he’d grown revenues. Uh, it was maybe double the size that it was when we sold it. Wow. Um, so not, not a lot of growth over 10 years, but it was, you know, it was a little bit bigger. Um, and at first I was happy, you know, thinking great, good for him, you know, I’m glad good for him, glad he’s selling it. And, um, and then the more I thought about it, it was like, you know what, I need to buy this business back.

Davis Smith (19:24):

And so, uh, I, I ended up buying the business back and so I paid a lot more. I paid a lot more for it than I sold it are, but, uh, I, I converted it to a benefit corporation and we’re using the business to fight poverty. And, uh, the interesting thing is it’s very different from the current business that I have because, uh, you know, it’s, it’s not venture capital backed. It’s just a, you know, small business, but it’s, you know, maybe 13 million in revenues last year and we’re, we’re growing. It, it, uh, it’s been profitable for 18 straight years and it’s, you know, it’s, it has the ability to go make an impact. And so, uh, I’m really excited about that. I went and hired a CEO, that’s running it and, um, I’m chairman of the board. So we, we connect each week and we put together a plan in place to grow scale the business, and I’m having a lot of fun with it. So that

Enrique Alvarez (20:11):

Sounds like story. And I’m glad that you kind of close the loop by buying it back. And, uh, I’m sure it’s gonna be successful, like, uh, tons about things that you’ve done. You mentioned something about, uh, the B certification, uh, B Corp for people that are listening to us. What, what is that? I mean, it’s not like an LLC, it’s not like an S Corp. You convert it to what, what is this that you talked about?

Davis Smith (20:34):

Yeah, so, uh, so there’s a couple different terms that people use and they’re used kind of interchangeably a lot of times, but they actually are different, which is, uh, benefit corporation and B Corp. And, uh, the difference is that a benefit corporation or sometimes referred to as a public benefit corporation is a legal entity, similar to an S Corp or a C Corp or an LLC. Like you mentioned, uh, it’s a legal status it’s of, of a business, but where you’re committed, uh, to looking beyond profits. And so, uh, we’re, we’re registered in Delaware. So we’re required to report every couple years, uh, what our impact has been. And, uh, my job is to not just maximize shareholder value. It’s also to think about the impact that our business has on people and planet. Um, so that’s what a benefit corporation is. Uh, B Corp, uh, is similar.

Davis Smith (21:22):

Uh, but it’s actually not a, it’s not a legal status of a business. It’s actually a certification that you get as a business, through an organization called blabs and blabs, uh, will come in and they’ll do an audit of your business. And, uh, if you meet certain standards, which is pretty rigorous, not easy, but you, you can become a certified B Corp. And so, uh, you know, coax the business I’m running now is both a public benefit corporation and also a certified B Corp. Um, the pool table business, I, we converted, uh, legally to a public benefit corporation. And we’re in the process of working towards becoming a certified B Corp, which will probably take a year or two to kind of get to that, through that, through that

Enrique Alvarez (22:03):

Process. It’s a, it’s a, it’s a talk certification process for sure, but, uh, but not a lot of companies can go through it and it really, really highlights and, and showcases, uh, the commitment that you and your company has to, to giving back. And, and as you said, kind of looking beyond, uh, shareholder values. Um, so now the second, so you saw that went to business school, and I read also that you started the second company, uh, and I guess things didn’t go as, as, as, uh, as well as in the first one, but can you tell us a bit more about that one?

Davis Smith (22:38):

Yeah, so the, well, no, when I was in business school, my cousin and I decided, you know, let’s, let’s do this again. Let’s try, let’s try to start another business together. And so, uh, we spent the first year in business were just coming up with ideas. We came up with 60 ideas. Uh, we spent the summer, uh, between business school, going through the ideas and identifying the idea that we wanted to go spend the next few years on. And, uh, we landed on the idea of going down to Brazil and starting a business there, uh, called baby.com.br, which was an e-commerce. The idea was to build an e-commerce company, selling baby products. There’s 200 million people in Brazil, a large emerging economy, uh, at the time in 2010, about 40% of the, of the country had internet access. So, yeah, it was, uh, kind of at this tipping point where it was like, there were enough people online to create an eCommerce business, but it was pretty new and nascent.

Davis Smith (23:26):

So there weren’t a lot of comp, you know, there wasn’t a lot of competition. Uh, so, uh, you know, we went and raised some venture capital, uh, while we were students, we raised 4.3 million, and then we moved down to Brazil at graduation. And then within 18 months, uh, we’d grown from four employees to 300, uh, we’d raised over 40 million in venture capital. It was our first time raising venture money. And, uh, in some ways it was really exciting, uh, seen a lot of growth. Uh, and in other ways it was incredibly difficult. Uh, Brazil is a very complicated and difficult place to build businesses. And, uh, um, you know, the business was, uh, just, we weren’t finding a way to, you know, the business was, was struggling to get to profitability. It was growing rapidly though. Um, and, uh, after about three years, uh, you know, my cousin and I, uh, Brazil was kind of at its at its pinnacle. It was really kind of an exciting,

Enrique Alvarez (24:24):

And you were in south or we’re in Brazil.

Davis Smith (24:26):

Yeah, we were in south Balo. Yeah. Uh, which was a really great, it’s a great city,

Enrique Alvarez (24:30):

Beautiful country, beautiful country.

Davis Smith (24:32):

It beautiful

Enrique Alvarez (24:32):

Country, great people. Yes, for

Davis Smith (24:34):

Sure. Great people, great food, beautiful beaches. Uh, I mean, just so much potential as well. You know, the challenge, the challenge though, is that, uh, you know, Brazil, like a, unfortunately like a lot of Latin America and a lot of the developing world is very corrupt. And, um, you know, we, we’ve made a commitment that we weren’t going to pay bribes. Uh, we, we paid our taxes, we did everything by the books and that just wasn’t the norm. And so honestly it, we were disadvantaged, you know, compared to our competitors that maybe, you know, hired people, you know, kind of on, on the fringes that like where they didn’t have to pay the taxes or they just didn’t do things quite right. And, um, you know, it’s, you know, when you’re not willing to pay bribes, it slows processes down, especially in a country with, with so much bureaucracy.

Davis Smith (25:24):

Um, so there were a lot of unique challenges about Brazil and, uh, it, it also, um, you know, there was some, it ended up being some strains in the, in my part, my business partnership, which is, you know, painful to talk about. But at the end of the day, I made a decision that I was, I needed to do something different and I felt very compelled to go build something that was about giving back. And, um, I ended up making the decision to leave Brazil, which was very, a very difficult decision. And I was, I was pretty scared to do it, to leave. Um, I wasn’t sure, you know, the equity that I had in the business was pretty meaningful. Uh, and the business at that time had just raised a big round of capital. Uh, and while we had some real challenges ahead of us, it seemed like there was a lot out of possibility.

Davis Smith (26:09):

Right. Um, but I made the decision to leave and, um, you know, shortly after I left, I came back to the United States to build Cotopaxi Brazil’s economy, really hit a wall and, uh, massive recession. And it ended up making the business that much harder. And so at the end of the day, you know, years later, the business didn’t end up where, and, uh, pretty disappointing outcome, especially for my cousin, who’s put so many years into it. Um, but, uh, you know, I think, you know, having as an entrepreneur, having a failure, having something that didn’t go right, and they had it, you know, a lot of pain involved in it. Um, I think as, as much as I wish I wouldn’t have had those painful experiences, they really help you and they define you and they keep you humble and, um, they help you do it better the next time. And so I, I learned a lot from that experience.

Enrique Alvarez (26:58):

Thank you. Thank you for sharing and yes, absolutely. Right. Very powerful words. Uh, uh, not everyone kind of goes through the kind of pain that you probably experienced, but, uh, but I’m glad to hear and see that you came stronger out the other end. Um, and hopefully the same, same, same happened with your, with your cousin. Um, now you came back a little bit disappointed. You’ve been into the pool tape industry to the baby food industry. Yeah. Now let’s talk about cut back. So how, how did you get back to, Hey, listen, I, I love nature. Why don’t I do something with nature?

Davis Smith (27:34):

Yeah. So, you know, while I was in Brazil, um, you know, every single day was a reminder of the things that I was most passionate about and really it came down to like, I wanted to find a way to help people. And, you know, I drove every single day as I drove to work. I drove through a fave, a, a Shandy town. And, uh, it was in Brazil as I, I, I actually made a new year’s resolution in 2013 that I wanted to change somebody’s life. And I wasn’t sure how to, to do that. And it wasn’t honestly, it wasn’t a great goal cause it’s not like super specific or measurable in any kinda way, but it was like, it was kind of, I guess, the desire of my heart. And so I had this, this new year’s resolution. I had to post an note on the mirror in my bathroom and every night I’d see it and every morning I’d see it.

Davis Smith (28:19):

And, um, as I was laying in bed one night, thinking about how I be able to make a difference, I ended up having some ideas that started coming to my mind and I ended up getting out of my bed and I sat on the couch and I spent the entire night there, um, the entire next day and the entire following night. And, um, I was just in this flow. Uh, I honestly, it was like, it was a spiritual moment for me where I just felt connected. Um, I’m a spiritual person. I felt connected to God. And I felt, I felt he was guiding me in the work that I needed to do. And honestly, at that point in my life, I was feeling pretty disappointed and discouraged. I’d felt like I’d spent, you know, 10 years of my life building some businesses. And it was like, this is not that fulfilling.

Davis Smith (29:04):

It’s like, what am I doing? That’s like, I’m not making any difference in the world. And I felt like I was maybe a sellout that I wasn’t doing what I always known I needed to do, but at those, you know, those 36 hours, uh, I kind of realized that I needed those experiences. I needed those experiences to be able to go do what I needed to do next and, um, had the idea to build this new brand. Um, and it was built around not just an opportunity. The other businesses were kind of an opportunity to go chase. This one was truly about a deep rooted passion, uh, a passion to help others. And I, I just knew, I knew I needed to build a business that could use its profits to sustainably fight poverty. And I very quickly landed on an idea of building an outdoor brand.

Davis Smith (29:49):

Uh, it was an area that I felt deep passion around. I knew the space, uh, as a consumer and felt there was an opportunity what was very crowded and there’s a lot of outdoor brands. Um, I did feel like an opportunity to build a brand that no one else had done before, which is a brand built around people and not just the environment. And I feel, I, you know, I feel very passionate about the environment as an outdoor lover, but I felt like that wasn’t the competitive advantage anymore. Everyone ha you have to think about the environment. You have to think about your impact on the planet, right. That was tables, stakes. Uh, I felt I needed to, to do something around people. And so, um, I moved back to the us and started building a brand. Well, I started pitching investors about this idea and vision of building a brand, uh, that was all about lifting people and using its business to, to change capitalism for the better to show that you can build a great brand while also doing good in the world. And so that was my vision for, for what I wanted to build next.

Enrique Alvarez (30:42):

That’s, uh, that’s incredible as well. I mean, when you were down thinking through what the next venture will be, I’m guessing you still have the support of your dad, your brother mean everyone was still there with you. I’m guessing were there that you had any kind of mentors or anything that you remember that someone might have say that maybe can help, uh, other people, uh, out there that might be listening to us, kind of go through those difficult times that, that as entrepreneurs, uh, you will have, and, and you, you often have, what would be your suggestion? How do you get out of that kind of hole? Uh,

Davis Smith (31:16):

Yeah. Yeah. Cause I, I, I was in a hole. I mean, I was, uh, I don’t know if I was like clinically depressed or not, but I, I definitely was feeling some depression. Um, you know, just with this relationship that meant so much to me, with my cousin, you know, we, we built homes on the same street before we traveled and vacation together. We built businesses together. We were best friends. And so to lose that relationship was very, very painful. And, um, you know, so I was in a, I was definit in a funk and I think it really came down to a co this wasn’t something I felt I could talk about with people. Um, right. You know, it was really kind of a really private matter maybe. And, um, I, I, I’m still not very comfortable talking about it obviously, but, um, at the time, like I felt like I really couldn’t talk to anyone about it.

Davis Smith (32:01):

And so I really could, and my wife and, um, she was really my greatest supporter and she encouraged me and believed in me and was willing to take the risk again. And that was really, that was really probably one of the greatest supports. And then I had another very dear friend of mine, um, who had also who knew what I was going through. And he was so an entrepreneur and, uh, he was very encouraging and encouraged me to, to break away and to have the courage, to go do something on my own. And so that was, that was really helpful. Um, and then of course, you know, you have your extended family and others and, uh, you know, I felt a lot of support from them as well, but I think those, those two individuals really were what helped me find the courage to go off and, and try something on my own.

Enrique Alvarez (32:51):

Well, thank you once again, for, for sharing and, uh, for all of those people that are out there as still to the, to this point in the conversation, don’t know what Cotopaxi is. Maybe I should have asked this question before, but so what is Cotopaxi? Uh, and then we’ll deep dive into what the company stands for and what they do. And some of the future plans that are all very exciting, but what is Cotopaxi?

Davis Smith (33:12):

Yeah, I’d say, you know, from the outside, if you looked at Cotopaxi, you’d say, okay, I, I get it. This is a brand that makes outdoor gear. You know, they make backpacks and jackets and tents and sleeping bags. Um, but the reality is that we’re not a backpack company. We’re not a jacket company. We’re, we’re part of a movement of doing good. And, uh, we’re an organization that is focused on fighting and eradicating poverty in the world. And we do that by making really fun outdoor gear. And so, um, you know, that when we launched the business, we launched with, uh, five backpacks and we, we turned on our website the day that we also held an event called that we called the Questival, which was this 24 hour adventure race. And, uh, we, we, you know, people knew about the adventure race because we bought two Lamas on the online classifieds.

Davis Smith (34:01):

And we took these LAAS around college campuses and around Utah, where we were launching the brand. And, uh, all these young people were like, wait, why are LAAS on campus? And we’d tell them about this new brand and this, this 24 hour adventure race where you could go build a team and you could go choose your own adventure. Uh, we’d give you hundreds of challenges to choose from. You got points for completing different challenges. And the winner, the winning teams would get trips and gear. And, uh, it was just an amazing way to go launch this brand. We had thousands of people participate in that first launch event. Uh, we had 30,000 social media posts of people out adventuring in the outdoors with their friends, uh, of, of giving service in the community. And, um, you know, again, it wasn’t just about selling things. It was about creating this movement around rallying people around a cause and a mission. And I think that’s why so many people have felt connected with our, with our brand and why they wear Cotopaxi products and, and, and support us is because they feel a connection of their are values with ours.

Enrique Alvarez (35:03):

I love that. Not selling, but creating a movement. Yeah. That’s what that was business I should be about, I think. Um, but do you still do this, uh, quest every year? Is it still like a, like a race, adventure race every year?

Davis Smith (35:17):

Yeah. You know, we’ve done about a hundred of the quests around the United States and Canada. Uh, um, we, we do not do them currently because of the pandemic we stopped. Right. So it’s been a couple years since we’ve done one, but, uh, they’ll be back. Uh, we don’t, we don’t have any specific dates yet. We’re kind of playing that by year, but we want, we wanna bring ’em back. They’re definitely a very, very fun events and a fun way for people to connect with each other and with our brand and, and with their communities doing good.

Enrique Alvarez (35:44):

So coax, not a, not a backpack sleeping back or gear company. It’s a movement it’s about helping people and you do help. A lot of people. I actually had the opportunity before this interview need to read the 2020 impact report. And if anyone has like 10 minutes out there and wants to read something inspiring, I would totally recommend that you do, and we’ll put it on the footnotes of this conversation. But, uh, tell us a bit more, so healthcare education, refugees, uh, poorest communities, not only in the Americas, but, uh, in other countries as well, you have have a something in the Ukraine now, how do you think about helping others? What’s the strategy, what’s the structure? Cause of course you can, there’s so many things that we need to do still. How do you, how do you think about, well, this is, this is in line with what we’re trying to do. This is not in line, although it’s a good cause. How do you prioritize your costs?

Davis Smith (36:37):

It’s good. You know, when we, when we started the business, the first year I oversaw the impact, um, not because I was an expert, but it, we were a small team and I was the one that was most passionate about it. And I knew a number of nonprofits over the years that I’d been a part of in some way or another. And we started supporting those. And then a year into the business, we hired a chief impact officer. And when she joined our team, she came in and she kind of sat down and asked me, okay, you know, what are you doing now? Uh, tell me all about it. And I, it turns out I was doing everything wrong. So I, I, I didn’t know how to have impact in the very best way. And, but she really helped us figure it out, which was, you know, being very, very disciplined about where you’re putting dollars. Um, sure. That you’re concentrated enough where you’re really having a, a, a true impact. And so we, you know, we decided to focus on education and healthcare and livelihood training, which we, we believe are three pillars, inextricably linked to poverty alleviation. Um, we work very closely with refugee communities, um, internationally, and also so in our local community here in salt lake city and, um, you know, last year, 2021, we haven’t released the impact report yet, but we helped 1.2 million people living in poverty. So, um, I’m incredibly proud of that

Enrique Alvarez (37:53):

Standing ovation for that. Cause that’s 1.2 million people.

Davis Smith (37:56):

Yeah. Um, it’s the thing I’m most proud. Yeah. And you know, most of that, uh, impact is happening in Latin America where I grew up and where the name of the company comes from. We do a lot of work in Ecuador, um, and in the Andy’s region. Um, so, uh, yeah, it’s my deepest passion. It’s what I wake up every morning thinking about and, uh, what motivates me every day to keep pushing on this. And, you know, I, I just believe that, you know, we can be one of hopefully thousands, tens of thousands of businesses out making an impact in the world. And I look at Anika what you’re doing with your business. And it’s like, it’s a great example, uh, of another amazing business quietly, just making an impact in the world. And so when we have businesses, you know, like vector and like Kopac, and, and many others around the world that are making an impact, that’s how we change the world.

Davis Smith (38:43):

That’s how we will eradicate poverty. That’s how we will truly make an impact. We can’t rely on governments and nonprofits alone. They can’t do it alone. And so that’s where we need to step up. And businesses have such a loud megaphone. They have such a loud voice to affect change. They have resources, um, that we can deploy to go make a difference in the world. And, and the, at the end of the day, if we do it right, it ends up being good for business too. Like people want to support and wanna work with other businesses and people that are focused on things that truly matter.

Enrique Alvarez (39:14):

Totally agree. And I think money will come if you make the right decisions for the right reasons and money should not be the goal. Uh, that’s something that just comes along the way. If you, if you work hard enough and, and focus on giving back and changing the world. So I, I couldn’t agree with you more, this has been an incredible conversation. I, I feel very connected with you and your, uh, brand. I actually want to the website, and I know that you’re about starting a movement, but I already also bought a couple backpacks cause, uh, they’re super cool. I mean, they, they look great like the colors and they’re also, uh, from, uh, recycled or repurposed material is the way they guys, uh, branded it on the website. So main thing, education, healthcare, refugee communi, and making people better. But you’re also, sustainability is also important for, for your company. Can you tell us a bit more about the sustainability green aspect of what Kubai does?

Davis Smith (40:05):

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So yeah, at the very core of our brand is people and fighting poverty, but you can’t do that if you’re destroying the planet at the same time. Right. So that’s something we know that we have to do, right? So 94 in two, in 2020, uh, we don’t have the data yet from 2021, but it should be somewhat similar. But in 20 20, 90 4% of our products were made of remnant and recycled material. So, uh, you know, we use, uh, in our factories, there’s a lot of other brands in the outdoor industry, a lot of brands that you can think of right now in your head, those brands use our same factory that we do. And there’s a lot of waste, a lot of, uh, remnants, you know, from the cutting and sewing process. And we decided to use those remnants in a, in a unique way, by going to the Sowers and we empowered the Sowers to design the bags.

Davis Smith (40:49):

We said, you can use any colors. You want any materials you want. The only rule is to make no bag alike. And so we have maybe 20 different styles or patterns, but every single bag will be 100% unique, uh, based on the color patterns and the, the materials being used. And so as you see the product, it’s definitely stands out, you know, you see it and you’re like, wow, like that is unique. And, uh, you know, when you write it, people stop you, they say, I, where did you get that bag? Like, that is really cool. Uh, and this is just a really powerful story of protecting the environment, but also empowering people, these amazing artisans and craftsmen in the Philippines where this factory is, and, uh, you know, giving them a voice in the creative process, which has been really fun and fulfilling.

Enrique Alvarez (41:30):

It’s, uh, again, amazing brand. I encourage everyone to go visit your website and learn a little bit more about you and your story and your team. It sounds like you have an amazing team as well, and a great culture to work for. Um, what are some of the future plans for coax? Where, where do you see the company? Is there anything that you’re currently pushing anything that you would like to bring attention? Do, um, could you share a little bit of that as we kind of close this very interesting interview?

Davis Smith (41:58):

Yeah. Um, we definitely have big ambitions for the brand. You know, we believe we can build the next iconic outdoor brand, uh, you know, a billion dollar business, but that’s focused on giving and focused on helping others. And, uh, you know, we’re doing that by building what we believe is a global brand. You know, when you have these values, these are values that transcend culture and languages and, and borders, uh, humans care deeply about each other. We care about looking out for one another and that’s really what makes us unique. And so we have empathy and, um, you know, when we build a brand and empathy and around giving and serving others and around protecting the world, um, that’s something that, that we believe is a, is part of this movement that, that we want the whole world to be part of. And so, um, you know, we’re, we’re opening physical retail stores. We’re selling online. We sell through, uh, about a thousand other retailers around the world as well. Uh, we’re mostly in the us, but starting to expand into some other, you know, in the EU in Japan and a few other countries around the world and hopefully more into Latin America sometimes soon as well.

Enrique Alvarez (43:03):

Excellent. Excellent. And I’m sure that you’ll be incredibly successful. Uh, the company’s already successful and here’s the mindset and, and passion that you kind of show, uh, just by tell this stories. Um, I, there’s no other result of someone and a culture and a team, so passionately working towards changing the world and success. So thank you so much. Where, where can people, um, find you what’s the best way to contact you your company, if anyone were to wanna reach out to you. And of course, please again, read the, uh, impact reports as soon as they come out. Uh, cause they’re very inspiring.

Davis Smith (43:39):

Yeah. Yeah. Definitely check us out. I mean, uh, you know, if Cotopaxi, Coto P a Xi, uh, dot com, uh, also on social media, you know, Instagram and Facebook, uh, personally, I I’m on LinkedIn. I’m, uh, pretty active on there. I mean, I try to post maybe once or, uh, once a week or so sometimes once every couple weeks, but I love sharing, uh, you know, learnings as a, as a, as a founder, you know, stories of, uh, startups and, you know, lessons I’ve learned along the way. Um, I love talking about impact. And so, um, definitely anyone that’s listening and, and wants to be connected, reach out to me on LinkedIn and, um, how happy to connect there and, uh, looking forward to, to following some of, all of your stories as well.

Enrique Alvarez (44:21):

Davis, thank you so much on behalf of everyone, the team at vector, the team at supply chain. Now this has been a pleasure kind of talking to you and, and getting to know you better. Thanks for sharing your story and account with all our support, uh, for you and coax to continue, uh, growing for everyone else out there. That’s listening to interesting conversation and interviews like the one that we just had, if you like, uh, what you’re listening to and people that we’re interviewing, please don’t forget to subscribe once again. This is simply about a, this has been another episode of logistics with purpose and thank you very much. Everyone have a good day.

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Featured Guests

Davis Smith is the founder and CEO of Cotopaxi, an outdoor gear brand with a humanitarian mission. Davis has raised over $130 million in venture capital over his three start-ups and his current venture is backed by Bain Capital. He is a member of the United Nations Foundation’s Global Leadership Council and a Presidential Leadership Scholar. Davis previously started Brazil’s “Startup of the Year,” was Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s “CEO of the Year,” and is an EY Entrepreneur of the Year. Davis holds an MBA from the Wharton School, an MA from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BA from Brigham Young University. Davis is an adventurer who has floated the Amazon on a self-made raft, kayaked from Cuba to Florida, and explored North Korea. Connect with Davis on LinkedIn.

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Enrique Alvarez

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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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.

Patch Reilly

Data Analytics and Metrics Intern

Patch is a fourth-year Management Information Systems and Marketing major at the University of Georgia. He is working with Supply Chain Now in data analysis, finding insights and best practices to increase company efficiency. Patch previously worked as an intern at AnswerRocket, a data analytics company where he gained invaluable knowledge about analytics, webpage SEO and B2B marketing best practices. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis, going to concerts, and watching movies.

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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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