Logistics with Purpose
Episode 91

Supply chain is so big that you can dedicate 30 or 40 years to learning about it and you're really only going to know a few disciplines.

-Nate Shutes, Host of The Bootstrapper's Guide to Logistics Podcast

Episode Summary

In a discipline as rich, deep, and broad as supply chain, it is no wonder that there are also a million entrepreneurial stories waiting to be told – and heard. Nate Shutes, VP Global Fulfillment & Logistics for Blu Dot, has more than 20 years of industry experience working for shippers, carriers and 3PLs in a variety of roles. He is also the host of The Bootstrapper’s Guide to Logistics Podcast & Ballast Founder Community. In this episode of Logistics with Purpose, Nate joins Enrique Alvarez to talk about why there will never be an end to the small but important conversations in his logistics learning journey.

 

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:03):

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 (00:36):

Good day and welcome back to another episode of Logistics with Purpose. I am Enrique Alvarez and I have an amazing guest with me today. Nate Shutes, Nate, VP of Global Fulfillment and Logistics at Blue Dot, and also the host at Bootstrappers Guide to Logistics podcast, an amazing podcast and, uh, true supporter of logistics entrepreneurs around the world. Nate, how are you doing today?

Nate Shutes (01:01):

I’m doing terrific. It’s good to see you again, my friend.

Enrique Alvarez (01:03):

It’s great to see you too. Always fun. And I’m really happy that you agreed to this interview. As I was telling you before we started recording this show, you are a professional when it comes to podcasts, so I’ll be trying my best to kind of live up to you or I guess experience in podcasting.

Nate Shutes (01:21):

Well, you are too kind. Everybody starts somewhere. And I’ve been at this now for a year and a half or so. I’ve learned a few things along the way, but when I go back and listen to my early episodes where I was learning how to do podcasting, I, it makes me cringe a little bit, but it’s also part of the journey is learning and growing. You have to get outside of your comfort zone and try things that you’re not good at. And in the beginning for me, that was podcasting.

Enrique Alvarez (01:45):

Definitely. And it’s a fun thing to do, especially ’cause you get a chance, as you know, to talk to people like you. So thank you again.

Nate Shutes (01:53):

Of course.

Enrique Alvarez (01:54):

Why don’t you start us off with a little bit of who you are, where did you grow up, and just tell us a little bit more about your childhood.

Nate Shutes (02:01):

Sure. So I grew up in northern Minnesota in Duluth, right on the tip of Lake Superior. So if you hear some accent happening in, in my voice that it’s very Minnesota and was one of five kids and grew up in a, a smaller town that was, you know, very idyllic, very safe and, uh, predictable kind of old school a little bit, and grew up in the early eighties and had an analog childhood and really a peaceful family life. Really enjoyed school. I wasn’t the best student always. I did okay with grades, but I, I didn’t like to study and I didn’t like to turn in homework and then I would just cram for the tests and <laugh> and man managed to do okay. And my mom was a stay-at-home mom for most of my childhood, and my dad was a physical therapist and a pastor. So we had a pretty active family life dinner around the table five nights a week and was a privileged upbringing to be honest. I mean, we weren’t very well off financially, but we had everything else that you could hope for in a childhood. So I was very fortunate.

Enrique Alvarez (03:04):

No, it sounds like you, both your parents, uh, amazing parents. And tell us, do you remember like any kind of story or something from those early years that kind of, you still shape who you are now and you kind of keep it deep inside?

Nate Shutes (03:17):

A couple come to mind. My dad was a physical therapist, so he was in the, the business of helping people that by vocation and specifically he did end of life physical therapy, pre hospice care. So his patients were typically elderly and weren’t going to be patients that fully recovered and went on to, you know, live super vibrant, healthy lives. He was there to help them, you know, transition into the final stages of their lives with dignity. And, and that always stuck with me as a, a very quiet and, and humble way to serve other people. And he was also a pastor. And so I recall many a night of the phone call, a phone would ring and there would be somebody who needed help, and it could be somebody who was, you know, a traveler coming through town and needed a place to stay. And at 10 o’clock at night, I remember my dad leaving the house sometimes and going to take somebody out for a cup of coffee and a piece of pie and then putting ’em up in a hotel somewhere.

Nate Shutes (04:13):

And that was just the way that my dad lived. His life was in, in service of other people. I didn’t always like it, to be honest. It was awkward as a kid. I remember one time we went to deliver food to, um, a family that was in need. And I didn’t know who it was going to be, but when we got there, it was actually one of my classmates from high school. Wow. And we were not friends, we were ab absolutely not friends. We had different groups and we didn’t get along very well. And his mom was a single mom. And as we walked into their house, like I instantly got a sense of, and this person has a very different lived experience than I do. Right. And he’s every bit as awkward that I’m in his house as I am, that I’m in his house.

Nate Shutes (04:56):

And so neither one of us said a word to each other. We, I don’t, had never spoke of it, to be honest. This is the first time I’ve ever told anybody about it. And so I didn’t always like that my dad was out there doing all of these things for other people because sometimes it, it got involved with my own personal life. Right, right. And I knew it was the right thing to be doing, but it also made me squirm a little bit sometimes. And yeah, I haven’t thought of that story in, in 30 years.

Enrique Alvarez (05:25):

It’s, it’s an amazing story. I mean, at the end of the day, as you said, probably very awkward for you, but I feel like it’s also like a great life lesson that your dad left you. Right. I mean, that example, I’m sure it’s something that has guided you throughout your life. I’m sure

Nate Shutes (05:41):

It has as years later. Of course, once you right are on the other side of it and you have kids of your own and, and you want to help others, you, you see the arc of the story very, very differently. And certainly now that I’m in my mid forties, I have a different sense of appreciation for who my dad is. Both of my parents are still with me or with us fortunately. And we have a great relationship and it has impacted me. But you don’t realize it in the moment. It, it’s only after the fact that you begin to connect some of those dots and maybe be, start becoming the person that you’ve always aspired to.

Enrique Alvarez (06:20):

Sounds like you had a great example at home, right? Both your parents. I did. True example of like giving back and being selfless and helping others and certainly, so that must have been like a really, really good upbringing for you at the time. And it’s great that you’re currently valuing it as well and thanking them. So, great. Do you have any other kind of anecdotes or stories from your childhood days that you wanna share with us?

Nate Shutes (06:44):

A handful that come to mind. We, like I said, we had a simple, uh, life that we, we lived, but I was still a teenager and, and did silly things. And one of my favorite stories was my brother and a handful of his friends were driving across a bridge one night and they had grabbed a carton of eggs because they wanted to be rebellious teenage boys. And as a truck came across the bridge, they threw eggs, exited and actually hit the windshield. And rather than just go drive on this truck, slammed on its brakes, turned around and started chasing it. <laugh>. No. And this is, these are four athletes. They’re basketball players, they’re football players, they’re ripped and they’re hard to intimidate. And for whatever reason, they got terrified. My brother was driving my mom’s car and started speeding up, took a corner too sharp and blew a tire, and then the car ran into the ditch. Well, they all jumped out of the car because they saw the truck coming still, and they went and hid in the bushes and they watched as this guy got out of his pickup truck with a baseball bat and broke every single window. Wow. Every taillight, headlight and every single panel on the car smashed it with a baseball bat, <laugh> <laugh>

Enrique Alvarez (08:00):

While these,

Nate Shutes (08:01):

And it was just one guy. But while, while these four teenagers just watched in horror, and then they had to walk back to someone’s house to spend the night and come up with a plan, did they think that they could get this car fixed without anybody finding out? No, they couldn’t.

Enrique Alvarez (08:16):

<laugh>, probably not.

Nate Shutes (08:18):

And so the car got towed to our house and plopped right in front of the house, and it was utterly destroyed. And my dad called all of the boys’ parents and said, I’m not filing an insurance claim. Your boys are paying for this. My son is paying for this. Everybody’s paying 25% and I want it in cash. And so they all had to spend. Wow. I, I think the better part of a year, you know, working to pay my dad back for a, a prank gone very, very wrong.

Enrique Alvarez (08:46):

I’m pretty sure they learned their lesson that night. I think they did. Maybe that was the last time they actually thought about throwing eggs at oncoming traffic,

Nate Shutes (08:55):

I would hope. And now it’s part of family lore, that story.

Enrique Alvarez (08:58):

It’s a great story. So tell us now a little bit about your professional journey and you started BS Transportation and Logistics Management at wis Wisconsin Superior. Uh, how did you went from like your early years to like wanting to understand a bit more about transportation and logistics. What was your rationale behind that decision?

Nate Shutes (09:18):

When I went to undergrad, I knew I wanted to be in the business field, and so I experimented with marketing and maybe I wanted to do economics or finance. And I was sitting in a class one day and a new professor came in and he was the former captain of a steamship and he announced that they were starting a transportation program at the college. And he described a, a warehouse operational problem of trying to, you know, increase throughput or velocity in a distribution center. And the rest of the class looked very, very bored. But to me it was somehow I could visualize exactly the forces that he was describing effortlessly. And it turned into a puzzle to me as he was describing it. And I realized that it was a game or it could be a game, and something about it just like a three-dimensional Rubik’s cube that’s moving, you know, that’s what transportation and supply chain is all about. And it, it captivated my imagination in that moment. And I actually walked right out of the class, up two floors and changed my major on the spot.

Enrique Alvarez (10:29):

Wow. That’s like, that’s incredible.

Nate Shutes (10:31):

And the professor’s name was Dr. Richard Stewart. He retired a year or so ago from the university after establishing a, a a world-class program. And as somebody who’s been largely influential in my life and, uh, has, has some wonderful stories from the high seas himself, but is an, uh, a true educator and mentor. And when you have somebody like that in your life to guide you into an area of interest, man, what a privilege.

Enrique Alvarez (11:00):

I totally agree. And I guess it was a little bit of the challenge for you, right? I mean, just speaks a little bit of who you are and why you do things and you felt in that moment that was something challenging, like, like apostle you said?

Nate Shutes (11:13):

Yeah, and I, I knew it would be intellectually stimulating, right? I had, I, by that point, I had already spent time working in warehouses. I’d already spent some time, um, working at a small trucking company briefly. And so I had an interest in it, but I didn’t know that there was so much science behind it. And as a lifelong learner, supply chain is so big that you can dedicate 30 or 40 years and you’re really only gonna even know a few disciplines within supply chain. It’s just such a massive field that I knew I would never run out of things to keep learning.

Enrique Alvarez (11:52):

And which you did, right? I mean, you hold an M B A. Could you tell us a little bit about that and whether, I guess was college that, that particular career in college kinda live up to the expectation of always being challenging and exciting and interesting to you? Or, uh, how did you then decide to do an m b? A

Nate Shutes (12:08):

Great question. I had spent 12 years at that point, um, in my career working for c h Robinson, one of the largest brokerages and logistics companies in the world, and was able

Enrique Alvarez (12:20):

To <crosstalk> that was right out of college, right?

Nate Shutes (12:22):

No, yeah. So I, yeah,

Enrique Alvarez (12:23):

That was your first job basically.

Nate Shutes (12:25):

Yep. And I spent 12 years there, everything from the international side to the domestics side, operations to sales account management, and learned what I felt was I, I learned how to be a professional at the end of the day. They taught me a bunch of business skills and how to be an adult, and yet I knew that there was another language to business that I lacked. And I would be in certain conversations or certain rooms where they were talking about things that were so much more strategic than I understood and began to explore going back to school. I didn’t know exactly what for, but I knew I wanted to get another business degree and landed on the University of St. Thomas and they have an amazing executive m b A program and it was a chance to join a bunch of other high performing mid and late career professionals and round out our skillset to not just being experts in our discipline, but learning to see business more broadly and understand all of the facets of it.

Nate Shutes (13:27):

And it really elevated my thinking. It, it taught me a different way to look at not just business problems, but how organizations behave in large when there’s large groups of people with their own desires and agendas, like how do they behave? And so studying organizational behavior and all of the things that went along with that program, it was a transformational experience. I came out of it learning to ask much better questions. I don’t feel like I walked away with all the answers I, but I I came away with man, there is so much more still to learn and I feel equipped to at least begin the conversation now on how to make bigger and better financial decisions, for example,

Enrique Alvarez (14:12):

<crosstalk>. No, it’s, and it sounds to me a, a good, it sounds like a really good compliment to supply chain in general, right? I mean, also supply chain professional. It sounds like that could really complement your, uh, analytical thinking, your strategic thinking when it comes to transportation on logistics.

Nate Shutes (14:29):

It did. It also took me outside of the industry in a very positive way in that my peers were in healthcare or manufacturing or retail or any number of other industries. And behind all of that, the business and the people issues are the same, right? They’re, each industry might have its own unique traits, but behind all of that, you get a large collection of people working together towards a common goal. You’re going to have the same dilemmas eventually. And so that helped me see more of the universal side of business and economics and again, a transformational experience would highly recommend it to just about anybody.

Enrique Alvarez (15:11):

Nate, what about some of your hobbies? What did you like to do or what do you like to do still and how will that kind of then connect to some of the other things that you do? Like the podcasting,

Nate Shutes (15:22):

I have always been a musician. I can’t read a lick of music. I play entirely by ear. And that also started as a child. We had a, an acoustic guitar or a classical guitar in our house growing up and nobody knew how to play it, but I just couldn’t set it down. And I would play one string at a time and eventually I learned how to make a chord and, and then began to learn how to play guitar. And now, you know, 35 years later I still play. And I also played piano. My mom was just an incredibly gifted musician and could play chords in colors and shapes and sounds that I’ve never heard anybody else do. And so that was just part of the soundtrack to the, our House was music. And so I, it it was very un for me, it was very undisciplined. It was love it and do it simply for the sake of enjoying it, not to become an elite musician or to try to make it, even though I did, I was in a band in high school and man, that was fantastic. <laugh>,

Enrique Alvarez (16:28):

Um,

Nate Shutes (16:29):

You know, everybody Dreams of being a rock star. What

Enrique Alvarez (16:31):

Was the, what was the name of the band?

Nate Shutes (16:32):

The Jury?

Enrique Alvarez (16:34):

The

Nate Shutes (16:34):

Jury. And they True story. They are still playing to this day.

Enrique Alvarez (16:38):

Really? Alright. Yeah, we’ll definitely have to add link to the jury. And was it eighties music, like rock pop?

Nate Shutes (16:44):

Yeah, cover music. I remember cover again, my dad was a pastor, so we grew up in a pretty conservative house and the band director was my best friend’s older brother, so they were all like in their early twenties. And I was like 15 years old, 16 playing rhythm guitar. And they would have gigs and bars all over the place. And so I would go to my tell my parents, Hey, I’m spending the night at Aaron’s house <laugh>. And, and we’d get to Aaron’s house, but then we’d leave and we would drive two hours and play a gig in a bar until two o’clock in the morning. And I had to sneak in because I was underage. And then we would get home at about five or six o’clock in the morning and then I would have to get up at nine o’clock to go play drums at Church

Enrique Alvarez (17:28):

<laugh>.

Nate Shutes (17:29):

And I did that for two years before my parents found out.

Enrique Alvarez (17:33):

Wow. That like a second identity almost. It was, yeah.

Nate Shutes (17:36):

It was my alter ego

Enrique Alvarez (17:37):

Rock star at night and, uh, church, uh, drums in the morning. Exactly. That’s funny. So, and as we mentioned as well, and I’m sure that some of my listeners already know this, you’re, uh, an accomplished, uh, podcast host yourself the, uh, bootstrappers Guide to Logistics. How, how did all of that came about?

Nate Shutes (17:58):

Well, a few years ago I was on Twitter, and if you spend any time there, you’re, you learn that there are pockets around certain subjects. So there’s like a small and medium business Twitter, there’s finance Twitter, they call it Fin Twit. And then there’s retwit, which is real estate Twitter. And there wasn’t a logistics Twitter. And so I grabbed the handle logistics to it, which is still my handle on Twitter now, and had this idea that maybe we could build a small community on Twitter around logistics, but it failed miserably. Nobody cared. <laugh>, I, I got a bunch of people together and tried to do these sessions and it just utterly flopped.

Enrique Alvarez (18:34):

You were before the pandemic. No one cared about our industry before.

Nate Shutes (18:39):

No one cared. No. And, but I had this idea in the back of my head that there really should be some kind of a community. And by chance Craig Fuller, the c e o and founder of Freight Waves, posted one night at like midnight and said, Hey, I want to share some founder stories in a for Bootstrappers, or the ones that don’t get a lot of attention, the, they, they can’t afford to buy pr, they’re not venture backed, so they’re not gonna get the headlines and make the Ink 5,000 list and all of that, and does anybody wanna partner with me on this? And I jumped at it and said, yes, this is my chance to build this community that I’ve always wanted. And so we just had a couple of conversations and said, here’s loosely what the structure could be, here’s what the content might look like, but Nate, you’re free to go create the content however you see fit and, and we’ll publish it for you. And so I had to learn how to edit and record and promote.

Enrique Alvarez (19:34):

You had zero experience when it came to podcasting or interviewing or <laugh>? Yeah,

Nate Shutes (19:41):

And I didn’t even listen to podcasts at the time, but I like talking to people one-on-one. That’s my, I’m an introvert, so I really, really enjoy small conversations. And so decided to have the podcast focus less on the logistics part of it and the company side and more on the founder themselves that most founders that pursue the entrepreneurial path are gonna go through a lot of ups and downs. They’re gonna have doubts and they’re gonna have really high moments where they feel like they’re on top of the world and every one of them has their own personal backstory and values. And something about that was really compelling to me because I wanted to be different in that there, there’s lots of logistics podcasts out there as you, right, right. And I wanted to find my unique voice, which was how do I bring together all of the unique things that I am and then draw out the humanity of the guest and really feature them and highlight them and their families for this amazing journey that they’re on.

Nate Shutes (20:43):

And people responded way more positively to it than I thought they would. The stories are compelling. I mean, there’s regs for riches, it’s the American dream immigrant stories, David versus Goliath. These are really compelling storylines that are hard coded into our D N A and have been told around campfires for 10,000 years. And so I chose that as the way to, to focus on the person behind the companies and, and it just continues to grow. And I get outreach this week. I got an email from someone in Hong Kong who said, I’m working with founders all over the world all the time, uh, and I meet a bunch of them that are in logistics. I’d love to have them be on your show and, and help spread the word and get their stories out there. Now, I don’t even know how that person came, found me, but I’m, I have listeners in Africa and Australia and Europe, and it blows my mind that I can open up my email in the morning and there’s somebody I’ve never heard of or never met who has listened to the show and wants to share their story. And to me that’s really powerful.

Enrique Alvarez (21:53):

I couldn’t agree with you more. And why do you think that’s the case? I mean, do you feel like it’s something that the world craves this days with all the media and the way the attention is kind of captured many, many times over every day? Is it, I like this too, right? I like to listen and talk to people that are inspiring and have like a good story as opposed to all the drama and bad news and all the things that we’re living. Do you think that there’s something in there that speaks a little bit more to the human kind of, uh, spirit of just being at peace? Maybe?

Nate Shutes (22:26):

I do. I think everybody’s hungry for something real. And what we see in a lot of media nowadays isn’t real. And on social media, it’s not real. And people crave authenticity and some higher purpose or meaning or sense of belonging. It’s just who we are as people. And oftentimes whatever is out there for media, there’s an agenda behind it. It could be they just wanna sell you something and that’s life. They, it’s advertising, it’s necessary, right? Um, but it’s also sometimes it’s appealing to the lowest common denominator of, you know, I, my show is clean. I, I have a clean rating and I want to elevate the conversation. I don’t want to go in the ditch and I, I want to be positive. I don’t want to, even if a a founder has made some mistakes, which many have, I’m not gonna ignore that, but I’m not gonna feature it either, right?

Nate Shutes (23:28):

I want to. Right. I wanna support and encourage them. And I think that’s in such short supply that when people sense that the law of attraction kicks in, and so we have a quiet voice, is how I would describe the podcast. We’re not out there banging pots and pans trying to get your attention. But if you are drawn to that and you listen to part of it, I hope some part of it connects with another person and maybe they reach out and they, they build a relationship with that founder or it impacts their day in one small way. But

Enrique Alvarez (24:03):

A very powerful kind of concept, right? Like a quiet voice and just the way you put it right now, I feel like that’s actually very appealing to me in particular. And I’m sure that’s something that a lot of people share these days, right? Just, just a quiet voice. I think we’re somewhat tired of Joel Soul, the screaming every day

Nate Shutes (24:20):

And we’re also tired of being sold to constantly.

Enrique Alvarez (24:24):

I agree. I agree. It catches my attention that you mentioned hashtag mental health and your profile as a topic. Why is that? Could you tell us a bit more about how does that mental health part play into the, your world of logistics and what you do on a day-to-day basis? Sure.

Nate Shutes (24:41):

Part of it is spending as much time around entrepreneurs as I have. I know the truth behind it, that it’s not just the headlines in the exits and the, the good news that makes, that’s what you see publicly, but you don’t see what happens behind the scenes when somebody is really struggling with the burden of being responsible for a hundred people in their families. Or maybe they’re not as, the company’s not as doing as successfully as they might appear. And there’s pressure behind that. And sometimes people just feel trapped, Hey, I’ve been doing this a long time and it feels like a grind and I don’t love it anymore. And the collective weight of that on entrepreneurs can have impacts of addiction or depression or anxiety or lots of other outcomes that need to be talked about. Right? And so I, I like to start the conversation about mental health.

Nate Shutes (25:44):

We can’t have the full conversation with everybody all the time, but we can break the seal and say, look, we can actually talk about this. It’s a real thing. And it obviously doesn’t just affect entrepreneurs, it’s affected me personally. I mean, the reason that I care so passionately about it myself, even beyond the, the industry and beyond business, is I lost a brother to a suicide in my mid twenties and he had bipolar disorder and he suffered with some addiction issues and had a profound impact on me. And I wish I had been able to do more to help him and I wasn’t. And I lived with the guilt of that for a long time. And until I began to deal with symptoms of depression and, and then I needed help and my life reached a point of having some mental health crises in my late twenties and early thirties.

Nate Shutes (26:37):

And I was fortunate enough to get help and have support around me and talk to my doctor and make better life choices to get me back onto the right path. And now that I am a decade beyond that period in my life, I can look back on it and say, if I didn’t have other people around me, I don’t know what would’ve happened and much has been given to me. And so now much is required. And so if I ever have a platform like we do right here, part of my commitment is to talk about hard things and including sharing parts of my own story that are deeply, uh, painful to recall, but they can help somebody else. And, and I want people to know that they’re not alone. And the National Suicide Hotline is a, an amazing resource. I mean, if anybody needs help, they should seek it. And isolation and being alone is not the answer. And which is a big part of why I’m so focused on, on creating communities in our industry where I have a small sphere of influence and saying, we can take that topic into our industry and do some good.

Enrique Alvarez (27:46):

No, that’s a very powerful, powerful message there. And thank you very much for sharing such a personal story and thank you for being so open about it. I’m sure that helps everyone being included, right? Just feeling that authenticity, as you mentioned before, it’s just something that really speaks to people these days more than, than before maybe. And then of course, seeking help this industry, I guess all industries need help, especially when it comes to mental health. And I think that’s a very important topic that everyone should at least talk about ultimately.

Nate Shutes (28:18):

And we can simply start that conversation again. We can’t have it for or with everybody, but we can model that It’s okay to talk about it.

Enrique Alvarez (28:29):

Absolutely. Absolutely. And thank you once again, not only for your example, but for sharing, uh, your life with, with us today. Uh, again, very powerful. Switching gears a little bit, you’re currently the VP of Global Fulfillment on logistics at Blue Dot. For people that have not really, they’re not familiar with Blue Dot or have not heard about the company yet. Could you tell us a little bit more about the company and then what your role in that company is? Sure.

Nate Shutes (28:52):

Blue.is a modern furniture designer, uh, and retailer and direct to consumer brand based in Minneapolis. It’s been around since the late nineties. We have retail locations in around, uh, 12 or 13 cities around the country and a healthy e-commerce segment, um, as well as a, a business to business division. And the focus is really on creating good design that’s good to everyone where, you know, good design should last. It shouldn’t just be temporary and only be around for a few years before it gets disposed of. And good design is timeless. And by elevating even ordinary everyday objects, you can bring a lot of joy and, and good into, uh, the world. And so our mission is to inspire a more creative way of living through good design that’s good to everyone. And there’s a lot to that statement that if you see good design, you and you know, it, you really appreciate the care and thought that it took to make something. And the world needs beautiful things. And I’m very grateful to be a part of an organization that values high, that that values good design and creativity and allows us all to express who we are, you know, as individuals.

Enrique Alvarez (30:09):

How, how long have you been with, uh, blue Dot

Nate Shutes (30:11):

Coming up on three years? So I started congratulations right in the middle of Covid, which was a blast. <laugh>.

Enrique Alvarez (30:18):

Yeah, I imagine, right? Like, especially for having a new role and a new position in logistics. ’cause as we all know, that was some pretty challenging times with rates and equipment availability and just random craziness.

Nate Shutes (30:33):

I joke that I’ve missed unprecedented times because for the last three years everything was unprecedented. And, and that was I think the opportunity for me joining the, the organization. But also the challenge was, right, I have a few decades of experience in this industry, but I’ve never experienced anything like this where normal supply chains are going to have unpredictability and variability to them, but not to the degree that we saw you. You would have a, a lead time from a factory that would on average be, you know, 75 days. Now it’s maybe 90, but it could also be 140 and you just don’t know because you can’t get space on a vessel. And how do you plan inventory when you don’t know how long it’s gonna take to get here? And then the ports are congested and fuel is out of control and demand is through the roof. And so I would hands down and say it has been the most challenging and rewarding period of my career to try to operate absolutely at a high level in that context.

Enrique Alvarez (31:41):

I think it also kind of united a lot of logistic professionals because as you said, like no one really had gone through something like that ever before. I mean, we were all kind of like experiencing it for the first time, regardless of whether you’ve been in logistics for 30 years or just jumping in or just graduating from college. Yeah, no one expected it. So I, I like the way you, you said it though, like, it just, not only challenging, but also a lot of, uh, learning opportunities like people that went through that successfully, companies that went through that successfully learned a lot from it. And I noted that you posted on LinkedIn an article about how broken the supply chain is and how important it’s to focusing on what works, right, what it works, what is the biggest challenge you have faced and, and what has actually worked for you. And not only in the pandemic, which of course is still pretty fresh for everyone, but just in general as a logistics, uh, professional, what has actually worked for you?

Nate Shutes (32:36):

I’ll start by saying what hasn’t worked earlier in my career, I thought, Hey, if we have the right strategy and we just pick some of the right tools, we’re gonna be able to execute against it and everything’s going to be just fine. And it was all based in theory, right? Right. Here’s how lean is supposed to work and here’s how an E R P is supposed to function. And so it was a lot of textbook knowledge that doesn’t always translate into the real world. And so trying and failing a bunch of times, getting a PhD in what not to do, you realize the best laid plans sometimes are too complicated, they’re too sophisticated and they don’t last first contact with, you know, difficulty. And so what I’ve learned on the other side of that, you know, living with the consequences of your decision years earlier, when you see a decision full grown and it didn’t materialize the way that you thought it would exactly, it starts to get simple again.

Nate Shutes (33:39):

And it is how do you build the highest performing team of people who are adaptable and resilient that care about efficiency and, and enjoy solving puzzles? And that same way too, and assembling a group of people with complimentary skill sets, but shared values, right? And then giving them a, a sense of the direction you want them to go, but then having the trust to step back and let them build and let them learn and let them make mistakes themselves. And then you deepen trust within a team and then you all have each other’s backs. And to me, the that’s what works regardless of the dynamics. And so a lot of my own development has shifted away from, Hey, I need to know more about this subject matter to, hey, I need to learn more about how people operate and how people behave and how people think. And unlocking that side of it because then that group is going to perform well no matter what the obstacle is.

Enrique Alvarez (34:44):

I couldn’t agree with you more, and I think that’s something very valuable. Now, if I were to ask you, like your top three kind of suggestions for all the other logistics managers and VPs out there on how to accomplish that, ’cause I mean, it sounds almost impossible, right? Because you gotta empower them, but at the same time let them fail, but at the same time be, uh, be there. So how, how, in your experience, and I know this for a fact, you have a very successful engaging and committed purpose-driven team, so you have done a good job. How, what’s the secret? Or at least the top three suggestions for the rest of us?

Nate Shutes (35:23):

I think the one that came to mind immediately is the willingness to say, I don’t know. You’re not going to have all the answers, nor should you, if the person at the top has all the answers, then you’ve built a weak team and then you’re, you built a team culture that people are dependent on you for the answers and the industry’s too big and there’s too much out there to learn. So if you encounter a, a situation or a project for example, that you don’t know how to do, it’s okay as the leader to say, Hey, look, I’ve not done this before. This is my first road. This actually is my first rodeo. Does anybody else, you know, how do you create space for somebody else to step into that vacuum and allow them the chance to learn it and grow and that you’re gonna have their back even when they make a mistake? Because of course they’re not going to get it right on the first try. So I think that’s the first one. It’s like some degree of humility to not have to have all the answers

Enrique Alvarez (36:23):

Any two and three or, that’s a very powerful one though. I, I agree with you and not, it’s not an easy thing to do just to basically be humble and acknowledge the fact that you don’t know, right? And we don’t know everything and it’s okay. Being a leader or the quote unquote boss doesn’t mean that you have to know. It just means that you just have to keep learning like everyone else.

Nate Shutes (36:44):

The other hard part is it’s also business and the economic realities of running a, an operation say that you have to be profitable and maintain cash flow in order to survive. And sometimes the needs of the business are different than the desires of people within the business. And whenever there’s a misalignment of those things, there’s a difficult conversation sometimes that needs to happen. And learning to get comfortable with, uh, people not liking you or disagreeing with your approach, um, or, or outright hating you. I’ve had to let people go and I know deep down that they will dislike me for the rest of their lives and I don’t like that. But I also ha have to accept that’s part of the job and to be able to hold those two things. One, it’s all about the people. And then two, it’s all about the business to hold those two things in your mind simultaneously that are opposed frequently and make peace with it. It’s not a daily challenge, but it’s part of learning to sit with the responsibility of being a leader. And it’s not always fun.

Enrique Alvarez (38:06):

Definitely not, definitely not. I, yeah, letting people go. It’s one of the things that I really hate the most about my job, that’s for sure. But I have come to realize that if you just don’t do it, then you basically are not really, uh, committed to your culture and you’re actually doing a huge, huge, it’s a huge mistake for the whole organization, right? So you have to, as you said, let people go, being okay accepting that some people probably are better and more successful somewhere else. That’s part of the job.

Nate Shutes (38:37):

My favorite definition of culture that I’ve ever heard was culture is whatever the worst thing that you allow, whatever the lowest bar of behavior or performance or something else, whatever you let happen at the lowest level, that’s what your culture is. And so if you are not willing to have a difficult conversation with somebody who’s underperforming or or causing issues, you’re signaling to everybody else that our culture tolerates that, and that we aren’t willing to have those difficult conversations. And so aside from just aspiring to a higher level of culture always, it’s also about trying to raise the floor constantly.

Enrique Alvarez (39:21):

Wow, that’s a really good way of looking at culture. And actually that’s a really good quote. Yeah. But I, yes, absolutely. I changing gears a little bit again, I have heard of showrooms before. I know Blue Dot has a lot of showrooms across the United States, but I also heard that you guys have a showboat. What is, what is a showboat? It’s incredibly innovative and I haven’t been in it or actually looked at it, but can you share a little bit more about what the idea was behind the showboat?

Nate Shutes (39:50):

Sure. In Chicago, every year there is a conference called NeoCon and all of the, uh, designers and and furniture world gets together in, in a conference hall. And if you’ve been to any conference hall, eventually they all start to kind of look and sound and feel the same. And a few years ago, our trade and contract team and the heads, heads of our company wanted to do something different. So rather than staying in a conference hall all day, wouldn’t it be cool to go on a boat instead and have the showroom be on a boat where there’s good food and, and good beverage and you can take a tour of Chicago on the river and get out of the conference hall and instantly it was a success. So, uh, last year was the first year doing it and there was a bunch of buzz around it because it was a, a unique way to get people together and, and talking about good design by designing an experience that’s the opposite of a conference. And so for a couple of days, uh, an army of people got together and loaded showrooms worth of furniture onto a boat and designed and set the entire thing up, and then hosted hundreds of people for hours and hours and hours, and then took it all down and stored it and did the same thing again this last summer. So, very successful event. And again, just a creative way of looking at an old problem of how do you stand out in a crowd

Enrique Alvarez (41:23):

That’s incredibly, uh, creative and, uh, innovative. So congratulations to your team or whoever came up with the idea. And of course, implementing it is also challenging. So this is a great, great idea. I’m pretty sure that a lot of companies are gonna follow up. And has anyone already tried to do the same this year or maybe

Nate Shutes (41:40):

Next? We, we made sure to get the reservations a few years in advance now <laugh>, right?

Enrique Alvarez (41:44):

Yeah.

Nate Shutes (41:45):

Once, once Word got out, we had to book that a long time into the future.

Enrique Alvarez (41:49):

I’m pretty sure you’ll start seeing a little bit more of that as the conference continue. ’cause it’s a, it’s an excellent idea and a great kind of example of how creative, I guess Blue Dots team is, right? It just speaks to who you guys are basically.

Nate Shutes (42:02):

Yeah. It’s about going just one step further,

Enrique Alvarez (42:06):

Right? Which is what makes the design beautiful, I guess. Right? Always trying to be ahead

Nate Shutes (42:12):

And Yes.

Enrique Alvarez (42:13):

Innovative.

Nate Shutes (42:15):

Exactly.

Enrique Alvarez (42:17):

Nate, going back to the values, ’cause that’s something that I know you are very passionate about and people and behavior and, uh, mindsets. How does Blue Dots kind of overall culture resonate through their logistics strategy? And of course, with what you do and the way you manage people and the kind of team that you have. I mean, could you tell us a bit more about that?

Nate Shutes (42:38):

Sure. I think my favorite, one of our values is turn it up to 11, and that’s a reference to the Spinal Tap movie from the seventies. You know, the, the max volume is 10, but we’re gonna turn it up to 11. And that really is about going further than most are willing to go. And in operations, whether it’s fulfillment or logistics, there’s always a point at which you could say, that’s good enough, let’s be done. Or we got high enough scores, customer survey scores, that’s good enough, let’s stop. Or we ship 186 orders, we’re good for the day. Well, what if we shipped 200? What if we got the customer scores 3% higher? And this unwillingness to accept good enough is so ingrained into the operation that we have, that ordinary stands out now as not okay. ’cause we don’t want to be ordinary, we don’t want to just do something good enough. And so that value is one that we don’t even have to foster. It’s so when you’re on a high performing team, you want, or when, when you’re a high performer, you want to be on a team of high performers, right? And right, and that competitive spirit and that always pushing for more. It’s a double-edged sword though, because there’s, you could do it infinitely and you also have to sometimes let something not be perfect, right? But turning it up to 11 is my personal favorite.

Enrique Alvarez (44:15):

I, I like it. It’s a really good value to have, especially if you’re like a top high designer, top kind of, uh, company trying to compete for the best in class, I guess, what does logistics with purpose mean to you?

Nate Shutes (44:30):

To me, it means wherever you have influence, use it for good. And I happen to have influence in the logistics world through a combination of years of work and relationships and also just plain luck and opportunities that have been put in front of me. I have a platform now and an audience, and so I have to use that responsibly and recognize that I can, I’m not gonna change the world. I’m not gonna cure cancer. I’m not going to turn the industry, you know, away from having double brokers overnight somehow. But anything that we do, whether it’s playing music or you know, delivering packages, you can do it in a way that is undergirded with values. And we, we may not even always agree on what those values are or should be. And that’s, that’s part of being in community with other people is we’re all very, very different. But if we all look at it from our own perspectives and we try to improve something that needs improving collectively, we can do a lot of good right. And tech good may not last forever. It may even be very, very brief, but if you can leave a room and it’s better because you came through it, that’s a, a pretty simple way to, to have an impact.

Enrique Alvarez (46:07):

Nate, I cannot think of any better way to end this conversation. Thank you so, so much for sharing some of your personal experiences, some of your personal stories, and of course the culture, the values, and the amazing job that blue.is doing. How can our listeners connect with you, learn a little bit more about you, learn a little bit more about your company, your podcast?

Nate Shutes (46:28):

Sure. If you want to check me out, I’m on LinkedIn. It’s Nate Shoots. I have a website for the podcast, but it’s, I, I can’t remember the full name because I haven’t built

Enrique Alvarez (46:37):

<crosstalk>. We’ll add, we’ll add that to the, don’t worry about any of that. We’ll add all those links and some more on the podcast notes, so don’t worry about that. Excellent.

Nate Shutes (46:45):

And if you wanna reach out to me, you can shoot me a note, Nate, at logistics founders.com. You can check out blue dot B l u d o t.com if you wanna check out some great designs. And I’m on Twitter at Logistics twit.

Enrique Alvarez (46:59):

Well, Nate, once again, thank you so much for making this industry better and actually trying to bring the community together as well. And if you’re listening to our episode and if you actually like what you’re listening to, please don’t forget to subscribe. This Enrique Alvarez, again, logistics with purpose. Have a great day and I’ll see you on the next one.

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Featured Guests

Nate Shutes is the VP Global Fulfillment & Logistics for Blu Dot, a modern furniture designer and retailer headquartered in Minneapolis, MN. With more than 20 years of industry experience, he has worked for shippers, carriers and 3PLs in a variety of roles. With deep expertise in big and bulky products, Nate has become sought after for his insights into operations, technology, and the customer experience. He is the host of the Bootstrapper’s Guide to Logistics and Founder of Ballast – the world’s first private member community for logistics entrepreneurs. Certified as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt he holds a Bachelor’s degree in Transportation & Logistics Management from the University of Wisconsin-Superior and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas. Connect with Nate on LinkedIn.

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Enrique Alvarez

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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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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Katherine Hintz

Creative Director, Producer, Host

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

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Kim Reuter

Host

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

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Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Sofia Rivas Herrera

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

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

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Demo Perez

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

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

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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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Adrian Purtill

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Kevin Brown

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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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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Allison Giddens

Host

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

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

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Billy Taylor

Host

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

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

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

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

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Tandreia Bellamy

Host

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

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

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

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

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Marty Parker

Host

Marty Parker serves as both the CEO & Founder of Adæpt Advising and an award-winning Senior Lecturer (Teaching Professor) in Supply Chain and Operations Management at the University of Georgia. He has 30 years of experience as a COO, CMO, CSO (Chief Strategy Officer), VP of Operations, VP of Marketing and Process Engineer. He founded and leads UGA’s Supply Chain Advisory Board, serves as the Academic Director of UGA’s Leaders Academy, and serves on multiple company advisory boards including the Trucking Profitability Strategies Conference, Zion Solutions Group and Carlton Creative Company.

Marty enjoys helping people and companies be successful. Through UGA, Marty is passionate about his students, helping them network and find internships and jobs. He does this through several hundred one-on-one zoom meetings each year with his students and former students. Through Adæpt Advising, Marty has organized an excellent team of affiliates that he works with to help companies grow and succeed. He does this by helping c-suite executives improve their skills, develop better leaders, engage their workforce, improve processes, and develop strategic plans with detailed action steps and financial targets. Marty believes that excellence in supply chain management comes from the understanding the intersection of leadership, culture, and technology, working across all parts of the organization to meet customer needs, maximize profit and minimize costs.

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Laura Lopez

Marketing Coordinator

Laura Lopez serves as our Supply Chain Now Marketing Coordinator. She graduated from Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente in Mexico with a degree in marketing. Laura loves everything digital because she sees the potential it holds for companies in the marketing industry. Her passion for creativity and thinking outside the box led her to pursue a career in marketing. With experience in fields like accounting, digital marketing, and restaurants, she clearly enjoys taking on challenges. Laura lives the best of both worlds - you'll either catch her hanging out with her friends soaking up the sun in Mexico or flying out to visit her family in California!

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Jake Barr

Host

An acknowledged industry leader, Jake Barr now serves as CEO for BlueWorld Supply Chain Consulting, providing support to a cross section of Fortune 500 companies such as Cargill, Caterpillar, Colgate, Dow/Dupont, Firmenich, 3M, Merck, Bayer/Monsanto, Newell Brands, Kimberly Clark, Nestle, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Sanofi, Estee Lauder and Coty among others. He's also devoted time to engagements in public health sector work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. At P&G, he managed the breakthrough delivery of an E2E (End to End) Planning Transformation effort, creating control towers which now manage the daily business globally. He is recognized as the architect for P&G’s demand driven supply chain strategy – referenced as a “Consumer Driven Supply Chain” transformation. Jake began his career with P&G in Finance in Risk Analysis and then moved into Operations. He has experience in building supply network capability globally through leadership assignments in Asia, Latin America, North America and the Middle East. He currently serves as a Research Associate for MIT; a member of Supply Chain Industry Advisory Council; Member of Gartner’s Supply Chain Think Tank; Consumer Goods “League of Leaders“; and a recipient of the 2015 - 2021 Supply Chain “Pro’s to Know” Award. He has been recognized as a University of Kentucky Fellow.

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Marcia Williams

Host

Marcia Williams, Managing Partner of USM Supply Chain, has 18 years of experience in Supply Chain, with expertise in optimizing Supply Chain-Finance Planning (S&OP/ IBP) at Large Fast-Growing CPGs for greater profitability and improved cash flows. Marcia has helped mid-sized and large companies including Lindt Chocolates, Hershey, and Coty. She holds an MBA from Michigan State University and a degree in Accounting from Universidad de la Republica, Uruguay (South America). Marcia is also a Forbes Council Contributor based out of New York, and author of the book series Supply Chains with Maria in storytelling style. A recent speaker’s engagement is Marcia TEDx Talk: TEDxMSU - How Supply Chain Impacts You: A Transformational Journey.

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Luisa Garcia

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Luisa Garcia is a passionate Marketer from Lagos de Moreno based in Aguascalientes. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes, Mexico. She specializes in brand development at any stage, believing that a brand is more than just a name or image—it’s an unforgettable experience. Her expertise helps brands achieve their dreams and aspirations, making a lasting impact. Currently working at Vector Global Logistics in the Marketing team and as podcast coordinator of Logistics With Purpose®. Luisa believes that purpose-driven decisions will impact results that make a difference in the world.

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Astrid Aubert

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Astrid Aubert was born in Guadalajara, she is 39 years old and has had the opportunity to live in many places. She studied communication and her professional career has been in Trade Marketing for global companies such as Pepsico and Mars. She currently works as Marketing Director Mexico for Vector Global Logistics. She is responsible for internal communications and marketing strategy development for the logistics industry. She is a mother of two girls, married and lives in Monterrey. She defines herself as a creative and innovative person, and enjoys traveling and cooking a lot.

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Constantine Limberakis

Host

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

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

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

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

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Greg White

Principal & Host

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

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

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Chris Barnes

Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring

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

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

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Tyler Ward

Director of Sales

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

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

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

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Kevin L. Jackson

Host of Digital Transformers

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

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Enrique Alvarez

Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español

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

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

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Kelly Barner

Host of Dial P for Procurement

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

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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

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

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Amanda Luton

Vice President, Production

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

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Clay Phillips

Business Development Manager

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

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Trisha Cordes

Administrative Assistant

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

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Chantel King

Social Media Manager

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

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

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

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Lori Sofian

Marketing Coordinator

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

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Katherine Hintz

Director, Customer Experience

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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Mary Kate Love

Chief of Staff & Host

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

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

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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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