Supply Chain Now
Episode 1017

You almost have to be able to read between the lines, the invisible lines, and just kind of understand the companies. If you're just listening to a company for the first time, you know, you'll get some valuable information. But if you've listened to them for a number of years or a year, you'll start seeing a pattern.

-Cathy Morrow Roberson

Episode Summary

How did three top global logistics enterprises perform in Q3, and what can we glean from their strategies moving forward? In this episode, Scott consults with supply chain writer Cathy Morrow Roberson, aka the earnings call expert. Combining her love of research with all things supply chain, Cathy is a veteran listener and learner here to school us on how UPS, FedEx and Amazon are navigating logistics challenges, how the holiday season is shaping up, the future of air freight and more.

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, good morning everybody. Scott Luton and one of our very special, uh, dear friends and guests, uh, Kathy Mauro Robertson with you here on Supply Chain. Now, welcome to today’s show, Cathy. How are you doing?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (00:45):

I’m doing great. How are you doing?

Scott Luton (00:47):

We’re doing wonderful. Uh, we were just talking pre-show. Um, I, I, I need to compile the rankings in terms of our repeat guest appearances, but I think you’re like top five all time. Uh, and that comes with maybe a championship belt and a, and a bottle of cheer wine, maybe. I don’t know. What’d

Cathy Morrow Roberson (01:05):

You think?

Scott Luton (01:06):

Yes, you’ll take it. Is that right?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (01:07):

I’ll take it.

Scott Luton (01:09):

<laugh>. Um, alright. We’re gonna have a lot of fun today. It’s great to have Cathy back with us. Uh, as I mentioned, one of our favorite guests here at Supply Chain, now, one of my most regular repeat guests. Um, today though, we’re gonna be diving into some of Cathy’s great endless work, right? Especially the market intel that she gathers from earnings calls and then some. So this is gonna be a lot of fun. And as I’ve said, I think on everyone of, uh, your appearances, Cathy, if folks, I mean, if they aren’t following you in general, but especially on Twitter, where you drop all these nuggets of market information and analysis and intel, I mean, they are really missing out. I know. I’ve really come to, uh, value and enjoy, uh, your perspective there, huh?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (01:48):

Ah, thank you so much. You know, formally I was a librarian for many years, so I look at social media as being my library Neat to share

Scott Luton (02:02):

And you like

Cathy Morrow Roberson (02:03):

Too much, but hey, you can turn me off if need be

Scott Luton (02:06):

<laugh>, But you like to make you like to make social media social as you share here a couple times as it should be. Uh, and we’ve talked about, uh, the, some of the, uh, relation, the real relationships that started initially digital and, uh, you know, that that’s been one of the several linings over the last three years probably. Um, okay. So Kathy, I wanna start with, you know, for some of the folks that may have missed, you know, some of your appearances here, some of your other great work that you do, uh, for the three people out there, maybe let’s make sure they have an opportunity to get to know you a little better. So, tell us where you grew up and some anecdotes about your upbringing a bit, Kathy.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (02:42):

Oh, dear. Okay. So I grew <laugh>. I grew up in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Um, graduated high school there. Uh, went to my undergraduate, got my undergraduate degree there at Winthrop.

Scott Luton (02:58):

Okay. Which went Winthrop

Cathy Morrow Roberson (02:59):

College at the time. Now it’s Winthrop University,

Scott Luton (03:02):

And that’s home of Winthrop. Is the, uh, uh, a lot of folks may know them. They’ve made appearances in the NCAA basketball tournaments that What’s their mascot? Kathy

Cathy Morrow Roberson (03:12):

The Eagle?

Scott Luton (03:13):

Yes. Okay. I know. So Walford’s, the Terris Winthrop is the Eagles always get them, uh, vice versa. Okay. So you went to Winthrop mm-hmm. <affirmative>, Uh, and then what?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (03:25):

And then, uh, it kind of dawned on me, I couldn’t exactly find a job with a degree in history. So I, uh, I was working at a library at the time, driving the book, My Bail. And so the kind people at the library said, Why don’t you get your, get a Master’s in library science because you can always get a job in the library.

Scott Luton (03:48):

Hmm.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (03:49):

So

Scott Luton (03:49):

Was that true?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (03:52):

Uh, well, it was at that time, no longer the case

Scott Luton (03:55):

<laugh>. Really?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (03:56):

Yeah. No, no, no. So many, um, uh, public libraries in particular are funded by, uh, local, state, and federal, um, um, money. So it’s usually, if you gotta cut a budget, that’s usually the library’s budget that gets cut. So, Really, um, yeah. So we went through a lot of ups and downs, uh, as I, while I was a librarian. But yeah, I got my master’s from the University of South Carolina. Okay. Yeah. Probably wearing my Clemson t-shirt there. <laugh>. Yeah. Uh, and today I, I support both, uh, teams. Um, but yeah, so let’s, Yeah. After several years as a librarian Yeah, I made the jump into the corporate world,

Scott Luton (04:48):

So I wanna talk about that in just a second. But before we get there, um, growing up in Rock Hill, you know, we, we, we, you and I both grew up in South Carolina. Right now I grew up in Aiken, which is, uh, on the southern border right? Of, of Georgians, uh, along the Savannah River. And Rock Hill is more, is, I think on the, the northern border. Is that right? Kathy?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (05:11):

Just south of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Scott Luton (05:13):

Just, Okay. So we’re kinda opposite sides of the state. Uh, I know some of my food favorites that I grew up with, you know, we love talking food around here. What, when you think of growing up in Rock Hill, what’s a, a food dish or a restaurant or something that was inseparable from your upbringing?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (05:29):

Okay. In Rock Hill, there was a place, Watkins Okay. Had been around, I don’t know how long it’s been around forever. I mean, well before I was born, and that’s been a long time. But they made the best hot dogs, chili slaw dogs. Oh my God. They were, gosh. And then my parents grew up in Spartanburg, so, you know, at least once a month we’d go to Spartanburg to visit my grandparents. And we always had lunch at the Beacon.

Scott Luton (05:58):

Oh yeah.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (05:59):

Uhhuh

Scott Luton (06:00):

<affirmative>. Man, you’re making me hungry, Cathy. Dad gum. I shouldn’t ask this question. Uh, you, plus you had me at the, at the, uh, uh, chili slaw dog, You know, I can eat, I can, um, I’ve had to watch myself, right? Because hot chili slaw dogs or slaw dogs in general are addictive. So I’ve got, you know, good things in moderation. But man, I think we’re the, we’re probably one of the few states slaw dogs are kind of a South Carolina thing, aren’t they? Kathy?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (06:27):

I think. Well now there is a place here in the Atlanta, well over in Marietta. Yeah. Uh, a shout out to them Brandy’s.

Scott Luton (06:37):

Okay.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (06:37):

They do a, they do a mean chili slot off

Scott Luton (06:41):

<laugh>. Ok.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (06:43):

Oh my God. It’s just a hole in the wall. Friendliest

Scott Luton (06:46):

Place. You best places. Yeah,

Cathy Morrow Roberson (06:48):

I see chili. It’s fantastic. It’s almost as good as Watkins <laugh>.

Scott Luton (06:54):

All right. So, uh, Watkins and Brandy’s some of these great places, um, to eat, um, uh, present and past. Um, alright, so let’s get back. So, uh, the library world was important for you, um, right outta college and then, uh, interrupted you a second ago as you were about to, you know, talk about your breakthrough into the corporate world. So, on that note, tell us, um, you know, what’s a couple of roles that you held, uh, in corporate America or, or in supply chain, you name it, that really shaped your, your path forward?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (07:30):

I think working at UPS really, really, um, shaped a lot of it. In fact, I mean, that’s where I’d learned about supply chains. I had never heard of supply chains until I started working at ups. Right. And I joined them simply because I had friends already working there. And, um, they had, uh, reached out to me. They were like, We’re getting ready to start a new products development team that’s not focused on packages, and we need help with research, and we know you enjoy doing research <laugh>. So that’s how I came to join ups. And, um, and it was a blast. I mean, I learned so much, you know, about supply chains through the almost 11 years I was with them. Really?

Scott Luton (08:18):

Yeah.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (08:19):

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Scott Luton (08:20):

What a great marriage between your, your research side and your, your, um, you know, that that library world side with global supply chain where there’s no shortage of, of probably research to be done. I mean, this is like a marriage made in heaven. It sounds like Kathy, to me.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (08:40):

I, I certainly thought it was, I, um, I mean, I was involved in helping out the m and a team with a, with several acquisitions, you know, doing their initial research for them. Uh, anytime that we moved into a particular market or geography, I did that legwork. So, yeah, it was fun. Um, also out of our group came ups, Supply Chain Solutions, and that was the team that I stayed with, um, my entire time, primarily in Fright Forwarding.

Scott Luton (09:15):

Okay. Uh, and I think we, we’ve got some, uh, colleagues in common. I, I wanna say we’ve talked about Lloyd Knight before. We’re big Lloyd Knight fans. Right.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (09:26):

Lloyd was a man, was my last manager at up s so he was in charge of, uh, the government sector.

Scott Luton (09:36):

Okay. And,

Cathy Morrow Roberson (09:36):

Uh, so yeah. Yeah. So we helped, within his group, we helped manage, uh, transportation for, uh, the, uh, AFE group. Okay. Uh, the former PAs

Scott Luton (09:47):

Group. Oh, yeah. Yeah. A AFEs. Uh, so any of our veterans listening, uh, at least AFEs was around, Has it changed? When I was in Air Force, AFEs ran the, uh, the bxs, I think what we call ’em on Air Force Base, You know, the base exchange. They were, they ran the convenience stores and, or, or the class six stores, I think is, is what we called it. Um, Are they, is AFEs still, uh, doing what they do?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (10:12):

Yeah, they’re still doing, uh, what they’re doing. Yeah. I mean, back, we used to stop off at these places cause my grandfather was in the military and he retired. So we would always stop off at the military base close to Myrtle Beach, I believe. Okay. I forgot. And we’d always do our shopping there, but they weren’t called a’s at the time. I think it was just the old px. Our

Scott Luton (10:37):

Px. Yeah. Yeah. Um, and so I got on oh two, so it’s been a long time since I’ve even thought about that. Kathy, thank you for bringing that memory. A I remember the logo still. Um, and I think that was Myrtle Beach Air Force Base. I think that closed down right after, I think right after like Desert Storm and in mid nineties found not mistaken. Um, but that’s a, that’s a blast from the past too. Um, alright. So, and, and by the way, uh, I appreciate the, the good work you’ve done with us and in general for our veteran, uh, community. So really appreciate that, Kathy. All right. So let’s, let’s shift gears over to our center plated. It’s our, uh, chili slaw dog up the conversation day. It’s these Invest that Fly

Cathy Morrow Roberson (11:22):

Dog.

Scott Luton (11:22):

That’s right. <laugh>, Oh gosh. The, the, uh, these investor and earnings calls that you tune into regularly. Right. I really, as I mentioned on the front end, really appreciate all that you share from this wealth of information. Um, now, before we get into a couple that, you know, the UPS call, the FedEx call and some others, um, how long have you been doing this? And, and why should more folks tune into these calls?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (11:48):

Okay. I have been doing these since my UPS days, so <laugh>

Scott Luton (11:54):

Or quite some time. Um,

Cathy Morrow Roberson (11:55):

Yeah. So, uh, I did a lot of competitive analysis back in the day. So I would sit in on FedEx’s earnings calls, dhl, you name it, you know, any major, uh, logistics provider. I would listen to their calls on behalf of, you know, just to gather intelligence for ups. But really the fun was sitting in on UPS’s calls cuz there’d be a whole group of us in a room, um, listening into the calls. And we would cringe, like, Oh my gosh, no, don’t say that. Don’t answer that question. Don’t answer. You know, we be yelling, you know, But, you know, there was a lot of work that went ahead, went before these calls that we would work on, you know, the market updates, the revenue, We did a lot of that, you know, in my group. So yeah, it, it was hilarious. You know, some of them didn’t have much of a personality on the calls and, you know, we would just be screaming, you know, in the rooms. But <laugh> Yeah, it got to be, it was rather fun

Scott Luton (13:06):

<laugh>. So, So you’ve been,

Cathy Morrow Roberson (13:07):

I mean, yeah, I, I’ve been listening to the UPS calls ever since then. A as well as the FedEx ones. Those have been the two primary ones. I mean, that’s what, going on 20 years Wow. If not a little longer, uh, of listening to their calls. So it’s been an interesting journey to see how they’ve, both companies have evolved.

Scott Luton (13:28):

Oh, gosh. It, it, you’re, you’re, uh, you’re absolutely right. It is amazing to see how, uh, the, the ups and the downs and, you know, the evolution of, of both those organizations. And occasionally, if I, um, if I recall correctly from what I see, you’ll jump on, sometimes you’ll jump on a retail earnings call or, or this earnings call and, and you just, you’re piecing together kind of, uh, the global market and, and what companies are doing, huh.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (13:55):

Right. I’m, I am reading more retail and manufacturers. Um, I’m either listening to them or I’m reading their trans or the transcripts because it’s really interesting to see, to read, to hear from their point of view, you know, what their pain points are. Mm. You know, what they’re experiencing, what their outlook is for the next quarter, next year, and what have you. And I think you can pull out a lot of valuable tidbits and a lot of good learnings from, from these calls. Now, you also have to keep in mind, you know, understand how they’re wording things as well, You know, because they want, they wanna place Wall Street mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So they don’t wanna sit there and go, Oh my God, we sucked, you know, this poor, No, they’ll say it in a very nice manner. And maybe I shouldn’t have said that. I’m sorry.

Scott Luton (14:48):

No, I think, I think what, what, uh, really quick, I think that’s really important message to our listeners, right? Because it’s not always what folks are saying, and, and we’re not picking on anyone in particular. It, it’s the C-suite that the responsibilities to, to your point, kind of maybe not walk a tight rope, but to please, you know, put the right message out there. Right. A positive message out there. And sometimes it’s not what they say, but it’s really what they mean. Or maybe even what they’re not saying sometimes, Would you say, Kevin? Exactly.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (15:20):

Yes. Exactly. Exactly. So you almost have to be able to read between the lines, the invisible lines, and just ki understand the companies, as, you know, if you’re just listening to a company for the first time, Hmm. You know, you’ll get some valuable information. But if you’ve listened to them for a number of years or a year, what you’ll start seeing a pattern. Yep.

Scott Luton (15:49):

Um, okay. So folks, that’s a great opportunity to learn and to connect the dots, whether you’re just, you know, whether you’re a student, right? Maybe you’re going through a supply chain program right now, that’s a big wealth of information. Or if you’re, you know, a senior executive listening to us right now, and maybe you haven’t ever stopped and taken the time to see, to, to Kathy’s point, what your competitors do, are doing, what other business leaders are doing about the challenges of our, of our day. And whether you’re, you’re listening to the calls, Kathy said, or you get the, I guess the transcripts are free, You can get those and, and sometimes that’s easier to navigate.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (16:23):

Yeah. Yeah. Up to a certain point. You can listen, you know, there’s various websites that you can, um, read a certain number for free before they start telling you, you gotta subscribe. Okay. So Seeking Alpha, there’s a motley full, um, board that I’ll, I’ll tap into at times. So it depends. I mean, I do have a, a subscription to Seeking Alpha just because I’m constantly reading these transcripts. But not only reading the transcripts is important, but reading the actual s e c filings, cuz there’s usually a lot more in those 10 Qs and those annual, um, um, filings. Not necessarily the pretty annual reports, you know, the very glossy look, but the actual 10 K filings with the S E c, that’s where you can find a lot of industry, um, information. So if you’re looking, if you’re having to do research on a particular industry, definitely recommend reading a 10 K filing. Okay. Because they’ll give you that as well as competitors and just the market and overview how they’ve been performing and

Scott Luton (17:34):

Such. Okay. Man, I’m glad there’s smart folks out there that really do meaningful research, including tax forms. Uh, that’s <laugh> that, that’s a lot different than the comic books. I mean, that’s some, that’s some heavy duty stuff. So, uh, and it sounds like that’s, um, it’s one of the channels where you get, you know, the market intel that you’ve become so well known for sharing. Um, so let’s, let’s dive into some of that. Um, two of your favorite companies that you’ve established to, to, to check out these earnings calls are UPS and FedEx. And I believe UPS held their most recent, uh, earning call yesterday, at least when we’re recording this, this podcast. And FedEx’s was, was in September, if I have that right? Right. Correct. Correct. Let’s talk about you, uh, which one you wanna talk about first.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (18:19):

Let’s start with the good first, <laugh>.

Scott Luton (18:21):

Okay.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (18:22):

Let’s start with ups.

Scott Luton (18:23):

So what did you, what are some of the most important things that you picked up, uh, on the recent earnings call then?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (18:30):

I think first of all, they, uh, Ms. Tome, the ceo, um, and her opening remark, she said that the third quarter, which that was the earnings that they announced yesterday, had the highest consolidated operating margin for third quarter in 15 years. For them to have such a high margin like that was, was a welcome surprise, I think, to the market. Uh, meaning they’re holding their own, They’re, they’re managing their cost, they’re managing their capacity. They’re doing this in a time that, um, we’re seeing a normalization occur across all industries. And this normalization, as I’ve re has a, I’ve described it in a various articles that I’ve written, it’s a bumpy road. So, and it’s gonna hurt, you know, it’ll be hurtful. You see spot rates falling as compared to last year. Contract rates may be declining and such as that. But they are doing a, they did a fantastic job, in my opinion, um, over this past third quarter. And it’s the third quarter that ended on September 30th. So they’ve, No, you know, and, and I said they did a fantastic job. That’s <laugh> the way they did it was, you know, they raised surcharges, Right. Um, they are able to pick and choose, really, they’re customers and they want more profitable customers. Of course.

Scott Luton (20:10):

Well, and that seems really quick, Kathy, that that seems to be when, when Carol Toma, um, assumed, um, the, the lead of the, the company, right. As ceo, that seems like be one of her priorities from the GetGo, Right? Uh, uh, uh, serving more, uh, smart business and really protecting those margins. Right. It seems to be, uh, what she got starting with, right?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (20:35):

Carol May, who is the, uh, CEO of ups, she was prior to that CFO of Home Depot. And, um, she also sat on UPS’s board, uh, for a number of years. So she, she understood UPS’s ways and such, but she also brought to, to UPS that outsider’s view, you know, from a financial perspective, which I think it was so much needed for the company because it, it’s always been so internally focused, which is nothing wrong with that. But the world has changed greatly, Right.

Scott Luton (21:14):

And

Cathy Morrow Roberson (21:14):

In the past 20 years, and they really needed that outside perspective. And she brought it, she, um, um, had, you know, she had gr you know, each service offering reevaluated and, and such as that. And, um, she, she cut the fat out in a lot of places that needed to be cut out. Some of that fat may have been a little too much, but <laugh>, you know, who am I to say I’m not a ceo? But,

Scott Luton (21:46):

Uh, but a third quarter results from all of those tough decisions seems like, you know, a lot of those good were good moves, huh?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (21:54):

That decision to cut as well as to invest the correct way. She, they’ve invested a lot in technology, automation of facilities is just absolutely astounding. Um, so they’re making their operations more and more efficient thanks to this technology cutting out unnecessary, um, uh, line hauls and such mm-hmm. <affirmative>, optimizing routes, all of this is saving them money, but at the same time, <laugh>, it’s you, you know, the shipping cost. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, man, they hurt shippers, but yeah. After two and a half years. Yeah. Right.

Scott Luton (22:37):

<laugh>. Yeah. Um, so anything before we switch over to, uh, FedEx and what you picked up on their recent calls, Anything, any last comments around what you heard, uh, yesterday on the UPS call?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (22:52):

Um, the holiday season. So they’re more or less expecting a return to a normal, normal type of holiday season, You know, pre pandemic. So the peak volumes won’t hit until later in the season. It’s because we’re all returning to the stores we’re and and such. Um, but at the same time, they’re expecting volumes. Fourth quarter volumes to be down year over year. Yeah. Not surprising. Not surprising.

Scott Luton (23:25):

All right. So, so UPS strong third quarter. Right. A lot of, lot of wins there. As I’m looking at a recent Wall Street Journal, it sounds like, uh, Domino’s Pizza and Ikea furniture, Ikea in particular had a record revenue, uh, quarter, if I’m not mistaken. So it sounds like those are a lot of the winners right now. And by the way, way speaking of a, a complete aside, Domino’s has reinvented a lot of their products. Now. I like, I like the mom and pop pizza joints, and we have a lot of those out there where I live, but occasionally, you know, you’ll have to get something delivered. And, and I’ll tell you, Domino’s, pizza’s come a long way, especially now they’re deep dish, uh, Kathy, how, how do we, how do we always, everything goes back to food, right? Hot dogs, pizza, cheer, wine, you name it. But hey, that’s from my earnings call <laugh>, um, uh, analysis. Okay, so let’s,

Cathy Morrow Roberson (24:19):

Interesting. Now before we switch over to FedEx, if I may, beginning Ray Teller are beginning to announce their third quarter earnings. And this week there’s quite a few that’s on the schedule. Uh, Sketchers, I don’t know if, Do you wear Sketchers?

Scott Luton (24:36):

Um, I don’t, but maybe I should.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (24:39):

I I don’t wear them either. Uh, they don’t fit properly, so maybe No, Sketchers, if you’re listening, please, you know, help me here <laugh>. Uh, but they, they announced a really nice, um, quarter, uh, yesterday. However, you know, despite that, uh, revenue, uh, good revenue, Yeah. Uh, overall revenue, they’re struggling with inventory. That’s gonna be the story with a lot of retailers is, you know, there’s a lot of inventory. And it’s not because they all decided to go out and just order massive, massive amounts of inventory. It’s a lot of reasons, uh, for this inventory,

Scott Luton (25:24):

Uh, bonanza, right? Yeah.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (25:27):

I mean, you know, we had, um, and you know, it starts further up in the supply chain when you have manufacturing in China, most of the manufacturing is in China. Yep. Or in other Asian countries. But when they shut down because of Covid and a Covid outbreak that has that ripple effect down to our front door. And so that off again on, again, again, shut downs of manufacturing plus capacity on the ocean, freight lanes plus, uh, capacity constraints in the trucking and rail intermodal just resulted in not only delays and getting your inventory retailers inventories, but also all of a sudden you’re getting all this inventory, all of you know, and bunches, right? So yeah, you’re, you’re getting Christmas stuff in March. You’re getting Halloween stuff in January, but it’s all coming in big, massive bunches, which is causing shortages in warehouse space and such. So that whole build up is also playing into this inventory hangover. Also, inflation costs. So when you see, oh my gosh, yeah, inventories were up $45 billion year over year. Well, a good bit of that is also inflation, higher cost to manufacture that, that inventory, higher cost to ship that inventory and so on. So there’s a lot more to that inventory.

Scott Luton (27:09):

Yeah. It’s not just placing big orders, uh, uh, you know, um, cause of the uncertainty. It’s a, a wide variety of factors as you’re laying out. In fact, uh, speaking of inflation, I know Halloween’s right around the corner, uh, from when we’ll be publishing this, this conversation. And in general, I think I saw earlier this week, Candy is about 12, 13% across the board more than last year. But, uh, Skittles and Starburst in particular, uh, one was up over 40% from last year, and one was up over 30% last year. So if you like Skittles and Starburst prepared to pay more, uh, this year, um, alright,

Cathy Morrow Roberson (27:48):

Well there was a shortage of Halloween candy last

Scott Luton (27:50):

Year, Right? Right. Do you

Cathy Morrow Roberson (27:52):

Remember

Scott Luton (27:52):

That? And there’s been some warnings this year from, um, what, what candy company was that, uh, that talked about? Um, how, uh, it wasn’t Nestle. It was, um, I think it was Hershey, Hershey’s CEO came out and, and, um, talked about maybe the lack of capacity they have because they’ve been dedicating so much to, you know, year long demand, Uh, who knows, going back to C-suite language and, and positioning, who knows? I’ll, I’ll leave that to the smart analyst like yourself. But, you know, um, Kathy, I’m never, you know, whether it’s Twix or Snickers or, or even the less popular stuff, we, we’ll get our candy fix some ways, some ways, shape or form the day after.

Scott Luton (28:40):

Yes. I’ll take it from my kids. Uh, Cathy, don’t tell them that. Just between you and me. Um, alright. So we’ve talked about, um, a lot of stuff so far. You know, certainly ups, uh, they’re big third quarter got some of your other industry observations, uh, across retail. Uh, we talked about that, the inventory bonanza and some of the reasons why and why it’s not just real simple. Uh, there’s a lot of complex, a lot of moving pieces as Mo as probably all of our listeners know across global supply chain. So now let’s talk about FedEx. Cause it’s really a tale of two cities. If I’m, uh, if I’m, um, tracking with you here. So tell us about a FedEx call. I think it was in September.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (29:20):

Yeah. So <laugh>, trying to think of a nice way of wording, uh, how, how to frame the FedEx story. So FedEx reported in September, and it was for their fiscal first quarter.

Scott Luton (29:33):

Okay.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (29:34):

Uh, which was June to August. And it was not a pretty picture with not at all. And, um, the blame was placed on the global economic conditions, uh, you know, stating that we were heading down the path towards recession. The whole, uh, Russia, Ukraine issue, higher cost inflation, Everything was blamed on their, um, quarter, which they missed. Totally. I mean, profit, I don’t have the exact numbers, but the numbers were not good. Let’s just put it that way. Uh, the only shining light was FedEx Express, not FedEx Express, Excuse me. That one was not a good one. Uh, FedEx Freight. FedEx Freight was the shining light. They came out, uh, profitable, they grew, um, it was through revenue management, which is, you know, let’s charge more. But I mean, it was fuel surcharges, higher fuel prices that they had to, um, had to, uh, uh, give pass on to their customers and such, uh, FedEx Express and FedEx Ground, both, which have been such leading divisions within FedEx, just did not have a good quarter whatsoever.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (30:55):

And really, I think it boils down, and this is me, Uh, and just looking at their numbers and listening to their calls for years and years, to me it was more the reason really was internal, not necessarily external. Yes, external probably did play a role, but internally they’ve got a lot of work that needs to be done because each division, FedEx Express, FedEx Brown, FedEx Freight has historically operated as separately. They did not speak to each other. They had their own networks. Hmm. So, you know, if you threw a FedEx Ground package into FedEx Express’s network, it would spit it back out going Yeah. No <laugh>. Uh, but they’ve been <laugh> they’ve been trying to integrate, um, these networks.

Scott Luton (31:49):

There’s gotta be some economies of scale there, Kathy, that maybe they’ve missed out on.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (31:54):

I mean, it took them too long to really realize they needed to be doing this. Maybe they’ve known all along that they’ve needed to do this, but they’ve started doing it right before the pandemic hit. And then, you know, the world turned upside down, uh, after that. But they still kept pursuing this and they’re still working on it, but it’s difficult and it’s gonna take time. And I’m not sure they can succeeded. Really, just knowing how rigid these divisions, these networks have been. Um, they have shared some of their progress in their success stories. Ups, I mean, ups, FedEx Freight, jumping in, carrying some of the ground stuff. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> Express, jumping in, carrying some of the ground stuff. But the problem is FedEx Express, FedEx Freight, those are FedEx employees. Mm. FedEx Ground. Those are contractors, not in the sense of an Instacart or a DoorDash. What it is, is FedEx ground is, you know, companies buy the routes. Right. And then they manage those routes. They hire the workers and such, and they have to maintain, they sign a contract with FedEx with, you know, the list of to-dos and not to-dos.

Scott Luton (33:19):

Yep. Different culture, different operational landscape. Um,

Cathy Morrow Roberson (33:22):

Exactly. Yeah. And it’s a lower cost network versus the express and the freight divisions. Mm. So that’s where you see a lot of those, the cost, the impact, you know, the profitable profitability being hit and such. Right. So,

Scott Luton (33:40):

Well, so also, part of the good news you’re sharing from what’s going on at FedEx is it sounds like they’re starting to see some of the, they might be small fruits, but fruits of their labor in terms of getting these, these silos, talking with each other and maybe collaborating with each other. Um, and you expect to see, um, you know, if you had a, your break out, your crystal ball, I know mine’s been broken for forever, but do you see the path forward for FedEx based on what they’re trying to do from a leadership and an integration and a kinda a ecosystem standpoint? Do you see, uh, you know, a light at the end of the tunnel or at least a, some, some sort of light at the end of the tunnel?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (34:20):

Well, okay, so that light is pretty dumb at the moment. I mean, they really have a lot of work that needs to be done, but there’s so many people rooting for them. I think they can pull it off. I really think they can. Uh, but it’s gonna take a while and I don’t know, they need to speed it up, but I mean, it’s, it’s gonna cost a lot of money. There’s a lot of articles, a lot of commentators out there that’s calling for them to be sold.

Scott Luton (34:49):

Yes, yes. I’ve heard a lot of that’s not gonna happen. You’ll think it’s gonna happen.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (34:54):

No, that’s not gonna happen. I mean, Mr. Smith, the founder of FedEx, will not let that happen. I’ve, I’m up the of the belief the company will go private before they would allow themselves to be sold. Okay, that’s me again. Um, and it’s just, they’re needed. They really are needed. Uh, it’s a, it’s a good company. It’s just they have a lot of work they need to, to get done that needs to get done. So.

Scott Luton (35:24):

Well, I like how you’re pulling for, you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re not, uh, watering down kind of the current state Right. With what they’re battling. Uh, there’s, as you mentioned, there’s lots of work to be done, but, uh, you know, we, we both know probably lots of good people that are part of the FedEx team and, and UPS team for sure. And, and, uh, we hope, we hope they get it going and they’re making, they make progress in, uh, the throws of what they’re, they’re going through. Uh, and by the way, I like your crystal, that that’s quite a crystal ball, uh, projection there that, uh, rather than be acquired, they’ll go private before, you know, that might would happen. That’s, uh, that’s an interesting thought. Um, okay. Anything else? I wanna shift gears over as we start to kind of come down the, uh, the home stretch here. I wanna ask about one of your, uh, favorite things in life before we go there, Any last thoughts about FedEx?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (36:15):

Oh, goodness. No, but we’ll, you know, their next quarter, um, announcement will be in December. Okay. For the, no, for the November period. So I’m really looking forward to that, to see what kind of progress they’ve made. Um, I do know that, uh, they had told, uh, Bree Carre, who is one of their, um, executive, uh, senior Vice presidents, uh, was on CNBC earlier this week or last last week, and assured the public that they are ready for the holiday season. They did not give any projections like UPS has, but they have assured the market that they are ready, and they are more than capable of handling, you know, the holiday season. Instead of hiring seasonal workers, like, you know, ups, the post office, Amazon, and so on. Uh, they, uh, Miss Carre said that they’re leaning into their existing workforce, their existing network, and they’re gonna flex it. And as the need, they will shift. We’re needed. So, Okay.

Scott Luton (37:22):

Interesting for us. That’s right. <laugh>. Okay. All right. So, uh, from FedEx, you mentioned Amazon a second ago. Uh, I saw you, uh, a reporting the news that, uh, some folks in industry have been talking about Amazon. It’s adding 10 Airbus 3 33 hundreds, if I said that, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, and I think, uh, the Hawaiian Airline, um, company is gonna be operating them for Amazon. They’re kind of, it sounds like they’re kind of upgrading their fleet and, and letting some of the older models maybe go into retirement. But your thoughts on that news?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (38:01):

Well, okay, so <laugh>, um, Amazon’s, uh, okay. So Hawaii Air is a new partner for Amazon. So they’ve added another partner. They’ve got quite a few now. Um, you know, Atlas, a, T s g U P, ups, um, Mesa, I, I can’t name them all, but it’s a long list. And now Hawaii Air is joining this group, and yeah, you’re correct. Uh, they will be managing these 10 airplanes, uh, management, flying them, uh, within the domestic US also between Hawaii, you know, between Hawaii and, and the US as well. So I think now this is me with, with the little wonky crystal ball. I think this is also gonna be a play along the trans specifically. So, you know, Amazon does, they import a lot of items from Asia mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and I think they’ll eventually take advantage of these airplanes, um, to, uh, to move this, these imports into the US themselves versus relying on, um, other partners that may be doing that on their behalf.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (39:23):

Um, and you’re also right, they are retiring some of the older planes that are up for, uh, renewal, they’ve, they’ve lease these through other partners and instead of signing those contracts, they’re taking on new, bigger airplanes from Airbus. And I believe these are the first air buses, um, that they’re gonna be, that’s being put into their network. Cuz I think the rest have always been Boeing. I’m not sure I could be wrong there. Uh, so it’s gonna be interesting to watch, but, you know, it’s good to see Amazon bullish on the air, air cargo market. UPS was also bullish on the air cargo market back in August. They, um, ordered four new airplanes, and these are more fuel efficient airplanes, so they will be replacing probably some of the older models within, uh, UPS’s fleet. So it’s, it’s good to see this in the air market, uh, because the air cargo market has not, it’s, it is just kind of, um, iffy. Um, it’s kind of iffy at the moment. Right. Uh,

Scott Luton (40:38):

Yeah, The bow put it nicely. Yeah. To put it nicely, the Boeing Airbus, uh, story, we, we’ll have to have you back and we’ll, we’ll dive into that. That’s interesting. Especially what Boeing has been through in recent years. Uh, so I guess it’s a good win for Airbus those tier in aircraft. I wonder what the size of that deal was, Um, but a good sell for Airbus, uh, to Amazon. Um, okay. Before we we’re gonna talk about freight forward here in a second, uh, one of your newest, uh, projects and publications that’s really resonated with the marketplace. Um, but before we leave Air Cargo, why is Air Cargo now, you’re, you’re a big airplane enthusiast. I’ll, I’ll say air cargo enthusiast, it seems to be one of your favorite things to report on and analyze and talk about. Why is that?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (41:23):

Well, <laugh>, despite the, the port, the ocean freight port picture, I do have an airplane hanging above that. Uh, it’s a C one 30 that was made, um, out of a beer can, which is absolutely fascinating to me, is made by a, a, um, a gentleman from, who retired from Boeing. Uh, but the C one 30 has a special place in my heart because my husband works for Lockheed and he is on that C one 30 line. So yeah, guess what our conversations are like, you know, at the dinner table. But no, I’ve always, I’ve always loved airplanes of my, my uncles, uh, my great uncles, uh, were, uh, in, in the Air Force. Um, they flew airplane during, in World War ii. Um, my grandfather was in the Air Force as well, so I grew up with airplanes. And also, you know, just to bring it back, you know, towards air cargo. I was in the air freight forwarding group at UPS for, for a number of years. So, yeah. Yeah, yeah, that

Scott Luton (42:31):

Makes sense. Um,

Cathy Morrow Roberson (42:32):

That’s where a lot of this still comes from. And, you know, and today I write, um, a column for Air Cargo World Magazine, and I focus on express, uh, primarily also freight forwarders. And, um, and sometimes I, I throw them a loop by sending them, uh, last month <laugh>, because that last mile impacts impacts the rest of the supply chain as well.

Scott Luton (42:59):

That’s right. Well, hey, here’s, here’s a little factoid. I bet you already know this. Uh, I discovered this, uh, just a few weeks back. Um, so Delta, right? One, one of the world’s largest airlines, I, I’m not sure why I always made this assumption, but I thought the whole Delta, uh, brand name was meant to imply the delta in service, the, the higher service they offer, and maybe some of the competition, I, I don’t know where, maybe I read that somewhere, or maybe I just made that assumption. But where they got that name from is, uh, is in this origin story, right? A crop dusting company. I can’t remember the name right off, but they were based really in the Mississippi Delta area. That was their primary territory. And so that’s where the Delta name came from, uh, in, its, we’re talking back in the, uh, um, thirties, forties, fifties, long time ago. And that’s where the delta that we all know and love now, where that, where its origins came from. So how about that?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (44:00):

I had no idea.

Scott Luton (44:02):

Well, me and you both. That is really

Cathy Morrow Roberson (44:04):

Cool,

Scott Luton (44:05):

Huh? Um, so <laugh>, so anyway, little factoid there. So let’s move, uh, speaking of, uh, more good information facts, uh, industry takes analysis, freight forward, uh, is a new, uh, I call it new. I don’t know how many, how many additions have you published of Freight Forward, roughly?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (44:24):

Well,

Scott Luton (44:25):

Dozen,

Cathy Morrow Roberson (44:25):

30 to five.

Scott Luton (44:26):

Oh, really? Okay. So it is, I, we can drop the new moniker. 30 35 editions is a, it’s a LinkedIn driven newsletter, Is that right? That’s correct. Those are, those are really easy to access or easy to subscribe to. Easy. It’s easy to, um, one of the things I love about those LinkedIn newsletters is it’s easy to comment and engage in conversations, you know, based on kind of the format and all, whether you’re, you’re engaging with the author or authors or other folks that are digesting the same information and, and, and, uh, talking about it. So tell us what, um, what type of content drives Freight Forward and how, you know, where can folks sign up for it?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (45:05):

Okay, so Freight Forward came out from, um, a discussion that I was having with some folks at the Journal of Commerce. Uh, and they just kind of threw it out at me. Why don’t you start this newsletter out on LinkedIn and see where it, where it goes. The, what it is basically is I’ll take, uh, some of the articles that the Journal of Commerce writes, uh, the previous week and try to tell the supply chain story, you know, link it all together, Ocean Air Trucking, Rail, Intermodal, all the way down to parcel. And, um, as not only Journal of Commerce articles, I’ll throw in some of the Air Cargo world and some of the other publications that, that I, little

Scott Luton (45:54):

Of this little bit of that little cinnamon, little kinda

Cathy Morrow Roberson (45:57):

Throw in a little bit of stuff. And then I tell the supply chain story as a whole, because so many times when one is reading, um, articles, it’s very siloed. Again, it’s very ocean freight specific, but it doesn’t really tell the story of how does that impact the trucking or yeah, intermodal. So this is kind of my attempt to, um, to link it all together. And I do this really on behalf of the Journal of Commerce. Um, I have always been a big fan of their articles. I’ve used them, um, for a lot of the work that I’ve done for clients, and I’ve known them going back to my E ps days. Mm-hmm. And also at the end of, uh, each, um, Freight Forward, I’ll add an economic outlook, you know, what’s coming up in the, you know, that given week, you know, the ppi, the cpi, gdp, whatever, and a link to, to that. So, because those have really huge impact on supply chains, but it’s free. It’s free and people can just really go on. Um, not really sure how you find the newsletters. Do, do you have to look it up under my name or can you do a search?

Scott Luton (47:16):

Probably both, but, we’ll, we’ll make it easy. So, uh, we will put a link, maybe to the most recent one on the, on the episode page. So folks can click on that one, click away, and then they can also, from there they can subscribe or connect with you. How’s that sound, Kathy? Yeah.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (47:31):

Ok, cool. That sounds good. They come out every Monday morning. I try to get them out by six o’clock in the morning, but sometimes it’s easier Seth, than done. Just depends.

Scott Luton (47:41):

<laugh> well, it, it’s, it’s good content. And if you gotta wait until seven, it’s worth waiting for us. Y’all check out Freight Forward, uh, and again, you can connect, we’ll have a link in the episode page, episode notes, but you can connect also search Cathy Mor Roberts on LinkedIn and find it that way, or probably, I bet, I bet if you drop straightforward in the LinkedIn search bar, I’m not sure if they’ve added a newsletter search, specific search just yet. But, uh, regardless, hey, we’re gonna have link for you in the episode notes. All right.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (48:08):

You also have a nice LinkedIn newsletter too.

Scott Luton (48:11):

We, So ours is new. Uh, we have been, uh, experimenting a little bit. We, you know, Kathy, we, we’ve been collaborating for so long and putting out so much content. We really, you know, we were looking for something more unique. So we weren’t just, you know, uh, sharing our podcast and live streams. I kind of wanted to, uh, it to be a, um, about business, but a little bit of history, a little bit of our, our points of view that some of our hosts have that that may be, you know, missed and all the shuffle. So yeah, we’ve been, uh, it’s called, with that set, I think we’re, uh, 10 or 11 additions in, and it’s really been, it’s been a, a fun project. So that’s where the, um, that’s where we came across that Delta, uh, origin story and, and corrected our assumption there. So it’s been really fun.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (48:59):

It’s a good newsletter. I subscribe to

Scott Luton (49:01):

It. Well, hey, man, that makes my day, man, <laugh>, uh, when great, great writers and, and analysts and, and pros like you, uh, appreciate content. I think that’s, uh, that’s always very rewarding. So, um, so folks, check out Freight Forward, great LinkedIn newsletter, check out. With that said, that’s our supply chain now, uh, LinkedIn newsletter. How can folks connect with you? Kathy, I know, uh, Journal Commerce great, great work you’re doing there. Eric Johnson. Um, we’re big fans of Eric in yours. Uh, of course, our friends at Reverse Logistics Association, Tony Sheroda, great team over there. Um, and that’s just the tip of iceberg on on some other stuff that, that you’re, um, cooking up and working on. How can folks connect with you though?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (49:43):

Uh, honestly, the best way is through social media. So, yeah, LinkedIn or my, uh, Twitter feed, which is CM Robertson zero six.

Scott Luton (49:54):

You beat me to it. I was just, I was just about to share folks, if you’re on Kathy, we’ve talked about this before. Um, Twitter is like black licorice. It’s like, um, it’s like Crocs. It’s likes either you love it, you love them, you, you, you’re big fans, or <laugh> or you’re not right folks, if you’re on Twitter, right? And especially if you love all things supply chain and global business and, and what we’ve been talking about here today. Make sure, do yourself favor, follow, uh, Kathy. And that’s at CM Robertson oh six, right, Kathy?

Cathy Morrow Roberson (50:30):

Yeah. I mean, you also get photographs of my hikes, pictures of my cat <laugh>, uh, progress of house, uh, projects. So yeah,

Scott Luton (50:42):

I love it. It’s life. It’s life. And it’s social media. It’s social media. It’s important to share, um, yeah, how life. I

Cathy Morrow Roberson (50:51):

Also do a blog post on Sub Stack as well. That link is on my Twitter profile,

Scott Luton (50:56):

So, Excellent. All right. We’re connecting to Dots here, uh, for our listeners. But Kathy, always, uh, big fan of what you do, Uh, appreciate our friendship and collaboration going back, uh, years now. Uh, keep, keep doing it. Uh, you’re informing so many folks and filling in that blind spot that we all have as humans or supply chain practitioners, or you name it. And it’s a ton of fun. So Kathy, really appreciate you joining me here today.

Cathy Morrow Roberson (51:22):

Oh, thank you so much for inviting me. I appreciate it.

Scott Luton (51:26):

Well, we’re gonna do it again soon. I think we’ve got a couple more episodes teed up, monthly episodes where we’re really gonna dive into, uh, Cathy’s observations and analysis, uh, of, of companies and, and operations out there, what’s going on. So stay tuned for that. Uh, this is the first one, uh, and we’re gonna wrap the year on a high note with the November and December shows along those lines. So big thanks to Cathy Mauro Robertson for joining me today and having a great conversation. Hey, to all the folks that tuned in, uh, whether it’s a video version or a podcast version, thank you. Let us know what you think, you know, reach out, start a social thread. Hit us up on Twitter. Let us know what you thought of, uh, some of the points and conversations we’ve had here today. But most importantly, folks, Scott Lutton, on behalf of our entire supply chain now team, challenging you to do good, to give forward and to be the change that’s needed. On that note, we’ll see next time, right back here on Supply Chain now. Thanks everybody.

Intro/Outro (52:17):

Thanks for being a part of our supply chain now, community. Check out all of our programming@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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Cathy Morrow-Roberson began her career as a librarian working in libraries in North & South Carolina and in Georgia. However, during the first wave of e-commerce startups, Cathy accepted a position at an e-commerce consulting startup working on such projects as the first internet bank and providing strategic analysis on other projects. After a couple of years, Cathy moved on to UPS where she was part of the team that created UPS Supply Chain Solutions. Cathy was responsible for logistics research and analysis including competitive and market analysis and more. With eleven years of UPS experience, Cathy returned to the consulting world, first working with a British-based firm and then launching her own business in 2015, Logistics Trends & Insights LLC, a supply chain market research and consulting firm.

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

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Joshua Miranda

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

Donna Krache

Director of Communications and Executive Producer

Donna Krache is a former CNN executive producer who has won several awards in journalism and communication, including three Peabodys.  She has 30 years’ experience in broadcast and digital journalism. She led the first production team at CNN to convert its show to a digital platform. She has authored many articles for CNN and other media outlets. She taught digital journalism at Georgia State University and Arizona State University. Krache holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. She is a serious sports fan who loves the Braves. She is president of the Dave Krache Foundation. Named in honor of her late husband, this non-profit pays fees for kids who want to play sports but whose parents are facing economic challenges.

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Vicki White

Controller

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

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

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

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

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Allison Giddens

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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

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Greg White

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

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

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

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Chris Barnes

Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring

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

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

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Karin Bursa

Host of TEKTOK

If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.

With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.

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Kevin L. Jackson

Host of Digital Transformers

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

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Enrique Alvarez

Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español

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

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

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Kelly Barner

Host of Dial P for Procurement

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

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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

Mary Kate Soliva is transitioning from active duty in the US Army. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.

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Jeff Miller

Host

Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business.  Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.

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Amanda Luton

Chief Marketing Officer

Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM.  When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or reading.

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Clay Phillips

Business Development Manager

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

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Trisha Cordes

Administrative Assistant

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

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Billy Taylor

Host of Dial P for Procurement

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

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

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

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

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Chantel King

Social Media Manager

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

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

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

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Lori Sofian

Marketing Coordinator

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

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Katherine Hintz

Sales and Marketing Coordinator

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

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Ben Harris

Host

Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.

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Page Siplon

Host, The Freight Insider

Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).

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Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Kevin Brown

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Sofia Rivas Herrera

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

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

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Demo Perez

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

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

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Kim Winter

Host, Supply Chain Now

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

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

A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).

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Nick Roemer

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Alex Bramley

Sales Support Intern

Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.

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