Supply Chain Now
Episode 741

We have world-class suppliers, and they bring tremendous value across the supply chain. And a lot of the services and programs we have are no charge or free. Use them. Use your resources.

-Stephen Laratta, OMNIA Partners

Episode Summary

Port congestion. Bottlenecks. Parts shortages. Limited access to raw materials. Even fewer drivers. We could go on – but if you’re in the manufacturing business, chances are you’re already familiar with the myriad of supply chain challenges that threaten successful product delivery. There’s no doubt that the game is changing – and your approach to total cost of ownership (TCO) and supplier relationships must evolve to stay competitive. Luckily, we’ve got Stephen Laratta and Robert Stofko of OMNIA Partners, the largest and most experienced purchasing organization for public and private sector procurement, to offer their expert perspectives on how GPOs can help you augment your capabilities and build deeper supplier relationships for maximum visibility and flexibility. Because the days of focusing on price piece alone are long gone – and a new era of power, access and trust via partnership is just beginning.

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 (00:31):

Hi, good morning, everybody. Scott Luton and Greg White with you here on Supply Chain Now. Welcome to today’s show. Greg, we’re broadcasting once again from Connections 2021 down here in Miami, Florida. Do you know how Bobby Bowden would pronounce Miami?

Greg White (00:46):

Miamal.

Scott Luton (00:45):

Yeah, that’s right. Just like that.

Greg White (00:47):

So, you get to pronounce any more, or is he still a coach?

Scott Luton (00:49):

Well, he passed away not too long ago. We can take that from the top if you’d like. But rest his soul. Certainly, made his mark on college football. But we digress ‘cause we’re down here in Miami with our friends at Omnia partners, right? And, they’ve been hosting an incredible conference, Connections 2021. What’s been your one favorite thing thus far?

Greg White (01:10):

The energy is really incredible here. I mean, there are so many people providing solutions and looking for solutions. And, I think the discovery that I’ve had is the breadth of solutions that Omnia partners provides. I mean, we’re talking about staffing and sourcing and all kinds of things that I would’ve never thought, right, and then part of it, right?

Scott Luton (01:30):

So, you’re helping companies breakthrough all walls and new walls when it comes to growth and innovation success. So, with all of that said, we’ve got two incredible guests with us here today. As much as we enjoyed our conversation with Tim and Barb yesterday as it were at least in the production landscape, today we have Rob Stofko, Managing Director of MRO, with Omnia partners. Rob, how you doing?

Rob Stofko (01:56):

I’m doing great.

Scott Luton (01:58):

Great.

Rob Stofko (01:58):

I’m doing great.

Scott Luton (01:59):

Great seeing you. You know, you know you’ve got a great guest when he shows up with a couple of good barbs or two, you know what I mean?

Greg White (02:04):

Yeah. Yeah.

Scott Luton (02:05):

He kind of did his homework.

Greg White (02:07):

Yeah. That’s right. He knows us. Maybe, he’s CIA.

Scott Luton (02:11):

Well, you know, we’re going to talk about one of the connections there momentarily. I don’t want to –

Greg White (02:15):

That’s right. Yeah. That’s right.

Scott Luton (02:11):

Get out from our skis too much. But joining Rob is his partner in crime, Steve Larotta, Partner Development and Vice President of MRO and facilities, also with Omnia partners. Steve, how you doing?

Steve Larotta (02:28):

Fantastic. Great to be here.

Scott Luton (02:11):

Great to have you. Great to have you. Now, you know, you ever get the impression, you can talk about all kinds of things with this dynamic, but we got to talk about –

Greg White (02:39):

I feel like if we picked golf, the episode would be twice [inaudible]

Scott Luton (02:44):

Would be good. Right. But, you know, before we get to the heavy hitting and heavy lifting stuff, let’s get to know our friends a little better. Now, I understand doing our homework and due diligence that we kind of have the Crockett and Tubbs here ‘cause they do a ton of work together.

Greg White (02:58):

Look at that.

Scott Luton (02:59):

Yes, and they look [inaudible] best shot.

Greg White (03:00):

‘Cause we’re in Miami.

Scott Luton (03:01):

So, Rob, I want to start with you, kidding aside. I want to get to know you a little better so tell us about yourself.

Rob Stofko (03:09):

Yeah. So, I’m a new with Omnia partners, just came over the first of the year in a role as managing director from a vertical perspective, helping to bring connectivity between our suppliers, our sales teams and our members in the MRO categories and set up to that is really the last 20 plus years in 15 with Georgia-Pacific and then prior with Kimberly-Clark was in roles exclusively, really selling and managing through the MRO channels and calling on Fortune 1000 companies. And, I’ve had the privilege of really working with this guy next to me for, you know, the last 10 plus years. We were both in the same –

Steve Larotta (03:54):

We went through the great toilet paper shortage together.

Greg White (03:57):

[inaudible] 2020, yeah.

Steve Larotta (03:54):

It was an amazing time for both of us.

Scott Luton (04:00):

Fun times. Fun times.

Steve Larotta (04:00):

It was amazing.

Greg White (04:02):

You’re probably not the most popular people in your household at that moment.

Rob Stofko (04:06):

We weren’t. No, we weren’t.

Scott Luton (04:08):

So, all right. So, before I jump over to Steve, give me one fun fact about Rob.

Rob Stofko (04:14):

Yeah, well, one fun fact. I have two grown children now, one, a Georgia grad and, Scott, as you know, the other one I brought up is a South Carolina grad and he majored in supply chain and management operations and I call it the house divided. I’m, you know, a college football fan. And so, I learned this year with the setup to the game a couple of weeks ago, “Hey, house divided to both my children. Please play nice.” Fun, loving, free-spirited, and lot of passionate about the work that I do.

Scott Luton (04:51):

And despite the results, they still love each other. Great family. Daniel Stafko, if you hear us, a fellow alum of University of South Carolina, and I bet, and so big shout out to Daniel, but also, I wonder if we ever had a class with Steve Rudnicki, who is an adjunct professor. Do you know, Steve?

Rob Stofko (05:07):

I don’t, but we will check with you on that.

Scott Luton (05:09):

Okay. Let’s do it.

Rob Stofko (05:10):

Yeah.

Scott Luton (05:11):

So, Daniel, appreciate what you do. We’re going to have to put our finger on the pulse of what you’re doing in your career later on. Okay. So, Steve. Let’s get to know Steve Larotta a little bit better. So Steve, tell us about yourself.

Steve Larotta (05:22):

It’s interesting. My background, unfortunately or fortunately, is pretty similar to Rob’s, 26 years with Georgia-Pacific, various roles, marketing sales, sales management, product management training, a lot of different roles at GP over the years. And so, you know, like I said we lived through the great toilet paper shortage last year and had some fun with it and got through it okay. And, I’ve been here at Omnia Partners now for roughly 10 months. And, really my role here is to lead our category strategy for MRO and facilities, aggregating the best of our suppliers and bringing them to our members in a very sophisticated way.

Scott Luton (06:01):

Well, all right. I was going to ask as a follow-up question since they’ve referenced the great TP shortage and we never thought whoever would have thought we’d be here. So, Steve, both of y’all play golf, but you also pickleball, which is like –

Steve Larotta (06:16):

Yeah.

Scott Luton (06:17):

It is –

Scott Luton (06:18):

Tiny tennis.

Scott Luton (06:18):

Overcoming. Yes, overcoming the country, right?

Steve Larotta (06:21):

Yeah.

Scott Luton (06:22):

Pickleball courts going up everywhere.

Steve Larotta (06:23):

It is.

Rob Stofko (06:24):

The pickleball racket shortage forthcoming.

Steve Larotta (06:27):

That’s what I hear.

Scott Luton (06:28):

Really?

Rob Stofko (06:29):

Supply chain. Not enough ball and rackets.

Steve Larotta (06:31):

You know when you get my age –

Greg White (06:33):

[Inaudible]

Steve Larotta (06:33):

Exactly. When you get my age, you know, it’s hard to run around a tennis court. So, pickleball is a smaller court, smaller paddle, easier on your body. It’s all good.

Greg White (06:41):

It’s funny you say that because, you know, we have ports around where we live and we see a lot of young kids. I mean, there is a lot of nuance to that game. I haven’t tried it yet myself, but –

Steve Larotta (06:53):

We’ll have to see what you got.

Greg White (06:54):

I see you wanting to play for money so that you can get a few weeks under my belt.

Scott Luton (07:00):

Well, [inaudible]. And B’s not involved in the game of pickleball.

Steve Larotta (07:04):

She’s not like – not that I’m aware of.

Scott Luton (07:00):

Okay.

Steve Larotta (07:05):

But you never know.

Scott Luton (07:06):

She only makes the worst pickles of all time. We’ll see a pickleball skills later. Okay. So, let’s talk about a level setting. There’s no shortage of supply chain challenges right now. In fact, just in our little fun four or five minute intro, we have probably alluded to seven of them. And that’s the supply chain nerds in us all. We use that term very with a lot of love. So, Rob, I’m going to start with you. Beyond some of the things we’ve mentioned, talk about some of the great supply chain challenges we’re all fighting through right now.

Rob Stofko (07:38):

Yeah. So, you know, really, this all started back in March of 2020 with the pandemic. And, you know, it’s really been a springboard effect that what companies, manufacturers took for granted, a lot of things were exposed in the last 18 months. And so, you know, we have bottlenecks right now with product trying to get out and get shipped to places, ports. We have availability and I’ll take, you know, where I came from. Manufacturers are being pressed to produce and in a lot of instances, they’re having to rationalize based on packaging materials, raw materials that if they were producing 10 different color widgets, they might only be able to produce two right now. And then, on top of that has been this, and I know folks earlier from Omnia Partners talked about the spiral effect from the labor shortages that have been directly affected with the pandemic. And so, you know, bottlenecks, availability, raw materials, list could go on, and then on top of that labor, that even when products are getting shipped to distribution points or ports right now, there are not enough drivers to get the container ships out of the port, so.

Scott Luton (09:05):

It’s like a family reunion, which y’all ever going to have a family reunion for Thanksgiving and not only you had your core family, but you had your first and second and third cousins, everybody was there. This is like a terrible family reunion with all these related challenges, right. You can’t break through. I got a fight with one of my third cousins.

Greg White (09:21):

It’s like every one of them is your crazy uncle Bob, right? Every one of them of things [inaudible]

Rob Stofko (09:26):

And I do have an uncle Bob.

Steve Larotta (09:29):

And, what’s interesting though, you know, the labor shortage is amplifying everything, right? I mean, it really is. I mean, it used to be able to take, maybe take some downtime on a line, maybe you could get overtime, maybe you get temp workers, whatever the case may be. Today’s world, you don’t have the luxury of that type of flexibility. So, you gotta be a lot more precise in your supply chain and your planning and your suppliers and the simplicity that you’re looking for, I think.

Greg White (09:57):

Two words there. Precision and simplicity, I think, are really critical. You alluded to that and that is, we saw GP did it, right. We saw GP cut from, like, eight or 11 skews of toilet paper down to two or three, right?

Rob Stofko (10:13):

Correct.

Scott Luton (10:14):

  1. Georgia-Pacific.

Greg White (10:15):

Sorry. Georgia-Pacific.

Greg White (10:18):

[Inaudible] Atlanta, everybody [inaudible]. That’s where you’ve got to actually spell it, know exactly.

Steve Larotta (10:22):

But we also saw a number of companies changing the product itself. Toilet paper was one of them where they went from, you know, a roll five and a half inches to five inches wide so they could get more off with the limited resources that they had, right?

Scott Luton (10:40):

So you speak in Rob’s language. Rob, you want to add something?

Rob Stofko (10:43):

Yeah. No. I mean, if you start there at the simplest, most mundane thinking of a household or away from home product of bath issue, but that example you could multiply across so many industries of the, you know, the demand like these huge waves, spikes in demand that have created just literally insanity that manufacturers. Some responded a lot quicker than others, but having to rationalize, and then down the supply chain, then you have confused buyers, customers, you know, and look, I don’t have a crystal ball. I mean, it feels like, you know, I would hope we’re in the seventh or sixth or seventh inning by now.

Greg White (11:30):

I wish.

Rob Stofko (11:34):

You know, I don’t think it’s going to turn overnight. And so, you know, we had talked about really the theme of mitigation and mitigating, right. I think there are a number of things that companies can be doing today, certainly through a GPO to help alleviate or mitigate as best they can, where in the past, you know, you’d be able to go it alone –

Scott Luton (11:56):

We had more time.

Rob Stofko (11: 58):

And do things on your own. Today in the environment and the complexities, you don’t want to be going it alone.

Scott Luton (12:07):

That’s an excellent point because you know we talked about it –

Greg White (12:10):

That keeps coming back around, does it?

Scott Luton (12:11):

Well, does, but in that same breath, we’re talking about speed. We’re talking about having expertise. We’re talking about all these really, there’s a lot of common challenges that we’ve had historically, but some of these new challenges where there’s not a go-to book for how to navigate through it, and you better have that seated really in the C suite these days to help you navigate through.

Greg White (12:35):

Just simple – well, we were talking with Barb Sexton and Tim Holland about access. You know, one of the things that is important is access, right? So many companies, they don’t know how to get the resources that they sourced internally before, right? They don’t know who else does it out there and having kind of a pool, pool area like a GPO, right, is a great opportunity to go. Here’s five options for pickup product or pick us service, right.

Scott Luton (13:04):

And what’s worked. You know what’s worked.

Greg White (13:06):

Already vetted. I mean, to me, that’s art that I love.

Scott Luton (13:10):

Steve.

Steve Larotta (13:10):

You know, the other lens other than just availability that we’re trying to get folks to look through is this concept called TCO or total cost of ownership.

Scott Luton (13:20):

Excellent.

Steve Larotta (13:21):

[Inaudible] Did I steal your thunder?

Scott Luton (13:23):

No.

Greg White (13:23):

No.

Scott Luton (13:23):

We were the same way to the table. But before we – just to double check.

Greg White (13:27):

We got to [inaudible].

Steve Larotta (13:28):

Does he get a –

Scott Luton (13:28):

Like a silver button.

Greg White (13:29):

[Inaudible]

Scott Luton (13:29):

Yeah, definitely.

Rob Stofko (13:29):

He gets a prize.

Scott Luton (13:31):

We do. We want to focus on TCO, but I just want to just check in one more time with both of y’all. Any other challenge y’all want to throw out there that we’ll be referencing through the rest of the conversation? Are we ready to go to TCO?

Steve Larotta (13:42):

Yeah. I think we’re ready to move forward.

Rob Stofko (13:44):

That really is where the problem-solving solution side of trying to mitigate and fix as best you can of what’s going to be a challenging environment.

Scott Luton (13:56):

These guys really have been there and don that. Steve knows about it segues on we’re making.

Greg White (14:00):

They should have a radio show.

Scott Luton (13:56):

That’s right. The Rob and Steve Show. All right. So, Rob, I’ll come back to you. You were talking about mitigation and, of course, Steve’s talking about TCO. How can affect and effective total cost of ownership strategy help with mitigation and how can it help organizations in general?

Rob Stofko (14:20):

Yeah. So, let me first say when we talk about TCO and total cost of ownership, you know, price is one very small component of the equation. And so, looking at the complexity, and I’m on the MRO side, so maintenance, repair, operations, supplies that manufacturing facilities need to use and keep their machines running is looking at so many different elements. And I’m glad Barb and Tim talked [inaudible]. You know, I had notes here that access is critical. So, and Steve can talk to the breadth of partner suppliers we have, right?

Rob Stofko (15:020):

But those suppliers have unique, unique capabilities and they’re differentiated, but they have solutions that can reduce consumption, reduce costs, and do a number of other things besides procuring out a lowest piece price. And so, as we work with our partner suppliers and bring them into the mix with our members, it’s helping those members understand they might have been doing some things in the past a certain way and they got by. In today’s environment, if they are not leveraging the core capabilities of, especially the strategic suppliers that we bring to the table and their solution is they’re missing those additional opportunities to bring ultimate efficiencies into their operations.

Greg White (15:54):

I think it’s funny because if – you know supply chain and procurement are very related in a lot of ways and very common, especially in the MRO world. I mean, it’s a big part of keeping the supply chain moving, keeping the lines moving, keeps a supply chain moving. So, I think there are a lot of overlapping problems. And, one of the things that we’ve seen in supply chain, and I think you’re alluding to this in procurement as well, people focused on costs as if procurement was only a cost minimization exercise and it’s really a risk balancing exercise, right? You can have a less low cost on paper that costs you less throughout the company, because maybe this supplier is more reliable or they fulfill at a higher rate or their lead times are shorter or whatever.

Steve Larotta (16:39):

But even think through the lens of the worker, right? If you think through the lens of the worker, and we know we have less workers now, the impact of the supply chain on the worker, in terms of just having a simpler supply chain products, parts, where they’re needed at the right place at the right time –

Greg White (16:57):

Yeah.

Steve Larotta (16:58):

It’s critical because you just don’t have the luxury you did before in terms of having, again, we’re talking about overtime and flex time and things of that nature. And, guess what, when you have churn in workers, what are some of the impacts? Less efficiency, client safety issues, all kinds of things within a plant can happen if your supply chain isn’t crisp and precise. And, I think again, to Rob’s point, we have the supplier base, we have a group of suppliers aggregated to provide that value to our members.

Greg White (17:31):

Is there something that you all do that helps mitigate that kind of learning curve that threatens safety and speed and efficiency? I mean, is there something –

Steve Larotta (17:40):

Our suppliers definitely do. We have, you know our suppliers definitely do in terms of how they implement programs and how they bring solutions onto the plant floor relative to safety and different VMI solutions with managing inventory and things of that nature, so, yes, absolutely.

Greg White (17:56):

That’s powerful stuff because you’re right. It’s hard enough to get people. We’ve already talked about how hard it is to keep people. And, when you have to train people, you lose so much productivity. And, after you’ve done an enormous hunt, trying to find people now, you want to make it as easy for them to be as productive and be as satisfied in their work as possible as soon as possible.

Rob Stofko (18:19):

So, just to kind of dovetail on what Steve was talking about and I’m making some categorical statements across our supplier partnerships that we have. In today’s environment, in the global economy, and I’ll just say the partners that we have are selected for various reasons. We have a contracting process. We have a partner development process and folks like myself, SME process, but the investment that certain suppliers make, inventory warehousing technology is critical for our members as they’re making decisions and I’m not trying to step on the small business, but the small, local, and regional supplier that still has a 50% share of the total MRO market today, as crazy as it seems. Those local suppliers and regional suppliers don’t have the scale, the global purchasing power, the millions of square feet of warehouse and trucks and distribution. And so, we unleashed that if you want to call it that and partner and attach that to our members. Now, things as we know aren’t perfect, but that can help alleviate, you know, the shortfalls the customers are going to be seeing.

Scott Luton (19:43):

Well, you know, one of the things we see there, time and time again is in the middle of a global crisis is a tough time to build a relationships and trust, right? So, I heard two things –

Greg White (19:52):

Too late to make friends.

Scott Luton (19:43):

Yeah. Two things. So, not only is it currently in a GPO or an Omnia Partners or set of relationships, to be able to even bring certain options to a customer or a member, but beyond that they’re already been vetted and there’s a relationship in place which will impact the speed to how you can act on these options, right?

Rob Stofko (20:16):

Absolutely. And so, just again, you know, think about kind of these cross-functional capabilities that we’re building internally here, that there’s a contracting element. Those are the folks that vet and work with the particular suppliers. Steve’s on the partner development side. There’s a subset of folks that are managing those particular relationships to extract value and cohesiveness within our organization. And then, you’ve got marketing, you’ve got sales and, you know, it’s a tight circle when it’s done properly. And, that’s what kind of how we’re approaching things, and –

Scott Luton (20:55):

And almost every functional area is involved is holistic.

Rob Stofko (20:59):

And, I say that in that companies, if you think about the time and energy that we spend to bring that solution to the marketplace for a Fortune 1000 company, they would have to have a lot of people working in siloed function areas where they can look to a GPO that’s dealing a lot of that groundswell work.

Steve Larotta (21:23):

And they can divert that costs down to the production floor with people actually making stuff and producing stuff for the company versus having folks chase down tailspin. Yes, exactly. Exactly.

Greg White (21:35):

It sounds like you – having heard your history, it sounds like you have a firsthand knowledge of this book. I mean, if you guys kind of experienced that?

Steve Larotta (21:46):

Absolutely.

Greg White (21:47):

And, I’m curious as you talk about TCO, when you think about TCO and how people think of it, is there a biggest aspect of total cost of ownership that companies overlook?

Steve Larotta (22:00):

I think there is at all. I think it’s in the eyes of the beholder, but the one thing – [inaudible] your point that people overlook and I’m glad it’s a great segue because the other part of my role here is facilities. And, you start thinking about the peace prize mentality of even going back to the toilet paper world, right?

Greg White (22:15):

Yeah.

Steve Larotta (22:16):

Buying the cheapest toilet paper. Well, guess what, the perception that workers have when they enter a facility is going to be created by what’s purchased, the quality of the amenities that are purchased within a facility, how clean it is, the hygiene of the facility. You’re trying to get workers. You need to be thinking about TCO in a bit of a different lens than you have in the past about keeping your workers onsite, keeping them happy, and keeping them coming back.

Greg White (22:43):

Yeah.

Steve Larotta (22:44):

That’s what I would tell you.

Greg White (22:44):

Yeah.

Steve Larotta (22:45):

Absolutely.

Greg White (22:46):

I think of that every time I go to an Airbnb, like the towels that they have out or whatever, right. I mean, there’s just every aspect of that.

Rob Stofko (22:55):

So, let me give, like, I think an example, folks could correlate with it. And so, we’ve had this huge swell demand for PPE. Okay. And, years ago, large companies would go and buy containers of gloves from Malaysia in different places, right. And, they’d bring that inventory over and it would sit in places. Well, they’ve already paid for the inventory. It’s like sunk costs. But they might be buying six months’ worth of inventory. So, think in today’s environment that with PPE that, from a total cost of ownership that companies today, right, across multiple industries have a high consumption need for that for a lot of different reasons. But if they’re just focused on the piece price and I’m on the phone with large companies all the time, think about it this way, they’re finding a pair of goggles that’s maybe 5 cents cheaper per goggle. But they’re putting it in an environment where there’s no control of the usage and the consumption and the tracking.

Rob Stofko (24:03):

So, I can present to them through a partner supplier or concept of a controlled dispensing, right, whether it’s vending or VMI different, like scanning to a point where they know how much each employee is using. And, we’re finding double digit savings and customers’ eyes are being open just saying, hey, you’re looking at this maybe through the wrong lens today that the old days of throwing PPE in a store room where workers were grabbing what they needed, you can’t operate that way today. And you want to take the right product, right, from a health hazard and all that, but you want to put it into a controlled system and there’s multiple ways you can do that. But I’m taking like the most simple example of people come in looking for a low cost on a PPE item. But if they’re not deploying it in the right way, their total cost of ownership can be doubled versus an alternative solution that has a controlled dispensing of it.

Steve Larotta (25:08):

It’s a great summary.

Scott Luton (25:10):

It’s got to be a system that works a system that is a good fit and also is a good fit for the enterprise, right? You have just one operation here or it’s got to be a good [inaudible] enterprise. Steve, you’re going to add something to Rob’s point there, maybe.

Steve Larotta (25:23):

No, [inaudible] it’s a great summary. I mean, you know, the description of total cost of ownership in terms of, you know, taking a look at the piece price, but ultimately how it’s deployed, how it’s used, the impact to the worker or the impact of safety.

Rob Stofko (25:39):

Cost of capital.

Steve Larotta (25:40):

And, you know, what the simplicity of, you know, you’re talking about safety goggles. Well, a lot of companies will have a customized safety goggle for like every employee. Well, guess what? In today’s world, you can’t do that anymore. You got to start getting down to the bare bones of how many safety glasses you need, how many gloves you need, how many earplugs you need. Otherwise, you’re going to have obsolete inventory if you can even get, if you can even get it. It’s going to be in the wrong spot, you know, whatever the case may be.

Greg White (26:09):

Yeah.

Scott Luton (26:10):

So, many different directions to take with TCO alone [inaudible] gotten into some of the new sourcing opportunities and conversations that are being had. But let’s keep going down the path of where GPOs bring value and we don’t necessarily have to stay in this TCO segment of the conversation. Certainly with y’all’s background, your firepower, that you’re in the front end. Can you imagine –

Greg White (26:35):

Yeah. I’m really fascinated from where you come from. Was there anything that surprised you go into a GPO that, you know, at Kimberly-Clark or at Georgia-Pacific, where you went, how did we not see this?

Steve Larotta (26:44):

I think it’s a tagline. Power, access and trust, right? It’s like this big – it’s the power of this place and the – I mean, if you just walk the floor here, the suppliers here, like best in class suppliers and –

Scott Luton (26:59):

Power, access, trust.

Steve Larotta (27:00):

Access, trust. And people are all in on that too. I mean, our suppliers are all in. They’re not, like, beating around the edges and stuff. They’re all in with us and our members. And the future looks bright here. I mean, in terms of our –

Scott Luton (27:13):

Where’s our shades?

Steve Larotta (27:15):

Yeah. We are in Miami.

Greg White (27:16):

Children of the ‘80s.

Scott Luton (27:18):

Power, access, trust. We have our episode title. Folks, I’ll be surprised how difficult it is to come up with a podcast title.

Rob Stofko (27:25):

Yeah, no. And just to elaborate on what Steve was saying that, you know, from a GPO perspective, and again, you know, been here like Steve nine, 10 months and really acclimating to, you know, just a different conceptually of, you know, how things connect. Previously, I would say in prior roles, very supportive of the type of work that GPOs do, which is leveraging their size and scale, right, to bring the best value for members. And so, today, you know, as Steve said, you know, access is critical and I just say, like, we’re not, I just think of, since Steve and I have started here, we’ve had over a hundred folks come on board. We’re not sitting still. We’re looking at new categories. We’re looking at where unmet needs are potentially not being filled, right, and so where we are today, we’ve got six main, you know, vertical categories.

Rob Stofko (28:26):

We’re building out this kind of category specialization to it, and bringing in people like Steve and myself, and then others in other categories with industry knowledge and the access to the breadth of the part number of partners, and I should know this. I don’t know what the exact number is, but we have –

Steve Larotta (28:47):

It’s a lot.

Rob Stofko (28:47):

A lot hundred, you know –

Greg White (28:49):

Yeah. Just in MRO. Are you taking about?

Rob Stofko (28:50):

Well, across all of Omnia Partners, right. And then, it’s really working with the members understand where their pain points are today. So, I know folks were up contingent labor and all of that staffing. We’ve got a whole suite of solutions there. And so, that’s all the work for companies today. They don’t have, well, you know, if it’s not their core capability, they don’t want to be investing a lot of time and energy to figure out a lot of these solutions.

Scott Luton (29:21):

Just isn’t worth the squeeze.

Rob Stofko (29:22):

Yeah. Yeah.

Greg White (29:23):

There you go.

Rob Stofko (29:24):

You know, that’s been, a big kind of eye-opener for me in the last 10 months.

Scott Luton (29:30):

Appreciate you sharing one of our favorite questions around here is that Eureka moment. What’s that Eureka moment? And, you’ve kind of shared one, Rob. So, Steve, I got to come to you. What’s one surprise maybe or Eureka moment you’ve had?

Steve Larotta (29:42):

I’ll tell you, you know, coming from a manufacturer like Georgia-Pacific, and I would say other manufacturers, the perception of a GPO is that it’s price.

Greg White (29:51):

Yeah.

Steve Larotta (29:51):

That’s the perception. But when you get in here and you look at the suppliers we have, and you look at the programs we put together, to Rob’s point earlier, price is a very small piece of the solution we bring into the customer. And, until you get in the building here, until you start understanding the value that this place brings, the GPO, you know, the perception could be price, but there’s so much more. And, quite frankly, that’s kinda what we’re all here to do.

Greg White (30:16):

So, I’ve had an aha moment. I mean, seriously in over the months talking about procurement generally, and then GPOs more specifically and then with Omnia Partners, you know, we knew Kevin Health, your COO, when he was at Georgia-Pacific, and through the point A initiative that Georgia-Pacific had, I can tell you that I did not get what a GPO was or what the value is. I think to me one of the things we talked about with Kevin and with Paul Noble, from VeriSign yesterday, was the value to small and medium businesses, right? I mean –

Rob Stofko (30:54):

So, you just hit the nail on the head, you know, where the sweet spot is for those companies, that mid-sized, mid-market, whatever you want to classify them, that don’t have the depth of talent and HR resources across the organization. GPOs –

Scott Luton (31:13):

[Inaudible] masses opportunities.

Rob Stofko (31:14):

GPOs can be deployed in a very opportunistic way. And, I was going to make a comment on the price piece and all this is, for companies and members not to sell yourself short by having that narrow lens of a price that I’m looking at XYZ GPO for a price because you’re really missing what the overall flavor is, which is, we’re going to have a competitive price, but here are all the other things really that you want to start taking advantage of and embarking on and installing across your organization.

Scott Luton (31:54):

So, one of the things that some way you shared there, Rob, makes me think of, and certainly our earlier conversation with Tim and Barb, is all the ways y’all are bringing value as Omnia Partners without sending invoices. I mean, you know, the conversations, “Hey, by the way, I was chatting with a fellow member of a successful organization, this is how they’re tackling it.” That market Intel sharing, bench market sharing, you know, that trusted counsel that is invaluable. And, you know, that brings it back to relationships, right? Relationships that matter. Trust the relationships to get through very challenging unforeseen and incredibly unique times, right?

Greg White (32:38):

Undoubtedly, I think that, you know, you spoke to power earlier, Steve, and I think power isn’t just pricing power. It’s the cumulative power of your member community to say, even though my little company does this much business, if Omnia does this much business with this vendor, we get all that power, all of that attention, all of that leverage with that supplier. That’s as important as the price, especially today, where you might need to be at the top of the shipping list when you want stuff delivered, right? I think that’s incredibly powerful. And then, of course the prebuilt trust, I liked that, that pre-built trust of knowing, ‘cause, man, that is – we can tell you firsthand, we are constantly vetting suppliers and vendors for services and things like that. And, the power of a reference is incredible. The power of a highly vetted reference is completely invaluable because it allows you to go – so it’s worked for the other X number of members here, right? There’s an inherent trust that can be provided there. And, of course, we know you guys have a really strong vetting process for all of your suppliers.

Rob Stofko (33:51):

We do.

Greg White (33:53):

I think that’s – it just takes you to the level. It levels the playing field for the small business, with the, you know, the fortune class enterprises. What’s that?

Scott Luton (34:03):

It gives you a P-A-T for you and me. It’s power, access and trust.

Rob Stofko (34:09):

That’s great. Yeah.

Scott Luton (34:11):

[Inaudible] that jokes, guys. All right. So, we’ve got a couple of extra minutes. In a second, we’re going to make sure folks know how to connect with you both. You know, these are the types of conversations, we’re scratching the surface in 45 minutes or even an hour. For our listeners out there across global supply chain, really across global business, is there anything that we like to say, say it louder for folks in the back. If there’s one idea, one key takeaway from this conversation here that they need to make sure they leave it with it stenciled between the ears, what would that be?

Rob Stofko (34:49):

Yeah. So, I’ve got like two are and you must’ve been reading my last notes here. Can’t stress enough the need to build deeper supplier relationships and that’s to extract the maximum value out of that particular supplier. Visibility and I say visibility with technology and ERP systems. If you’re operating in a gray area, you know it now, creating and adopting to systems that give you really good visibility, manage and prepare for the long haul. And, I just say that right now. And then, manage expectations. And, ultimately my last thought is you got to be nimble. You got to be flexible. You got to be adaptive. And, you know, those are my only –

Greg White (35:46):

[Inaudible] to start caving in and be ready for it, right?

Rob Stofko (35:47):

Yeah. But, deeper, and I just stressed that. The deeper supplier relationships that maybe were taken for granted in the past. Now is the time that you want to peel that back and we can help with that.

Scott Luton (36:03):

I love that. That’s a wonderful force step approach to move it in the right direction. It’s what I heard. And, one of the quick call-out there is, when you talk about building deeper supply relationships, one of the things that comes to my mind is going beyond when you have to communicate, when you have to make that phone call, when it’s a problem, it’s ongoing communication about a lot of the positive stuff or a lot of new ideas, innovation, product development, and those are what really I’m hearing when it comes to those deeper meaningful relationships. Is that right?

Rob Stofko (36:39):

Absolutely.

Scott Luton (36:40):

Okay. All right. Steve, same question.

Steve Larotta (36:42):

I would say the biggest thing that I can articulate is we have world-class suppliers and they bring tremendous value across the supply chain and a lot of the services and programs they have are no charge or free. Use them.

Scott Luton (37:01):

Yeah.

Steve Larotta (37:01):

You use your resources.

Scott Luton (37:01):

Use your resource.

Greg White (37:04):

But it’s funny. We all have UGA grads, right?

Steve Larotta (37:07):

Yeah. Yes, we do.

Greg White (37:08):

So I can’t tell you the number of times that I have told my daughter that. When she calls me with a struggle, I’m like, well, don’t they have an office for that? Use your resources. I think that’s really powerful.

Scott Luton (37:20):

I agree. I agree. Okay. So, Greg, I’m going to put the tables on you here. Rob? No, I thought he had something that – it’s like a fountain that keeps on [inaudible]

Rob Stofko (37:28):

I was going to remind you guys I’m in a house divided, so –

Greg White (37:20):

Yeah, that’s true.

Rob Stofko (37:31):

Almost South Carolina and –

Greg White (37:32):

They can use their resources in South Carolina as well.

Rob Stofko (37:35):

I mitigate during the holidays. I mitigate.

Scott Luton (37:37):

I love it. I love it. All right. So, Greg, before we circle back and make sure folks know how to connect with Rob and Steve here, what’s been your favorite component of today’s conversation?

Greg White (37:49):

I think the power, access, and trust aspect of it. And, I think the last thing that you said, Rob, about deep supplier relationships, and it’s hard as, again, as an SMB to have a deep supplier relationship that can get you through the kind of trying times that we’ve just seen. But imagine if it’s you and 300 of your best friends. So, in the business that I’ve done, I’ve worked a lot with co-ops. I’ve worked with ACE hardware, I’ve worked with Piggly Wiggly. I’ve worked with a number of those kinds of co-op of REI and those companies like that, where that co-op organization provides so much value to all of the individual dealers. This is a similar type situation, except you all don’t have to have ACE hardware over the door. You can have anything over your door and still have the power to work with those vendors, have a deep, deep relationship, a more deep relationship than any single supplier and customer relationship could ever have. You get to leverage that. And, I think that’s probably the most powerful thing that I’ve seen from this particular conversation.

Scott Luton (38:52):

The next time we need a mic so you can drop it, right? Well put, well put, and I got to – you know, my brain, my very simple brain goes to one of the things you shared there, Piggly Wiggly.

Greg White (39:03):

Yeah, boy.

Scott Luton (39:05):

A little factoid of the pig. You know, the Piggly Wiggly was the first supermarket, the one in Tennessee. I’m not sure what town the first one was in. But it was the first true grocery store that allowed customers to go and pick their own products instead of giving a list to a –

Greg White (39:21):

To a club.

Scott Luton (39:21):

A club.

Greg White (39:21):

Yeah.

Scott Luton (39:22):

It started with a pig. Innovation.

Greg White (39:24):

That was just after the general store here. It’s kind of going back the other way now.

Scott Luton (39:28):

It is going back the other way. [inaudible]

Greg White (39:32):

So people don’t even go to the store now, right?

Scott Luton (39:34):

These folks don’t miss a beat. Oh, Rob and Steve here. Okay. Let’s make sure our listeners that I’m sure are going to enjoy this conversation can connect with you both. And, Rob, I’ll start with you. How can they connect with Rob for all the fountain of goodness here?

Rob Stofko (39:50):

Yes. So, I would say probably the best way would be you can find me out on LinkedIn, Robert Stofko. Yu could send me a message through there or you could also send me a message through the Omnia Partners website.

Scott Luton (40:02):

Awesome. Which is omniapartners.com. It’s that simple.

Rob Stofko (40:06):

Yeah.

Scott Luton (40:02):

Folks, if you want to make it really easy, we’re after the one click here. So, we’re going to have your LinkedIn profile on the episode page. We’ll have Omnia Partners on the episode page. Steve, we’ll have your LinkedIn, whether you like it or not, just kidding, on the episode page.

Steve Larotta (40:20):

I hope you guys haven’t figured it out. I like it.

Scott Luton (40:22):

How can folks connect with you, Steve?

Steve Larotta (40:24):

Same way they can with Rob, on LinkedIn or omniapartners.com.

Scott Luton (40:29):

Wonderful.

Greg White (40:29):

Or what’s your club? Where do you play golf?

Steve Larotta (40:31):

I’m not saying because people want to try to come in and be a member again.

Greg White (40:36):

What’s your handicap? People going to invite you to their member guests and we’ll just figure that out.

Scott Luton (40:43):

Oh, man.

Steve Larotta (40:44):

If I tell you what my handicap is I can’t sandbag anymore.

Scott Luton (40:47):

Well, hey, no, one’s listening. It’s just us four.

Steve Larotta (40:44):

Yeah, it’s just the four of us. 13.

Scott Luton (40:52):

All right. So, I said, that was the last question. I got one more.

Steve Larotta (40:55):

Yeah.

Scott Luton (40:55):

Especially being newer members of the Omnia Partners team. So, this is our first time at Connections 2021, right?

Steve Larotta (41:02):

Yeah.

Scott Luton (41:02):

We’ve had a blast so far. Y’all folks that are listening from home on the replay, they hear all the market Intel in the background getting exchanged.

Greg White (41:11):

Yeah.

Scott Luton (41:11):

If you had to pick one thing, I’m just going to go around the panel here, one thing that you’ve liked the best so far about Connections 2021, what is that? See, don’t go in reverse order.

Steve Larotta (41:21):

Okay. Jeff Foxworthy.

Scott Luton (41:23):

Okay. And that session was earlier today.

Steve Larotta (41:26):

Yes, it was.

Scott Luton (41:23):

Was it just jokes or did he offer up some business and leadership stuff?

Steve Larotta (41:31):

90% jokes, but a little bit. Yeah, it was good. It was very good. He did a great job.

Scott Luton (41:36):

You want to take a stab at stealing one and share with us.

Steve Larotta (41:31):

No, I don’t.

Rob Stofko (41:39):

Here’s your [inaudible].

Scott Luton (41:42):

All right. Thank you very much, Steve. Rob.

Rob Stofko (41:44):

Yeah. So, first I would say getting back to semi-normal and let me just say that, that this is the first, like, normal type large business function I’ve been to in a year and a half. So, that for me personally feels good. And then, two, would be really just exposure for me to a whole subset of new suppliers and different types of categories and ultimately making new friends and building new relationships.

Scott Luton (42:16):

Excellent point. That’s a good one. That’s good. That’s been one of mine as much as I’ve enjoyed the content, speakers, all the sidebar conversations, the market Intel, sitting down with members of the Omnia Partners team and hearing their expertise. That’s always a highlight. But to your point, Rob, we have taken a couple of strives to some degree of normalcy [inaudible], you know, yakking it up beside you, instead of being on Zoom and screen [inaudible] and platforms.

Greg White (42:45):

I didn’t know that I had anybody below this point. I’m myself.

Scott Luton (42:50):

So, you’re so you got the final one?

Greg White (42:52):

I think it is seeing again in person the power of face-to-face communication, of in-person discussion of the things that you can do over a water cooler or another type of cold beverage, or, you know, in front of a booth and also the breadth of suppliers here. So, again, I’m kind of new to this whole procurement world but it’s fascinating what companies need. I would have never guessed you needed an auto parts connection, right? I know that sounds dumb, and especially coming out of auto parts. That sounds particularly dumb. But it’s really fascinating what, you know, what people need or companies need access to.

Scott Luton (43:36):

All right. Fun conversation. A lot of good stuff here. One a big thanks to Rob Stofko and Steve Larotta, both with Omnia Partners, a pleasure, really enjoyed y’all’s time here today. And, really, this is going to wrap up our two podcasts we’ve set up here. Of course, the Supply Chain Buzz, streamed live here earlier this week. The replay will be dropping really, really soon. Hopefully y’all have enjoyed that home run conversation with Paul Noble with VeriSign and Kevin Heath with Omnia Partners. Stay tuned for the rest. A lot more to come. I can’t wait to see all the content, the replays that are coming out of Connections 2021. Be sure to check out omniapartners.com. Connect with Steve and Rob. Sounds like you’ll be –

Greg White (44:21):

Yeah. Definitely.

Scott Luton (44:21):

You’ll be [inaudible]

Greg White (44:22):

If you’re in MRO, and you’re not connected [inaudible].

Rob Stofko (44:24):

And, hey, I’m in Atlanta. You need any short notice filling guest speakers.

Greg White (44:29):

There you go.

Scott Luton (44:30):

I like it.

Rob Stofko (44:21):

I’ll fly on down to the studio.

Steve Larotta (44:33):

And we’ll offer in inverse and so you need a fourth.

Scott Luton (44:39):

So, we’re going to wrap on a little challenge. So we want to mention Daniel Stafko, [inaudible] recent graduate of the University of South Carolina. They’re growing supply chain program, which has grown dramatically. And, of course Steve Rudnicki, he is part of that. He’s an adjunct professor there. I’d love to hear some feedback from current undergrad students who may be newer to the wild world of GPO and TCO and get their take on what Rob and Steve have shared here today. What do you think about that?

Greg White (45:08):

I like that idea.

Scott Luton (45:09):

We’ll see if Steve can help us out there.

Greg White (45:08):

Yeah.

Scott Luton (45:11):

Steve, first class.

Greg White (45:13):

Yeah.

Scott Luton (45:13):

They got quite a –

Greg White (45:13):

That will be fantastic.

Scott Luton (45:14):

Adjunct professor. Okay. So, folks, hopefully you’ve enjoy this conversation as much as we have. Be sure to check us out at supplychainnow.com. Be sure to connect with Rob and with Steve. And, you might want to connect with Greg too. Your Listen UP! features are pretty good, three times a week, right?

Greg White (45:29):

Yeah.

Scott Luton (45:29):

You like putting those bees in bonnets and I enjoy that as well. But, hey, most importantly folks, be sure, be sure to do good, give forward, and be the change that’s needed. On that note, we’ll see you next time, right back here at Supply Chain Now.

Greg White (45:43):

Got you that time.

Scott Luton (45:44):

We did.

Intro/Outro (45:47):

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

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Featured Guests

Robert Stofko, As Managing Director of MRO at OMNIA Partners, Private Sector, Rob specializes in helping members identify cost savings, process improvement opportunities, along with areas to increase productivity, operational efficiencies, and worker wellness & safety. Rob leverages his decades of experience to strategize with members & key partner suppliers on the right solutions for their MRO needs, no matter how unique the member goals. With more than 20 years’ experience selling through MRO channels and identifying solutions for a wide range of customers across the Fortune 1000 space, Rob has a depth of experience that enables him to assist members with complex sourcing needs around indirect spend categories. Rob understands the complexities and challenges companies face when it comes to MRO supplier selection and spend management. Prior to OMNIA Partners, Rob was with Georgia Pacific for 15 years, his most recent role was the Director of Sales and Customer Development, Director for Industrial MRO channels. He was responsible for delivering GP Pro product solutions to the B2B marketplace along with building and developing GP Pro’s Industrial and Specialty channels of distribution. Connect with Rob on LinkedIn.

Steve Laratta, As the Partner Development Vice President of MRO at OMNIA Partners is responsible for the retention, growth, and supplier relationship management in the industrial and facilities categories. Steve began his career with OMNIA Partners in 2020 after more than 25 years with GP PRO. Steve led the GP PRO industrial channel/national accounts organization and has experience in all facets of B2B selling, including sales management, marketing, and product management. Since joining OMNIA Partners, Steve has been instrumental in developing, managing, and growing the MRO category strategy. He resides in Franklin, TN and is a native of St. Louis, MO. Involved in charitable organization, called WarriorsSOAR, which focuses on rehabilitation for wounded veterans. Hobbies/interests include tennis, pickleball, and golf. Connect with Steve on LinkedIn.

Hosts

Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

Greg White

Principal & Host

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Greg White

Principal, Supply Chain Now
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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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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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Jamin Alvidrez

Founder & CEO, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now, Veteran Voices, This Week in Business History

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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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 singing second soprano in the Grayson United Methodist Church choir.

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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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Allie Krasinski

Marketing Coordinator

Allie is currently completing a degree in marketing with a certificate in entrepreneurship at the University of Georgia. She got her social media start through an internship with Shred, a personal training app, and she’s been hooked ever since. She works to optimize our following base while assisting the team with content creation, influencer outreach and other marketing endeavors. Allie can’t wait to keep growing alongside Supply Chain Now.

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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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Jada Carson

Marketing Coordinator

Jada is a recent graduate of Old Dominion University, having earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Communications with a media studies concentration and marketing minor. Jada got her start producing content at 16 years old, while attending a radio and broadcasting journalism program in high school, and hasn't looked back!  She is an asset to the Supply Chain Now team as a media specialist, podcast and media producer, and production coordinator.  Outside of Supply Chain Now, Jada is a big Lakers fan, and also a music journalist and enthusiast.

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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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