Retail is local — but it’s also home to an increasingly global set of fulfillment and distribution requirements (and challenges). Meanwhile, customer expectations for seamless omnichannel experiences and two-day delivery keep the pressure set on “high.” But good news: in this episode, Executive Vice President of Supply Chain for Lowe’s, Donald Frieson, joins Scott and Greg to cut through the complexity and share the company’s inspiring trajectory through pandemic challenges and into a retail future focused squarely on the customer. Learn more about the company’s Hometown 100 mission, get great advice if you’re an aspiring supply chain professional – and learn more about the dedicated, resourceful and resilient teams making home improvement a reality through thick and thin across the country.
Welcome to Supply Chain Now, the voice of global supply chain. Supply Chain Now focuses on the best in the business for our worldwide audience, the people, the technologies, the best practices, and today’s critical issues, the challenges, and opportunities. Stay tuned to hear from those making global business happen right here on Supply Chain Now.
Scott Luton (00:30):
Hey. Good morning, everybody. Scott Luton and Greg White here with you on Supply Chain Now. Welcome to today’s show. Gregory, how are we doing?
Greg White (00:38):
I’m doing great. How do you like our new frames here? Beautiful isn’t it?
Scott Luton (00:42):
I’m a big fan. I’m a big fan. Of course, I’m a big Greg White fan and that kind of spills over to wherever you’re broadcasting from. But we’ve got a big show lined up today. Big guest. Greg, our featured guest is with one of the world’s most admired companies where he is responsible for the company’s distribution centers, logistics, transportation, and delivery services. So, Greg, we’re talking about Lowe’s and it’s 2,200 plus stores, no small feat, right?
Greg White (01:11):
Yeah. No kidding. I mean, they’ve been growing and doing great things in supply chain. I have actually had some interactions with them many years ago, and they have been working on their supply chain excellence for a long, long time. And I can verify as a customer that they have done a great job.
Scott Luton (01:31):
That makes two of us. And looking forward to kind of diving into some of the leadership and POV behind all of that. So, on that note, I want to formally welcome in Mr. Don Frieson, Executive Vice-President of Supply Chain with Lowe’s.
Don Frieson (01:48):
Hey. Good morning, Scott. Good morning, Greg.
Greg White (01:51):
Hey, Don. How are you?
Scott Luton (01:51):
Good morning, Don. How are you doing?
Don Frieson (01:54):
I’m doing well this morning. It’s just great to be here with you guys.
Scott Luton (01:59):
We are too. You know, we’ve really enjoyed the pre-show conversation. As Greg has already kind of let the cat out of the bag, we’re already fans and customers of Lowe’s and I’ve had a lot of great experiences. So, we’re looking forward as fellow supply chain geeks to kind of dive into some of what goes on behind the scenes.
Don Frieson (02:18):
Well, we’re excited to just talk a little bit about what’s going on in the world of supply chain and, specifically, all the great things that our supply chain associates are doing to move the business forward.
Scott Luton (02:30):
Love it. And that’s what they do. People do certainly move our global supply chains forward, global retail organizations forward, and take care of the consumers. But before we get to that, before we get to all that heavy lifting, we talk about supply chain and Lowe’s and beyond, let’s get to know Don Frieson a little bit better. So, Don, tell us where did you grow up?
Don Frieson (02:51):
So, I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, right on Mississippi Delta, right on the Mississippi River. Fun fact, I have an identical twin brother. I’m Don. He’s Ron. So, imagine growing up with an identical twin. So, there’s certain things I can’t talk about, but other than that, a lot of fun.
Greg White (03:14):
Leave the minds to wonder.
Don Frieson (03:16):
Right. Exactly. Exactly. But – go ahead.
Scott Luton (03:22):
So, Don and Ron Frieson, were folks always want to know what the Frieson Brothers were up to as you were growing up?
Don Frieson (03:31):
Always. Absolutely always. But it’s a good thing my brother’s a really good guy. And I can remember years ago, we actually lived in the same city for a while in Atlanta and he had been there for some time. And when I moved to Atlanta, he says, “I need you to do two things for me, Brother.” I said, “What’s that?” He says, “I need you to smile and I need you to say hello to everybody.” Because oftentimes people thought I was Ron, so it’s been fascinating.
Greg White (04:03):
So, you had to carry his good name forward.
Don Frieson (04:06):
Scott Luton (04:08):
I love that. All right. One final question, where is Ron today? What part of the world does he live in?
Don Frieson (04:14):
Ron is in Atlanta, Georgia. He’s working with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He’s their chief operating officer there. So, he’s doing a lot of good things, particularly during this period when healthcare is so premier in our country.
Scott Luton (04:32):
Okay. Wow. Man, the Frieson Brothers are getting stuff done. All right. One final note about growing up in Memphis, you know, we got to talk about food just a second. When you look back at your upbringing and you think about food that was an integral part of it, what’s a dish that comes to mind, Don?
Don Frieson (04:51):
Come on. Come on. Memphis? Memphis barbecue.
Greg White (04:54):
Don Frieson (04:54):
You got to know it’s Memphis barbecue.
Scott Luton (04:58):
That’s what I thought. That’s what I thought. I was going to let you say it though. And the sauce in Memphis. Or is there no sauce, it’s all smoke?
Don Frieson (05:05):
Oh. No. No. There’s sauce. There’s sauce. And let me give all your viewers and listeners a tip, if you’re in Memphis, you have to have Cozy Corner BBQ. You talk about the best barbecue, go to Cozy Corner.
Greg White (05:19):
I have heard that.
Scott Luton (05:24):
Man, we’ve already tackled my checklist.
Greg White (05:28):
This is an unpaid endorsement by Don Frieson.
Scott Luton (05:30):
Don Frieson (05:31):
Scott Luton (05:33):
Cozy Corner. So, folks, listen to that, it comes from folks that know. One of our favorite topics to talk about, Greg, barbecue. But let’s kind of switch over to the professional side of Don’s journey. So, Don, as you alluded to pre-show, we’re all big supply chain nerds. We love the craft, as Greg and and others have called it. We love the industry. We love the people that make it happen. All the innovation and technology that’s revolutionized in many ways. But why did supply chain stick out and appeal to you? And where’d you get your start?
Don Frieson (06:06):
Yeah. Gosh, it’s been a lifelong journey. I’m almost afraid to tell you how long I’ve been in this game, 30 some odd years, and emphasis on the some odd. I actually started in college. I started my career as a package car helper my sophomore year of college with United Parcel Service. And, gosh, what a great job for a college student. I got hired on for the holidays to jump off on one end of the street, wheel packages, deliver them, and jump on. And fortunate for me, I’d done a pretty good job during that period and I was called back in January. And I started to work in the hub on a variety of different roles, from car washer to preload.
Don Frieson (06:59):
And, you know, it was just something about that. Now, this was before deregulation, so, again, I’m showing my age here. And I had an opportunity to work with the over the road drivers by putting in their radios, hooking up their tractor to the trailer, and preparing for them to go out for the day. And just something that, boy, I looked at that and said, “Man, this is pretty neat.” And it just became a passion for me. Not very many years later upon graduation, I went to work for a very large truckload carrier, Schneider National Carriers, and the journey then and earnings began.
Scott Luton (07:44):
So, one quick follow up question –
Greg White (07:46):
Did you go to school for – yeah. Go ahead. You go, Scott.
Scott Luton (07:47):
No. I like that. I like yours better, Greg.
Don Frieson (07:49):
I was an operations management major. In that time, supply chain wasn’t necessarily a big major like it is today. But, clearly, that’s where my interest was.
Greg White (08:09):
And where was that that you went to school?
Don Frieson (08:13):
The University of Tennessee.
Greg White (08:17):
I wanted to make sure you got the opportunity to say that, Don.
Don Frieson (08:21):
Absolutely. Haslam School of Business.
Scott Luton (08:25):
Well, as we all know, that’s become one of the go-to universities for supply chain management and folks that want to break out into the industry. One other quick follow up question, you talked about your first role there kind of getting on with UPS during the holidays, has that memory of all that hard work during a special time of a year for so many and the people that enabled that to take place, has that stuck with you throughout your career?
Don Frieson (08:53):
It absolutely has, Scott. One of the things that resonates then and resonates now is the service piece of what we do in supply chain, you know, going to customer’s home, whether they were signing for packages or not, and understanding that they were waiting on that, and it was a timely factor with it. And then, of course, working with a company like UPS at the time where precision was everything. And so, it just became part of, boy, what this piece of business is all about, it’s about being efficient. It’s about ensuring that you’re doing the best you can at the lowest cost possible while providing the highest service levels. And that has been a cornerstone for me of growing in this supply chain world.
Scott Luton (09:46):
Wow. What a foundation. I’m about to turn it over to Greg here as we kind of dive more into Lowe’s and what you’re up to now. But before we get there, I think one of the really helpful piece of perspective and context is, you know, after you graduated University of Tennessee and what other supply chain roles that you moved into that really shaped your worldview and your leadership experience, tell us a little more there.
Don Frieson (10:11):
Look, I’ve been so fortunate in my career. A very long career with Schneider National Carriers and really cut my teeth in the trucking side of things. But then, I was recruited to Walmart stores, where I had an opportunity to lead the entire private truck fleet at Walmart. And then, moving into core distribution, where I had responsibility for a series of warehouses to include ambient, non-ambient. And then, actually, for a while moved into the store side of the business. And so, I really got to see supply chain from a different perspective. Even if you think about the back room of a retail establishment and all the supply chain principles that are within the back room and flow into the sales floor.
Don Frieson (11:01):
But probably one of the life changing and career changing opportunities came in an assignment that I was given in South Africa, where I spent two years in Sub-Saharan South Africa with the acquisition at the time Walmart has made as the chief integration officer. But having the opportunities to support the build out of a supply chain network within South Africa. And when you think about that, not nearly as advanced as what you see in the U.S., and so the difficulty, whether it was around the highway systems or connecting warehouses, just a really great opportunity to see something different and to understand that there’s more than one way in which to, as I say, skin the cat. So, what a wonderful experience that was for me.
Scott Luton (11:57):
Wow. Greg, there’s so much there to follow up on, right?
Greg White (12:01):
There is. We’ve talked a lot about Africa and the difficulties there. I mean, there’s so many borders, the infrastructure is so outdated. We talk a lot about infrastructure in the states, but we have roads, that’s a good thing. And there are just a lot of difficulties there. So, I’m sure that was very striking. Probably something you carry with you every day as you work in a relatively strong infrastructure environment.
Don Frieson (12:31):
Well, what it tells me is that, here, we can overcome anything. You know, when you think about a breakdown here, we think about it in terms of hours, not days. And if you were where you have poor infrastructure, you’re talking days and the delays could be massive.
Greg White (12:50):
Yeah. We’re just leaving it on the side of the road.
Don Frieson (12:51):
That’s exactly right. And hoping that it’s there when you get back. So, yeah, just a totally different environment. But, again, really educational.
Scott Luton (13:01):
One quick comment, Greg and Don, just to elaborate here. You know, Don, we do a series here at Supply Chain Now that focuses on supply chain leadership across Africa with Jenny Froome and our friends at SAPICS. And we had on several supply chain practitioners from Africa at the earliest parts of the vaccine distribution. And they were telling us that, literally, here, we think about strengthening bridges that cross all sorts of things here in the states. They were talking about how there are certain aspects of rivers and streams where there are no bridges and they got to find a way to, you know, build those bridges.
Greg White (13:35):
Scott Luton (13:36):
Right. That’s right, Greg. It’s eye opening. It really is.
Don Frieson (13:42):
It’s a different environment for sure.
Greg White (13:45):
That is cool. It’s rare to have that kind of an impact on your professional career. So, that’s really impressive. And I’m glad to see you got to take some really cool stuff away from that. So, now, in your current role, Don, supply chain is really broad. It sounds like the trucking aspect of it was an initial focus for you. But what is your role as executive VP of supply chain? I mean, is it more broad than trucking now? It sounds like you got into distribution as well.
Don Frieson (14:18):
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And you guys know from your experiences and a lot of your past guests, supply chain for different companies mean different things. And there are different functions that are within supply chain. Here at Lowe’s when we talk about supply chain, we talk not only about the distribution aspect. So, all of our distribution centers, whether they be regional distribution centers, flatbed distribution centers, are very important for us given the commodities that we carry in our store, our coastal holding facilities, because we are the fourth largest importer from a retail perspective in the U.S. So, those facilities are extremely important to us. We also have bulk distribution centers as well as fulfillment centers. And we’ll talk a little bit later about our omnichannel journey, it’s really important to us.
Don Frieson (15:12):
But also included in that for us are our last mile delivery services. So, if you think about deliveries to home – fun fact, we have already cress – our fiscal year ends January 31st – over 12 million deliveries to homes this year. Twelve million. And so, that’s a lot of delivery capacity that we use on a year-to-year basis. So, it’s really, really, really kind of cool to see that coming to fruition.
Don Frieson (15:43):
But we also have network planning and optimization, which is really important when we think about flow into our distribution centers from our inventory replenishment and planning teams. Within our supply chain, we have an operation support area, which is really the backbone that helps us understand our processes. We think in terms of people, process, and technology within our business. And we have a group that’s tailored to look at our business that way to make continuous improvements throughout our business each and every day. So, it’s very important.
Don Frieson (16:20):
We have an engineering arm within our business that really looks at the technology and how we move goods through. And so, our engineers, you know, you think about normal industrial engineers doing time and motion studies and things of that sort, but we’re also thinking about how do we keep our associates safe on a day-to-day basis, particularly within our distribution nodes. And, clearly, we have a cross dock network, which is facilitating a lot of our home deliveries now. And that cross dock network, quite frankly, is something that we’re continuing to grow out. We just started it, quite frankly, in earnest this past year. But by the end of 2022, half of our stores will be serviced through this network. And so, it’s a really big initiative for us. And so, that, in a nutshell, is who we are from a supply chain perspective.
Greg White (17:19):
That’s a big nutshell. I mean, I think that what that really does for me is it really enunciates just how complex supply chain is. I mean, think about all those things, some of which you have been doing for a long time, some of them are relatively new, but all of them expanding as you continue to grow the organization and as consumer demand, as you spoke to in retail, continues to evolve. So, it’s really interesting.
Greg White (17:51):
And it makes me ask this question, which I always think about in retail and that is, you all have made such a huge investment in supply chain and you continue to do so. What, so many years ago, triggered that investment that so many retailers are just starting to make now or in the last 18, 24 months because of crisis? What about your approach or your company’s culture philosophy had you guys getting so advanced with supply chain so much earlier than so many retailers?
Don Frieson (18:31):
Well, I don’t know that we always view it that we were so much earlier. What I will tell you, Greg, is that, omnichannel retail has really changed the way supply chain has to operate. Fulfillment is not the same as distribution. And when you start to think about how a customer wants to be served, it was really important that we take a step back and we take a look at – or took a look – rather – at how are we serving the ultimate customers. Our stores and our associates in our stores every day do a fantastic job of serving the customer.
Don Frieson (19:11):
And if you go back just four short years ago, everything that we delivered actually got delivered from a store. The store was the center of everything. And it’s just so much complexity, not only on the front end of serving the customer and ensuring that the store is in stock, but that back end work, whether it was around receiving, getting the deliveries out of the back door, the storage of goods, store level. And so, it was our goal to take some of that complexity out of our stores.
Don Frieson (19:47):
And so, it became very important as we think about it from an omnichannel perspective, if a customer orders, they don’t really care if it’s coming out of the back of the store or a warehouse or a cross dock. And what we have to do is look at it and really take a look at our cost and understand how can we best serve that customer while simultaneously taking that complexity out of the back of the store. And so, that’s a transformation journey that we’re on. It’s really about contribution margin, understand how do you do it – and I used this word earlier – most efficiently. For us, our associates and our customers. And so, that indeed is the journey that we’re on. And you guys know like I know, that journey is never done and it’s never over.
Scott Luton (20:39):
Never. No finish line.
Don Frieson (20:40):
No. None whatsoever. It’s just milestones that you hit and you go for the next milestone in that journey.
Scott Luton (20:50):
So, I’m going to follow up on that – go ahead. You got to tell us.
Greg White (20:51):
Okay. You follow up first.
Scott Luton (20:57):
No. Because I’m about to shift gears.
Greg White (20:58):
I got to tell you, Don, I’ve worked in the industry for a long time as a practitioner and as a service provider to technology. And I have seen so much advancement in hardware and automotive and other relatively low margin, high volume industries. I mean, I think it’s every day for you – and this is the term we use, Don – because you’ve been with Lowe’s for more than two decades – How about that? That way you don’t give yourself up – because you’ve been with Lowe’s so long, it’s so matter of fact, but I have to tell you it’s very exceptional the level of advancement that you all have brought.
Greg White (21:49):
I can even compare it to other hardware or home improvement chains and organizations, both chains and dealer networks and that sort of thing. And I think what you’re doing is very, very advanced. It may seem a really standard path for you, but it’s a model for other companies to look to. And, you know, not that you need to congratulate yourself, but I would like to congratulate you because you have done so much so early and prior to the crisis, and I think that’s really commendable. And I think it’s a model that other companies could look at and really benefit themselves, whether it’s omnichannel or whether it’s just general store distribution, or even bulk goods distribution, I think there’s a lot to be proud of there.
Don Frieson (22:43):
First of all, thanks for the compliment. But the real compliment goes to our people. Our people – we have a term we use here – it’s all in. And we work across every area of the business seamlessly. You know, this leadership team is just absolutely incredible in terms of how we work together. I give a special credit, whether it’s our operations team, our merchandise team, our technology teams, because we all think about the customer and understanding that customer journey.
Don Frieson (23:23):
But not necessarily second to that, I’ll say in addition to that, what’s the associate journey like and what are the things that our folks that are in the trenches day-to-day, whether they’re in our stores or our distribution centers, what are they faced with? And we often talk about, we’ve got to simplify, simplify, simplify. And so, if you think about it, what we try to do is make everything as simple as operating an iPhone. And we’re not there yet. We want it intuitive. And we think if we can get our operations to that level of simplicity, then things go really well. And that is the goal for us.
Scott Luton (24:06):
I love that. I love that focus on the voice of the employee and the employee experience. And, clearly, beyond the conversation we’re having here with Don, if you haven’t talked to those associates while they’re in the store, it comes out in those conversations.
Scott Luton (24:21):
I want to drill in a little bit into this omnichannel and what helps make that happen to meet the consumers where they want to be met. Because to your point, Don, most consumers don’t care about where it’s coming from and they care about price and delivery and quality, some combination of those three things. So, fulfillment, you mentioned that earlier, this is a little bit data figure but I think it’s still remarkable. In early March 2021, Lowe’s shared that fulfillment execution had improved 6X over March 2020. So, how does that happen at Lowe’s?
Don Frieson (25:03):
It happens by having a CEO that allows you to make investments in your business. If you go back 18 months ago, we had one fulfillment center. One. And we knew we had to accelerate that. Today, we have five fulfillment centers, and that has made the biggest difference in securing what I call a minimum of two day service across the U.S., which is really important. And you guys know like I know, fulfillment rate or time is really important to a customer. When they place an order, they want to know first thing, “When will I get it?” And then, fulfilling that promise. So, if you tell them it’s two days, it’ll take two days. But you better do it in two days. And, I mean, we often talk about next day, same day, and you obviously have to play in that arena because that’s very important for some of our customers. But just be reliable at what you say you’re going to do.
Don Frieson (26:10):
And that’s what our teams are really focused on when we think about parcel fulfillment or even LTL fulfillment because a lot of things that we carry are not parcel size of parcel eligible. They’re ordering larger goods. Just get it there and get it there on time. And so, that’s the focus of the team. We’ve also incorporated some of the larger moves. So, we’ve taken our core distribution network, like our regional distribution centers. We’ve enabled LTL capabilities to customer out of those facilities. And we have bulk distribution centers where we now have our much larger good. If you think about appliances, tub surrounds, grills, riding mowers, things that people don’t necessarily have the capability to take home, but they would like to have it delivered, we’re using those facilities like we never have in an effort to get it to the customer. So, it continues to be a journey. I don’t think we’re great at it, but I think we are improving at it.
Scott Luton (27:16):
So, Don, you might find some argument there and disagreement amongst here and other fans of Lowe’s out there. One quick observation and then I want to kind of go broader beyond Lowe’s along the lines of what we’re talking about. We’ve made this observation and it’s a very simple observation, but it boggles my mind. We placed orders these days largely on when do we get it versus – what, Greg? – ten years ago, maybe, where that was largely, for the most part, a big afterthought. It blows my mind just how far global supply chain and what it does to power and optimize that customer experience has come. Greg, your quick response. And I’m going to dive a little deeper with Don in that area.
Greg White (28:09):
Yeah. Well, I mean, I’ve always watched how long it gets here. Being a retailer, the reliability that Don spoke to is really, really important. I would rather have a longer but reliable lead time than a shorter one. So, as a consumer, I played this game where I wouldn’t pay for the quick delivery and realized that even though they promised five to seven days, they’d still get it there in three to five. Sorry, Don. I played that on you guys just like everybody else. But the truth is, it’s been a nascent want of consumers. We’ve always wanted it right now. That’s why we had stores. Those times when we lived in a remote place – like some of us do now – and you just can’t run out to a store, it’s 45 minutes away or whatever it is, that’s when things like delivery become important. But the desire to get it immediately is still there.
Greg White (29:11):
And I think retailers have recognized that more than driven that. And certain retailers have enabled that, which has caused a demand on the rest of retailers to be able to do so. But, yeah, I think the consumer wants what they want. They want it now. They want it at the price. They want it. And they want it in good condition and in fold, Don, in your point. And always have, but we’ve had to settle in the past. Now we don’t have to settle. And it’s great to see organizations stepping up to that.
Don Frieson (29:43):
Well, you know like I know, consumer sentiment is that every year the expectations get higher and higher relative to how they want their goods and whether they’re ordering from an iPhone, the laptop, any mobile device. It’s just that immediacy that is part of our society today. And if you aren’t in that game, then you are not being competitive. And I think the real key is that if you want to be competitive then you just got to jump in there and understand how do you execute against that.
Don Frieson (30:27):
I think the biggest thing for most companies is how do you do it in a profitable way? Because at the end of the day, you can lose a lot of money if you don’t really think through what node does this item need to be in, in an effort to be next day. Do I deliver next day out of my store. Because out of 2,200 units across the U.S. and Canada, am I closer to or within that zip code? Are there certain items that you offer next day, same day on, that makes sense for you? And the contribution margin works versus offering a next day and I have to try to ship it 500 plus miles? The math just doesn’t work. And so, it’s a constant looking at the algorithms and understanding your sourcing engines and having the right merchandise in the right place that’s going to fulfill the customer.
Don Frieson (31:23):
And when you think about technology, let’s face it, Greg, years ago, we didn’t talk about AI. We didn’t talk about machine learning.
Greg White (31:33):
AI was Actual Intelligence, Don. Not artificial.
Don Frieson (31:38):
Exactly. And these days, it’s pulling all that data together to understand what shifts with what, in most cases. And how do you create those baskets in terms of where you put your merchandise in order to ship it. So, all that data and pulling it together, which, again, is something that’s relatively new to everyone. And there are a lot of companies out there that can help you do that. But at the end of the day, that’s how you have to lean in, in an effort to meet the customer’s expectation.
Scott Luton (32:15):
Okay. So, you’ve essentially, to a large degree, spoke to the next question I’m going to ask you. But one quick comment, so I guess y’all cannot relate to me as a kid when I was placing an order for cassettes and comic books. And by the time they got here eight months later, it seemed, I’d forgotten I’ve even ordered them. Maybe I’m the only person in that boat.
Greg White (32:36):
The only thing that’s changed there, Scott, is that that happens within three days now. People forgotten that they ordered within three days instead of eight months.
Scott Luton (32:43):
The power of supply chain. Kidding aside, Don, I really appreciate what you shared just a moment ago because that leads to you’re already making the case, as we all know, about that critical role that supply chain plays in, not just optimizing customer experience – the CX movement that’s been taking place for years now. It just called maybe something different – but that’s what powers this modern retail environment. So, speak a little bit more to that, Don, if you would.
Don Frieson (33:15):
Yeah. So, for us, when we think about CSAT scores, Customer Satisfaction Scores, our likelihood to recommend or whatever measurements that companies use today, that really becomes the basis of how you start to set your service offering. Because it’s really, really, really important that when that customer has that great experience with you, they come back and they tell other people. Now, the other side of that is, when they don’t have a great customer experience, they also tell others. And so, that’s better than any advertising that you could have. And so, it is really important for us. And we talk about it on the delivery side of our business all the time, you got to treat every delivery like it’s the first delivery or treat it like it’s the last. It’s really important that we execute and execute flawlessly because it means so much to the customer.
Don Frieson (34:13):
And so, as we take a look, whether it’s inside of our stores, you know, we operate on what we call SMART Customer Service. That S starts for seek, we are looking for a customer in that store. So, don’t be so dependent on doing task because the customer is the reason why we’re there. And so, seek out that customer, understand more about the project that they’re working on, what exactly. So, it’s more than just, “Hello. How are you?” It’s really getting into a deep understanding of why they’re there. Because, look, they’re spending dollars on their home. And that is the largest investment that any of us will make. And it’s so near and dear to you. So, whether it’s a small project, like I’m hanging pictures and I need the right size picture hangers. Or I’m doing a bathroom remodel and I really want to know how to lay this tile if I’m trying to do it myself. Our teams have to lean in to ensure that we’re meeting that customer’s needs. And so, those are the things, when you start thinking about customer satisfaction and CX, it is so important that you become part of their project.
Scott Luton (35:28):
I love that, Don. And just a side note, my dear lovely wife, Amanda, would not let me touch any of those two projects you mentioned or much less anything else. Holes and walls, wrong measurements, that’s what I’ve known for around here. All right.
Scott Luton (35:42):
So, Greg, there’s so much. This is kind of like a MasterClass. Every once in a while we have a MasterClass in supply chain. Don has given us that here. Where are we going next, Gregory?
Greg White (35:54):
Well, I want to know since you’ve been in the industry and particularly at Lowe’s for more than two decades –
Don Frieson (36:04):
Well, let me clarify because I’ve been in the industry a long time. We had a Leadership Team Refresh, approximately, three-and-a-half years ago, and I actually came aboard as part of that Leadership Team Refresh. So, I was able to take years and years of experience and come into Lowe’s. And quite frankly, love what I saw when I got here, particularly around the folks in supply chain. I use three words, and this is this is how I describe our teams, dedicated, resourceful, and resilient. And that’s never been more true since the pandemic. And that’s the way our frontline associates approach this business each and every day, as well as our store support associates.
Don Frieson (36:57):
But what’s been great is that we’ve been able to look at where was the business and where did the business need to go. And as we’ve come up with what we call our roadmap to excellence going from good to great – and you guys know that story very well for a lot of other companies – that’s the journey that we’re on. And so, it’s been really, really fun to take our core team that was here and, to your point, Greg, had done this for so many years. And really the evolution of Lowe’s supply chain and where we are in the industry and take some leaders that we’ve brought in over the course of the last three years, bring all that knowledge together. And it has been a blast in terms of learning. A blast in terms of how we’re moving this business forward. And I’m just so excited to be a part of it.
Greg White (37:54):
You got to face the brutal facts, right? That’s one of the keys of Good To Great. So, I bet you’ve done a lot of facing of that in the last three years. But over your career, I mean, you’ve had so many opportunities at so many places to have kind of breakthrough moments, eureka moments, if you want to call them that. Give us an idea of something that just has really struck you in the last three years.
Don Frieson (38:23):
Sure. And, guys, I will tell you, one year in and then a pandemic hits. And I’m sure a lot of supply chain teams can tell you about dozens of eureka moments that have happened. I mean, if you think about we were very fortunate as a retailer to be named in a central retailer when the pandemic started. And so, while a lot of retailers, if you think about apparel and others that had to temporarily shut down, we kept going. And only through the grace of those frontline associates in our business, that in the early days really, really focused on how do we keep our sales safe, how do we keep our associates safe while serving those needs.
Don Frieson (39:11):
I mean, if you think about it, if you are dependent on medicine that refrigeration and your refrigerator doesn’t work, you got to go get a refrigerator. Nobody can live in a home with a toilet that’s broken. So, it’s all those essential kind of things that we brought to bear that we were able to keep our business going. Now, the interesting thing about that is that as the supply side started to wane and we saw a real, real focus on a lack of supply, particularly in those fast moving items, my supply chain felt like one big cross dock. Man, I’d get it in. It’d get in the store. And it’d flow out the other side. I mean, I don’t know, the teams had a lot of time to stock it. And so, you’re looking at your end stock levels, you’re not very pleased with it. But you understand that everything’s just moving through to where we are this year, where supply is a little bit better, and we’ve had to pivot a little bit.
Don Frieson (40:09):
And so, these have been moments where we continue to reinvent ourselves. We continue to think about how is it that we do things better. I mean, the big question I always get from my peers and the leadership team is, What did you learn in 2020? What did you learn in 2021 that you are taking to 2022? And so, it’s constantly going back, doing an autopsy of what the year was like, what are the things that we need to change in an effort to continue to, not only grow our business, but to increase our customer satisfaction.
Scott Luton (40:48):
Greg White (40:49):
Yeah. I think there have, as you said, Don, been a ton of learnings around this pandemic. Most of the learning, for a lot of companies, was, we didn’t have a strong enough – if you want to call it – supply chain ethic. And I think that you all had, not only an ethic, but an initiative going on. And I’m curious as you think about this, so imagine this, not just joining a new company, but graduating from college with a supply chain degree, or going into college with a supply chain degree, or coming out and getting into the job world. And we have a ton of our community that are recent graduates, or recently in, or seeking to be in the supply chain trade. Give me an idea of maybe a key tenant or a key bit of knowledge that they should all have as they get into this industry.
Don Frieson (41:51):
Well, look, I’d say as they come into the industry – and by the way, they’ve chosen a great industry – this is actually a really good time to enter the industry. When you see that supply chain leads every news story every week, whether it’s the pile up at the ports or anything of that sort, it’s a problem solving industry right now. I will tell you that their mindset needs to be one around flexibility. Understanding that what worked yesterday just may not work today. And, ultimately, understanding that I’ve got to go solve this issue. And what are all the tools that I’ve learned in school? The practical experience that I may have. If I’m moving forward in supply chain with an advanced degree, what are those things and experiences that I can take and how can I apply them to the current situation?
Don Frieson (42:48):
I’m a big proponent of on the ground leadership. You know, previously, I was so big – and I say previously, previous to the pandemic – coaching by walking around. I loved to get out of my office. I loved to get out into the field and really understand what are the teams working on, what are the barriers that they have to being great. And because the pandemic has slowed some of that down, it’s now that I have to think about how do you engage in a different way. And so, as people enter the engagement levels are a little bit different. You have to be creative, whether it’s through medians like this. We use Microsoft Teams, so no plug for Microsoft, just the way of, obviously, understanding how we communicate to those in a remote environment and how do you stay connected. And that is the big challenge, I think, for not only supply chain, but all of workplaces now that are perhaps remote, semi-remote, or a combination of both.
Scott Luton (43:55):
Okay. Don, I wish we had three more hours with you because I think we could pick your brain further and solve some of industry’s biggest challenges. But I love the story. And you’re not calling it, but I hear real actual, in-person, there for the team leadership. And, gosh, if anything has gotten us through these last few years in supply chain and otherwise, it’s been a lot of that.
Scott Luton (44:21):
So, I want to shift gears as our time with you is starting to wind down, and I’m sure you’ve got a busy calendar here today. One of our favorite things here at Supply Chain Now is, you know, that give forward, as Greg has coined it. You know, that do good with action, with lots of action. Even if you can’t give a lot, hey, give a little, but just start giving, Greg, I’m still in your advice there. Lowe’s does a ton in the communities. Growing up in Aiken, South Carolina, I think we had one or two stores there. I’ve been around Lowe’s a long time. And here just recently, one of the recent examples, those terrible storms came through the U.S. in December, Lowe’s wrote a check for about a million dollars to help provide relief for tornado victims. That’s just one of the latest activities there. So, touch on this Hometown 100 initiative. This is really feel good, do good stuff. Tell us about this.
Don Frieson (45:19):
Yeah. So, it’s really just the natural evolution of what we’ve done since Lowe’s was founded. Last year, we celebrated our 100th Anniversary as a company. And in conjunction with our marketing team, the thought was, “You know what? We do projects in communities each and every day.” And our stores have a latitude, our distribution centers have a latitude to work with first responder organizations and just support the community. And this was a way to formalize that to recognize our 100 years in business. So, it’s 100 Hometowns initiatives. And we chose over a hundred cities – and it’s actually over a hundred opportunities out there – to go out in the community and actually share time on projects with these communities. Our associates gave up their time. And so, it wasn’t as though it was an extra paid thing. It’s just what they do.
Don Frieson (46:19):
And we donate in terms of resources and supplies. And, you know, a couple of them hit home with me. You know, I told you guys, I’m a Memphis boy. And we had an opportunity to go to Memphis to work with the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Center of Memphis. And I flew into Memphis and, man, put my gloves on and got busy with a kind of paint up, fix up project within that center. Because folks just do great work in these communities. And you recognize that as retail. You are local and you are part of the community. The folks that work in your stores are part of that community. And so, it’s so important.
Don Frieson (47:02):
I mean, it’s just in our DNA. And so, it’s been a really great thing for us. And there are so many opportunities for us to create opportunities, and that’s what our 100 Hometowns initiatives have done. And so, from our chairman and CEO personally participating in projects, to everyone through the leadership team, to our associates in our stores and our distribution centers, I can tell you, we all enjoyed that. And quite frankly, we’ll continue to do that in a somewhat informal manner because, again, it’s just who we are.
Scott Luton (47:39):
Don, I love that. Greg, I’m going to get your reaction to that before we make sure folks want to connect with Don and the Lowe’s team. Greg, what strikes you there?
Greg White (47:51):
I think the recognition that retail is local is critical because you are part of this. I was flashing through my mind, you know, having worked in stores in a retail chain just how local it can be. I used to serve coffee and egg burritos to people in the neighborhood around my store. And it’s not just good for the community, it’s good for business. And that’s kind of why I love these give forward initiatives is because people recognize the genuine nature of these initiatives. I mean, it is good for the business, doing well by doing good, it’s a classic term. But this is a great way to do it. And I particularly appreciate, from Don’s perspective, that it’s not even about getting back from the community, it’s what you owe to the community by being part of it. So, that’s an important perspective for a retail company to have.
Scott Luton (48:51):
Love that. I also love how Don concluded his answer there, “It’s who we are. It’s how we do business. It’s it’s in our DNA.” All right. So, Don, I really have enjoyed your time here today on Supply Chain Now. As busy as you are, I appreciate all the time and perspective and point of view you’ve given us. I think we can learn a lot from what you’ve shared here today and from, basically, how you do business. So, Don, if folks are curious whether it’s about the Hometown 100 or any of the other aspects of the Lowe’s business, how can folks learn more?
Don Frieson (49:28):
Well, obviously, lowes.com is a good place to go and understand under the PR tab. You can see all the great things that we’re doing and can be part of. You can actually connect with me, I’m on LinkedIn, so happy to connect in that area. And quite frankly, for those students that are out there that are thinking about careers, you got jobs.lowes.com. You can go out and see all the available opportunities. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t say, look under supply chain to understand what opportunities are there. Because we’re always looking for great people to join our business and to help us continue our transformation. And so, we’re really excited about that.
Don Frieson (50:17):
And, guys, I’d be really remiss in not saying thank you for what you guys do for the supply chain community. You know, it’s one thing as practitioners, and you guys have done a great job of highlighting all the great things that go on within the different supply chains. And, again, we know that that takes on a lot of different meanings for a lot of different people. And you guys do a really great job of drilling down into it. And so, thank you for being such a supporter of what we do.
Scott Luton (50:50):
Thank you, Don. And you started your interview off, it’s about the people, it’s about the team. Greg and I get a chance to be in front of the camera more often, but, man, we got a homerun team that makes it happen. So, Don, gosh, if that’s not some good news that will brighten anyone’s day and you get better, right? You get better. Just like you pointed out, there’s no finish line, right? Big thanks to Don Frieson, Executive Vice-President of Supply Chain with Lowe’s. Don, I hope you have a homerun 2022, and we’ll have to have you back on really soon.
Don Frieson (51:22):
So, a couple things. So, if you want to just get in touch with me, I have a LinkedIn profile out there. So, guys, just look me up and hit me up on LinkedIn. I’d be happy to respond. If you’re looking for an opportunity, particularly in supply chain, go to jobs.lowes.com. And there’s a supply chain tab there that you can click and our other pieces of the business. So, clearly, we’re always looking for great talent in our transformation journey. And so, it’s just been a real blast spending this time with you guys. And thank you.
Scott Luton (51:58):
You bet. Big thanks.
Greg White (52:01):
Thank you, Don.
Scott Luton (52:01):
Big thanks to this MasterClass in supply chain, retail, and leadership, and a lot more. Big thanks to Don Frieson, Executive Vice-President for Supply Chain with Lowe’s. Thank you, Don.
Don Frieson (52:12):
Scott Luton (52:17):
All right. So, Greg, man, who wouldn’t want to work for Don? I mean, that’s the kind of individual that will have you ready to run through walls behind us, right?
Greg White (52:28):
Well, clearly, in the last three years, he and the team have had a great impact on the organization. As I said, that’s an organization that’s been ahead of the curve for a lot of years. Anyway, I know they probably don’t feel like it. And as we talked about, they’ve probably had to face the brutal fact, which is one of the principles of Good To Great, in case everybody hasn’t read the book. And if you haven’t, read it. But they have always been a really, really strong and committed organization and, as he said, they continue to grow. They’re never done. So, I think that’s inspirational to me. You know, I had some flashback moments in talking to Don and going, “Gosh. I miss doing this or I miss doing that.” And it’s good. I mean, it’s good. Don’t you think? Yeah. Hell, yeah. I’d love to work for that guy.
Scott Luton (53:19):
I love it. I love Don’s POV here today. And, again, I got to go back to, “It’s who we are. It’s in our DNA. This is how we do business.” That is powerful. When you got the right culture, man, that’s just a forced multiplier. So, big thanks to Don and the whole team over at Lowe’s that helped us make today’s interview happen.
Scott Luton (53:38):
Okay. Greg, wonderful conversation. We got a lot more teed up for 2022. So, folks, if you check out Supply Chain Now, buckle up and get ready, as Greg would say, because we got a lot more good stuff just like this conversation with Don coming at you. But, hey, if you didn’t get 18 pages notes, like I’ve got here from our conversation, including our barbecue recommendation in Memphis, Tennessee, Cozy Corner, you got to check that out. If you take anything away, you got to take Don’s spirit of getting stuff done and getting stuff done better, GSD. Do good, give forward, be the change that’s needed. And on that note, we’ll see you back next time right here at Supply Chain Now. Thanks everybody.
Thanks for being a part of our Supply Chain Now community. Check out all of our programming at supplychainnow.com, and make sure you subscribe to Supply Chain Now anywhere you listen to podcasts. And follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. See you next time on Supply Chain Now.
Don Frieson, As executive vice president of supply chain, Don is responsible for the company’s distribution centers, logistics, transportation and delivery services. He joined Lowe’s in 2018. Don has more than 30 years of operations and supply chain experience, including 19 years at Walmart Inc. He most recently served as chief operating officer at Sam’s Club, a division of Walmart, where he was responsible for all club operations, including supply chain, for more than 650 locations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Don also served as senior vice president of supply chain at Walmart, where he led more than 30 distribution centers that supplied merchandise to nearly 1,600 stores, Supercenters and neighborhood markets in the eastern U.S. Don earned a bachelor’s degree in operations management from the University of Tennessee and is a graduate of the Global 20/20 Executive Education Program at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business. He is a member of the Executive Leadership Council and serves on the board of Casey’s General Stores. Connect with Don on LinkedIn.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Cisco, Microsoft, 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 University, O’Reilly Media, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight. Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Carrier 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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.