Supply Chain Now
Episode 1091

You need to be able to pull information from third party sources and make proper decisions in a timely fashion. The key is to get it in a system, in one central place, and make it actionable.

-Rob Schaefer is the VP of Transportation Management Sales at Manhattan Associates

Episode Summary

Although specific goals and challenges vary from company to company and industry to industry, there are also macro trends that all companies are trying to optimize against. How each leadership team chooses to navigate these trends will ultimately determine if they grow their market footprint or start to fall behind the competition.

Rob Schaefer is the VP of Transportation Management Sales at Manhattan Associates and Bryant Smith is their Director of Product Management. They are in regular conversation with customers and decision makers, hearing their thoughts about what issues are the highest priority and which forms of value are the hardest to deliver.

In this conversation, Rob and Bryant join hosts Scott Luton and Greg White discuss three top supply chain trends:

• Labor shortages – what is causing them and how companies are responding

• Operational costs v. service levels – including the analytical capabilities required to keep costs low while keeping customer satisfaction high

• Digitization – which means more things to more people than many of us realize, and ultimately leads to better connectivity and decision making

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:03):

Welcome to Supply Chain Now, the voice of global supply chain. Supply Chain Now focuses on the best in the business for our worldwide audience, the people, the technologies, the best practices, and today’s critical issues, the challenges and opportunities. Stay tuned to hear from those making global business happen right here on Supply Chain Now.

Scott Luton (00:32):

Hey. Hey. Good morning, good afternoon, good evening wherever you are. Scott Luton and Greg White with you here on Supply Chain Now. Welcome to today’s livestream. Gregory, how are we doing?

Greg White (00:42):

Quite well. I’m working on my grammar since our last couple episodes. Yes. I’m doing quite well, but I’m also doing good.

Scott Luton (00:51):

Okay.

Greg White (00:52):

Trying to give back or give forward, which is doing good.

Scott Luton (00:58):

Yes. All right. So, vocabulary quiz and sentence diagraming quiz tonight at 11:00, so y’all join us for that. Greg, we’ve got a great show lined up here today. We’re going to be focused on not diagramming, I promise y’all so stay tuned with us. We’re going to be focused on, instead, three powerful trends shaping, not just the supply chain industry, but – heck – shaping global business. Right, Greg?

Greg White (01:22):

Yeah. We are back into in-person event mode and how Manifest and ProMat, and everything, every kind of event that you could contemplate and people are sharing ideas like crazy right there. So, it’s good to see that back, people getting back in-person. It’s going to be interesting to hear what people are saying and what they’re doing.

Scott Luton (01:54):

Yes. I’m glad you mentioned that. What folks are saying and what business leaders are doing. That’s going to be a big theme of our conversations here today. So, folks get ready.

Greg White (02:03):

I did not know that.

Scott Luton (02:04):

Beyond Greg and beyond these two dynamos we’re about to introduce, we want to hear from you too. So, let’s say hello to a few folks, Greg, around the globe. We got Jacqueline tuned in via LinkedIn from -Miami, as Bobby Bowden used to pronounce it – Miami, Florida. Of course, Katherine —

Greg White (02:21):

Or [inaudible] as the natives of Miami say, Miami.

Scott Luton (02:24):

Okay. Different strokes, different folks. I love it. Of course, Katherine and Amanda, Chantel, Clay, all folks behind scenes helping to make production happen. Thank you for that. Rosita tuned in from Anchorage, Alaska. I bet that is a gorgeous image there, Greg. Huh?

Greg White (02:41):

Yeah. Alaska, the now home of Zach Brown. Always singing about the beach, but living in Alaska. Love the irony there.

Scott Luton (02:50):

Okay. Adam Smith tuned in from LinkedIn from the UK. Great to see you. Mark up in Seattle. Glorimar is back with us. Glorimar, thank you for the great question yesterday as we had Mike Griswold from Gartner on, and Jenny Froome, of course. Bryant Birch from Northern Kentucky. Kevin from New Jersey. Kevin, we’re going to be talking about New Jersey here in just a second. And Jacqueline says, “You nailed it.” I think you nailed it, Greg, right? So, great to see you here. I know we couldn’t hit everybody, but welcome, welcome, and we look forward to everyone’s take on what we’re going to be chatting through here today.

Scott Luton (03:25):

So, speaking of, Greg, we’ve got a big show to get to. Are you ready to bring on our two or our heck of a one-two punch here today?

Greg White (03:35):

I am now, yes. I just needed that half-second, but now I’m ready. Yes, let’s definitely do that.

Scott Luton (03:40):

Your timing is my timing, my friend. So, with that said, let’s bring on Rob Schaefer, Vice-President, Transportation Management Sales with Manhattan Associates, and his colleague, Bryant Smith, Director of Product Management at Manhattan. Hey. Hey. Rob, how are you doing?

Rob Schaefer (04:01):

I’m doing great. Good afternoon.

Scott Luton (04:02):

Great to see you. And, Bryant, how are you doing?

Bryant Smith (04:05):

I think I have to say well at this point, right? I’m doing well.

Greg White (04:10):

Bryant actually provided the guidance in the green room, so thank you for tuning in. I really appreciate it. Welcome aboard.

Scott Luton (04:17):

All right. So, lessons abound here today. So, you got a big crowd. Y’all must have quite the rock and roll star following, Rob and Bryant, but great to have everybody. So, before we get into the center plate item, we want to start with a little fun warmup question. And I think this is going to relate to a lot of folks here, I think. So, I didn’t have any idea, there’s such a day, but it’s National Egg McMuffin Day. Yes, parades everywhere, folks. It was invented by accident back in 1972 and the first Egg McMuffin was sold at a Belleville, New Jersey McDonald’s. I can’t remember who – it was Kevin tuned in from New Jersey. So, what maybe y’all don’t know, a lot of folks may not know, is it really transformed the McDonald’s business and enterprise from burger only to now a go-to breakfast place. It changed revenue. It changed how they grew and how they expanded. Now, a lot of folks will pull in through a McDonald’s for an Egg McMuffin and a coffee. So, with all of that as a backdrop, Rob, I’m going to start with you. What is your go-to breakfast when you can cheat on your diet a little bit?

Rob Schaefer (05:24):

So, the one I can cheat on my diet but is key because I try not to go there, but I’m pretty basic. I’m a three egg over easy bacon, potatoes, sourdough bread, and a cup of coffee with cream.

Scott Luton (05:36):

Oh, man. Greg, does that resonate with you?

Greg White (05:40):

Yeah. That’s a good start.

Scott Luton (05:43):

Okay. Love it. And I love how he said it’s consistent. It’s a go-to. All right. So, Bryant, how about you? That’s going to be tough to beat.

Bryant Smith (05:52):

Well, I mean, Rob gave the example, but that’s just like a normal breakfast for me. I was like, “When are you going to cheat in there?” I’m going with biscuits and gravy. Biscuits and gravy. It’s good.

Scott Luton (06:04):

Okay. So, I got to ask you a key follow up, Tabasco on those biscuits and gravy?

Bryant Smith (06:08):

On the side just in case.

Scott Luton (06:11):

All right. All right. Hey, to each his own. Greg, so we got three eggs over easy. We got biscuits and gravy, which is one of my favorites. Greg?

Greg White (06:21):

Biscuits and gravy, three pancakes smothered in syrup, and five eggs scrambled hard.

Scott Luton (06:26):

Really?

Greg White (06:28):

I used to cheat. I’m really embracing The Rock, Dwayne Johnson’s methodology of cheating. And by the way, if you haven’t seen that, just watch it. Just Google Dwayne Johnson cheat meal and you’ll be truly impressed.

Scott Luton (06:47):

All right. Man, all three of y’all brought it today. And, Bryant, I would just echo your biscuits and gravy. My dad makes a good one. But my mother-in-law also, Val, makes a wonderful biscuits and gravy.

Greg White (07:02):

For those of you who selected biscuits and gravy, sausage gravy, I presume, which seems to be the only way that it makes sense. Yes?

Scott Luton (07:10):

Yes.

Bryant Smith (07:10):

Yes.

Scott Luton (07:11):

No doubt. No doubt. All right. Folks, feel free to drop y’all’s go-to breakfast in the comments. We’ll be developing a theme there. We love talking food here. But today, Greg, Rob, and Bryant, we’re here to talk about some of, really, arguably, the top three trends really shaping global supply chain. So, before we get there, though, Rob, you and Bryant have been out there talking with and working with the movers and shakers of industry being in-person. Greg mentioned we’re back in in-person event mode, which is great. You can reconnect with friends as well as pick up market intel. On that latter note, Rob, we’ll start with you here, what were folks talking about at Manifest out in Vegas a few weeks back?

Rob Schaefer (07:58):

Yeah. You know, it was interesting. It was good to be in-person with people once again. Generally, when we attend conferences, it’s as a vendor. So, we have a booth set up in the vendor area. We probably don’t get to go to as many sessions as we might want to, so we took a different tact here with Manifest. It’s the first time we’d been there. And we went as an attendee. We wanted to go to all of the sessions. We wanted to hear what our customers and prospects were hearing from the industry leaders. And it was very, very apparent over the two-and-a-half days that there was a common theme across all of the sessions. And that was sustainability, collaboration, and artificial intelligence.

Rob Schaefer (08:38):

And this wasn’t just a transportation conference, it’s a supply chain conference. So, those three topics spanned multiple areas. So, sustainability wasn’t just what we would impact in terms of lower CO2 emissions or building better routes, driving fewer miles, those sorts of things. It was EV manufacturers. We’re talking about in the future there will be electric semis and all those sorts of things. So, each component kind of had a part that was available today versus here’s what we’re looking to in the future.

Rob Schaefer (09:12):

The same with collaboration. There’s visibility today, where’s my product in motion. But there was also a lot of discussion around collaboration where the vendor, the steamship line, the port, the transload facility, the drayage, rail, everybody sharing information instantaneously. And carriers broadcasting their capacity to everyone. So, these giant collaboration marketplaces, which sounds really cool, but it doesn’t exist today.

Rob Schaefer (09:46):

The same way with artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence kind of reminds me of when blockchain became available. Everyone was like, “Blockchain. I need to find a problem that I can fix with blockchain.” Now, everyone’s talking about artificial intelligence, that it will fix everything. My personal opinion is it’s really cool, it’s a little bit scary. But it needs to be pointed at the appropriate problem with the right use case, with the correct data, and a lot of it, to become valuable. So, again, those were three kind of cool topics that could be adapted to both what’s happening today and what they see happening in the future. So, I’ll turn it over to Bryant to see if he has any comments, he was there as well. But that’s what I heard.

Scott Luton (10:34):

Bryant?

Bryant Smith (10:35):

Yeah, that’s great. And, you know, it was good getting out there and talking to customers, stakeholders, industry folks, and sharing that knowledge. Rob hit the top of the waves there really nicely. What I would say is, there’s some players in the industry that accelerate in one or two of those particular areas, and there’s some that are on different levels of the spectrum. So, they might be just starting their journey with sustainability or machine learning or visibility, and there’s some that have progressed very nicely over the last several years. So, I think the point was, is we can help each other. It doesn’t matter what side of the spectrum you’re on, we’re keeping the conversations open, we’re sharing best practices, and we’re progressing in the industry.

Scott Luton (11:28):

Well said, Bryant. I love that. And, Rob, thank you for keeping it real. That was a great summary. Greg, weigh in here. After what Rob and Bryant said about their experiences, some of the conversations and some of the topics out there, your thoughts, Greg.

Greg White (11:42):

Yeah. We are finally coming around to, instead of AI or blockchain or whatever, RPA, a hammer looking for nails, we are finally going, “What problem could we really solve? What really requires to be solved by AI? And do we have the data to do it?” Lots and lots of data is really key. Hopefully this makes you feel better, Rob. But I don’t think of AI as a hyper-intelligent overlord. I think of it more as like a child. It needs to be taught. It needs to learn from data. It needs to learn from practices that are instilled in it by people actually doing the job. And it does take a lot of data. Human beings take in a lot of data every single day to learn how to speak, how to walk, how to do all of the things that we do, argue.

Greg White (12:45):

So, I think there’s less concern about that than there ought to be. We’ve already discovered with ChatGPT that it’s intellect is very detectable by other AI. And already able to be alerted by that really smart kid from Princeton who figured out how to [inaudible] ChatGPT had written people’s papers. Stuff like that is truly impressive. But, nonetheless, it is most important that we recognize that these things are just another type of hammer. So, find the right nail. And if you can’t solve it another way, then that’s when you start looking at some of these more advanced technologies.

Scott Luton (13:24):

Love that. Okay. Rob, your quick response and then I’m going to share a couple quick comments, and we’re going to dive into the three big trends we’re going to talk about. Rob.

Rob Schaefer (13:33):

I mean, in response to that is I agree. It’s just that when you’re teaching somebody, you have to be teaching them with the right data to come up with the right result. So, that’s my whole thing. Lots of data but, most importantly, it needs to be the correct data, and then it will become very, very useful.

Scott Luton (13:52):

Okay. All right.

Rob Schaefer (13:54):

We’re all trying to figure out how to do it.

Scott Luton (13:56):

Greg, Rob, and Bryant, what a wonderful start. All right. So, now that I’m hungry, but we’ve talked AI, I’m sure we’ll be stirring some thoughts out there amongst all the folks in the cheap seats. Speaking of which, Adam, “Chips (fries) and gravy in England.” That’s the go-to breakfast. I love that. Mickey – great to see you – tuned in from India. What’s that, Greg?

Greg White (14:20):

Chips are French fries. French fries for breakfast. I can get behind that.

Scott Luton (14:25):

Right. Right. And my fellow veteran, hey, Jeremy, how are you doing? “Greetings,” he says, “from the Flint Hills of Kansas.” I love that.

Greg White (14:34):

I wonder what family it is. Gosh, I hope he hasn’t told me already. Yeah. [Inaudible], Jeremy.

Scott Luton (14:38):

Jeremy, let us know where you’re tuned in from. Okay. So, Greg, Rob, and Bryant, I want to keep moving. So, we’ve set the table with y’all’s perspective. I appreciate y’all sharing what some of the conversations out there, as well as some of the conversations going on in boardrooms and leadership rooms in supply chain right now related to some of the technology I mentioned. But let’s talk about these three key trends that we alluded to on the frontend that are really shaping global supply chain, global business, you name it. Rob, where are we starting on our top three list here today?

Rob Schaefer (15:10):

So, we’re going to start with labor shortage. So, it’s interesting, not necessarily a trend, but these are concerns that people are sharing with us while things have calmed down a little bit in supply chain. I mean, things have eased up with price of containers, ocean shipping, capacity in terms of carriers, those sorts of things. What hasn’t eased up is the labor shortage itself. So, a couple of reasons. One, there’s been a lot of retirements. The average age in supply chain, it might be a little bit older than some areas. And during COVID, a lot of people retired, and people continue to retire. The ability to backfill those positions with younger folks isn’t happening as quickly as some people would like. People have a choice and they’re making different career choices.

Rob Schaefer (15:57):

So then, kind of the challenge to the employer or the shipper is, number one, employee retention. I need to hold on to the employees that I have. Number two, since I don’t have enough of them, I need to make them more efficient. And that doesn’t mean I’m making them do more work and work longer hours. I’m just trying to make what they do today easier and potentially have them to be able to do more in the same timeframe. And, again, get the most out and kind of eliminate that waste.

Rob Schaefer (16:32):

And, lastly, is the I do need to attract new talent. I mean, everybody’s trying to fish off of each other’s peer in the way that you want to attract that talent. Is you want to be the company that people either want to work for or want to do business with. And there’s technology that enables all three of those things. And I’m going to throw it over to Bryant, who is going to talk a little bit about that.

Scott Luton (16:58):

Bryant, what would you add?

Bryant Smith (16:59):

Yeah. I think that’s absolutely right. And the conversations that we’re having with our partners, our customers, our suppliers, it’s all about how can we do more with less and for the reasons that Rob just explained. And what we’re hearing and what we’re seeing is they’re taking kind of two-phased approach, two-pronged approach. There’s things you can do from a technology perspective to help offset some of those challenges that you’re experiencing in labor storage. But there’s things you can do from a process perspective as well. It doesn’t always need to be a technology solve.

Bryant Smith (17:36):

So, some examples of who we’ve talked to and what we’ve seen, we’re seeing more robotics in warehouses to help load, unload, stack away products. Because these robots can work all day, all night, and, really, suboptimal conditions that normally would require human intervention. But we’re also seeing even more easy stuff, like just putting a kiosk at the gate so you don’t need a human to check you in, to tell you to go to which door. You can just use a kiosk and say, “Hey, back your truck up into this dock, and you’re ready to go.” So, you can kind of offset in that way.

Bryant Smith (18:20):

But then you’re seeing automation. How can I take these manual processes, time consuming processes, and automate them in a way so that I’m more efficient? And, again, that’s all in the spirit of do more with less. And then, of course, from a process perspective is how can we help our drivers, our dock workers, our front office, our back office so that we are a shipper of choice or we are a carrier of choice. Because those types of things matter when it comes to working together. And as Rob said, who you’re working with, and who you’re working for, and who you’re partnering with. So, those are the things that we’re seeing out in the field.

Scott Luton (19:04):

Well said, Bryant. Those pesky manual processes. Greg, we were talking about that earlier this week. Your thoughts on the labor shortage trend from what Rob and Bryant has shared, Greg.

Greg White (19:17):

Yeah. It is the root of all evil in supply chain. I mean, it is the core cause of all of the problems in supply chain. Look, let’s face it, except for the complete shutdown of an entire society on the planet, sending everyone home, supply chains have faced all of the other – all of the other – disruptions that we’re seeing now, we have seen since the pandemic. They’ve seen geopolitical disruption. They’ve seen wars. They’ve seen ships stuck in the Suez Canal. They’ve seen all of these other things. The difference being, you have to remember in 2019, prior to COVID, we had over 10 percent unemployment rate in supply chain alone in the states.

Greg White (20:04):

Then, 2021, the generation that Rob is talking about, the baby boomers, the myth of The Great Resignation is that it was gen X, Y, and Z that were resigning, but it was really the baby boomers. Already 10,000 baby boomers were leaving the workforce every single day, and 3.1 million additional left in 2021 during The Great Resignation. Which, I think a lot of people have realized should have been called The Great Retirement. And they’re never coming back. And those were the people doing those labor jobs. Those were the people with the intellectual capabilities to understand why or how to do those jobs. And that’s why automation is so necessary.

Greg White (20:46):

And I continually argue – I’m sorry if I’m boring anyone who watches this show all the time – we never need to apologize for automation ever again. Because the generation that had to have those jobs that are now being automated, they’ve largely left the workforce and they’ll only continue to leave the workforce. And the workers that Rob and Bryant are talking about that we want to attract to the workforce, don’t want manual labor jobs. They’re staying away from them in droves. So, we have to think about this as the generational shift that it is. And the only way to get supply chain back on stable footing is to alleviate this labor shortage. Regardless of all the other things, I’m glad this was number one that you guys mentioned.

Scott Luton (21:35):

Agreed. Okay. A couple quick comments. First off, going back to what Rob said, can you just hear someone, “Get off my pier,” as Rob was talking about. Everybody’s fishing off everybody’s piers. I love that visual, Rob. Okay. And I saw the new Tom Hanks movie, Otto, last night, which is really the visual that came to my mind. Y’all check that out.

Greg White (21:56):

That’s the [inaudible] old man, right? Yeah.

Scott Luton (22:00):

I don’t know, but it’s a really good movie. Y’all should check it out. Jeremy, Eskridge, Kansas is where he is tuned from. Thank you for that.

Greg White (22:08):

Yeah. Southwest of Topeka, I think.

Scott Luton (22:10):

That’s right. Dinali, welcome in from Dubai. Great to have you. Adam’s talking about, “Can we get recent retirees back into the work via income tax breaks?” That’s a good one. And then, finally – LinkedIn setting sometimes prevents your profile from showing up like this – “Bryan, Ohio. Home of the Dum Dum sucker -” we’ve all had those like bank giveaways “- and the Etch-a-Sketch.”

Greg White (22:33):

Wow. Two of the most worthwhile inventions ever and I’m not getting one bit. I mean, what would dentists and doctors do if they weren’t for the Dum Dum sucker, or your accountant? And Etch-a-Sketch, I mean. art in the palm of your hands. Love it.

Scott Luton (22:52):

Art in the palm of your hands. Okay. So, Greg, Rob, and Bryant, we’re just getting started. We’ve just tackled the first of these three big trends in labor shortage. I love how y’all defined it. And, Bryant, you in particular were sharing some of the simple and more complex ways that organizations are addressing it. Rob, where are we going with the second big trend here?

Rob Schaefer (23:15):

So, the second one we’ll hear more about is cost versus service. So, everybody is trying to provide the best possible service that they can to their clients. But we’re all in business and we need to be able to do that and make money at the same time. So, cost is very much a consideration in terms of how can I provide the service that my customers expect but at the cost level that I can stay in business. Even more so, we talked earlier about sustainability, there’s more and more pressure to pick the right carrier, do the right things, all those sorts of things. But, again, I can’t do that at the expense of service. So, everybody wants on time in full. They want that perfect order. You can’t do it without data. You need to have the right data at the right time to understand your current state. What is my current on-time performance?

Rob Schaefer (24:14):

And then, be able to put a plan together in terms of how am I now going to better serve my customers at a cost that’s attainable and sustainable. So, are mode shift opportunities available? Can I still get the product to my customer on time but do some mode shift or use multiple modes to get it there? All of those sorts of things. And, again, you’re not going to do it on Excel. You need a system to be able to do that. And you need a system that gives you answers to your questions now and potentially answers to the questions before they get asked by your customer. Meaning, I need to know what’s going to happen in the future. So, number one, I can react to it. Or at the very worst case, I can notify my customer that there’s either a direct disruption, or something’s going to be late, or something like that. So, again, I’ll pass it back to Bryant. He’ll talk about kind of some of those strategies and how you can do that. But cost versus service is another topic of discussion.

Scott Luton (25:11):

Bryant.

Bryant Smith (25:12):

Yeah. And it comes up almost every conversation that we have with our customers and our clients. What’s nice is they’re sharing how they’re solving those problems with us. And it kind of really just starts with visibility. Where are my efficiencies and costs? Where am I paying more where I shouldn’t be? Where’s my opportunity to have some cost avoidance or pay less? And the same thing for service is how am I performing delivering to my customers? How are my suppliers performing delivering to me? Those different types of things, you need to have the visibility, the data to identify where the problems are so that you can make policy changes, you can make trade off decisions where appropriate.

Bryant Smith (26:03):

I know Rob gave the example of mode shifts, but also spot market utilization. You know, can I take advantage of a softer market and get a more competitive rate than what I have at my annual RFPs? Or do I have the option to convert my payment terms with my carriers? Maybe they’ll give me a higher discount if I pay early. Those types of things are really being considered, so that you can still perform at the highest service levels, but also not incur those costly penalties that you see with late deliveries and things of that nature.

Bryant Smith (26:39):

But I think the utopia is if you have the visibility and you have the data, can you surface things before they happen. Am I about to miss a delivery to a customer? Okay. Well, let’s go call them and see if we can get a later delivery appointment. You know, it’s really getting that data so you can be ahead of the curve and not just react to the problem after it happened, but react to the problem before it happens.

Scott Luton (27:07):

I like that. I love that. So many needless charges, too, that can be completely avoidable. All right. So, Greg, we’re talking about cost versus service for the heavyweight championship of the world. Your thoughts on what Rob and Bryant have shared, Greg.

Greg White (27:18):

I’m glad service is included in this, because for so many years – I mean, Rob and I are old timers in this industry – cost was the only thing that people cared about in supply chain. And I’m glad that services is included. I wish it was a little bit more. We were at a stage as an industry where we were a little bit more multi-dimensional because we have to think about supply chain as a risk balancing exercise. Cost and service being two of those risks. One other risk being ethicality, of course, which everyone is concerned about with ESG. And the other being brand equity. Meaning, there is no place to hide in supply chain now. And if you [inaudible], your brand is at risk. So, you have to recognize this sort of four headed monster that you’re up against in addition to cost and service, and consider it a broader risk balancing exercise.

Greg White (28:15):

But I like the principles that you guys have talked about. Preemption is absolutely critical. Just being quick to react when things get messed up is not good enough anymore. You have to be able to assess and predict those risks and avoid, or preempt, or rapidly recover from those in this day and age. Because the expectations are way too high and, truly, there is nowhere for anyone to hide now. If anything has changed more than anything else in the industry, it is exposure.

Greg White (00:28:52):

Look, guys, all four of us know, probably most of us out there in the audience know, that when you went to a cocktail party in 2019 and said supply chain, you could literally watch people’s eyes glaze over. Now, they can engage you in conversation. And if they know that you’re in supply chain, they might come up to you with questions or – God help us – ideas or just opinions. So, that’s the whole point here is that everyone knows that since the great toilet paper shortage of 2020, it wasn’t Target’s or Costco’s fault that toilet paper ran out. It was the paper mill. It was Charmin, it was whoever else, it was the trucking companies. They understand the commerce ecosystem and the intricacies. Not the intricacies of it incomplete, but they understand that it’s just not one throat to choke. There are lots of throats out there.

Scott Luton (29:46):

Okay. I love how you ended that. And by the way, Rob, lots of excellent points made, but one in particular, it’s not Excel that you need. You need a system – a system – not a spreadsheet. Okay. Let me share a couple great comments here. Mark poses a wonderful question, “Why are so many organizations still blaming COVID for a reduced standard of service?” Mark, one of our dear friends, great to see you. Great question. Tek says, “Realistic delivery schedules should be committed from everyone who is involved in the businesses.” That’s a powerful alignment there, Tek, great point. And Adam says, “The cost of bad service is painful.” Absolutely right, Adam. Great to have you here.

Greg White (30:23):

Ask Bed Bath and Body work – or Bed Bath & Beyond.

Scott Luton (30:26):

Man, no kidding. All right. So, if you’re keeping count at home, number one, the first of the three trends was labor shortage. Number two, cost versus service. Man, Greg, Rob, and Bryant really brought that home. Lots of great comments there. So, Rob, what is number three?

Rob Schaefer (30:45):

Number three is kind of the catchall bucket, which is digitization. So, it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, kind of dependent upon where you are on your maturity curve in terms of digitization. But it kind of goes back to the comment I made, you repeated, that Excel no longer cuts it. Excel is not going away. I think it’s the number one application in the world, probably will continue to be. But with everything we talked about thus far, labor shortage and making people more efficient and cost versus service, you can’t do those things or get better at those things using Excel.

Rob Schaefer (31:24):

So, you need a system that provides timely, accurate information, and it needs to be able to come from multiple different sources. You’re not going to be able to figure all this stuff out with the information that just is within your four walls. You need to be able to pull information from third party sources, again, whether it’s your vendors, your customers, your carriers, digital freight brokers, whoever it happens to be. You want to bring as much data as you can and make proper decisions in a timely fashion. You want to have that information actionable. You need to be able to report off of it, either within the system, or to be able to export it to a data lake and do some more strategic analysis. But, again, depending upon where you are in that digitization, the key is get it in the system, get it in one place, and make it actionable so that when you see something that doesn’t look quite right, you can take the appropriate action.

Scott Luton (32:18):

Yeah. Okay. Rob, I love that. All right. So, Bryant, what are you going to add to that when it’s all about digitization?

Bryant Smith (32:27):

Yeah. You know, I really think of digitization as a journey. So, you’re not going to just wake up tomorrow and your supply chain’s going to be completely digital. There’s steps you need to take to get to a more effective and resilient supply chain. I mean, if you’re in Excel today, you’re as resilient as Excel is. You’re at high risk there if you’re still in Excel. That’s what we still see. Just get out of the Excel sheet. Get into an application. But the things that we’ve been talking about to this point is you can’t do any of the labor shortage mitigation, you can’t do any of the tradeoffs with cost per service if you’re not out on an application. So, that’s kind of your first step.

Bryant Smith (33:18):

But what that does is it enables you to do the next step, which is connectivity. Once you’re in an application, you can start connecting to upstream suppliers, you can start connecting to downstream customers, you can connect with your partners, your carriers, your third parties that help you in your supply chain efforts. So, as part of that journey is you’re going to get into an application, you’re going to go through a connectivity. But that then opens you up. And if we’re going to go back to our breakfast scenario, now that you have the meat and potatoes as your breakfast, now you can start doing other things. You can start doing procurement. You can start doing modeling. You can start providing digital twins.

Bryant Smith (34:04):

So, now, you’re getting more advanced and more sophisticated in how you can manage your supply chain, which is really going to open up those opportunities to make you more efficient, drive those costs down, and improve your service. And if you’re lucky enough, you’re on an intelligent application that is self-tuning, self-configuring, continuous optimization, all these things that are driving out all the inefficiencies that we have within the supply chain. So, these technologies are getting better and better and better every day. And we’re happy to help our customers in that way, but the first step, as you said, get out of Excel.

Scott Luton (34:46):

Yes. Yes. Okay. So, Bryant, I can’t believe we had this breakfast theme going —

Bryant Smith (34:53):

I know.

Scott Luton (34:55):

And thank you for playing along. It reminds me of that age old consultant joke, I think it was, about breakfast. Where, the chicken is engaged in breakfast and the pig is committed. Have y’all ever heard that? Okay. So, Greg, digitization. I know one of your, one of our favorite topics to talk about. I really like how Rob and Bryant have really addressed it, especially from that agnostic point of view. So, your thoughts about digitization, Greg?

Greg White (35:23):

Well, we talked about the fact that there is nowhere to hide in supply chain. And the fatal flaws with tools, like Excel, anything that is a non-centralized technology, are the accountability of the data and the logic, the rapidity, the speed with which it can process, and the scalability to a large enterprise. And those are the things that companies don’t realize. And I think there are some other dangers aside from Excel. Excel is the greatest danger to supply chain, full stop. But there are some other issues. There are technologies out there that actually facilitate you taking the good data that they’ve built good science around and outstanding processes that are efficient and rapid and scalable. And then, they allow you to pull that out into Excel and do whatever kind of magic you want to do in your dark corner of the office, and then plug that back into the system.

Greg White (36:32):

And part of the reason for that is because – let’s face it – we’re technology people. We want to sell technology. And some companies just simply insist on having that person or that group of people who sit in that dark corner, massage the data, or do whatever special thing they’re doing with it, and then plug it back into the system. So, now, there are systems, there are possibilities for you to do that kind of activity in a technology that has a core and central database where that accountability, that scalability, and the accuracy of those processes and data can be verified.

Greg White (37:11):

So, please, please, please do not kill your company by continuing to use Excel. You are slowly killing it. But as you get to a certain level or a certain level of expectation by your customers of pace and accuracy, it will definitely kill you.

Scott Luton (37:30):

Excellent. I love that. And an Excel spreadsheet with 17,000 macros is not a replacement for enterprise wide technology platform. Okay. Now, let me share a couple quick comments here. Let’s see here, starting with Jeremy. Jeremy’s got a great take here, “Digitization doesn’t always get ground floor user level buy-in, which prevents Excel from going into the museum of history.” That’s a great point, Jeremy. Let’s see here, Adam says, “Some people think blockchain is the answer -” to y’all’s earlier points, ” – but this is just an enabler to create comprehensive digital systems and platforms.” This is an interesting comment, Adam. And then, we’ve got lots of questions here, from Karen about robotics and packaging, from Kevin talking about sustainability and selection, to even Niranjan talking about EVs. We’ll see if the team, after today’s live session, can get to some of those great questions. So, thanks for contributing.

Scott Luton (38:27):

Okay. Greg, Rob, and Bryant, man, jam-packed. I wish we had an hour per each of these three trends. But what do I want to do for everyone’s benefit here, for maybe the three people that don’t know, Rob, tell us what Manhattan Associates does in a nutshell.

Rob Schaefer (38:46):

And this is where I get like an extra hour, right? Because you’re asking [inaudible].

Scott Luton (38:50):

Nice.

Greg White (38:50):

Everything. Everything that you do.

Rob Schaefer (38:57):

All right. I’ll try and do this rather succinctly. But at Manhattan, we are a supply chain software company at the highest level. That’s what we do. It’s our focus every day. And we mainly focus in three different areas. One is Manhattan Active Omni, which is kind of our order management suite, distributed order orchestration, point of sale, et cetera. Second pillar being Manhattan Active Inventory, which is more forecasting replenishment. And the third pillar is Warehouse and Transportation Management. We excel in all three pillars. We’re market leaders in all three pillars. We invest substantially in research and development.

Rob Schaefer (39:38):

But what I’m about to talk about next is what I think really sets us apart. We are an extremely stable company. You guys probably know as well as anybody, there’s been a tremendous amount of disruption in the TMS space, especially. A lot of companies being purchased, some being discontinued, some being divested. We have been in business since 1990. We have had zero debt since our inception. We are not influenced by private equity. We are not for sale. We don’t buy-in anybody. We are singularly focused on those three pillars of supply chain management software. We implement our own product, which I think is very important. We very much take pride in successful implementations. And therefore, we implement our own product. We ensure the success of those implementations. We get a constant feedback from those implementations. Since it’s our people giving them, it goes right back to research and development. So, we improve the product, improve the implementation process. We have that constant feedback, I think it’s a huge advantage.

Rob Schaefer (40:43):

And lastly, we take an incredible personal approach to customer support. In today’s world, customer support means someone sends you a URL, you log your service request, they send you a knowledge base, and they expect you to solve your own problem. That is not the approach at Manhattan Associates. What we do is we assign you a service engineer, that, in most cases, came from our professional services organization, understands the product, how it works, understands you, the customer, how you’re using it, what your workflows are, et cetera. We give you a phone number and a URL. But you can call the phone number. That person will answer the phone and help you through the issue. Either they will [inaudible] or they’ll escalate it up the chain, but it’s very much a personal approach in a world where that rarely happens anymore. So, I think having the best products and leaders in all of the categories, the stability of our leadership and our company and the investment in our products, the fact that we implement our own products, and that we support them with a personal touch is what Manhattan is.

Scott Luton (41:51):

Okay. Rob, you spiked the football as if back in your playing days, you just sat in the quarterback picking that football and score the TD. And we didn’t find out what – and that’s all that —

Greg White (41:57):

Look at you, Scott.

Bryant Smith (42:03):

He played defense.

Scott Luton (42:06):

Yes. Yes. Well, and we hadn’t found out yet, folks. We found out in the pre-show that Rob played collegiate football, but we haven’t gotten his nickname yet. So, we’re going to get our investigative reporting team on that. Rob, thank you for that holistic view. I know it’s tough to do in a couple minutes, but I appreciate that.

Scott Luton (42:23):

Let me share a couple quick comments and then we’re going to bring Bryant in for some different ways you can connect and engage with the whole team. So, folks, I love Chuck’s comment here. I’m not going to be able to show it because it cuts off our guests. But Chuck’s a dear friend. He’s a supply chain veteran. He is a military veteran. And now he’s going out to high schools and middle schools and educating our students on what supply chain careers are all about. And going back to Rob and Bryant, the first trend that we all talked about, man, that’s part of the solution. So, Chuck, keep doing what you’re doing and we hope to have you in the Atlanta area soon.

Scott Luton (42:59):

Let’s see here, Mark loves this conversation, “Excel is the biggest competitor for just about any technology provider.” Very true, right? Let’s see. Big show, Bob Bova – great to see you, Bob – “The biggest challenge to the Excel conundrum is the not invented here perspective. Companies really feel that no one understands their secret sauce, workflows, and it’s a lot of work to convince them.” That’s an excellent point.

Greg White (43:22):

I love that. I love having that discussion. Because of you, one person sitting in this dark corner in this office could know better than people who’ve implemented technology to solve this problem thousands of times. That’s a hard conversation that needs to be had by someone not trying to sell to that company. But that is one of the stupidest arguments I’ve ever heard in my life. I’m willing to sell, as you guys can tell.

Scott Luton (43:50):

That’s right. All right. One more comment here. Vanessa says, “Excel can also restrict the understanding of full data context. If it’s not in the spreadsheet, the value of complimentary data gets lost.” Vanessa, excellent point. Okay. So, it’s funny. We’ll all beat up on Excel, and then as I wrap this up, I’m going to go do some personal finance planning on Excel.

Greg White (44:15):

[Inaudible] Excel spreadsheet.

Scott Luton (44:18):

But anyway, so, Bryant, what we want to do next, there’s a couple things, a couple different ways in-person and virtual that folks can connect with y’all. And the first one I want to bring up is we got ProMat right around the corner up in Chicago. The beautiful city, great food, great all around City of Chicago. And let’s see, the Manhattan team is going to be at Booth S – as in Sam – 3875. So, Bryant, what will y’all be doing beyond having a few adult beverages, perhaps, from time to time?

Bryant Smith (44:47):

Yeah. No, this is another good conference. So, we know we just did Manifest. Now, we’re going to go to ProMat. And, again, this is good for us to connect, share best practices, understand what the problems are, how people are solving them so that we can continue to make our industry better. So, we’re going to be presenting on three different topics while we’re there. But, also, stop by our booth. We’ll be happy to have a conversation with you and network and share war stories.

Scott Luton (45:17):

That is right. And they’ve got them. We try to get more of those stories out of Rob and Bryant, because we know there’s a lot more. But join them at the booth. Again, we got that in the visual, Booth S, 3875. And to this user here, the third trend was digitization. So, number one was labor shortage. Number two was cost versus service. And third one was digitization. Okay.

Scott Luton (45:41):

So, from there, let’s go to a virtual way that folks can connect with, really, Rob and Bryant again. So, get this folks, we’ve got a live webinar. Yes. Really sexy, right? A live webinar on April 6th, where we’re going to be unlocking the secrets to The Unified Supply Chain, A Platform Approach. Not an Excel approach. So, Bryant, back to you, why should folks join us for that live webinar on 12:00 noon on April 6th?

Bryant Smith (46:11):

Yeah. So, you know, we talked a lot about what the problems are today, but I think what’s going to be interesting in the April conversation is what are people doing from a platform perspective to solve some of these problems in a more unified way. So, taking a quick look at my note in Excel that says April 6th at noon, so looking forward to the conversation, it’s going to be great. So, go ahead and register for that. And looking forward to having that conversation with you guys in April.

Scott Luton (46:40):

Love that. Man, Bryant right on time, looking at my notes in Excel. And by the way, did y’all catch the headshot, the good looking headshot of Rob Schaefer there? How about that, man? Upgraded there. Good stuff there. Okay. And, yes, Mark Gilham, “Oscar Garcia Digitalization and spreadsheet bashing.” Oh, Mark, you’re a good one. Okay.

Greg White (47:08):

It’s the name of a new book that’s coming out shortly.

Scott Luton (47:10):

That’s right. Hey, Greg, bringing you back in here. We’ve had a full conversation, first off, with Rob and Bryant. Really appreciate their approach here. I think we’re all leaving this conversation with a couple new ideas and thoughts we shared a couple different ways. You know, ProMat up in Chicago, y’all check them out. And then, with the upcoming webinar, which will be a good one on April 6th. Unfortunately, Chuck Baker will not join us because he’s going to be teaching supply chain at a high school in South Carolina. Good stuff there, Chuck. But, Greg, your view whether it’s ProMat, whether it’s webinar, or whether it’s just grabbing a beverage with Rob and Bryant on the side. Why should folks do that?

Greg White (47:48):

Well, I mean, the whole point of these gatherings is to get together with people who know the problems that you’re trying to solve. And I think we’ve established that both Bryant and Rob, they’re hammers looking for nails. That’s exactly the opposite of what they advocated. So, my suggestion is that when you’re talking with folks like Rob and Bryant, is, you come to them with the problem that you want to solve and the outcome that you’d like to see and they can help get you there. So, when you’re looking for a solution, I see too many people trying to prescribe the process by which the problem needs to be solved. And, usually, it is because, as we’ve talked about here, that emulates the process they’re using in spreadsheets today, or it emulates the way that they do it in their other manual or systematized processes that may or may not be efficient.

Greg White (48:43):

And what Rob and Bryant and all of their folks are used to doing is breaking down why you have to do it the way you do it today, and whether that’s a good thing, and giving you alternatives to say, “Hey, you know what, if we did this way back here in the process, you wouldn’t have to check to make sure that data is right, right here before you make the decision.” Things like that can be done. So, that’s what I would say is focus on outcomes, represent the problem, and let someone else help you shape the solution. Because chances are good.

Greg White (49:22):

Rob, you were talking about how long Manhattan has been around. I was the very first customer to use PkMS in 1992, Northern Automotive in Phoenix, Arizona. We were also the very first customer of JDA software in around the same time. JDA doesn’t exist. The other two companies that I have either worked for or owned also don’t exist anymore. And we competed or collaborated with Manhattan at various times in both of those companies as well. That’s the kind of staying power that this company has.

Greg White (50:03):

Rob, I don’t know if you even remember if we’ve talked about this, but I have long lamented the fact that there’s so many Johnny-come-lately’s to the TMS space. And do we really need that many TMS systems out there? I mean, is it really that specialized that you need one for this industry and that industry and the other industry? But there is definite power in staying power, and I think if we haven’t seen it over the course of the technology apocalypse of the last year or so, you’re going to see it as the economy continues to slow and as the fat premiums in the transportation industry continue to plunge down to sustenance or below that levels.

Scott Luton (50:52):

So, Greg, that was, fascinating. We’re going to have to have a look back based on what you just shared there.

Greg White (51:00):

Well, I was [inaudible]. As Rob and Bryant we’re talking, I was like, “Okay. E3, JDA.” Blue Ridge or other companies that I have worked with or collaborated with these guys on or competed with them on, all gone, every single one of them gone. And those were not slouch companies either. They were quite successful and got gobbled up by one company or another. But these cats remain independent, $9 billion market valuation this very moment.

Scott Luton (51:32):

Okay. Rob, I bet you’re chomping at a bit. Anything you want to respond to there?

Rob Schaefer (51:37):

Well, I agree wholeheartedly with everything, Greg. I’m certainly not going to argue with anything, especially about the processes that you should go through. So, I would say, anyone out there should consider us your supply chain psychiatrist, and you can come lay on our couch, and tell us the problem, and we’ll work on those together.

Scott Luton (51:59):

Man, I love that. All right.

Greg White (52:04):

That’s a genius.

Scott Luton (52:06):

So, let’s wrap on this. It’s a two-part question for both Rob and Bryant, since y’all both will be in Chicago. Two-part question. First one is, what is one food item that you’re looking forward to in Chicago or a restaurant? Or what are you looking forward to being there other than ProMat? And number two, how can folks connect with you both beyond ProMat, beyond the April 6th webinar? How can folks connect with you? So, let’s switch up the order here. Bryant.

Bryant Smith (52:33):

Yeah. There’s a little known taco shop off Michigan Ave. that I’m looking forward to stopping by and grab some tacos. So, if you’re in the area, I’m happy to grab some tacos with you and talk about your problems on our official unofficial supply chain psychiatrist couch. But you connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m happy to have conversations in that forum. And you can connect with us on manh.com as well.

Scott Luton (53:02):

Wonderful. Thank you, Bryant. Rob, you’re two part answer there?

Rob Schaefer (53:08):

So, I won’t have it, but what I would love to have when I went there is I do like Chicago style pizza. So, [inaudible] is I think the place I like to go. But I’ll probably pass. But that would be the food I would want to have if I was having what I want. In terms of how do you hook up? Well, the same way as with Bryant, LinkedIn through manh.com. Happy to connect. And if you’re at ProMat, stop by. Our approach is, hopefully, you saw, we’d like to have a little bit of a good time. So, come talk to us. We can have some fun, but we can solve some real problems and help everybody be successful.

Scott Luton (53:47):

Wonderful. And, folks, if you do join Rob and Bryant up in Chicago at ProMat and you happen to pry Rob’s playing day’s nickname out of him, make sure you share with us here.

Greg White (53:58):

Yes, please share here.

Scott Luton (54:00):

All right. Wonderful conversation. Mark encapsulates it nicely, “All jokes aside, Bryant and Rob raised so many great points here. I can’t imagine working in the supply chain sector without good software.” Excellent point there, Mark. Okay. Rob and Bryant, always a pleasure. Rob Schaefer, Vice-President Transportation Management Sales with Manhattan Associates, and his dynamic colleague, Bryant Smith, Director of Product Management with Manhattan as well. Gentlemen, thank you very much for joining us and we will see you again real soon.

Rob Schaefer (54:30):

Thank you. Appreciate it.

Bryant Smith (54:30):

Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Greg White (54:32):

Thank you.

Scott Luton (54:37):

Gregory, man, that was a bunch of fun. And there’s so many elements to this supply chain psychiatry, maybe a new sector, a new business opportunity.

Greg White (54:50):

They’ve been around for a long time. I think it’s always been needed because we would be crazy to go into this trade.

Scott Luton (54:56):

Yeah. Well, I thought it usually comes in a six pack, supply chain psychiatry. But that might be the —

Greg White (55:01):

Self-soothing.

Scott Luton (55:02):

All right. So, Gregory, we’ve really enjoyed the pre-show, enjoyed the last hour. I know we couldn’t hit everybody’s comments here. I really appreciate everyone weighing in with what they see and whatnot. Folks, we’ve got the links to connect with Bryant and Rob on LinkedIn. Y’all check that out. You’ll enjoy that. Thank you, Jeremy. Appreciate that. The pride of Kansas. And I’d love to know that CPD, that might be a new certification you got. Let us know.

Scott Luton (55:31):

Greg, I know you have shared several highlights already of the last hour. But if you had to bullet it all down, as we start to wrap, in one key takeaway that folks have to, if they forget everything else that Rob and Bryant dropped on us here today, what’s one thing they got to leave this conversation front of mind?

Greg White (55:54):

The reason that those three things are so, so important is precisely because there is nowhere to hide. We, as supply chain professionals, have been asking for a seat at the table for the influence, for the voice in industry. And, now, we’ve got it and we have no excuse not to perform. The budgets are there. The awareness is there by the consumer and by the executive suite and by your colleagues and your company, and they get it. They get that there is incredible importance in the supply chain. And now you have to perform. So, congratulations gang. You’ve got what you asked for. We’re finding out what happens when the dog catches the bumper.

Scott Luton (56:44):

Yeah. And you’re alluding to that old adage, the dog finally caught the car and doesn’t know what to do with it. Greg, well said. And I really enjoyed some of your walkthrough kind of the evolutions of industry, clearly, with Manhattan and how the industry has evolved. So, a lot of good stuff. But, you know, one final thing, folks, you got to lean on the folks, the experts out there. Not as Greg put it earlier, the Johnny-come-lately. Don’t hook your wagon to those folks. But regardless, Greg, always a pleasure to knock out these conversations with you. I had a lot of fun today.

Greg White (57:23):

Yeah. Likewise. It was a blast. Let’s do it again.

Scott Luton (57:27):

Again or maybe a thousand more times, we’ll see. But, hey, had a great guest. Thank you, Rob and Bryant and the whole Manhattan Associates team for today’s show. Thanks to Katherine and Amanda and Chantel, all the folks behind the scenes in production. Thanks to all the folks who showed up. I know we couldn’t hit everybody out there across the landscape. I really enjoyed all the comments. Folks, we try to deliver great ideas and perspective and market intel to you. But, hey, it’s up to you to take that football and run with it and take action. Deeds, not words. And with that said, Scott Luton challenging you to do good, to give forward, and to be the change. We’ll see you next time right back here at Supply Chain Now. Thanks everybody.

Intro/Outro (58:10):

Thanks for being a part of our Supply Chain Now community. Check out all of our programming at @supplychainnow.com, and make sure you subscribe to Supply Chain Now anywhere you listen to podcasts. And follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. See you next time on Supply Chain Now.

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Featured Guests

Rob Schaefer has spent his entire 36-year career as a sales professional.  The last 23 years have been spent in enterprise software sales, with the last 12 years dedicated to Logistics.  His role at Manhattan Associates is that of VP TMS Sales and Business development with a focus on North and South America. Connect with Rob on LinkedIn.

Bryant Smith, Over the last 12+ years, Bryant has served in various roles in the Supply Chain software space – including operations, implementation, and product management. In his current role as Director of Product Management at Manhattan Associates, Bryant has a passion for building solutions that solve real business problems and deliver consistent value to customers and end users. Connect with Bryant on LinkedIn.

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

Greg White

Principal & Host

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Greg White

Principal & CMO, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise

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

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

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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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