Logistics with Purpose
Episode 834

As you start to get older, you realize that you’re not guaranteed any certain amount of time. And if tomorrow is my day… what is my life going to have counted for?

- Michael Jones is the Co-Founder and CEO of THRIVE Farmers

Episode Summary

Highly complex fragmented supply chains may create a competitive advantage for the companies that build and maintain them, but the same isn’t necessarily true for all the tiers of that chain – particularly at the raw material production level. Michael Jones is the Co-Founder and CEO of THRIVE Farmers, an innovative organization that is transforming the coffee industry by shortening the supply chain between farmers and consumers to increase control and net profit for farmers. Join Enrique and special guest host Adrian Purtill as they talk to Michael about how his personal and professional mission has driven him to make a difference in the lives of others while also completely altering his definition of success.

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:00:02):

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

Adrian Purtill (00:00:34):

Welcome everyone. We’re uh, we’re here with, uh, Enrique Alvarez, managing director of vector global logistics and myself, Adrian Purtill based in Atlanta, uh, also with Victor global and, uh, we are very, very honored to have a special guest with us today. Michael Jones, founder and CEO of thrive farmers. Michael has been great chatting to you. Welcome to the show and looking forward to chatting with you about, uh, the Corp status, Michael,

Enrique Alvarez (00:01:02):

Having Me thank you for, thank you for being here. I mean, I know there’s tons of different topics that we could cover, but we actually were curious about one thing. Um, and it’s the B B certification, uh, the B Corp certification that your company has and what, why is, what is it for people that might be listening to this and don’t necessarily know what it is? And then the more important question is like, what does that mean to you guys? What does it signify and, and why pursuing something like that?

Michael Jones (00:01:27):

Yeah. Well, B B corporations are benefit corporations and they were established a few years ago to provide an objective set of credentials by which a company could prove that they were to and, and doing things that were having a benefit out in the world. So that spans a range and it looks differently for different companies, but we felt like that’s important because one, it’s really hard to explain, especially briefly what we do. And so, you know, consumer attention span is pretty short, you know, and I I’m, I’m chief among those, right? I mean, I, I move pretty fast. I’m not usually gonna invest a lot of time until I find out, you know, a reason to do so. So short attention spans and then crowded market. And so if you can have something that becomes recognizable and we invested kind of early in the effort to do this, and, you know, we’ve seen good growth and recognition around B CORs where people see that little sign and go, oh, okay. If they’re certified by B Corp, then they must be doing something good. And so it’s, I would say it’s more of a movement than anything else. And we wanted to help, you know, catalyze the movement.

Adrian Purtill (00:02:44):

So adding on for that, there’s only a few thousand, uh, companies in the world that have become B Corp certified, you know, which, which says a lot about the integrity of, of th thrive farmers. As you think about that community growing over the next couple of years, what is your hopeful businesses who are, who are balancing purpose and profit?

Michael Jones (00:03:02):

Yeah, I mean, I think that, um, if consumers start to make decisions, one bene, you know, B Corp gives them a, a quicker and easier way to do that. But if they’re willing to make buying decisions based on companies that line up with their are to have an impact in the world, then that’s like a, a self-fulfilling prophecy, right? Is it, you know, other big companies are going to make decisions based on what their consumers want. And then that gives companies, you know, like us and others that are in the B Corp movement, you know, more interested parties, right. More people that are willing to buy our goods and services. And so it’s a, I would say a virtuous cycle where everybody starts to benefit and rise as a result of it

Enrique Alvarez (00:03:49):

Makes sense. And it seems to me that the, um, that’s the future of the world, right. I think that as our kids gonna grow older, they’re going to be requiring or requesting that all the companies that’ll be more purpose driven and you can, yeah. You can starting to see it right. Very clearly. So I think that again, once again, you, as a true serial entrepreneur, you’re kind of like taking this, uh, taking the lead on this and good morning, my name’s Enrique ES and welcome everyone to another incredible episode of logistics with purpose partnering with the supply chain now. And I have the pleasure to have a really good co-host as well. Adrian, how are you doing today? Good morning.

Adrian Purtill (00:05:15):

Good, good morning, Enrique. Great to be with you doing well. And, uh, looking forward to having a great discussion here with Michael Jones.

Enrique Alvarez (00:05:22):

I think we’re gonna have a great guest. I mean, we’ve, uh, we’re very well aware of what he has done and what his organization’s done, and it’s gonna be super interesting. So ready, ready to start talking with them.

Adrian Purtill (00:05:33):

Yeah. Great. So, um, just wanna introduce, uh, Michael Jones, the founder and CEO of thrive farmers, uh, local Atlanta company, we know thrive, have known thrive farmers for a number of years now made a number of the, of, of their staff and, and become involved with him and, uh, think the world of organization. So, Michael, thanks for making the time today. It’s a real to have you on. Thank you to, uh, get into your background a little, if you could, uh, start us off with just telling us, uh, where you grew up and, and your childhood overall.

Michael Jones (00:06:05):

Yeah. Not, not all that exciting. Uh, I’m, I’m from a really small town in middle Georgia. My high school, I think, uh, had 180 people total or, or something just over. I can remember from a pretty young age, being excited to leave my small town and get to the big city. I think at some point New York was on my mind. I wound up making Atlanta my first stop thinking that would be, you know, on the way to New York and never got there. But, uh,

Enrique Alvarez (00:06:35):

What, what caught your attention? Well, what, what was it, what was a lie gave you?

Michael Jones (00:06:41):

You know, it’s funny. I don’t know if I can pinpoint exactly when, but somewhere in my teenage years. So I grew up in a family business car repair, business auto collision. And so as young as I can remember, you know, I’m sanding cars and taping them up and paint, painting them and doing, you know, that kind of work sweeping floors. And I just thought to myself, this, this, isn’t what I see myself, you know, doing. And, you know, I’d been two generations, but I would’ve been third generation, but it just wasn’t, didn’t excite me. And somewhere in my teenage years, my dad turned me onto Anthony Robbins as a self-help kind of guy. I joke because I grew up in the eighties that between Anthony Robbins and Robin leach, I had, you know, my bookends, I had, I had one guy telling me what, you know, happiness and success looked like.

Michael Jones (00:07:29):

And then I had another guy saying, you can do anything you want, if you just set your mind to it. So that really, that really influenced me heavily. I mean, I, I, I started to really dream big. Um, I think I was already probably wired in a way to, to think like that just based on other things that, you know, were there from a young, young age, but, but that did start to, to point me, you know, to leave my small town and to think bigger than maybe a lot of people around me. So yeah. You know, called in those days I was called a dreamer. They’re like, oh, you’ve got your head in the clouds and you’re always dreaming about something big.

Adrian Purtill (00:08:04):

So was your, was your dad, was your dad a little disappointed that you weren’t staying in the family business or did he no mine to give you your wings?

Michael Jones (00:08:12):

No, my, my dad was an encourager. He, um, he was a Marine purple heart Marine. Um, had, you know, left the small town as well and went around the world. Who’s Vietnam veteran, and he’s probably one of the most positive guys I’ve ever been around. Sure. And he, he was just like, you know, you, you figure out your path and I’ll support you no matter what. So I always had the encouragement to do absolutely whatever I wanted, no expectation at all, whether it was school work, you know, any of it.

Adrian Purtill (00:08:44):

Right.

Enrique Alvarez (00:08:45):

He sounds like an incredible, um, like an incredible father and something that was very kinda like early on, on your career and you being an entrepreneur. Is there something that he kinda like constantly told you any kind of piece of advice that you could share with, uh, the younger generations?

Michael Jones (00:09:00):

Well, yeah, my dad had a really high standard of excellence. I mean, he, he would tell me if you’re gonna do something, do it right. And he just had not a lot of tolerance for halfway doing something and, and doing it lack less, or, you know, he, he tended to be a bit of a perfectionist. Um, his work ethic was, you know, unbelievable. And, you know, he had worked in, in his family business from a very young age to really help support the family. He was the oldest of six siblings. So, you know, a very different time, um, you know, some family background that just, you know, was and caused him to, to need to have to do that. But, um, you know, I think, I think I had the, I had the freedom to, to, to dream, but the expectation was, you know, I don’t care what you do if you wanna be a janitor and go sleep floors, that’s fine. If that fits your passion, but if you’re gonna do that, make sure you’re the best at it. Just, you know, do do, or the, the best you’re capable of. He, he didn’t even think that, you know, I had to be better than anybody else. It was just, I needed to live, live up to a hundred percent of my potential, whatever that was. And so that was probably the one thing that I would say, you know, was there and from both parents really was just the support and freedom

Enrique Alvarez (00:10:14):

And the work ethic probably too. Right. I mean, you hard, you’ve always worked really hard and I’m guessing that you get that from, from them as well.

Michael Jones (00:10:21):

Yeah. You know, I, I work hard at the things that I’m passionate about. Like even in school, I mean, I had, I had a pretty wide range of grades. I’d have a, in the things that I enjoyed or, you know, cared about and I would maybe be get by and, you know, something like physics where I felt like it was just, it didn’t even make sense to me and I wasn’t gonna use it. Right. And so I just, you know, I, I didn’t, I didn’t spend a lot of time dreaming about physics when I was away from

Enrique Alvarez (00:10:52):

Not a lot of people can that that’s right. Any, so what was your favorite subject and were there any kind of sports that you were passionate about growing up?

Michael Jones (00:11:00):

Yeah, so we, um, my brother and I, um, raised motocros competitively, my dad, so very typical, you know, my dad, I think we may have been six, seven years old. I’ve got one brother he’s two years younger. And we were given just, you know, dirt bikes for Christmas one year. And, but more like trail bikes. And we started riding those and enjoying it. And so then my dad upgrades us to motocross bikes, and then he starts taking us to races. And before, you know, it, we’re traveling around about a third of the United States at nationally sanctioned races with, you know, kids that are sponsored by big teams. And my dad’s trying to he’s our mechanic and he’s learning every, everything he can from people that he meets. And he’s got our bikes functioning as private individuals functioning similarly to these factory riders. And, you know, and we were gone every weekend for about six, seven years. We raced wow. All over the place. And our circle of friends really became more our racing buddies. So, so we did motocros and we did football. And my dad was the coach of our teams and just always really involved. He, he was going to be there to guide us and he would, if he needed to go back and work until midnight, he would do it to be coach of our team from four o’clock until six in, in the, in, in the evening, you know,

Enrique Alvarez (00:12:19):

Did he raise bikes too? Or, or, or he, yeah, he

Michael Jones (00:12:22):

Did some, yeah, he did some, um, he raced bikes a little bit before us, which is what got us into it. And then I think as we started to take off, he spent more time with us, you know, years later he started, he became a body builder and wound up winning Mr. Georgia.

Adrian Purtill (00:12:38):

Oh, wow. Really? Wow.

Enrique Alvarez (00:12:40):

He’s

Adrian Purtill (00:12:42):

That is phenomenal. Just a, just a, just a super achiever,

Michael Jones (00:12:45):

Super achiever, high standard of excellence. And so,

Adrian Purtill (00:12:49):

Absolutely. Wow.

Michael Jones (00:12:51):

I dare say that I’ve lived up to any of that, you know, I think it’s where I get my, my motivation from in certain ways, just seeing how well he did things,

Adrian Purtill (00:12:59):

What an inspiration. Yeah.

Michael Jones (00:13:01):

So

Adrian Purtill (00:13:02):

On, uh, getting back to the bike racing, uh, the, the, the circuit. So were you gone pretty much Friday and, and you race Saturday and then Trevor that Sunday or race Saturday and Sunday,

Michael Jones (00:13:12):

Usually Saturday and Sunday. Uh, it depended on the weekend, but, and I can remember, you know, I look at it more fondly now than I may have at the time, every weekend, because there were a lot of times where friends were having birthday parties or other things

Adrian Purtill (00:13:27):

That you’d miss

Michael Jones (00:13:28):

That we’d miss, because we were gone racing. Yeah. And it was for a season, the racing season, I forget what it was now, but it tended to be sort of right at the end of football season all the way through spring. So those two things kind of lived in harmony. We could do football and motocros, but for the season, the motocros season, we were gone almost all the time.

Adrian Purtill (00:13:50):

Right. I, I don’t know too much about the, the motocros circuit and, and ed will, have you seen it? Have you seen it grow substantially over the, yeah,

Michael Jones (00:13:59):

It’s huge. I still enjoy it. The super cross that’s on TV. It’s it’s actually going on right now with all the pros. You know, we knew some kids that we raced with moved on up and went pro and we were in some of those, you know, circles for a while. And yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s like almost every other sport, you know, the spectatorship has grown dramatically, the best rider. Now they travel, you know, on private jets to each location. They’ve got trucks that take all their mechanics, you know, to the races overnight, you know, the best guys make tens of millions of dollars in sponsorships. And, you know, they’re like, it’s just like football, basketball, baseball, you, why?

Adrian Purtill (00:14:37):

Yeah. Did you

Enrique Alvarez (00:14:37):

Probably your father ever try to go pro Ort being that good or

Michael Jones (00:14:43):

Neither one of us were really at the level probably to truly go pro it’s just like any other sport, you know, the further up the ladder you get, there’s truly just a small elite number. That’s

Adrian Purtill (00:14:53):

The absolute elite. Yeah. It

Michael Jones (00:14:55):

Is the elite of the elite. Yeah. So my brother better than I was, but, but neither one of us were gonna go pro, but

Adrian Purtill (00:15:01):

To get, to get to that point, you would’ve had to what, when, or, I mean, place top three, probably consistently, right. Through most of the meets, I would think

Michael Jones (00:15:09):

To, to get to a pro you need to be winning all of these national events. The kids that went pro were the ones that were winning those events constantly and, you know, and clearly right. They would just be out in front of everybody and just,

Adrian Purtill (00:15:24):

Just dominating. Yeah. Just

Michael Jones (00:15:26):

Dominating. And then tho those go pro and then even some of those, the kids we, that were like, everybody was in awe of when they went pro they might be middle the pack. They’re not even, they weren’t even the elite at the pro level. And so

Adrian Purtill (00:15:42):

To get to that yeah. That different bull game. Yeah.

Michael Jones (00:15:44):

Yeah. That’s right. Just how competitive the world can be. Yeah. And, you know, there are a lot of other factors, right. Injury and you know, other crashes, you know, and you can, you can have everything going right. And somebody runs into you and it makes you not finish a race and your points go down. And, you know, at any given moment, there are a thousand roadblocks ready to just, you know, stop your progress, which as you look back and I think about motocros and football, motocross, more of an individual sport football, obviously team sport. And I’ve, I’ve told I’ve got three boys now, and I’ve talked to my wife from a really young age about the need for boys to develop grit. And, you know, grit is just this toughness and perseverance, you know, it’s a, it’s a number of things kind of melded into one. But I think about my days racing, you know, and playing football and it gave me a resolve and this ability to persevere and to work through really tough moments. Right. I mean, in football sounds pretty bad, but you know, you get your face kicked in. It’s, it’s tough, but you know, we’re

Adrian Purtill (00:16:50):

Not get back up again. Yeah. Well,

Michael Jones (00:16:51):

That’s it, we’re not doing our kids in each favors if we none them from every bad moment. Cause guess what? Life’s gonna be tough.

Adrian Purtill (00:16:58):

Yeah.

Enrique Alvarez (00:17:01):

No, just, uh, I, we totally agree. I think that it’s definitely important. I think something that we need to kind of encourage even more this days. Cause I some think that it’s kind of being lost sometimes, but I it’s, it’s a it a key life lesson, right. Making mistakes. It is struggling, uh, taking challenges, uh, head on. Tell us, so now going a little bit more into your professional career, how, how did you kind of start shaping the professional career that kinda led you to, to where you are?

Michael Jones (00:17:30):

So as I’m nearing the end of high school, you know, I’m starting to had ideas about, you know, how can I make money? And I, I had a, a family, uh, working in the family business. I had somebody that worked for the business who was related to an owner of an exotic car dealership up in the Midwest. And, um, he knew I was a car car guy and that I liked cars. And, you know, he had, he had a, a Corvette at the time and his, his cousin actually owned a Lamborghini dealership and nice had, you know, those kinds of cars. And so he said, you know, my, my cousin’s looking for certain cars and is paying finders fees and I’ve been trying to help him find certain vehicles. And so I said, so if you think I found some cars, I could get a finder’s fee.

Michael Jones (00:18:12):

And he said, I’m sure. And I said, well, give me a list of some of the cars you’re looking for. And so I started going into the, uh, there was no internet at the time. So I’m going into the classified ads in Atlanta, which is the nearest big city. And I’m looking at, you know, cars for sale that would seem to be in an exotic kind of category, right. Expensive cars. And I assumed that people that own, those cars know other people that own those cars. So I just started picking up the phone and calling and networking and saying, Hey, do you know anybody that has a so-and-so? And, um, I’ve got somebody looking to buy one of those cuz I was, the fighters fee was like $2,500 or something. I, I can’t remember it now, maybe, you know, it was about what it would take me, you know, nine months to make right.

Michael Jones (00:18:59):

That’s high five an hour. And um, so anyway, that, that turned me on this idea. So I can’t even remember the details exactly at this point, but I, I, I found, I connected with somebody, you know, through about three or four phone calls and found one of the vehicles and got paid a fee and I saw that work. And so it took all it took was, you know, that connection to success to go, wow, okay. If I just persevere through these phone calls enough, I’ll eventually get to a place where there’s a payoff. Right. You can join the adults. Yeah, that’s right. And so, um, so I wound up, you know, doing that. And I said earlier, you know, I was a dreamer con, I was con uh, called a dreamer. Well, I did this and I started, you know, getting ideas. And I, I thought, well now maybe at some point I could, you know, started dealership and start, you know, doing this with cars that I, that I love and whatever.

Michael Jones (00:19:52):

And, um, so I wound up doing that for about a year, um, just as I’m coming out of high school. And I’m, I started in a small junior college. Uh, my parents had divorced as I was graduating high school and the money was really not there for me to go off to school, like so many of my friends to big, you know, big colleges and have the campus experience. And, um, it, it just wasn’t in the cards for me. So I was driving back and forth to a small college. And frankly, I got pretty, pretty bored pretty quickly. Uh, I, wasn’t interested in this, the material being talked about in class, I was sitting here thinking about how could I sell the next car? And, um, so anyway, I, I chased for about a year. I wound up dropping out of, uh, that college thinking.

Michael Jones (00:20:36):

I had an opportunity with a guy I’d met in that business to potentially get a, a factory authorized Ferrari dealership. And we had a whole story and we, we, we put together a business plan. And so here I am 18 years old, you know, putting together a business plan that I had no idea I had to just use common sense to figure out what, you know, might be possible and, um, you know, story for another day, just, it wasn’t meant to be, and it wasn’t gonna happen. But I, I, I, I learned, and from there I jumped to another, a business opportunity and, you know, acquired some debt in the process of both of those. My, my mom had loaned me some money, uh, during the car phase. Um, and then once more for this, this new venture and neither one of ’em worked out, but I had this debt to repay now.

Michael Jones (00:21:25):

And so, um, you know, that, that sent me on another course. I wound up moving to Atlanta, taking a job as a stock broker trainee had somebody that agree to teach me the business. And I did, I worked in that business for about five years, did a number of different things. And I, and I feel like that’s where I started to learn a lot more. I learned about, you know, trading stocks. I learned about sales, you know, being a stock broker was predominantly about selling. You’d have to develop a talk track and you’re working the phones. And so, you know, I’m making a lot of calls every day and doing cold calling. And, um, it’s where I believe I started to develop real life skills. I’d gotten some good experience trying these two businesses and kinda learned quickly, you know, how hard it was to make a business work.

Michael Jones (00:22:10):

But, um, I added to that now with, you know, real sales skills. Some, I would, I would say mentors, maybe not in a good way, but some mentors that model things that I realized I don’t wanna be like that. And, um, I, I, I was just talking to my oldest son last week and said that, you know, you’ve got two opportunities when it comes to mentorship, you can find mentors that model things that you want to be like. And like, you know, I admire this guy and I wanna be more like that. What can I learn from him? I said, but the first eight or 10 years of my professional career, I would say I have the other kind of, of mentors that modeled behaviors that I didn’t wanna be like, wow. And, and both are important. Right? Yeah.

Enrique Alvarez (00:22:57):

That’s a very good take on, on, on the whole concept of mentorship. Right. Because I feel like we also kind of just seek out to those individuals that we really admire and then can keep you some positive. Um right. Exactly. But, but you’re right. If you pay attention, you can learn probably as much, if not more from people that actually you don’t agree with and people that that’s. Yeah. That’s a, that’s

Adrian Purtill (00:23:18):

A really, yeah. That’s actually very refreshing. I haven’t, I haven’t heard that being verbalized like that before. Very refreshing,

Enrique Alvarez (00:23:25):

Very timely as well. Right. Because we feel like we’re kind of like just breaking apart and we’re kind constantly dividing as like, listen, we can learn from both. I mean, absolutely. You learn from a bad role model as much as you can from a good one.

Michael Jones (00:23:38):

Yeah. I mean, I think that, I think that one of the biggest challenges that I see in people is self-awareness right. We all have blind spots, just human nature. We’re never gonna see ourselves exactly the way other people perceive us, but the more self-aware we can be, I think the more successful we ultimately can navigate our day to day professional lives. Right. And oh, by the way, our personal lives, you know, in my marriage.

Adrian Purtill (00:24:06):

Exactly. Yeah.

Michael Jones (00:24:08):

So I think that, you know, when I look back at some of these experiences, people that just engaged in things that I was definitely wanting to avoid, that made me more introspective, like, okay, is there anything that I’m doing that looks like that? And so I, I believe that can help heighten your self-awareness, which is just a really valuable tool. So,

Adrian Purtill (00:24:30):

So absolutely. So Michael, tell us about the path then from, from stockbroker to, to starting thrive farmers, what was that, what was that like?

Michael Jones (00:24:38):

There’s a bit of a jump there, but I’ll make that one short. So I did spend a few years and after seeing some things, you know, these guys were making the kind of money that I wanted to make. Right. However, they were doing things that were, you know, not okay by me just as it related to

Adrian Purtill (00:24:55):

Right.

Michael Jones (00:24:56):

Putting self before others. Yeah. And so, so I decided to leave, you know, I made a, a jump to a small healthcare company that needed some to raise some capital and needed to shore up operations to expand. That was kind of a, a step, a very brief step on the way to starting my next real business, which was a healthcare services business. Won’t go into the details of that, but it was investor backed. I had a couple of people that wanted to back me in that business. We, you know, had a, yet had a, a really big vision as to what we thought was possible. Um, but Medicare reimbursement Seesaw up and down and ultimately put us out of business. We had a non-invasive therapy that was just never going to be frontline in terms of, you know, replacing, you know, other more mainstream treatments.

Michael Jones (00:25:46):

So after their five years of, of running that business, I, I realized that it was not going to scale at a level to support, you know, me and a staff and growth. And so even though we left the clinic itself in, in operation, I, I went to go do other things. And I had also gotten married during that time. And then my marriage failed, you know, I was not mature enough for marriage. I was very self focused. I was only really interested in how to grow my business. And I look back now and I mean, I was woefully unfair, you know, and there’s always, you know, much more to the story, but, um, I just, you know, I, I was 30 years old and I was at a crossroads where this business that I had, which frankly did have the potential to scale very large. And, and my dream for it was, you know, big and, and it coincided with the dreams of my childhood. You know, I wanted to, I wanted to have a certain net worth by the time I was 30, I wanted to be on certain lists and have certain accomplishments and, and, and feel like I had made something of myself because at that time I thought the measure of a man had to do with what I had accomplished much you special. Yeah. And what you had goes back to that whole Robin leach analogy. Right,

Adrian Purtill (00:27:00):

Right.

Michael Jones (00:27:00):

Watching lifestyles, the rich and famous, then I’m like, oh, well,

Adrian Purtill (00:27:04):

Comparing this off to that. Yeah, that’s

Michael Jones (00:27:05):

Right. If you’re successful, then obviously you’re rich. And it means you’ve got these things. And so, so I was just, you know, I, my compass was off and this didn’t come from family. I didn’t grow up in a wealthy family by any means. It just came from, you know, this, this message that was coming out of meeting right. At the time I was, I was listening to the wrong messages. And so, so at a crossroads of 30, I was, I was at a, I was, I was really at a dead end. I had tried to, I had a concept that I had GED up with my dad to do kind of a consolidation and roll up in that collision industry had a lot of reasons to think that that was gonna go well. We had funding committed from some pretty big entities, the.com bust happened. And the funding just got pulled out from under us just before closing, literally like two weeks before closing. And I had, uh, a new girlfriend and we had bought a house and were living together. And then all of a sudden, some things were blowing up and not going well there. And, um, but you know, when you’re, you’ve got a girlfriend and you buy a house together, it’s not easy just to kind of break up and go your own ways. Right.

Adrian Purtill (00:28:09):

A little more involved, more involved.

Michael Jones (00:28:13):

And we had a dog, so he had a house and a dog. And, um, so I’ll, I’ll just say that I was pretty broken at that point. I just, I had all these big hopes and dreams and almost nothing that I had planned was working out the way I thought, not, not even close and what happened in my personal life really changed everything and led to thrive being created. You know, I did not grow up in a household of faith. We never, we never really talked about it. It was, it wasn’t a thing I didn’t think about as there a God. And, you know, we had, we had just no reference points, but my girlfriend at the time was working in a church in Midtown Atlanta in the nursery on Sundays. And she said, Hey, why don’t we go and visit this church where I’ve been working next Sunday and I’ll mark off and not work. And so I, I didn’t really, I said, well, I, I guess I don’t know what that’s gonna do, but sure. I didn’t have any other. And I thought, why not?

Adrian Purtill (00:29:07):

Yeah.

Michael Jones (00:29:08):

And you know, also another story for maybe another time, but that was the beginning of, uh, an incredible change in my life and my understanding of, you know, what my life could be about and what matters and why. And, um, so we wound up, so I can say now that the full story is she’s my wife of 20 years now, the mother of my three boys,

Adrian Purtill (00:29:30):

Wonderful things,

Michael Jones (00:29:32):

Things completely changed for both of us as we began a faith journey together and really reentering why, why we’re here and what, what what’s gonna matter about our lives. And it started me asking the question like, and I think too, right at 30 verse, you know, at 16 cars are the coolest thing ever. Right. But right at 30, I, I still appreciated, you know, cool cars. It’s not that they’re not cool, but I certainly began to wrestle with and realize that that’s not what life is made of. It certainly doesn’t make you somebody. And I started and, and I started to wrestle with, you know, I’d never, I didn’t have anybody close to me die yet, but I certainly had started to learn of people who passed away and realized, Hey, we’re not promised tomorrow. We go through making our plans, but for any host of reasons today, it could be my last day.

Michael Jones (00:30:23):

And again, you don’t think about that as a teenager, but as you start to get older, you realize that I’m not guaranteed any certain amount of time. And if tomorrow is my day, what is my life going to have counted for? I mean, where I live or how big my house is or what cars I own, those really aren’t going to matter. I’m looking at my kids and what kind of citizens are my kids, and what’s my legacy and what have I left in this world. And, oh, by the way, is any of that going to matter in the next life? And we all have to wrestle with that really, no matter what your faith is or is not, you still have to wrestle with that. You think about that. Exactly you. And so that really started me looking deeper in my heart. Now, what I realized is that we were made in such a way that material things in this world can’t fill the hole in our heart. There, we, we have a purpose that drives us. And until we find that purpose, we’re go, that we’re gonna keep spinning. Right. We’re gonna keep looking for something that, um, gives us meaning.

Michael Jones (00:31:27):

And somewhere about this time, I started another, you know, I started another company that was another healthcare company, but it was, um, it, it was a, it was a, a meant to, to manage costs around high dollar implants. So hips, knees, pace, makers, defibrillators, think of all the different implantable devices that are really expensive in the medical world. Um, and we had been working with certain factions and, and, and for a couple of years part-time, and then we saw an entry point at a couple of guys that were working with me on this business. And we saw an entry point to make it into a full time, real business every day. And we did, and our timing was just really good. And, um, that company started to really grow. We, um, I think we did about 600, 700,000 revenue between August and December 31st of that partial year. And what year

Enrique Alvarez (00:32:21):

Are you? Um, oh, four. That’s the right. That was oh four.

Michael Jones (00:32:24):

Yeah. And the next year, the first full year we had in business, we did 3.8 million. The next year was like 9 million. Um, and then I think it was like 12 or 14 and then 19 million. So our, our growth curve just did this. And we started paying out, you know, big distributions to those of us that were owners literally after six months. So, you know, the company growth is going high. My income is really for the first time getting up there. And, and I’m starting to realize some of these, you know, prior dreams of my childhood. And, um, for a moment I’m starting to think like, oh, this is, this is really interesting. I’m, I’m now, you know, walking in this way and fortune and, you know, prosperity are coming my way. And I’m thinking of this exchange, like, okay, as long as I’m generous and I’m giving some portion of what I make, this is a pretty good exchange.

Michael Jones (00:33:16):

I can do that all day long. And, um, and so for, for a little while I thought this was the, the method, right, is that I’m gonna be faithful with, with what I’ve been given here and this opportunity. And I’m going to give away a certain amount of whatever I make and be a generous person. But I did, I continued to, um, sort of, you know, pursue my faith journey, dig for, you know, questions, uh, for answers to questions that I had. And in 2008, one of my dreams from 20 years prior had been, you know, I wanna found a company that is on the Inc 500 lists, you know, the 500 fastest growing companies in America. Right. I think I had just read a magazine when they came out and I was like, oh, that’d be cool. I wanna be on. Yeah. So I claimed it.

Michael Jones (00:34:02):

Right. And, um, but in 2008 that happened. And I remember it was in August when they published, published the magazine with the list. And we had known about it for a little while and had to be quiet. But when that finally happened, it was kind of exciting like for the day that it happened, but I remember how quickly the excitement wore off. And I couldn’t, you know, I couldn’t hang onto it. And I remember just sitting at home in, in my living room with just sobbing with tears, coming down, thinking, is this all there is, I spent 20 years dreaming of this moment and I couldn’t hang onto it for even a day or two. Right. And I just thought, wow. And, and the thought was okay, I don’t wanna do that again. I don’t want to dream of something and put such energy and effort into something that is that hollow when I get there.

Michael Jones (00:34:56):

And so I remember asking God for clarity on what really matters to you. And so for a couple of years thereafter, we had, you know, some other things happened, big Silicon valley, private equity firms, Sequoia capital, you know, kind of world famous. They came in and invested, um, in our company, it was the first investment in the Southeastern us and over 10 years. So, you know, we’re on the cover of publications and, you know, lot of flu of phone calls. But I remember looking at that like, okay, what is this, what is this gonna mean? And about a year after they came in, um, I realized it was, you know, my time to go. And, you know, there’s a whole backstory to that, obviously that I won’t get into today, but it was, it was very clear at that moment that that chapter for me was closing. And it was time for me to really search deep and move into a place of purpose. And so I went on sabbatical, an intentional sabbatical to say, what’s gonna be next. And what is gonna matter about my life?

Enrique Alvarez (00:35:57):

Think about self awareness that you were mentioning before. Right. Kind of coming full circle to like, yeah. Who are you? And why are you here in this world? Kind of, yeah, that’s right.

Michael Jones (00:36:06):

That’s

Enrique Alvarez (00:36:06):

Right. That’s incredible. Uh, to go, go ahead, Michael. And,

Michael Jones (00:36:11):

Well, I was gonna say, I

Enrique Alvarez (00:36:11):

Don’t want,

Michael Jones (00:36:12):

I don’t wanna just drone on, but that, that, you know, briefly that’ll into, you know, I, I, I went on this sabbatical period. My boys were five, three and one at the time. And so my wife had me commit to at least six months before I really truly started anything else and longer if I could stand it. But literally about two, three weeks in, I went from my prior company having 60, 70 to rec reports and, you know, travel and all the responsibilities of that running operations, technology and marketing to waking up, you know, a next day, not even going into the office, nothing

Adrian Purtill (00:36:48):

On the agenda. Yeah.

Michael Jones (00:36:49):

Nothing, no calendar, no agenda. And I’m, it’s just, it was weird, really weird.

Enrique Alvarez (00:36:55):

Well, you’ve been in the serial entrepreneur, your whole life from, to motorcycles to stock market. I mean, yeah. It sounds like you, you need to be doing something.

Michael Jones (00:37:04):

Yeah. I was gonna say, I think I underestimated how, how hard it was gonna be. Cause at first I’m like,

Enrique Alvarez (00:37:10):

Oh, I can do this.

Michael Jones (00:37:11):

This is gonna be awesome. This

Adrian Purtill (00:37:12):

Is gonna be great. Yeah.

Michael Jones (00:37:13):

Yeah. No meetings, no phone calls, no responsibilities, but you know, a couple weeks in, yeah. It was clear that I need something to keep my mind occupied. And I did have a really good friend who had invited me to a conference like two days after I left here in Atlanta called plywood people. Jeff SBAR. Yes.

Adrian Purtill (00:37:31):

Yeah, yeah. Yes. He attended dead.

Enrique Alvarez (00:37:33):

Uh,

Michael Jones (00:37:34):

Yeah. So this going back to, I think it was the first or second year Jeff had done plywood people. There were maybe about 60 people in attendance.

Enrique Alvarez (00:37:41):

Amazing, amazing conferences, by the way, for whoever they are. It’s listening to this interview with you. I, I strongly recommend it for, for anyone that listens and, and has kinda like a similar spirit when it comes to purpose and business and, and finding the why of your life, if you

Michael Jones (00:37:56):

Will. Yeah, that’s right. I do too, because Jeff was a yeah. In my life at the time, he was one of multiple inputs who just raised this notion of, you know, your work, having purpose, uh, which in 2011 was not something being talked about in many places. And, you know, my, my friend, Greg who invited me, um, had met Jeff and knew about it. And so this was, I was wrestling with kind of the concept, but I’m not sure I knew what to do about it. And then I go to the, the first plywood conference where there are others wrestling with the same thing and, and kind of starting to take this, you know, wide idea and put a little bit more of a box around it and say, you know, take your work that you do every day and make it count for something.

Michael Jones (00:38:42):

And so, as I’m wrestling with that, that was just a very timely, informative, um, opportunity to push me in a direction. And I had an executive coach that at that point, I think I’d had maybe three or four years, but somebody that had had run companies and, and had re was just really a, a wise voice of advice and guidance, uh, at a really critical time who helped me, you know, compartmentalize and walk through some of the pros and cons of what I’d learned over my journey. And so, as I’m, as I’m doing that, I decided, you know, my wife’s English, but she grew up in Jamaica and her dad’s a coffee farmer. And I had just at Christmas, cuz this was late January of 2011, maybe into February now, but at Christmas I had just been talking to him about, you know, the coffee value chain and trying to help make sense of it.

Michael Jones (00:39:32):

And you know, in Jamaica, like in every other country, there are you of measure that are not standardized. There’s some box that has a localized name that ha that has, you know, a certain amount of coffee cherries in it. And these, these farmers get paid a certain amount based on what’s in that box. So it’s consistent. They know what the box looks like and even than what it measures, but it definitely doesn’t equate to pounds of roasted coffee brought to the yield. Exactly. Right. That’s exactly right. So you have to do a lot of work and most farmers don’t know they, they are used to selling that raw product and they lose ownership and trace transparency after that point. So it was really hard when I’m talking to my father-in-law cuz he just didn’t have visibility in the supply chain beyond what he did and no, no sense of what he was doing in comparison to, you know, he grows from making blue mountain coffee, the high altitude coffee that’s worth $80 a pound in Japan.

Michael Jones (00:40:34):

And um, so I had a guy in Costa Rica that had been a lawyer and retired to Costa Rica to raise his foster kids. Um, he bought a coffee farm really as a hobby, no other reason. And he had some real estate here in, in Atlanta that he was gonna, you know, develop, sell and get income from over the years. But the big 2008 bust changed his plans. And so in 2011, when I met him, he was a couple of years in to try to figure out how to make a living on this coffee farm he bought because he didn’t wanna move back to the us and start over. And um, so he had enough knowledge to help me and my father-in-law figure out, you know, how to transfer it into pounds and we ultimately figure, all right, he’s making about $4 a pound on something that sells for 80 in Japan.

Michael Jones (00:41:23):

So there’s a big gap, right. Um, wow. But you know, Jamaican politics are quite complex. There’s a lot of government intervention. Right. Um, and, and taxation shockingly in the levels before it leaves the country. So it’s, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s harder than, than one might think. But what I also learned is that he’s getting paid better than most farmers because in Costa Rica, for example, where Ken lived lives, you know, a lot of farmers were averaging, you know, a dollar, three 50, a pound or a dollar 75, a pound and not much above the cost of production. It’s only because my father-in-law’s coffee has such value somewhere else that he could get the $4 and make a decent living on the yield that he had. But that opened a door for me. And as I started wrestling with it, uh, it started, you know, lining up with my, of prayer of all right, what, what, what’s something that matters that I could go do.

Michael Jones (00:42:17):

And what I learned, I went to Costa Rica after that, I said, okay, I need you to just go walk the ground. I went to Costa Rica and spend a week and walk farms and talk to farmers and cuz everything I’ve been reading here talked about climate change. You know, the problem in call was a climate change. And so I’m expecting to go hear how all these farmers, they, they, their, their plants keep buying off because of climate or something. And they, they, they can’t keep. But that, wasn’t what I learned at all. Um, the, the real toxic issue was lack of ability to predict or control price and them needing to basically sell every coffee bean they could produce to get every penny they could to try to survive another year. And I just thought, okay, this is interesting. This is, and so I started to step back and looked at all these parallels from my medical device company.

Michael Jones (00:43:12):

And I thought, okay, these are both hundred billion dollar industries. Both of them have very fragmented, disjointed supply chains, that lack transparency from one layer to the next. And in both instances, the people that actually know what’s wrong are the ones inside the industry who benefit from it staying the way it is not changing it. So nobody is going to disrupt themselves. Right. Right. And so I started thinking this needs to be fixed. This isn’t okay. Farmers need to be able to, I mean, coffee is more valuable and in more demand than it has ever been at any point in history yet the farmer can’t even make a living and they’re dropping out every year by double digits. So at some point there’s nobody left to grow coffee because there’s no money to be made aside from the fact that you’ve got families that just can’t even support their, their farmers that can’t support their families. And so I say that at that point, you know, my heart was broken for that issue. And I realized

Enrique Alvarez (00:44:16):

Quick question on that regards cause, uh, for people that don’t probably understand coffee the way you do and be included on, on that list. Cause there’s only once a year, right. Harvest is once a year and you have to kind of just hedge the whole volatility of the whole year and you get it wrong year. Then you’re basically screwed for that year and you have to start over next year. What’s tell us just very briefly tactically, like what, what is the kind of components of that supply chain that you just, uh, briefly described and, and what are the, the price drivers cause you or anyone in the us or the Western world, if you’re paying one point, whatever for coffee for a pound of coffee, but then you go to Starbucks and buy your coffee for, it’s just, there’s a huge discrepancy there. You’re absolutely right. You probably see it more clearly cuz you, you, you, you know how much they’re charging you for the coffee every day.

Michael Jones (00:45:03):

Yeah, that’s right. There’s two components. There’s the cost of production. So there are all the things that a farmer has to do to create eight, you know, to grow the coffee, right. And by and large, you know, there are, you know, inputs and other expenses, they incur on an annual basis and then there’s, you know, equipment and land and the other things that kind of, you know, get amortized over a longer period of time. And those two things together, you know, equate to the true cost of growing coffee. And those don’t really very much year over year. As a matter of fact, they really just kind of creep up over time. Right. But the price that a farmer gets paid is very volatile and coffee, especially we ultimately found this is true for almost every agricultural product for Coco, for tea, for, you know, you name it, you anything that’s grown a far distance away from where it’s consumed, but in coffee, there is a, a tradeable index and that index is associated with what’s called commodity grade coffee.

Michael Jones (00:46:03):

So it’s really kind of low quality. A lot of it would be ingredients or just, you know, really low quality production level coffee. There’s a smaller percentage of maybe 10 or 20%. That’s called specialty grade, which is what, you know, a lot of your coffee shops are gonna provide. And then there’s some big brands that’ll have a mixture of the two they’ll be kind of on the edge. They may not all the way down at the bottom of the barrel, but they don’t truly live at the top quality either. And so that index, uh, fluctuates and depend on sort of the region and the quality there might be differentials. So if the commodity index is at a dollar 75, certain quality coffees, maybe, you know, 10 cents over maybe 20 cents over. So there, there are all those factors, but, but in general, the revenue that a farm can get is gonna fluctuate based on what that index does.

Michael Jones (00:46:53):

And, and I went into it with my kind of my, uh, financial services background, thinking that these farmers probably are selling futures at the beginning of the season to get money, to buy all their fertilizers and pay for labor. And, and then they just have to deliver against that when the coffee comes in, right? So they’re kind of already fixed. That was the way my brain is working. And it really couldn’t be further from the truth. I mean, very little, if any farmers are selling futures, they’re borrowing money from local intermediaries who are, you know, charging very high interest rates. There’s different names associated with those and you know, it’s high risk. And so after, you know, operating businesses for a long time, I get it, you know, if you’re not a good business risk and there’s a lot of variables, how, how do any of us offset risk it’s with margins? So they charge more. And, but it’s just this vicious cycle where a farmer’s having to borrow money at different stages for fertilizer and for other things for big labor, when they go to pick the coffee and then it’s months later when the coffee is ready to be sold, that that farm knows what they’re gonna get paid for their coffee. Right. And, um, the

Adrian Purtill (00:48:03):

Layout up front. Yeah.

Michael Jones (00:48:04):

Yeah. So it’s almost like this big gambling thing, right? Where you’re, you’re already committed before you really know what you’re gonna get paid, gonna get. And when that time of year comes, and this is the way 99% of farms work, some of them, you know, are able to get a little bit more predictability over pricing, but it doesn’t stay, you know, so their versions of volatility, but all of them live in a, in a pretty wide risk quarter. And so when I went in, I just thought, well, coffee at the end point is, is stable, right? There’s not electronic sign on the shelf for a 12 ounce bag of coffee that changes during the day, right? I mean, it’s $12 for bag of coffee today, next week at Christmas, right? You may get coupons every once in a while, but you, you know, the cough, the price of coffee is fixed.

Michael Jones (00:48:55):

If you go into a store and you buy a cup of coffee, that price is fixed. So I just, it just occurred to me if, if coffee is fixed at that end, can we not find a way to have the farmer participate in the stability of that price? And of, for, of course, initially I kept having people say, well, you can’t do that. And that won’t work. And, but, so I kept saying, okay, then why? And I just, I could never get any really good reasons as to why it wouldn’t work. It was just, that’s never going to work. And I don’t know, I’m a little defiant. Uh, I’m, I’m, I’m very much a nonconformist. I, I, I can’t stand people saying that, you know, just do what you’re told, just shut up and do what you’re told, ask questions, right? That goes against my nature.

Michael Jones (00:49:41):

I’m going to ask questions. I’m going to challenge it. And I’m going to find out, is there, you know, a real substantial reason that we can’t change the way this is being done. So, and, and can’t then the guy that I met, um, the way he was surviving at the time, uh, he cut out all of the other layers. He didn’t sell his coffee to the local co-op for it to disappear. He was roasting his own coffee, bagging his own coffee and selling it to tourists at full retail. And he ran, he in doing that, he ran out of coffee. He sold the little bit that he could produce. So he started inviting other farmers in and said, Hey, I’ll show you my books and I’ll do all the work, but I’ll give you X percent of the profits at the end. And so, um, I thought, well that that’s not gonna scale gracefully.

Michael Jones (00:50:29):

You can do that in a small town with your two local neighbors. But conceptually, what if we change that, turn that around a little bit, and let’s create a revenue sharing model initially on consignment, because we didn’t have the capital to go pay for coffee, but let’s see if we can use the existing rails. Let’s, let’s use all the existing players because we’re not gonna go build our own supply chain. But if, if we can aggregate volume and de-risk the supply chain, so that the providers that do things that are necessary along the way, don’t have any risk, right? They become a fee for service provider. We bring them more volume and we get a better price as a result. And they actually just provide that one service. And so by doing that, we squeezed the balloon and we figured out that all those costs in the middle had so much risk, that the real cost of the service was a lot less if we took away the risk, right?

Michael Jones (00:51:26):

And so we go to the customer and say, we wanna bring the farmer into partnership. We’ve got a model. That’s gonna have a revenue share. The farmer gets a predetermined, fixed percentage of whatever price you pay us. And they know in advance what that is. And then we’re going to, we’re gonna add value. We’re gonna do all these things in the middle. We’re gonna coordinate everything. We’re gonna build a brand story around that. So to people know that this is worth getting behind and you can benefit from telling that story and the farmer benefits from your stable price. And so that was really the, the Genesis of how we decided to reinvent the supply chain and coffee. But I knew for that to matter, it had to be done at scale. If we only sell, you know, 400 pounds of coffee, that’s not gonna make a big impact.

Michael Jones (00:52:10):

And you know, I’ve been a big dreamer, but what I figured out is that the difference in a dreamer and a visionary has to do with, you know, your motivation and your execution. So when you, once you figure out how to really execute on it, you’re not a dreamer anymore, right? You, you can actually make something happen. And, um, and that’s what we wanted to do here. We wanted to find out, you know, how can we move containers? And tens of containers and hundreds of containers of coffee, millions of pounds. And we had to partner with people that were already used to doing that and just change the way they think about it. And so as we go start telling that story, even the big guys, right, we, we sometimes think that, you know, it’s just a small farmer that needs help, but even the big guys are struggling with other dynamics. And so what we came to realize is that our new way of thinking was bringing hope to small farmers, medium farmers, and even the big guys and everybody that we talked to at the time in the supply chain wanted to participate and help at this new way of thinking. And that allowed us then to put a foot in the ground and say, we’re gonna do this and we’re gonna start and go forward.

Enrique Alvarez (00:53:18):

This has been an incredible conversation. It’s not only interesting, uh, experience here on your part, but it’s been like a, a finance lesson and accounting lesson, that strategic strategy lesson it’s been like so much more. Uh, and those

Michael Jones (00:53:31):

Lessons were all much harder learned going through them than I just yeah. Then you just have on I’m sure.

Enrique Alvarez (00:53:38):

It, it sounds like you’ve been used to that, right. I mean, you, you kinda like faced problems head on and you failed many, many times, so it’s kind of one of those things, maybe people this day see you and say, Hey, that’s the, that’s the overnight success I’m like, yeah. Over like a matter of how many businesses that failed, like

Michael Jones (00:53:53):

Overnight success only took 30 years to get there. Right,

Enrique Alvarez (00:53:56):

Right. But could you share a bit more of the volume and impact that you’re having? We’ll switch a little bit more now towards the actual organization, but how big is it? I mean, you needed the volume, you started with one or two containers and how did it scale up from there?

Michael Jones (00:54:11):

Yeah, we, um, we did, we started with, um, I think actually six or seven containers. We, we had to change some things about the model we started early on, as I mentioned, uh, on consignment. And we realized that that put way too much pressure on the farms, even though we were encouraging people to give a small percentage of their overall and consider it more like a savings account, things are so tight that even small amounts put pressure. So we had to figure out financing and how to advance money and then come back with a, a second or third payment, um, and how to reconcile. Um, but in the first, you know, year or two was, it was really tight. I mean, I was funding it out of pocket from savings that I had at my last venture. You know, I didn’t immediately have the ability to attract investors. A lot of people did well in my last venture and I thought I would be able to, but

Enrique Alvarez (00:55:00):

Here

Michael Jones (00:55:00):

This vision of, Hey, I’m gonna change the world of coffee. You know, the excuses start to Mount up like, whoa, I don’t know if I wanna be part of that. So, um, so it took a little while and I had to go further and deeper than I thought, uh, in, in my own, you know, stash. And we were really bootstrapping it. I mean, we, that first year, we weren’t sure if we could sell, we had sourced. What we later learned was a, a lot of coffee.

Enrique Alvarez (00:55:23):

When did you start? What was the first year of, uh, thrive?

Michael Jones (00:55:26):

11 was the

Enrique Alvarez (00:55:27):

Year was the first year. Yeah. Those containers departed from that’s right.

Michael Jones (00:55:31):

January departed. Yeah.

Enrique Alvarez (00:55:32):

My Gar or Costa Rica, I’m guessing.

Michael Jones (00:55:34):

Yeah. By, um, we, we didn’t ever source from Jamaica. It was Costa Rica, Guatemala. Um, and ultimately Honduras. We had a lot of challenges in Honduras. We ultimately had to pull out, um, in the second year. Uh, we’ve been little looking for an entry point to go back in, but, but since then it’s been Costa Rica, Guatemala and Nicaragua, and then Brazil and Columbia, um, which are both in the Southern hemisphere and have two seasons, one major, one minor. Um, so, um, and then a little bit in Africa, but we started with maybe six or seven containers. The first year maybe went to eight or nine. The second year were extremely fortunate to be able to sell those in that first year, because for a C startup company with no sales distribution channels, uh, that was a lot of coffee. And so there were, there were definitely miracles and blessings all over that early period for us to have a shot at moving, uh, what we did.

Michael Jones (00:56:29):

But, um, it was, you know, going into that, that second full year that we got introduced to, um, Chick-fil-A and they had been running a process and we ultimately prevailed in becoming their partner chain wide. And so we went from, and this is where, you know, the structure, that initial structure of, uh, a vision of scale, right? We had, we had selected partners that if that moment came, we knew we had the ability to scale up and they engaged with us. Um, and it’s funny, they, we had a couple of guys, one in Guatemala, particularly that said, you, you are this, that moment is gonna come for you and we’re gonna be ready, but what you’re doing has to happen. Um, and this is a family that had been in coffee for over a hundred years and truly one of the, one of the captains of industry, but they said our, we won’t survive without you doing what you’re doing. And so we’re gonna be part of this. And, um, they actually came up and sat at the table with Chick-fil-A when we had our initial supply chain meetings. And, and we were told, we started, you got three gates with Chick-fil-A to get through supply chain, culinary and marketing, but supply chain is first. And if you don’t get a green light, then you don’t go there’s

Adrian Purtill (00:57:46):

Obviously. Yeah.

Michael Jones (00:57:47):

Yeah. And so we, we spent a couple weeks planning. We were a small scrappy company, right. About five employees, you know, only a couple of years in business, you know, calendar years, not even full, full years operating yet. I had the benefit of, you know, my background and having scaled up a, a successful business. And we had, you know, a structure that made sense. And then we had partners at the table that were vouched for what we were doing. And I I’ll say that, you know, some divine intervention had to be somewhere around that table too, because it just didn’t make sense otherwise, you know, it’s just, how did, how did Chick-fil-A put their trust in a new little idea like ours? So we, we really do feel like there was just something, um, you know, divine and spectacular about that moment. It was special, but, you know, we never took it for granted. We had an incredible meeting with supply chain. We had presentation materials and whiteboards, and we really walked through it thoroughly. And they said, we’re, we’re confident that you can do this. And this is, this is who we want to be as a company. We want our purchasing power to do good in the world. And we’ve, we’ve been looking for an opportunity like this, and we, we are gonna walk forward together and we view this as a marriage and whatever bumps we encounter, we encounter together. So we want you to know that we’re with you.

Enrique Alvarez (00:59:04):

That’s incredible. And I gotta

Michael Jones (00:59:05):

Tell you that

Enrique Alvarez (00:59:07):

A

Adrian Purtill (00:59:09):

That’s a real partnership

Enrique Alvarez (00:59:10):

On the chick for last side as well. Right. I mean, cause they took a chance on a smaller company and um, that’s right.

Adrian Purtill (00:59:16):

And this was, and this was towards what the end of 2012, Michael,

Michael Jones (00:59:19):

This would’ve been 13. Yeah.

Adrian Purtill (00:59:22):

  1. No. Okay.

Michael Jones (00:59:23):

Approaching mid 2013. Right. But you know, as a guy that had my whole life savings on the line and my family at risk to, to have that moment occur after, if you think about my journey, right. As I described it, so many things not working out and then things seemingly working out, but not really feeling all that significance. And then I’m at a point where I decide, you know, I don’t know how big or small it’s going to be, but whatever, from here forward, I want my life to just matter. And I wanna know that I’m doing something that is really having a positive impact in the world. Um, and then you get a company like Chick-fil-A that I think just does so many things so well and has such a great business and history. And they come in and say, we believe in you and all, and by the way, um, we’re gonna stand by you and we’re go, you know, we’re not gonna run for the Hills if we have a, a tough moment. And there have been a couple of tough moments, nothing that I would be able to share here, but just, you know, in business, those things happen. Right. And they have always been true to the, their word. They’re the kind of people that, you know, treat you the way you would wanna be treated even when you’re not in the room. Right. So for us,

Adrian Purtill (01:00:29):

That is, that is everything. Yeah.

Michael Jones (01:00:31):

Yeah. For us to be able to build our business with that kind of a partner will have ramifications in families around the world for generations to come. And that, that, you know, when I think about the things that I used to dream of and, and thinking that, oh, if I can just be on this list or get this thing, that’s gonna feel, you know, significant. I realize, no, no, no. What I just said a moment ago, that’s where real significance is gonna come from. That there’s something that we can do with our lives all day, every day that will have ramifications around the world for generations to come. And so, you know, there’s other arms that you guys have met with Mike Manina who heads up our nonprofit foundation. I, I always had a vision that one that a for profit business could make a profit and still do good in the world.

Michael Jones (01:01:21):

You don’t have to choose one or the, so we’re unashamedly for profit, but that we, we could take some of the, we could choose, you know, we could choose to take some of those profits and invest them in an entity that can go further and deeper in the communities where we operate and we can help build up the leaders of tomorrow. We can help create solutions to problem or bring resources, to bear, to create solutions, to problems that they face. Right. Um, you know, we believe that we can help, you know, solve some root causes that we all deal with. And so, so we’ve tried to take our, our business and look at it holistically and say, how can we do business differently, you know, day by day, and then with the relationships and the trust we’ve developed, what else can we do with that? And so thrive works is, you know, one example of that on the nonprofit side, and I’ve got an innovative mindset. I’m very, you know, I love to think creatively and innovatively. And so when I get to do that through the lens of our business, it, it starts to reach into products and services and you know, this really long runway of opportunity that we see to, to do this around the world and in different ways and partners. And so,

Enrique Alvarez (01:02:36):

And it’s been from there to, um, to changing communities, right? I mean, I know, and I’ve actually talked to Mike Manina and some, some other people on your team and what you, what you’re doing through your vision and your strategy and just this sheer purpose driven mentality that your businesses have. I think that you’re just really changing the life of a lot of people like you, you building and you’re helping people, uh, get better education and that’s right. Even, uh, water soccer fields and basketball fields, and just, you’re totally trying to develop this communities in Kerala to the point. And this is by the way, we will probably have to schedule another conversation cuz we’re totally out of time here, but it’s been so credible. Yeah. We, at some point, even to the point that you said, uh, and, and that the, uh, immigration program problem that we have in the us, it’s entirely linked to this same issue with coffee. If you were to pay better rates for their coffee, people wouldn’t have to go through all that incredibly adventure. That, that way, that, that kind of entails to go from your country, leave everything behind and just start walking towards the north, trying to look for a better life. It’s just, yeah. If people really understood what you had already explained to us so clearly, and your business model has proven to everyone, we could stop one of the biggest problems that the, the world has, right? Like just to immigration.

Michael Jones (01:04:01):

Well, you touched on that. We’re extremely passionate about it because I’ve got a, a conviction. I call it no toxic charity. You know, I, I wanna be helpful, but I wanna do it in a way that’s productive and sustainable, you know, no bandaid programs, right? No enabling, I, I wanna look for root solutions, right? Root causes, roots solutions. And so when we go into a community and we’re able to, you know, systemically pay a livable wage for coffee, um, do it with a partner that gets what we’re doing and why, and is willing to support that and communicate that to their customers and stand behind it for years on end, not just, Hey, this is good for marketing this year. And then next year, something else it’s like, you know, who committed. And so now we can all think long term and we do have the ability to completely change the dynamic as it relates to what, you know, immigration people don’t have a need to leave cuz they don’t wanna leave. Trust me, I’ve sat around tables. Right. And I can tell you about conversations. These men do not wanna leave their families and go have to look for work in the us, but the options locally just don’t exist. And so they’re forced to do it.

Adrian Purtill (01:05:10):

Um, Michael telling talk about, uh, uh, programs and Enrique. I know you said you be running outta time, but, but you launched, uh, thrive, works labs last July. Uh, I saw can, can you tell us the thought thought process behind starting that and, and how that’s looking now? Six, seven months later.

Michael Jones (01:05:25):

Yeah. It’s still quite early. Um, and that was really, you know, credit goes to Mike Manina. Uh, we’re fortunate to have somebody with his skillset and experience and talents to lead in our organization. You know, I, I birth a vision for what I wanted us to focus on as it relates to leadership development and, you know, community involvement and programs and things that we could help, you know, maybe coach and assist forward through what became thrive works. But Mike, about a year ago, year and a half ago started to have, you know, other ideas as to how could a nonprofit function in these communities and bring different types of innovation. And he had a, a somebody that came on as a fellow who was extraordinarily bright, um, and talking through ideas. And so this, this idea of thrive labs thrive, works. The labs was birthed where, you know, what thrive works does every day really is tries, is enhances our business model relationship, right?

Michael Jones (01:06:26):

It’s just an accelerator of the relationships that we have through our business model. This idea of commerce where, you know, we provide something of value, but so does the farmer and we both benefit it from it. But labs is really charged with, you know, thought leadership and innovation. What are things that, that can go further, right? Does it have to do with other things going on in the world that could then be brought into and add value to these communities and these farming families? So they’re very early in the incubation stage, I would say, but the premise is to incubate ideas that will accelerate and go further than just the thrive farmer’s model, because what we really care about, um, are the communities, right? The people is it relates to the thrive model. Now we’ve learned, we talked so much about the farmers. We’ve also learned that we have, have to be very vocal at saying, Hey, our own team members are as important as our farmers. We, we, we can’t, you know, leave our team behind and just focus on farmers. So I wanna be careful that, you know, we, we care about all people, our team, internally vendors and partners that we do business with customers, clients, you know, out in the world, whether we buy from them or they buy from us and our farmers. So it it’s, it’s an entire chain that exists, you know, in harmony together. So Ron

Enrique Alvarez (01:07:49):

Right. We will link, uh, we have the pleasure of interviewing Mike Manina as well. So we’ll link it to this episode as well. And of course, uh, Michael, if you don’t mind, I think that we have tons of tons of different questions. Very interesting questions you have to cover. If you don’t mind, we’ll love to have you back at some point before we kinda like close this, uh, interview. I would just like to ask you one very brief, quick question. Did you love coffee as much as you probably do now, before you started all this was coffee, even a part of your life. No, really

Adrian Purtill (01:08:18):

Interesting.

Enrique Alvarez (01:08:20):

That’s I’m so happy that you said that. Cause uh, I

Michael Jones (01:08:23):

Wanted, I wanted to love coffee, but I couldn’t find coffee. I liked, it was always what I, what I’ve come to learn now is apparently I was always drink. I was always drinking dark, really roasted coffee. That was not pleasant. And um, so I’d kind of given up on coffee. My wife, girlfriend at the time introduced me to English tea, right. It was black tea with milk and sugar.

Adrian Purtill (01:08:47):

Right.

Michael Jones (01:08:48):

So I was a tea guy and I started delving into coffee. And then I started to realize, oh, wait in, there are different ways to enjoy coffee and I got back into it. And then, then I realized, and so now I love coffee and I actually also love tea.

Adrian Purtill (01:09:04):

Well

Enrique Alvarez (01:09:04):

Funny. Well thank you so much. Oh, go. No.

Adrian Purtill (01:09:06):

Yeah, no, I could’ve. I could’ve, I think I could have ruined the relationship with, uh, with thrive two years ago when Enrique weekend, I went to, to meet Mike at your offices and, and uh, he, the coffee from scratch and weigh, the water, did everything. And uh, I committed the mortal stern of asking for milk and sugar. So, uh, yeah,

Michael Jones (01:09:24):

You know, what we say is enjoy it the way you like it.

Adrian Purtill (01:09:26):

Exactly.

Michael Jones (01:09:27):

And I drink coffee black almost all the time now, but there are times where I enjoy. If it’s a little darker roast, I still enjoy some cream and a little sugar in it. There

Adrian Purtill (01:09:36):

You go. Right. I feel, I feel enjoy

Enrique Alvarez (01:09:38):

It any way you like it. That’s the thing

Michael Jones (01:09:40):

I’m taking the shame away from you. You’re

Adrian Purtill (01:09:42):

Free now. Thank you. Thank you for sharing it with me two

Enrique Alvarez (01:09:45):

Years. Uh, kind of, uh, carrying that burden, Adrian.

Adrian Purtill (01:09:48):

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I feel free now,

Enrique Alvarez (01:09:51):

Michael, thank you so much. Again, this has been an incredibly engaging conversation with you. What you’ve done on is inspirational and inspired a lot of people to kind of start acting in more purpose mentality. And so thank you. Thank you so much for participating for everyone else that listens to this episode. If you like interesting conversations, like the one that we just had with Michael, please, don’t, don’t hesitate to join us. Please keep subscribe and thank you very much. We see you again, another episode of logistics with purpose. This is and Adriano have a good day and thank you once again for listening.

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Featured Guests

Michael Jones, After leaving a healthcare services company in January of 2011 that he had started ten years prior, Michael had planned to spend some long-needed time with his family while deciding what his next course in business would be. It was during this sabbatical that he was revisiting a conversation with his father-in-law, a long-time Blue Mountain coffee farmer in Jamaica, about the severe disadvantages in the value chain of coffee, that ultimately led to the creation of Thrive Farmers – an innovative platform to change the world of coffee and align the interests of producers and consumers for the first time. Michael is the quintessential entrepreneur, having founded and operated several privately held companies. He has managed high growth companies and has been successful in building significant market value for shareholders. Most recently, Michael founded Implantable Provider Group (IPG), a provider of market-based medical implant solutions that is delivered to payors, manufacturers, providers and patients. In his role as President/COO, Michael was named one of Atlanta’s top 25 entrepreneurs by Catalyst Magazine in 2008 (#4). Jones was selected because of his role in founding IPG and turning it into one of the country’s fastest-growing businesses. In 2008, Inc. Magazine ranked IPG as the sixth-fastest growing healthcare company in the country (1,500% three year growth rate) and the 138th fastest-growing overall. FORBES Magazine recently ranked IPG at #5 in its list of 100 Most Promising Companies in America. Michael has been instrumental in raising capital from high profile private equity firms including Sequoia Capital, arguably the most revered venture capital firm in recent history due to its investments in Apple, Atari, Oracle, Cisco, Yahoo, Paypal, Google and others, who invested in IPG in early 2010. Michael’s background prior to IPG includes an early career in the financial services industry in corporate finance. He then segued into healthcare in the mid 90’s pursuing two other ventures. Michael is married to Sharon, and they have three boys. Connect with Michael on LinkedIn.

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. Learn more about Vector Global Logistics here: https://vectorgl.com/

Hosts

Enrique Alvarez

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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Adrian Purtill

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Joshua Miranda

Marketing Specialist

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

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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