Supply Chain Now
Episode 1003

Even when you think you have a perfect system figured out and you go to implement it, you need to be on the ground. You need to have that frontline mentality and get into the details because it might not actually translate to the way that you think it should.

- Michael Prince, Vice President Returns and Quality with Walmart

Episode Summary

Creating a world-class consumer experience is no easy feat. For one thing, each customer wants something a little different. But making sure that the intent of a new program or a corporate collaboration delivers the intended value requires that everyone on the team keep every customer in mind.

Michael Prince is the Vice President of Returns and Quality with Walmart, where he has worked since 2020. Prior to that, he has experience at Amazon and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In this episode, part of the Reverse Logistics Series on Supply Chain Now, Scott Luton is joined by special co-host Tony Sciarrotta, Executive Director of The Reverse Logistics Association, to talk to Michael about the latest programs and developments at Walmart.

• The introduction of the Walmart Restored program, which gives products another chance at a useful life while creating customer value

• The ongoing challenge of ensuring packaging is both efficient and effective

• The many sources of innovation and inspiration that help Walmart make better use of their team members, energy, and resources

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:03):

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

Scott Luton (00:32):

Hey, good morning everybody. Scott Luton and special guest host Tony Sciarrotta here with you on Supply Chain. Now, welcome to today Show, Tony, how you doing?

Tony Sciarrotta (00:39):

Doing great today, Scott. Doing great.

Scott Luton (00:42):

Well, so I am too. We’ve got a big show today. We’re talking with yet another business leader doing big things, especially when it comes to the retail world and beyond. And of course, Tony, we’re continuing our reverse logistics leadership series here at Supply Chain. Now, are you ready? Are you up for this, Tony?

Tony Sciarrotta (00:59):

I am so up for this and, uh, I’m getting ready to head out of town and speak somewhere else. So it’s just an endless world of getting to talk about this stuff. And we have such a great series, Scott, uh, over the last couple years, few years now. And, uh, you know, the one broadcast that actually pays attention to that dark side of retail,

Scott Luton (01:18):

<laugh>, all things rev reverse logistics. Well, the beat goes on as you’re alluding to, cause we’ve got a great guest here today. I wanna welcome in Michael Prince, Vice President Returns and Quality with Walmart. Mike, how you doing?

Michael Prince (01:32):

Hey Scott. Good to see you, Tony. Great to see you again as well.

Scott Luton (01:36):

Well, so Tony, we have really enjoyed our appreciate conversation with Mike and I, I wish we had like six hours with him here today. He’s, he between what he is done personally and professionally. Yeah. Uh, a lot to get to. But I wanna start, Mike, you know, that we like the, uh, kind of getting to our guest first, especially with that little question. Hey, where did you grow up? So, Mike, how about it?

Michael Prince (01:55):

Yeah, I appreciate that, Scott. And first off, uh, congratulations to you. I, I’ve, I’ve had the chance to, to listen to a number of your episodes and, and saw you’re coming up on your thousandth episode, or it’s hap it’s actually happened at this point, correct? That’s

Scott Luton (02:07):

Right, that’s right. Thank you, Mike.

Michael Prince (02:09):

Yeah, that’s, that’s pretty incredible. So, um, well, well done to you and a, a really interesting podcast. I’ve, I’ve enjoyed the chance to listen to it. Um, man,

Scott Luton (02:16):

That makes my, makes our day, our teams day here. And I’ll tell you, Mike and Tony often say that podcast numbers or episode numbers don’t mean anything except maybe to the content creator, right? Yeah. But I, I, I feel every one of those episodes and I, I, I tell you what, uh, thank you for the acknowledgement and I look forward to our chat here today. So, um, so growing up, yes, we were, we had an interesting little segue in our in our pre-show conversation.

Michael Prince (02:42):

Yeah. So, grew up in, or was born in, in Holland, Michigan. It’s on the west side of Michigan. Uh, so my, my family heritage is Dutch. I don’t, I unfortunately don’t speak Dutch, but, uh, I, I, I saw that being on that side of the state. And, um, if you’ve been over there, my, my grandparents had a windmill in their front yard. They have tool up time. It’s a, it’s a really interesting community. I know Tony, you have some Michigan roots. Have, have you been over to Holland?

Tony Sciarrotta (03:03):

Absolutely. The Holland, uh, Tulip Festival is one of the, Is is so cool. And it’s amazing and it’s big and it’s gigantic. It’s, it’s a great event every year in the spring.

Michael Prince (03:14):

It, it is, and we would joke it, it’s hard to time the tulips every year cuz you don’t know when they’re gonna bloom. So they would refer it to it as the STEM festival, uh, if they got it on the wrong time, either a week earlier or, or a week late. Um, uh, I wouldn’t choose from when I was a kid. The, the clump and dancers they call ’em, and they do traditional, uh, Dutch routines and things. So that, that’s really, uh, kind of my lifeblood there. Lived there till I was five. And then we moved over to the east side of Michigan to Brighton, Michigan. Um, where I grew up, did first through 12th grade, was, uh, was really into sports. Did soccer, baseball, basketball, golf. Um, really golf was probably my, my primary sport to being over there as well. So

Scott Luton (03:52):

My, You still play? Still

Michael Prince (03:54):

Play? I, I do. Um, I like to play as much as I can. That, that’s hard. I have four kids and, and we have a lot of activities that we do. Um, I, I’m not sure how I convinced my wife, but, and, and she’s great for this, um, we built a golf simulator in our attic, so, uh, I’m starting to, to pick that up a little more. It, it shows movies, uh, the kids can play Xbox on it. It’s, it’s a phenomenal addition to have to the house. So that’s been, that’s been a lot of fun and help the golf game more than, uh, than I’ve been able to play in the past.

Scott Luton (04:21):

That is awesome, Mike. As like big golden tea fan back in the day. Golden

Michael Prince (04:28):

Tea. Uh, Golden Tee’s phenomenal. I love that game.

Scott Luton (04:32):

All right. So we’re, we’re gonna have a lot of feedback around that, I’m sure, from across our listenership. Um, so speaking of sports, as we’re getting know Mike Prince, uh, with Walmart, um, what is, so I understand our due diligence front. You’re a big Michigan fan, right? Big Blue, uh, Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, you know, your fans of all these teams, but what is one of your favorite all time teams?

Michael Prince (04:55):

One of my favorite all times, and I, and I wish, uh, I wish they’d made it all the way about the oh six Tigers, um, were a phenomenal group. They had, uh, if you remember Justin Verlander Mag Ordon, they had a a a Jeremy Bonderman. They, they had a group that was just, uh, set to, to win a World Series. And, um, I think that the memories of the team are great, but going with my brother and dad to the games and, um, really the, the, the whole family element of that with friends is, is really what I remember the most. And, um, that was an incredible group. They fortunately fell to the Cardinals. I’m sure there’s some Cardinals fans out there that also remember, uh, the oh six World Series very well. But, uh, that was, that was a great team,

Scott Luton (05:32):

Excellent team. And, and of course, Berlin’s still pitching. Uh, he’s gonna pitch maybe just he sixties. Yeah. Um, so Tony, uh, he, he, he dropped some sports history, especially for folks, uh, that are big Michigan team fans. What about you, sports wise? Who’s your, what’s your favorite team?

Tony Sciarrotta (05:48):

Well, I, I, I think I got a few years on Mike, so I get to go back and say, Well, actually I was around for the 68 Tigers. And, uh, and what they did, did, and that was great with Willie Horton and some of those, Mickey, some of the great classic players, but 84 is still my favorite. Um, uh, the duo of Alan Tramel. And, uh, and Lou would occur, uh, second and short. Um, and, and Lou just got his number retired, uh, this year at Tiger Stadium, the new Tiger Stadium. Really cool. And I was there for it. And, uh, I was a little older so I could understand a little bit more of what was going, but phenomenal. 84 Tigers,

Scott Luton (06:25):

Love that Sweet Lou would occur, I believe. Uh, and those eighties teams, of course, Cecil fielder, I think we’ve talked to poor, that, that, that all those home runs you hit, including those, that one or two that went that left the park entirely. Uh, and then of course, Rob Deer. Yeah, I think one of the few catchers or baseball players that’s maybe struck out 300 times in the season, it feels like. But, uh, when he connected that ball was, was being launched to Holland, Michigan. So, uh, well, thank y’all, Uh, Mike and Tony. I love looking back at, at all these great sports teams. Uh, it’s such a great departure from, uh, some of the stresses of industry. Right? Um, and we’re gonna make a visit, Tony, let’s make add it to our list. We’re gonna make a visit to that golf simulation, uh, studio, uh, print household.

Michael Prince (07:07):

Do the next one

Scott Luton (07:08):

There. That’s right. So, so speaking of departures, I’ll tell you what, uh, last couple years, we all probably have, have, uh, found different ways to, uh, you know, take that mental break from, from a lot of the challenging backdrop that we’ve all been experiencing. But if you go looking for it, there’s been good news, right? And there’s gonna be lots of developments that have come to the service in the last couple years that will continue to pay dividends and change how we do business for years to come. And that, that, and the way I look at it, that’s definitely good news. So, those eureka moments, uh, Mike, so if you look at the last couple years, a eureka moment that really is maybe related to leadership or supply chain or life in general, for you, what was one that comes to mind?

Michael Prince (07:49):

Yeah, It, it, I really like that, that question. Um, and, and it’s kind of an interesting one. It is supply chain, uh, related, but, uh, but I think there’s a life lesson there as well. And, um, about a year and a half ago, um, as we were, as we were still in pretty heavy, Covid was talking to somebody about how they had groceries delivered for their mom from Walmart. And, um, it was, she was calling him, it was a couple hours late. She had, uh, he had let her know that, that they were coming and she’s looking for him and, and, uh, and not seeing him. And so as she was talking to him on the phone, uh, she got interrupted for a second and he said, Oh, are you taking another call? She said, It’s DoorDash. They, they keep calling me. And this is back when Walmart partnered with DoorDash.

Michael Prince (08:27):

And, uh, and so it turns out it was DoorDash calling her to try and deliver her groceries, um, because of Walmart’s partnership with them. And they hadn’t been able to get ahold of her to, to drop them off. So everything was working as planned as anticipated. The groceries were on time. DoorDash was there to deliver ’em, but she hadn’t made the correlation, as many people might not between at the time when we were working with DoorDash and Walmart, that those two might be linked together. And so I think the, the eureka moment for that with me was, we spend so much time making plans. We put together what we think, uh, is, is what the customer wants, and we try and take customer feedback and do that. And then sometimes when you roll these things out, you realize that, uh, it’s actually not exactly what you thought it would be.

Michael Prince (09:11):

Um, and, and you run into instances like this where if the customer’s not educated on the fact that DoorDash is gonna drop off their groceries, and now it’s Walmart Spark and we’ve integrated that, but, um, you run into these issues. And so that was a moment for me to say, even when you think you have a perfect system figured out and you go to implement it, you need to be on the ground. You need to have that frontline mentality and understand it and, and get into the details because it might not actually translate to the way that you think it should.

Scott Luton (09:38):

Mm. Mike, I love that story, a ton of your quick comments. And Tony, you gotta share your eureka moment too.

Tony Sciarrotta (09:45):

Well, I, I, um, I appreciate, uh, Mike’s, uh, comments about that, that whole, and Walmart has always focused on the consumer, the end consumer and the experience. And, and Mike, of course, is, is involved in that a lot. And, and so my, uh, Eureka moment, the, the newest one is talking with Eileen Fisher Apparel, uh, one of their spokespersons. And they have it, they’ve been running this Take It Back program for over 10 years, and it’s a real focus on, okay, the clothing, you’re buying better, you’re buying less. But when you are done with it, we’ll take it back and give you a credit. That’s a leadership role in the apparel industry and other industries. We’re starting to see it, take it back and do something else with it. And, and the woman, uh, Carmen Gama, uh, is in charge of making sure they not only take it back, but they either repair it or recycle it or return it ba and and donate it. And just amazing concept. And this is, the manufacturers have to start doing this. It’s, it’s not Walmart’s job to take that back, Eileen, uh, Fisher Apparel or electronics and, and and other things. Nike now is doing it. Patagonia is doing it. They’re all doing these take back programs, and it’s so cool. It’s a eureka moment for the planet, really, Scott, for the planet.

Scott Luton (11:06):

Uh, completely agree. Uh, thank y’all very much for sharing, uh, those moments. Now, we’ve had so many, Mike, I’m gonna share one, and I really wish, cuz it dawned on me kind of as we were talking pre-show and, and, and moved into the episode one of your associates that’s based in the low country of South Carolina, He is a, uh, full-time school administrator. Um, and, uh, a couple years ago I saw this story where he was trying to help all of his students and, and I don’t have his name handy, but he was working part-time at Walmart and he was donating his full paycheck. This is in the height of the pandemic. He was donating his full paycheck to students that their family was in need and didn’t have the stuff they needed. And goodness gracious, if that doesn’t make you, you know, ready to run through walls and, and really celebrate the wide diverse workforce that make up, you know, global supply chain, I don’t know. What does, you gotta, if that doesn’t get you going, gotta check your poll.

Michael Prince (12:01):

It does, it does, Scott. And we saw it, um, we had the, the, fortunately the Indianapolis fire in March, and you saw associates come together with that and, and, and now with the, um, the hurricane coming through, uh, Florida and then back up the coast, I mean, you, you just see people step up and it’s incredible to watch. And our associates have such a passion for it that, uh, it’s, there are thousands and thousands of stories like that. And I, and I applaud the associate in South Carolina that that’s incredible. Um, but man, there we have some really, really good people working at

Scott Luton (12:31):

Walmart. Absolutely. And then certainly bless, bless our school leaders. They got their hands full. Uh, they

Michael Prince (12:37):

Do, but they

Scott Luton (12:38):

Do. Um, so kind of moving right along, you know, we wanna dive into, uh, the craft, uh, as one Greg White has put it, uh, and I wanna break this up. I wanna kind of get your general thoughts on what we’re seeing an industry, and then we’re gonna talk more about Walmart of course, and all the cool things you are doing there. So generally, when it comes to trends in the reverse logistics and returns management world, what are some of the things you’re seeing there, Mike?

Michael Prince (13:02):

Yeah, I, I think, um, what, what we’re seeing in general is returns are getting a much bigger focus by companies today. And if you look at the market, it’s a, about a 550 billion market today going to 800 billion in, in 2027, uh, globally. And what that means is those are costs that, uh, companies are paying. And so returns have always been a cost, but now they’re really becoming a cost, and companies are having to look at what their, uh, infrastructure and ecosystem looks like. Uh, and, and it’s not something you can brush aside anymore. I, I saw one stat from the retail federation, uh, 10.6 return, 10.6% return rate in 2020 16.6% return rate in 2021. And that number is anticipated to just go up. And so what was something that you could kind of, um, you know, something short of brush under the rug and just say that’s a cost of doing business and, and, and, and just handling returns at the basic level. Now when you look at, uh, sustainability and, and regeneration and, and the efforts along with the cost associated with, with not doing anything, um, Tony, I’m sure you’re seeing it too, that will sink your business if you don’t deal with returns now, uh, at the rate that it’s, that it’s growing

Scott Luton (14:15):

Tony.

Tony Sciarrotta (14:16):

So, Absolutely. And um, one of Mike’s predecessors at Walmart, when I was thrown into this supply chain, uh, fixed the returns problem world at Phillips. And cause I came outta sales and marketing, uh, when I was told one of the pearls of wisdom that I learned going to Walmart, is it, the Pearl was 99% of the people who go into Walmart stores, and that’s a lot of ’em, do not go in to buy something to take it back. That was true around the year 2000. Now people shop online and they admit they’re buying extra to send stuff back. So we’ve created this culture of entitlement, and that’s a challenge because Walmart’s focus used to be on it, making the customer experience go well, but you don’t control it when it’s eCommerce as well as you do in the store. And that’s the challenge we all face, because to Mike’s point, it’s gonna get worse.

Scott Luton (15:08):

Yes, Ag agreed. And by the way, Mike and Tony, you both alluded to our friends at nrf, the National Retail Federation, great resource for information and, and, uh, change in industry. So y’all check that out to our listeners. All right. So now that you and Tony both have spoken in, generally, you know how things are, um, uh, evolving in the reverse logistics and, and returns management world, let’s talk about how the spaces has continued to evolve since you first joined Walmart in early 2018, Mike?

Michael Prince (15:36):

Yeah. Uh, there, there’s some pretty exciting things that I’ve even seen Walmart change, uh, since, since I’ve started here. And the first of those is Walmart restored, which you probably saw, uh, launch just a few months ago. And that is where we take, um, certified refurbished items and we put ’em back on the website and customers can purchase them at a discount, um, and get a great deal on something like an older model iPad or even some, some newer items as well, uh, on, on some late model electronics. And that’s perfect. You know, if the, if the kids, you want an iPad for them, for the back of the minivan, I saw one on there, uh, for, for $89, that’s a older model, but if you just wanna put a movie on it and, and cover a drive, then, then, uh, it’s something you can, you know, just have and not worry about, about breaking.

Scott Luton (16:19):

Cause Mike, we know you’re the father of four kids. I’ve got three of my own, Tony, Yes. You’re father kids are gonna beat the heck out of, uh, that iPad. So <laugh>, it fits the bill. Um, so, so cool things Walmart restored.

Michael Prince (16:34):

Yep. And then if you look, um, part of it is, is the, the, um, the Walmart restored and programs to bring new life to products. And some of it’s trying to just, uh, prevent returns in the first place. And so just, uh, at the end of September, uh, Walmart announced the virtual tryon, which is really cool, uh, through Zeke. They, uh, purchased them last year and then have in incorporated that technology in, and that basically maps out apparel with 80,000 different data points. It’s the same way they do topographical maps. Um, and we have over 120 models online. It was first 30, then 50, and people kept asking for more and saying, I love this. I can look for my body style and I can map these clothes to how it will actually fit on me. And this isn’t like, uh, you remember the, the flannel graphs from, from church or elementary school where, you know, you basically had the, the gingerbread man and you, and you stuck a shirt on them and Right.

Michael Prince (17:23):

You could change it all around, right? That’s, this is not that. Um, this is a program that actually maps it to, uh, the body styles of our customer, and they get to see it. And, and the intent is nobody wants to return anything to your point, uh, about the 99% right? You, you don’t buy something online thinking, Hey, I really hope I can take the time to bring this back. You want it to fit. And so programs like that are helping educate customers who buy online to say, What’s this really gonna look like? Versus just trying to guess on their sizing and hope that it arrives correctly.

Scott Luton (17:54):

Mm. Mike, I love that. Um, let, let’s get, Tony, you, we’ve covered a lot of ground in this e uh, evolutionary journey of this space. Your, your quick thoughts on what Mike’s sharing?

Tony Sciarrotta (18:06):

Well, the restored is phenomenal. It, it, it really, uh, goes towards that circular economy concept that the world is starting to embrace because of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and, and partners in the circular economy like Walmart. So one is the reuse, uh, uh, Mike’s correct, the reuse is the ultimate, uh, best option for any product. But on the front side it’s even more important. As Mike said, it’s more important to figure out ways to reduce returns and than the apparel fitting, uh, concept is, is very important. And again, it points towards the circular economy thing about buy what you need by as much as you need and, and, and keep it, Let’s change that culture back, because really the world has to recognize that we can’t keep throwing this stuff away. And apparel is one of the biggest nightmares. It’s, it’s, it’s achieved. It’s, it’s exceeding a 40 to 50% return rate in eCommerce land.

Tony Sciarrotta (19:03):

Because to Mike’s point, if, if it doesn’t, if you don’t think about it fitting right, you buy extras. And, and that’s just, and that goes back and it gets liquidated in the worst possible, uh, environments. It’s, there’s just so much clothing being liquidated. So that is such a cool program. Uh, now the design for reuse is important and it’s all part of the circular economy. And so proud to have Walmart engaging in that in such a big way and being the world leaders in this, that, that, that fitting tool that’s a world leader move. That’s phenomenal.

Scott Luton (19:36):

Agreed. Agreed. And I love, I love Mike’s throwback to kind of <laugh> talk about how it’s not the plaid, uh, form fitter we saw back in the, you know, maybe eighties, early nineties. But, um, so Mike, as we continue to move forward, uh, anything else, your last thought on kind of how you’ve seen it evolve and then we’d love to kind of continue to learn about how Walmart continues to navigate this space?

Michael Prince (20:00):

Yeah. Uh, so the, the last note on evolving you, you’ve probably seen it, is, uh, is packaging and, and everything from TVs to being better packaged, uh, not having to over box and that. So if you can get the item to the customer in the condition that they expect the item, which should be brand new, um, then, then that saves returns as well. And so a lot of efforts both from Walmart and, um, and the vendors in that, in that team to make sure that they provide, you know, the best quality packaging to, to get it to the customers. Um, I think your follow up that question to that was how are we navigating this, this space? That’s right. Um, and so you, uh, recently announced there’s three big initiatives that, uh, that were just rolled out, uh, just a short time ago. And that is the first is curbside returns, which is, which is really cool.

Michael Prince (20:43):

If you’re at Walmart doing your online grocery pickup and you’re in the car, you can also, uh, if, if you bought it through the Walmart eco ecosystem with certain items, initiate a return as well. And so when they come to drop off the groceries or the general merchandise that you’ve purchased at your car, you can hand your return back. It’s a simple scan. The associate takes it back and your transaction is done. Uh, you never need to leave the vehicle. So that’s really, really neat. That’s rolled out for everybody, um, that uses the Walmart app and is tied into it. And we continue to expand the assortment of products that, um, that we can leverage for our, for our curbside returns. The second one is the, the doorstep pickup for returns. So if you have a, a store that supports spark drivers and, uh, have a Walmart plus membership and get your groceries delivered, you can hand your return off to the driver when they get to your, uh, to your front door, and you don’t actually have to go into a Walmart.

Michael Prince (21:34):

So really, really trying to go to fit the needs of our customers and look at what’s the best way to, uh, integrate into their lives, to save them time and provide the returns that way. And then the third one is we’ve all, you know, waited until later, uh, in the holiday season to buy, because you don’t know if you’re gonna be able to bring it back, right? You’re trying to time, um, Christmas or whatever holiday it is that, that you’re, that you’re celebrating so that you buy the item, but you’re in the 30 day window in case they wanna bring it back. And then, and then you’re trying to, to navigate that, right? Um, and so what, what we’re doing at, at Walmart is anything purchased after October 1st. So, so we’re in it right now, um, through the end of the year, can be returned through January 31st. So it’s our no worries holiday guarantee. Um, you can take the items back, doesn’t fit, whatever it may be the case. And so we’re excited about that, giving customers the flexibility to take advantage of rollbacks that they may see next week. Um, and, and don’t necessarily wanna wait until closer to the holiday season to, to make those purchases. So three, three really exciting programs in Walmart that, that we’ve just rolled out. And, uh, anxious to get feedback from customers on it as

Scott Luton (22:38):

Well. Love that. You know, Tony, you mentioned customer experience earlier, uh, good old cx. There’s a, there’s a cx, tx, you name it these days. But I really appreciate, uh, how those measures, uh, will drive, uh, enhanced customer experience. Uh, tell me your comments on those three big issues.

Tony Sciarrotta (22:55):

Well, the, the, the customer experience is the driver. And, and, uh, Mike, we’ve talked about this before, but nobody really surveys customers on why they do returns and gets honest answers. <laugh>, because you generally get the answer, uh, that they think is least offensive, at least get them in trouble. Uh, unfortunately, cuz people don’t wanna admit that they bought the wrong thing. Um, and it, and it’s interesting. But, but, so the customer experience driver at Walmart is, is phenomenal. How do you make the customer, uh, you, you have a certain benchmark of course that’s out there. The, the rest of the world all sets it, but when you can exceed that and you make a customer feel special or feel, uh, not inconvenience that it, you’ve gone out of the way to make a program for him. Like the, the door drop and, and, and the curb drop.

Tony Sciarrotta (23:46):

I mean, those are just such a factor of, of making it easier. So the customer thinks, I’m not worried about buying this Walmart cuz they’re gonna take care of me. But also the flip side is they’re making my experience better. And that’s the number one driver in the survey. Scott, I’d mentioned it before we did this survey at Phillips, Why did you take something back that there was nothing wrong with it? Well, it didn’t, it wasn’t what I expected, right? And that’s that unmet expectations is the driver, number one driver for returns. And Walmart is finding ways to address that. It’s phenomenal.

Scott Luton (24:20):

And as, as part of one of the toughest to quantify and act on, um, not meeting expectations. Cause you need like seven more questions once you get that one. But hey, uh, I’ll share with y’all, um, Tony, I’m gonna get your maybe a medal. I think maybe, um, this year I can recall two returns that I’ve made. I hate returning anything. Uh, and one of those returns, you know, you know, sometimes Mike can tell you don’t know if you’re like me, if you find like a pair of shorts that you love how it fits and, and it, it’s, it’s very functional. I’ll go get a couple in, you know, different colors, right? Uh, well I found this one short and and I loved it. So I went and bought a, a few more, but one <laugh>, one pair was snuck in maybe on the same, um, uh, same rack or something.

Scott Luton (25:05):

And that must have, it must have been like a three inch long short. And that I like short, those are a little bit too short. And I wanted to spare the neighborhood. So that was one of my two returns this year. But, you know, I hate making returns. And I think if we can, you know, as consumers, you know, consumers play an active role in global supply chain and certainly of course in in logistics and returns management, the more homework we can do. You know? And, and then, you know, making the right purchases. Sometimes you’re still not gonna make the right purchase, but taking care of those products you are gonna return so that, you know, there is an additional, you know, someone else can enjoy them. Right. Um, but commentary aside, uh, before we move on, cause we’re gonna talk about startup mentality here in a second, Mike, I wanna make sure to give you the last word. I love the change y’all are driving, um, in industry and, and as Tony mentioned that customer experience is certainly driving a lot of these initiatives. But your last comments around, uh, these exciting changes y’all making at Walmart to serve the customer even better.

Michael Prince (26:07):

Yeah, I, I think we’re, Scott, we’re super open to feedback and we look at our NPS scores and we look at the customer experience and we know that what, to the comment earlier about the, the Walmart, uh, delivery, right? If we, we need to figure this out and we need to make it as great of an experience as possible. So if you have a great experience, let us know. If, if you have a challenging experience, let us know. We need that feedback so we can continue to look at it because it is an omni world and there are a lot of different ways to service a customer that, that we didn’t have. Uh, you know, even 10 years ago, and especially 20, 30 years ago, it used to be very straightforward. You go to the store, you bring something back if you, if you didn’t want it. Um, now that’s, that’s changing across the board. So we have some great teams working on some incredible solutions, but we’re gonna have blips in the way and, and we need to understand, you know, what’s the feedback on that and how, how can we keep improving it?

Scott Luton (26:58):

Love that. Um, really it is an omni world, isn’t it, Tony?

Tony Sciarrotta (27:03):

It is. And, and, and Scott, I have to, uh, remind Mike that his company has been a leader for 20 years in making it a frictionless return because of a program, uh, produced by one of our members called Income, where it’s a serial number tracking. So when they sell something at the point of sale, any product with a serial number, it’s captured at the point of sale at the register. And when a customer brings it back to the return desk, that clerk is able to scan the model, the serial number and confirm and validate the purchase. When was it bought, where was it bought? In some cases it didn’t come from Walmart. In some cases it may have come from a flea market or a pawn shop. And people are trying to sometimes return those things, but the convenience of scanning a serial number at the return desk and knowing exactly when it was bought and where is, is just makes it easy for their customers to have a fast process through that line. And, uh, cuz everyone shows up without receipt, right, Mike? They don’t wanna show up with a receipt for a return. Well, another inconvenience, but they fixed that.

Scott Luton (28:09):

Yeah.

Michael Prince (28:09):

And as an extension of that, Tony, the Walmart app is phenomenal if you haven’t used Walmart pay and, and, and tied into that, that ecosystem, uh, you don’t have to worry about receipts. It’s all in there and, and tracks it for you. And that’s what enables things like our curbside returns, right? If you buy it in the app, we have all the information. They don’t have to process a receipt in the parking lot. Uh, you have your barcode, you’re ready to go. So I think, uh, in today’s world, the the app is absolutely the way, um, to tie into that. And if you add in Walmart Plus and the benefits, anytime you use Walmart pay, your your benefits are applied automatically.

Scott Luton (28:41):

Tony, I love that word to use. Frictionless. It’s one of our favorites that orchestration, synchronization, uh, to all of it. Highly relevant in the last few years for sure, for all time, but certainly the last few years. Um, okay. So I’m gonna shift gears. Uh, so Mike, I really appreciate you sharing those initiatives there and looking forward to maybe having you back on to kinda learn how they’ve rolled out and some of the feedback you’ve gotten. And I’ll love also that you’re, you, you seek out feedback, you know, you’re very deliberate about that, that’s so important, whether you’re in retail or, or other parts of global business. Let’s talk about your startup mentality that you bring to the table, especially with Rev reverse logistics at Walmart. I’m a, you know, founder and entrepreneur, and I love, when I read this was doing my homework pre-show, I was like, okay, I’m circling that. We’re definitely gonna ask Mike about, uh, how you’ve been able to apply that startup mentality to the team. So tell us more.

Michael Prince (29:33):

Yeah, I appreciate that. I, I think, you know, the, the, the basis for it is really a frontline, uh, obsession with understanding how the business is running, getting into stores, getting into the return centers, understanding how and why we are processing items. What are we putting out on, uh, our clearance aisles that customers bring back, and how are we making those items, you know, eligible for resale at a discount, maybe just because the packaging is damaged. But as you go in there and as you, uh, start to break down the processes, you realize that you have a, um, in many cases, a, a great and perfectly saleable item in your hand. And what decisions are we making, um, that allow us to either resell that item or, or make sure it’s, uh, handled in a sustainable way and it doesn’t end up, uh, liquidated out and they serve a purpose, but to like a bin store where you’re walking through and saying, Hey, this is a perfectly, uh, great 30 or 40 or 50 or one case, the one I found last week, $90 item that’s ended up in this state.

Michael Prince (30:34):

And so the question is very basic, just looking at it and saying, What are all of our processes? How do we handle everything? And and when you’re, when you’re holding the item in your hand, and I’m a big believer of this and I’ll, I’ll talk through it with our next gen fulfillment as well, You should do the next step that is the final step with that item and not pass it along down the, down the chain, uh, to have somebody else handle it and have, um, you know, transport it and all the costs and, and carbon emissions and everything that go with that. And so, uh, Scott, I have a great leadership team here that, that gives me a ton of support and have had the opportunity to really go in and just inspect everything we’re doing and say, Is this the best path forward? Is this what we should be doing? And if not, how do we change the system to accommodate it and improve it overall? So, um, and a real high level that’s, that’s the basis, uh, that, that I consider for the startup mentality in this.

Scott Luton (31:24):

I love that. Uh, Tony, I’m gonna get your comment in a second, but as, as a, um, I’ve got practicality in my soul. Uh, you know, I I I gave my, um, future wife Amanda, um, one of our earliest dates. I noticed that she didn’t, you know, she was running in the rain as I dropped her off one time, so I gave her an umbrella for Valentine’s Day and I’m, I’ll never make that mistake again, but that’s kind of where my mind is very, you know, practical hammer meet nail. But Tony, speak to that, how he described that startup mentality.

Tony Sciarrotta (31:55):

Well, it’s important and, and again, I I am really proud of of, of having worked with Walmart for so many years cuz the people there have this culture of of, of doing things new and, and it’s amazing cuz yeah, they’re kind of one of the world’s biggest companies, but they’re not stagnant or stale. Um, bringing my kid from the outside is an example of, we want to keep advancing. We wanna keep doing things. So, so it’s part of that whole culture and, and that Mike’s referring to that the startup mentality is part of their culture. No one sits on their laurels at, at Walmart and people don’t understand it. They think of it sometimes what’s been called the evil empire, you know, and, and things like that. It’s just, it, it, it, it’s, it’s crazy. It’s being big doesn’t mean you’re evil or that you’re stagnant.

Tony Sciarrotta (32:44):

And, and the progression is amazing at Walmart. Look at all these things that Mike’s talking about that they’ve already done and they’re thinking about more that they can do. That’s, that’s such an important aspect for it, a major corporation to, to be able to move it. It’s not necessarily that that Walmart’s more nimble than others, but the culture is focused on how do we make it better keep going. And I, and I love that approach and, and that’s it’s startup, but it’s also just a, a reach for excellence. And, and that’s something I appreciate. And when I met Mike in person, it was great. We were in Nashville for this Wal uh, our, our leadership summit of the leading thought, uh, industry leaders in, in the return space. And, and clearly the passion is there with most of these people. And, and it’s amazing cuz Mike, I I think you and I didn’t grow up to become reverse logistics specialists, you know, we didn’t go to school for that, right? You know, you go to University of Michigan, you don’t think about becoming a reverse logistics person or a returns person. Uh, but somehow that passion comes, comes, there’s great,

Scott Luton (33:54):

There’s so much I wanna speak to in your answer there. But I’ll start saying this, The only evil empire I’m aware of is the New York Yankees. So <laugh> just kidding to all our Yankees fans say it’s amazing to see the year they’ve had and of course, Aaron Judge. Um, gotcha. All right, so moving that aside and, and Mike, we’re gonna talk about next generation in a second. Do you want anything you wanna speak to in terms of, of, of Tony, uh, Tony’s comments there, especially about the importance of not sitting on your hands and, and being stagnant. Cause that continues to improve it journey. There’s no finish line, right?

Michael Prince (34:29):

Right there, there isn’t. And um, and just like talking about the curbside returns feedback, we’re, we’re continuously looking at how do we get these items back in our customer’s hands if they need to be refurbished or restored? Um, how do we, uh, avoid waste, you know, going through our return centers, um, they take all the styrofoam and they, they basically melt it down into this compound that, that turns into picture frames and taking the plastic from the icing buckets that you see that are used, uh, for cake decorators and repurposing all of those and, and making dog beds out of, uh, mattresses that, that come back. There’s a ton of great programs that, that Walmart has. And we just continue to look for opportunities and, and, uh, I know we’ll talk about the end, but if, if others have ideas that are listening to this podcast, I, I’d love to hear ’em.

Michael Prince (35:13):

Um, we had a great, great idea that I thought was phenomenal that came out of an internal challenge. And we were talking about ways that we can, uh, reduce waste and, and, and, and save money. And obviously as we save money, we save our customers money. And somebody said, Hey, our stores used to be 24 hours, uh, across, across the us, um, for the most part, and we’ve since changed that with Covid and operating hours. He said, But we, we, we leave the TVs on at night because we used to do that cuz customers were in there shopping and they said, If we just turned off the TVs at night, it would be a, a huge savings, uh, both for, for the company and power usage and everything. And so it it’s the ideas like that that, um, they add up and they make a difference and, and, and you’re, you’re no longer wasting electricity. And, and, and now we come in every morning and turn ’em on and, and turn ’em off at night. So there’s some, when you just ask the people that are in and talked about that before, the frontline mentality, the people that are on the ground and doing the work, they understand what’s happening. And so we’re just trying to leverage that and learn from them and, and implement some best practices in the process.

Scott Luton (36:14):

Love that. Go into the Gemba folks at no pest. I love that. Go

Michael Prince (36:19):

Into the gemba.

Scott Luton (36:20):

And

Tony Sciarrotta (36:20):

I do wanna go back, Scott, though, to what Mike said about their, their entire new category restored. That, that’s phenomenal. Every retailer needs to be doing this. Nordstrom did it with Nordstrom Rack even so retailers are recognizing they should be doing this. Walmart took the step to do it. Uh, the only thing that we need to move towards is, uh, a grading system. And, and that hasn’t been standardized yet. That’s one of the things that an association like the RLA can do. Uh, C T I A does that for cell phones, they actually have a grading so that the consumer can look online and a grade A they’ll know what it means, A grade B, et cetera. Um, now with Walmart, you always have the, the confidence that they’re not gonna sell you something that is broken. That’s, that’s the easy part of a restored. Uh, but we are starting to get new terminology that we love, uh, pre loved, uh, uh, you know, uh, vintage, uh, articles. And, and we’ve gotta come up with new terminology cuz millennials like this stuff, Mike. And, and, and you’ve opened up an entire new marketplace with this secondary opportunity, the restored Walmart goods. That’s just so important to recognize and focus,

Scott Luton (37:39):

Love, love that. And yes, vintage is all the rage these days. It is amazing, uh, what the, have a whole separate show to dive into that trend. I love it. Um, so let’s, uh, I wanna go one more place when we talk supply chain with Mike Prince, with with Walmart, Tony Shree with arlay. Um, I love this news, uh, when it comes to next generation fulfillment centers. So Michael, you led the development of these centers. Uh, can you shut some light on that and speak to how it fits into Walmart’s overall omnichannel strategy moving forward?

Michael Prince (38:12):

Yeah, these, these are pretty incredible buildings. We announced it in March, and really they, the, the core behind them is they take a 12 step process, which is the traditional manual eCommerce fulfillment, and it cuts it down to five steps. Um, and it’s a highly automated process that, uh, um, that makes our associates jobs better. It really levels up their work. We bring in more technicians. Um, it’s an automated storage and retrieval system and, and, uh, brings the goods right to the, to the packer. What I talked about before, though, with the having the item in your hand, um, it, it’s the third step of that process. So the, the first step is you, you take it off the trail and unload it. The second step is to deccan it into a tote. The third step is really the incredible unlock for this technology. The item when the order goes through, is in a tote in the automated storage and retrieval system.

Michael Prince (39:01):

And that item or multiple items will be sequenced and sent to a pick station that has a box arriving that’s a right size box at the exact same time. And so the, the person picking the order, we’ll pick it out, uh, literally from a tote above them and drop it into the box below them. Um, and the box is built so that if you order three items, it takes your three items and it, uh, if you play Teris, it puts ’em in basically, uh, a, a huge number of iterations of Teris and says, this is the best way to, to put the items in. And then, and then you seal the box out, you send it out, it’s, it’s sealed a step four and, and put on the trailer as step five. And so this tech, um, better density, faster orders, you can go closer to the deadline for cutoff. So it’s better service. It just, it, it unlocks so many things and we’re, we’re super excited about it. We just, um, launched our first building in Juliet, Illinois. Uh, may have seen the announcement on that, uh, last month went, went out, uh, live outbound orders. And then, um, Indy, uh, Philadelphia area and, uh, Dallas Fort Worth area are the next three that are, that are rolling out.

Scott Luton (40:02):

I love that. And, and as you alluded to, if I, uh, was seeing this earlier, uh, accurately, a lot of hiring, a lot of, uh, high tech hiring, um, yeah, yeah, this initiative of others, right?

Michael Prince (40:13):

4,000 plus jobs across all of them. And, and a lot of roles, um, that we’ve really leveled up the skill set. So these are, these are technician roles, these are flow roles, These are managing the operation roles. Um, and the associates that are doing the roles, they’re not walking nine or 10 miles anymore, uh, to go pick things out of a, out of a pick mod. They’re having the items brought to them, and they have a lot of pride. We had one associate that we were talking to that, um, talked about how she felt like she could impact and, uh, drive quality in the operation because she could focus more on that because she wasn’t walking around and being fatigued and, and, and, and doing a very basic level job. She felt like with everything coming to her, she could be a quality inspector and make sure that it was the right item going out and in the right condition and, and really level up her job. And so, you know, across the board, I think this is a, a phenomenal, um, opportunity and, and, and great step forward for Walmart overall.

Scott Luton (41:08):

Love that Mike, uh, tell you your quick comment on, on initiatives like this.

Tony Sciarrotta (41:12):

Well, I just think about, uh, Mike and Walmart when those, uh, YouTube videos show people opening their package, you know, a, a a, a power cord inside a box, the size of a washer, uh, you know, or a microwave oven and, and how abusive that is to the environment, uh, that’s phenomenal. And I, and I love that Teris description of how to even put it inside the box, but, but the concept of the right size box arriving for the packer is, is phenomenal. And, and again, this is thinking that’s like leaping ahead. We’re not just sitting on our hands with what we’ve got, but what, what we’re going to need and get there. And Mike, and, and, and the respect you have for your employees. It, it always comes through, uh, to, to me, looking from the outside, listening to your stories and, and others about the fact that your, your, your staff doesn’t have to work a walk nine miles a day, a day anymore. And the fatigue factor and how that improves them, uh, as, as people and as and as and as performance improves because they’re, I mean, that’s just, these are things that clearly thought leaders, industry leaders are looking at and, and saying, This is great. This is what we can do. And the results are obvious. So it’s just phenomenal

Scott Luton (42:29):

Greed, you know, digital transformation. Some folks, uh, have mis misconceptions around how that’s playing out. But turning to your point, uh, when, when applied correctly, it’s really making, uh, uh, team members’ jobs easier and allows ’em to do more. Mike, you know, share an example of that and it’s creating doors of opportunity for members of workforce, uh, at least from, from where I sit. Um, okay. As much as I, Mike and Tony, there’s so much I wanna get to, uh, but I wanna be very respectful of time. I wanna kind of come down the home stretch with one of my favorite questions we pose to people, um, in many of these interviews. And, and I’m gonna paint this picture and Tony, I’m probably get the hotel wrong, but, um, uh, the Waldorf Astoria, right? <laugh> a iconic hotel. Uh, whenever I think of hotels like that, I think of these grand ballrooms, right? Massive. They get all the nice furniture and, and there’s a big keynote, um, uh, uh, podium, you know, so, so Mike, in this example, you’ve got the captive attention of, we’ll call it thousands of new college graduates or, or, or maybe, uh, uh, uh, professionals just getting into their career and they want to inter global business, move up the ranks, do big things just like you and Tony. So Mike, what would be your best piece advice to them?

Michael Prince (43:49):

Yeah, uh, I love, I love that question, Scott. And I think I’d, I’d give them two. The first one’s probably a little non-traditional. Um, and then I think the second one, Falls, falls more in line. But the first one is, and, and I had somebody tell me this early as well, is start putting away and allocating your savings and open your 401k and use a Roth and use the mechanisms that are in place because you have time. You have 45 years until you’re gonna retire. And if you do that now and you build that up, then if you decide at 45 or 50 or 55 that you maybe aren’t in the career you wanna be in and you wanna, um, go do something else, you’ve given yourself, uh, a foundation that you have that flexibility to go do. So that, so that would be my first, um, bit of advice.

Michael Prince (44:32):

And then, uh, the second bit, Tony, you, you touched on solving hard problems in one of the last podcasts. I think that was great. And so I won’t elaborate on that one. Um, the one, the one that I will talk on is continue to read and educate yourself and utilize the knowledge that you get. And, uh, for example, uh, getting things done by David Allen, if you’ve read that book, talks about organizing and structuring your thinking. Um, when you go through emails, you either do it, delegate it, delete it, or defer it, right? And, and if it takes less than two minutes, get it done. Clean out your inbox to zero, uh, set up systems for organization, uh, similar to the, to the packers in our, in our next gen facility. And if you think like a Maslow’s hierarchy, right? If you eliminate the things that are keeping you disorganized and, um, distracting you day to day, um, you can think higher level and, and drive improvements.

Michael Prince (45:19):

And so I love, uh, I love to read. Getting things Done has had a huge impact on me. How will you measure your life by Clayton? M Christiansen talks about are you spending your time and effort and, and, and, um, resources? Is it consistent with the person you wanna become? So if you say, I’m a charitable person, but you don’t, uh, give time or money or effort or do anything for charity, then, then by default, you’re, you’re generally not a, a charitable person, uh, to put it very bluntly. And so, if you wanna move up in your career and, and continue to drive and, and, and look for opportunities, then make sure that that’s where you’re spending your time and your effort and your, um, and your focus and, and you will see good things come from it. So I could go on with a list of, uh, of great books that I’ve read, but those are, uh, those are a couple.

Scott Luton (46:01):

I love that advice, Mike, man. I love it. Uh, Tony, Tony, what about you? What’s the new piece of advice you’d like to give some of our, some those, uh, attendees at the world of Astoria

Tony Sciarrotta (46:12):

Astoria? I wanna expand a little bit on learn to try to do different things. We, we didn’t get a chance to go in depth about Mike’s earliest part of his career where we spent nine years at the US Environmental Protection Agency and now he’s a leading vice President Walmart. Who would’ve thought, Mike, that that direction would’ve happened for you. And I started out in a career being a sales guy and, uh, <laugh>, who would’ve thought I would become the anti sales guy, right? <laugh>, I’m looking at reverse sales and how do I stop ’em from happening? Um, so it, you just never know when you start on the path, you need to try the different things. They may not all work out, but they may, and they may take you in a new direction like they have for Mike and I, where your passion gets a chance to really, uh, do, do something and, and do something. Make a difference.

Scott Luton (47:05):

Mm oh, Tony, man, you and Mike, you’re gonna have to go on a speaking tour, man. Quite a one two punch. Uh, I would just add one thing, um, you know, to our listeners, and, and, and again, to those folks that are breaking industry and gonna be doing big things, whenever you hear the phrase, We can’t do this or we can’t, you know, a lot of times that’s some of the best opportunities. So lean into that, understand and figure out how you can get around those constraints oftentimes, cuz there’ll be some big opportunities. Um, okay. So, uh, Mike, you and Tony both have alluded to, um, a recent event, a leadership event y’all are both at as part of the RLA organization. Uh, Tony, before we go, we’re gonna make sure folks know how to connect with Mike and, and the cool things that he’s doing and he and his team are doing at Walmart. But Tony, what’s, what’s the next big thing coming up at rla?

Tony Sciarrotta (47:54):

The next big thing coming up is, uh, our, our North America Conference in Expo, February 7th, eighth and ninth in Las Vegas at the Mirage Hotel. Scott, you’ve been there with us and, uh, a couple of times we’re going back to the Mirage before it becomes something else, maybe down the road. But right now we will have the, uh, ballroom stage with some phenomenal keynote speakers. I’m gonna lean on Mike for maybe 2024, but in 2023 we will have amazingly Navil Naser keynote speaker. He is from the Remade Institute, and how cool does that sound? The Remade Institute, uh, of America, uh, from the Rochester Institute of Technology will also have a colleague, uh, uh, counterpart to Mike, uh, Becca Mines, who is end and logistics at at Best Buy. So those are two keynotes. You know, we do a lot of fun things there, Scott.

Tony Sciarrotta (48:50):

We have the interviews. We are doing that top golf, uh, charity event. Again, cell phones for soldiers. So we make it an important special event. Uh, you can be there two days and get all the information, but you can come in a day early and get into the charity, golf, and, uh, some round tables and the Women’s Luncheon event. So that’s our big event. We will be back in Europe next year, Scott, and thanks to Mike and many others who showed up, we’ll do another leadership summit, uh, later in the year in September. Uh, we’ve had a lot of discussion about where we should go everywhere from Dubai to, uh, Savannah, to, uh, Memphis to New Orleans. We’re trying to find the right place to do that, Scott, and we’re gonna try to get you to some of those events next year. Again.

Scott Luton (49:34):

Love it. Uh, well say hello if Good. Goodbye. Say hello to our friend Kim Winter. If go to New Orleans, Make sure I gotta invite. I love <laugh>. We all, we both love that city. Yes. Uh, many others you mentioned. Okay. Uh, so Mike, uh, I really, again, appreciate your time. As busy as you and the team are. I love, um, the change that you and your team are driving at Walmart. Um, very innovative. Uh, it, you know, we’ll have to have you back and kinda get an update from you on, on how things are playing out and what’s around the corner. Uh, going back to you and Tony both talking about how, you know, there, uh, no finish line in, in this journey we’re on, but how can folks connect with you and Walmart, Mike?

Michael Prince (50:14):

Sure. Um, so if you wanna, uh, email me directly that, that’s great. Uh, Michael dot Prince, m i c h a e l dot p r i n c e walmart.com. Um, it can be an awkward, uh, email or feel like it needs to be, be very formal, so I’ll make it very informal. Um, there’s a, there’s a cool trick where if you, uh, hold the Windows key and hit hit the period, uh, you’ll get a full list of every emoji just like you get on your phone. So, if you cleaned out your inbox, if you, uh, started depositing to your 401k, if you found something interesting, or I’m always open to feedback, if you say, Hey, Mike, you know, here’s, here’s some feedback on whatever you covered. Uh, throw an emoji in there to let me know you heard the tidbit and, uh, and just gimme your thoughts. Uh, LinkedIn, obviously the, the traditional channels as well. But, um, yeah, feel free to shoot me a note.

Scott Luton (50:58):

I love that windows and the period key, right? Yep. And we all love emojis. Uh, this is the era of emojis, I believe, Mike, I loved that. Uh, really appreciate your time and perspective. Uh, Tony, before we go, same question for you. How can folks connect with you and the rla?

Tony Sciarrotta (51:14):

Well, Tony Sheroda can be a challenging name to spell on, uh, LinkedIn. Uh, you got it on the screen, of course. But, uh, the easiest way is rla dot o org. We are the association, uh, not for profit Association Global. Uh, you go to that site, you’ll see, uh, Walmart is one of our advisory board member companies, uh, along with number of other major, uh, members. And we’re on the site. It’s easy to find. And it’s tony@rla.org. Uh, is is the easiest way without trying to spell sheroda on LinkedIn, but I’m the only one on, on LinkedIn that’s a Tony Sheroda, so that makes it easy too, if you do get there and, and, and get it together. But tony@rla.org and please visit the website. I, I hope I’ve told your community enough, uh, that it, it is free to join the RLA community globally. Uh, there’s membership with benefits, but the community is free. And we do a number of things for the community, including an upcoming webinar that touches, based on what Mike said, we’re using, uh, artificial intelligence to optimize returns management. That’s our next webinar next week, Scott.

Scott Luton (52:24):

Wonderful. Well, hey, y’all, check out arley.org, connect with Tony, make sure you connect, uh, with Mike as well. Mike Prince is who we’ve been talking to, Vice President Returns and Quality with Walmart. Thanks again, Mike. Uh, folks, to our listeners, hopefully you enjoy this conversation as much as I have. I’ve got, I don’t know, 17 pages of notes over here, Mike and Tony really brought it. Um, but whatever you do, Hey, as Mike said, we’re in a omni world. You know, uh, there are new table stakes. Hey, put it in a headlock and drive change, right? Do the impossible. Do what, uh, old Mike’s doing at Walmart. Um, and whatever you do, hey, deed’s, not word. It’s all about taking action. So on behalf of our entire team here at Supply Chain now, Scott Luton signing off for now, challenging you to do good, to give forward and to be the change that’s needed. And what’s your next time? Right back here won’t spot you now. Thanks everybody.

Intro/Outro (53:12):

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

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Featured Guests

Michael Prince is the Vice President of Returns and Quality at Walmart, which includes the returns customer experience, reverse logistics, fulfillment center quality, supplier quality, and all produce and meat quality control within the grocery operation. Mike joined Walmart in 2018 overseeing Operational Excellence. In 2020, Mike transitioned to Grocery Supply Chain, where he helped lay the foundation for trip optimization and more efficient pallet building. From there, he led Sortable Fulfillment Engineering where he oversaw concepting, development, and deployment of highly automated fulfillment centers across the North American Walmart Fulfillment network. Recently, Mike transitioned into his current role where he is looking to drive innovative change in both the returns and quality spaces. Prior to joining Walmart, Mike spent four years in operations and automation engineering at Amazon. If you’ve ever received a package from Amazon in the white Teflon-like bag with the blue writing, it was Mike’s team who worked to develop that technology and deployed the packsize machines that processed those orders across the Amazon network starting in 2017. Prior to Amazon he spent nine years performing advanced engine research and development for the U.S. EPA National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory. Mike holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology, MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, and MBA in Strategy and Operations from the Michigan Ross School of Business. Mike currently lives in northwest Arkansas with his four children and wife, Amanda. In his free time enjoys golfing, reading, traveling, fitness, and attending any number of his kid’s sporting events. Connect with Michael on LinkedIn.

Tony Sciarrotta serves as Executive Director of the Reverse Logistics Association. He was nominated and selected by the Board to serve as the Executive Director on August 1, 2016. Since Mr. Sciarrotta had been an active member serving in committee leadership of Reverse Logistics Association since 2005, he had also served on the Board of RLA from 2005 to 2012 while employed at Philips Consumer Lifestyle as their Director of Sales & Marketing. So it was a simple decision for the selection team at RLA to approve Mr. Sciarrotta. Since his experience, qualifications and service to RLA was more than substantial to meet the requirement that was needed as the next Executive Director. Mr. Sciarrotta has held a variety of sales and marketing positions in the consumer electronics industry for over 35 years, most recently as the President of Reverse IT Sales & Consulting. Tony brings so much experience to the RLA team, including 25 years at Philips Consumer Lifestyle. His background helped prepare him for a developmental role as director for returns management activities, and in 1998 Tony was assigned to create and manage a cross functional department to reduce returns and their associated costs. He was successful at implementing effective returns policies and procedures with a variety of dealers, and in 2005, Tony assumed responsibility for maximizing asset recovery of all returned consumer goods. Tony has specifically targeted best avenues for reselling returned goods at the model level, by using tools developed with finance support. In 2013, after establishing best-in-class results for returns in the consumer goods industry, Tony retired from Philips and now sits on various committees and industry groups. Learn more about the Reverse Logistics Association here: https://rla.org/

Hosts

Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

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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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