Logistics with Purpose
Episode 96

If I'm an inventor sitting in a lab, then I'm an inventor, and I'm not concerned with anything else. But when you're an entrepreneur, you gotta do everything yourself, and you gotta make it happen. So you gotta conceive the product, you gotta invent the product. You gotta produce the product, pay for the product, market it. You gotta do everything.

-Atul Vir

Episode Summary

In this episode of Logistics with Purpose, hosts Enrique Alvarez and Kevin Brown welcome Atul Vir, President of Equator Advanced Appliances to the show, to share his remarkable journey from a military boarding school in India to international entrepreneurship.

He discusses key experiences, including navigating a coup, starting Equator, and collaborating with NASA, and emphasizes empathy, negotiation, and sustainability in business. The conversation also touches on his book, “Underdog Thinking,” and the impact of COVID-19 on Equator.

Listen in as Enrique, Kevin, and Atul truly highlight the importance of logistics with purpose and building meaningful relationships and good values in business.

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:00):

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

Enrique Alvarez (00:36):

Good Day. My name’s Enrique Alvarez, and I’m here for another amazing episode of, uh, logistics With Purpose. I am with my co-host of today, Kevin. Kevin, how are you doing today?

Atul Vir (00:46):

Good afternoon. I’m doing well. Thank you. Well,

Enrique Alvarez (00:48):

We’re very excited. I know that you have known this guest for a few, few years, and I actually had the pleasure of meeting him a couple years ago as well. He seems to be like the ultimate renaissance man to me, doesn’t he? Kevin, what’s your take?

Atul Vir (01:02):

I, as I was thinking about this, I’ve known a tool for Well, and we’ll get in there, but I’ve known him for a long time, 15, 16 years. That’s a long time. And it’s interesting to see how God, for him, A to Z and we start over again.

Enrique Alvarez (01:14):

Amazing. Yes. And I, I, without further ado, let me introduce you to Aul there, entrepreneur, inventor, writers, speaker President, equator, advanced Appliances, and again, Aton Young finalist internationally claims, c e o. They have presence in different countries around the world, and his story is amazing. So we’re really looking forward to speaking with you today. Atul, how are you doing? Welcome to the show.

Atul Vir (01:40):

Thank you very much, Enrique. It’s a pleasure to be here, and I appreciate Your invitation. Thank you very much.

Enrique Alvarez (01:46):

It’s a pleasure to have you here. And finally, we, After Many kind of invitations, we’re able to coordinate our schedule, so we’re looking forward to this conversation.

Atul Vir (01:55):

Thank you. Me too.

Atul Vir (01:56):

Well, Atul, as again, as Enrique said, thank you so much for being here today, and as I was preparing for this discussion today is kind of takes you back, it was 2006, 2007 when I first met you. Different location. The appliances and the things that you have done over the last 15, 16 years is, uh, astonishing and we really look forward to hearing all about it. But to get started, tell us about your, your childhood, your early beginnings, a little bit about yourself.

Atul Vir (02:26):

Well, that’s a little bit of a long story. I was born in India, and uh, my dad was a naval officer, so we, he was posted from place to place every few years. And after a few, after six or seven, uh, schools, uh, at the age of 10, my parents sent me to a boarding school and it was a military boarding school. And that’s where I learned about discipline and getting along with different cultures. It was from a different part of India where my family is originally from, which is North India, where we speak one language and have different kind of food. And when I went to South India where it’s a completely different language where I couldn’t read it or understand it. And so I grew up in that environment having to survive. I’m saying it like that, but it’s not only me. Many of us were thrust into those situations, but we had to learn to survive with in a different culture, even though it was within a different country. And I grew up with the discipline and that the boarding school military environment gives. And so that was my background. And of course I went and did my studies. I did my business degree and my postgraduate degree, and I got my equivalent of a c p a degree, which is a chartered accountant degree. And so I was a specialist in finance, but broadly it is company law and everything to do with, with companies. You so well, yes. So be, before

Enrique Alvarez (03:41):

We deep dive into some of your career and professional career and all the different companies that you have founded, is there anything in particular, any story from your early years that kind of shaped the kind of person that you are now? I mean, we all know that you like to invent things. You’ve always very drawn to new machines and things like that. So what brought all this that was, uh, so helpful in your later on in your life?

Atul Vir (04:04):

Well, one thing was to always have empathy. To have empathy for others and, uh, to understand that problems. And I think growing up, I think in that particular environment, you learn to understand different cultures. So what are the problems? I needed the empathy to, because I was growing up in a different culture, and I’m also trying to understand how others think and feel if they were thrust into a different situation. If you’re in a only one environment in your home environment, then it’s very difficult to understand that, right. So I think that gave me an understanding of what it is like to be if I’m on this side and to try to understand people’s problems and issues when I’m on the other side. And that happened more when I finished my school, which is from the military environment. And I went into university and got into university environment in my, then even in my postgraduate studies, I met people from different walks, very hardworking people, but from completely different, they’d not been to boarding school and had that. So I learned to sort of empathize, uh, with those situations and understand them.

Enrique Alvarez (05:03):

You must have had a lot of different role models growing up. Anyone in particular and maybe a particular story that wanna share with us?

Atul Vir (05:10):

Well, of course, uh, today is a very important today day. It’s October 2nd with this Mac Ma Gandhi’s birthday today, October 2nd. So he was a role model of doing things in the making change in a non-violent way, uh, but doing it very strategically. And he was a role model in the sense he was also c e o, he was c e o of a program to make, to make a country independent. But, uh, as a c e o, you try and look at those. It’s not like he was just, he was doing a lot of strategic thinking against an organization, a colonial power, much stronger than him or his country without weapons. And so strategically, he broke, he had to convince the people, the British, on how, on that he was right. Morally right. And so the, the lesson I learned was the negotiation is very important. And the tools you learn are very important at how you go about that. It’s easy to get angry about something and say, well, this is the way I want it. And we all do that, you know, we all want certain things in a particular way, but you gotta get the people on board. You gotta get your own team, team on board. You gotta get the people you are negotiating with, whether it’s across the board, everybody’s dealing with multiple, uh, people, whether it’s employees or vendors or bankers or whatever, to get them on board your vision. And that’s what I really learned about that, to, to really win. There’s no way for you to enforce it.

Kevin Brown (06:30):

And in doing that, you know, you build partnerships along the way where you talk about different organizations, whether it be suppliers, vendors, bankers, but at some point they all turn into partners. But that’s a learned piece of, of advice. That’s, that takes years to figure that out. Many times being a, a c e O, an inventor, an entrepreneur, and all the different things that you do today, it had to start somewhere in your professional journey. Walk us through, if you would, just a little bit, some of the early days as you’re out of school, your education is done, you’re sitting there, you go, now what do I do? So what were some of those early challenges and some of those early footsteps that you had? Well,

Atul Vir (07:08):

You know, it was a different time. I mean, you’re going back 40 years and, uh, 40 years. The, the environment I grew up in in India, it was a economically challenging time. Um, there was a lot of people who were studying and jobs were difficult to get, and so many people were looking for jobs anywhere in the world to go. And just, I mean, it’s one thing to say, now I want to be happy, and people talk about that now, but well, in those days, I just needed a job to validate all the education. And I happened to get a job with a British company and they said, well, the opening is in Africa, not even English speaking Africa, but French speaking Africa. And I said, yes, I’ll do it. So that is the situation I fell into. And I applied, I applied for the job, they bought me a ticket, I flewed to London where I passed the final interview, and I was staying in a hole in the wall kind of hotel for a few weeks while they trained me.

Atul Vir (08:03):

And then I went to Africa and wow. As a flow, the same flight that was flying to Africa was delayed. And on the way there was a coup in the country I was flying to, which is Nigeria. And we had to deplane and all sorts of things happened. That was an experience of a whole life of having unexpected things happening to you. So I’m just as, I’m just, just there. And events happen every day, and they still happen every day, even though you can wish it for happening a different way, but events happen. And so that gained me a lot of respect for organic growth. And you really can’t control everything. Most many people believe you can, but actually you cannot control anything. It’s just there. You’re going with the flow. And then I lived in Africa for seven or eight years for this company. I was a field operator. The company was doing imports and exports and international business exports of agricultural product, cashew, <inaudible>. They had some industrial base over there for production. They were also importing lots of things like wines and alcohol and home consumer products and so on. So I learned about international business, which I’d never gotten into. I was a finance specialist, and I grew to love that field. And I said, wow, this is interesting. Yeah. What

Enrique Alvarez (09:17):

Did you like about the business? Well, what kind of, Of All the different things that you must have kind of learned throughout that time, what was the one or two things that you actually gravitated towards?

Atul Vir (09:28):

Well, I think it was the fascination of being able to go into a country. And I operated in seven or eight countries in Africa, and by the time I learned French, and so I was up operating in French and English speaking country, and to figure out what the, uh, local population would need and be able to fulfill that and find it in some part of the world and deliver it there and provide a service. Obviously it’s a business in your earning profit as well. Right. But that was, I learned to develop a formula on how to international documentation. Those days, they still had telexes. This is even before fax machines. So communication was difficult. It was expensive. How do you communicate to different languages, different countries across the globe? How do you find suppliers? There was no internet at, uh, that time, right.

Atul Vir (10:16):

So it was, it, you learn and we learned, and we then there was international documentation, you had letters of credit and so on. There was a whole gamut of new experiences that I had to go through. And I, I, I began to like that. So even though my special specialty was in finance, and I was the finance manager of a company, but then I grew to be the country manager looking over all the other operations, and then a regional manager of across many countries. So I learned that skill and I began to enjoy that scale.

Enrique Alvarez (10:48):

Well, very successful career. You started in Nigeria. Can you tell us which other African countries you, you had the pleasure of living in?

Atul Vir (10:56):

The first country actually was Ivory Coast, now called TiVo, French Country. And I was on the way there when there was a coup in Nigeria. So that was the, and there was actually a, so that was the first one. Then I went to Togo, also French, then to Benin, also French, then I went to Cameroon, Burkina Faso, all French. And the English speaking countries were Nigeria and Ghana through the way, let’s say, uh, when you had the British and French came in, they each had their peace of country. So almost every alternate country was, spoke a different language. You crossed through borders, and they’d be speaking different languages, you know. Well,

Enrique Alvarez (11:36):

And at what point in that kind of career did you realize that you wanted to be an entrepreneur? I mean, you’ve always clearly been an entrepreneur one way or the other, but at what point was it a little bit more evident to you that you were gonna start a company?

Atul Vir (11:49):

Well, actually I was a very loyal employee to the company. And they were, they treated me very well. I, I grew to became very fond of the top management. And they, and we were dealing with large sums of money, which as a finance person, I, I control, I had no intention of leaving that. But as the company grew and the demands, the demands grew, the risks taken were greater and the amount, and the chairman was in London, and he was making decisions. And many times he overruled some of the decisions, some of the field people gave, like myself and some others. And for example, we told him in Nigeria, there was going to be a coup, but yet another coup. And Nigeria was the biggest operations. And he said, well, he contacted some of the people he knew, and he said, no, there’s going to be no, no coup and nothing’s gonna happen.

Atul Vir (12:37):

But there was a coup. And as a result of that, the, the currency was devalued by 50%. And you know, if your company loses half its value overnight, it’s very difficult to operate and pay your bills. And that was the beginning of the decline. And so the company started winding down operations. It was the death nail for, it took a few years, but the writing was on the wall that could not continue. And so everybody had to look for something new. And so that’s the first la the first lesson I really learned was that I wasn’t yet in the entrepreneur, that I felt very bad and many other people also that we had invested many years, but, but the boss didn’t listen to us and see what happened. And if you listen to us, the company would’ve been saved. And that’s one of the things I tried to follow in my own company now as an entrepreneur, is to listen to the per person closest to the action, talking to customers and so on. So anyway, so then it crashed, and then I was back to zero with nothing. After seven or eight years. Wow. I had a house in London, I couldn’t pay the mortgage. I lost it. I lost my car, have everything. I’m like, all immigrants came to America with 10 bucks in my pocket.

Enrique Alvarez (13:44):

Wow. That’s a, that’s an incredible story.

Atul Vir (13:46):

That’s amazing. For the next round now,

Enrique Alvarez (13:49):

Right. And well, and the next round it was right. I believe Equator. Tell Us a little bit When you jumped into Equator, advanced Appliances, I think it was founded in 1991. That’s, tell us a little bit more about that, those years. Why equator, why the industry that you picked? What kind of really was your intention back there back then?

Atul Vir (14:08):

Well, you know, the time I arrived in 1991, that was in the middle of the, the, the Kuwait war. That was, that wasn’t a good time. And anytime there’s a war, there’s a lot of stress. Even now you see with Ukraine and so on, it’s a stress on the domestic situation and finances, financing and so on. So it was somewhat of a recession at that time. And I went to apply for jobs and said, uh, and they said, well, have you been educated in America? And I said, no. And they said, have you had American experience? And I said, no. They said, so what do you know? And I said, well, I worked in London and worked in Africa. I’ve met the, the kind of deals I did with governments, and, you know, but there was, there was no job to fit that. They said, there’s nothing exactly to fit it.

Atul Vir (14:49):

I mean, it’s very structured, you know. So after trying for a few months, maybe six months, I said, well, I know something. The, I decided to become an entrepreneur, set up my company, a import export company, which is the skill I had learned. And since I didn’t, I didn’t have the US uh, qualifications. And by then I had started a family. And so there was some pressure. It’s not like, of course you can roll the years back. So I, I started equator, which is basically trading from one country to another north to south of the equator from, that’s what it started off as an import export country. Ironically, one of the first things I did was business with Mexico. At that time, NAFTA was being passed, and I had a bunch of people from Mexico and I organized a conference, like a, you know, a un sponsored conference. And so within my first year of getting to coming to Houston, I knew a lot of people and I started operating on some of those deals. So it started off, uh, that way. It wasn’t of course, uh, sufficient to sustain itself because you’re looking for deals all the time and relationships. It takes time to build relationships. You cannot do a deal and say you have a relationship.

Enrique Alvarez (15:58):

And so, right, right.

Atul Vir (15:59):

Uh, I was always trying to find some product that I could fall into, you know?

Enrique Alvarez (16:04):

And which one was your first one? What was your first invention, or at least the one that went out into the market?

Atul Vir (16:11):

Well, you know, so I had lived, when I lived in Africa, we had a beautiful house on the beach as the, you know, right ac actually on the ocean. And so every weekend, or many times a week, we’d go swimming in the beach, but here we missed that. So I told my wife, let’s go to the beach every Sunday. And she says, we can’t because I got, I gotta do laundry. And I said, what kind of a life is it? Have you work all week? You know, and then you’re doing laundry on weekends. So in London, in the house that we had a washing machine that washed and dried in the same unit.

Enrique Alvarez (16:40):

Oh. So I

Atul Vir (16:41):

Said, why don’t we get one of those that will buy it for our apartment? We’re living in a rented apartment, and just throw your clothes in it. We’ll do your laundry. So we went to Sears in those days, and Montgomery Ward, and, uh, they said, nothing like, this exists. You are imagining house. So we said, and then it clicked. I said, well, here’s something we need, and if we need, I’m sure some other people need it. And here is a product that we clearly know it’s needed and it’s not there. So here’s an opportunity, but you, you need, I didn’t know about appliances. I didn’t know where to get it from. I didn’t know what the safety requirements are. Needless to say, I was still operating on a shoes screening budget, and it needs money for operations. So I flew to Europe and went back to some stores in UK and found out, then I went to a trade show and found, I found a small company willing to make it for us.

Atul Vir (17:33):

And after some tests and so on, they produced it, sent the prototype. By then I’d learned the system and got a whole bunch of credit cards over here, got secured credit cards for $200 and then increased it to 300, 500, 1000. Wow. Then got few thousands. So by the time a year, year and a half passed, when all this process was going on and the machine was ready, they said, okay, pay for your first container. I went and cashed all my credit cards, got $25,000 and paid for it, and bought the first container. Wow. And then for, and then I went to the w they went to some warehouses, third party logistics companies here, and said, I got the container coming, but I don’t have any more money. I want you to store it for me, and can you ship it out to the customer when I get paid, then I’ll pay you. And just up the whole thing. And that’s the whole thing with relationships. People gotta trust you. Right. You know, and I think, uh, people, that’s why I, I talk about, people ask, are you good for the money? And you say, I’m good. And that’s like a promise. It’s like you swove that you’re going to fulfill it.

Kevin Brown (18:37):

So this, so this all started with the washer machine and a dryer that does it together at the same point. And same time, what happened to that washer machine and dryer? Do you still have One?

Atul Vir (18:48):

I still have one. Well, right now, that is our core product. That’s what our company is known for. Just like singer is known for the sewing machines they made. Right. But now they made make other widgets, but that’s our core product. Even though we have many product lines, and we are on our 14th generation of machine or edition of machine with improvements, uh, over the course of almost what say 32 years now with improvements and keeping along with the regulations and new innovations and electronics and so on that have come our way.

Kevin Brown (19:19):

And, and you talked about other product lines. How has that evolved over the last, since 91, whatever that would be? How, tell us about your other product lines. What, how, how have you evolved from a washer to dryer and at the beach to all these years later?

Atul Vir (19:34):

I continue my thought processes still on washing machines. And that’s what I dream about. How do you improve pump performance and valve performance and drainage and less water and less power and so on. But it, but actually you’re running a business. If I’m an inventor sitting in a lab, then I’m an inventor, and then somebody else is doing the marketing, and then I’m not concerned with the effects of those things. Somebody else is doing that. But when you’re an entrepreneur, I quickly learned that you gotta do everything yourself, and you gotta make it happen. So you gotta conceive the product, you gotta invent the product. You gotta produce the product, pay for the product, market it. And so when I went to meet, say, Montgomery Ward, for example, I had a meeting with them for six hours. We hit it off and the guy says, I have people come from Whirlpool and big companies, and I give them two hours and I’m spending six hours with you, <laugh>, and you’re here to sell one product.

Atul Vir (20:29):

He says, you’re a nice guy, but you gotta come up with some more products. I can’t, it’s too much of my time that’s going. So I was forced. I said, okay, now I got it. To be a business, you gotta think differently. You gotta think what they want also. And so I produce a whole bunch of products which are profitable products because we like to make good products with what you call form and function. It must look good and it must work well. So every single product we have, and we have competitors, it’s not like it’s an open market, right? We go into a dishwasher, you have a hundred companies out there, how can we be better? So we study all the features and how can we have two or three different innovations? What is the problem in that? And it becomes a little bit clear because once you’re coming from outside, it’s becomes clear what the problem is from a customer point of view.

Atul Vir (21:16):

And the customer says, I want make it easier. I don’t want to cut down the number of steps. I want to come combine functions. I cannot have 10 appliances sitting on my counter, for example. And, uh, things like that. So once that gets in, then that’s how we innovate. And uh, so we have dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, wine, refrigerators, uh, dishwashers, this, everything, uh, microwave microwaves that, uh, you know, that two in one fin one we have, uh, air conditioners, uh, outdoor air conditioners, indoor air conditioners. So lots of things that, uh, the need creates the solution. So we like to say we’re, we’re, we make problem solving appliances. If it doesn’t solve a problem, I like it, then we are not in it Problem solving appliances. Yeah.

Kevin Brown (22:01):

Well, and, and today you’re a global company and you’re worldwide and you’re even to a different extent than that. You’re out of this world. And, and what I mean by that is tell us about your experience and, and what Equator has done with NASA’s band mission to Mars. Obviously this is something that as a differentiator for equator and, and everybody else that’s out there.

Atul Vir (22:24):

Well, you know, as we’ve been, become better in our work and the products we make, we’ve been successful at it. We’ve been going international with going to Canada, going, going to India, going to the Middle East. We set up operations in Europe now where we are in three or four, uh, countries, and understanding the issues that they’re facing and customizing them. But we’ve recently started working with nasa. Actually, NASA has been testing a machine of ours since the last 20 plus years. And we recently contacted them. We sold, we sold a machine to Lockheed Martin about 20 years ago, and they never had the Artis program until recently. So they’ve been testing it, knowing eventually they’ll get there, but budgetary issues and so on. They were not proceeding with that. But recently it’s is taken a push. And, uh, so we reengaged with NASA and they’re aware, we’ve identified many different issues that we need to resolve in the machine, which is going to drive innovation, whether it’s power or water, or the weight of the machine, which concerns logistics because every pound of additional weight adds to the cost of shipping something to the moon.

Atul Vir (23:30):

So the project that NASA has is to build a house on the moon, almost like an RV or a tiny house where four astronauts are going to live there for six months to a year. And for their physical health and their mental health, they need to, people have to be clean, they need to be like a home-like environment, right? To do the job. Laundry is something you gotta do, but the main job is scientific experiments and the other things that they do. And your last thing you want is people having some health issues and worrying about contamination. Where did the water come from? Worrying about microfibers. There are things like moon dust, which is sharp, uh, like glass. What happens if it gets into the water system, what happens to the body? It should be easy to repair. So the multiple issues, and if we can resolve some of these, then it will help the products that we have on earth. The criteria they have given us is to reduce water consumption by 75%. And that’s a huge reduction. And what is, what are the implications of the problems we are facing on earth here? So it’ll certainly drive innovation in our company, and that gives us a worthy goal after these number of years. Well,

Enrique Alvarez (24:39):

Ul congratulations for that. Yeah, that’s amazing. And very few companies can say that they’re actually working hand in hand with NASA to get washer dryer into the moon. So that’s, we’ll definitely have to circle back with you once that project, uh, is on its way. But thank you so much for sharing, and once again, congratulations. Speaking of innovation, and I know you’re very keen about innovation, you’re also part of your core beliefs and sustainability, and it’s making sure that we don’t have a footprint and to this world. Could you tell us a little bit more about why that’s important to you and why you think this is important for everyone else and, and your industry and really in every other industry?

Atul Vir (25:20):

Well, I think it’s very clear that we have a responsibility to reduce consumption and reduce waste. We are in the forefront. We were the first company to first front loading washing machine to be sold in the us and at that time, we didn’t know they were energy saving and water saving. Front loading machines use one quarter of the amount of water than that of a top loading machine. So that’s the water. And because they only have to heat water, the amount of water they use quarter, the amount of energy to heat the water. So overall, it’s much better. And we fell into this in the course that became the point. And we were a charter member of the Energy Star program, and they were testing our machine to establish the standards. We are back in 1995 or something like that. You were the first company,

Enrique Alvarez (26:05):

Right? I mean, you were the first company to be awarded the Energy star.

Atul Vir (26:09):

We were the first, first washing machine. Say they hash machine, they had a computer programs and so on. But the appliance program or maybe washing machine program, we were the first, you know, so, uh, so we worked with them and you know, now of course it’s become very crowded and it’s, uh, established, but we’ve always felt it. And we are, we are also learning along the way. The knowledge that we have today is certainly much more than it was 20 or 30 years ago. And the awareness we have of the environment. And so we’ve also learned and said, it’s very important for us to save the earth. I think something came out just today that the Earth’s temperature has gone up by one and a half degrees over the last a hundred years, and that’s causing a lot of changes. And I think we as a manufacturer have to design products that take these into account.

Atul Vir (26:57):

Uh, there are now washing machines are involved with, let’s say, microplastics. And we have clothes that are shedding water and do well. We say we make the washing machine, what role do we have? But is it the water temperature? Is it the toss and tumble of the, of the drum that can cause it? And if so, we need to do something about it. So that’s the kind of problem we get into and try to solve. And I’m just giving theoretically because we haven’t solved it. It’s an industry problem, but, uh, we have to be conscious about these things. Uh, I I think it’s much more than earning profits. I’ll give you an example. We just don’t sell gas products. So we are like the Tesla of appliances gas. Now, California has banned the use of gas in multi-family homes, New York as well, because they found recently just that that gas has got carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide when, so for the cook, uh, they’re cooking, these are the emissions from there. So why would you, why would we want to sell such a product? And so that’s the kind of thing, uh, we are, it’s like saying there was a time when smoking was not considered healthy, but then they found out it was not healthy. So then you, you learn that. So we’ve, since we know this about gas, so we are, we are very conscious about, uh, the absolutely. Things going on

Kevin Brown (28:11):

Throughout this whole conversation. So far we’ve, it’s been about the journeys about innovation. It’s been about different ways of thinking. And for you and early on in your career is survival. And so at some point you decided to put this to pent paper. And in your book, underdog Thinking, tell us what motivated you. What was some of the ideas that you wanted to put down in writing that were so important that what motivated you to do this? And and when did you do this?

Atul Vir (28:38):

Well, I did it a few years ago. The idea was many years in the making, because first of all, it’s a very exciting being an entrepreneur. You have, you being an entrepreneur is, is for any entrepreneur, I would say. You conceptualize an idea and you have to convey this and con convey, convince people that it makes sense and make it profitable. But then I went through some experiences, which you can say with the recall in our company of the products where then we had to go through a very rough time and reconstitute the company and the learnings that I learned, the management theories that I, I came up with and how to make a new equator. So actually Kevin, I know you from the old equator, when equator was at the top of our, you could say the pinnacle of our accomplishments where we had a huge headquarters, we own big building, we had eight distribution centers around, around the country and in Canada.

Atul Vir (29:34):

And we were really running, running it great. And we had different goals. And after we went through this experience, when we had quality problems and so on, and we had very upset customers, it led to a reevaluation of what is it we are really trying to do? Is the grow, is it really important just to grow? And what is it you gain by growing? I mean, does it really give you satisfaction? Yes, it’s numbers, but do you really double your quality of life or what do you do that to that kind of soul searching? And I decided to, when I, first of all, most entrepreneurs don’t get a second chance, right? It’s you, you get one shot and 90% of entrepreneurs fail. That’s it. You Had Your shot and that’s what it is. Few decide to come back and I said, maybe I’m gonna give it another shot. And the only way through come out coming out of depression and bad thoughts going through your head is to conquer the very thing that bt And I said, you know what? I’m going to come up with the best machine over there. I want to make, the only goal I’m gonna have is make customers happy. It doesn’t matter about the growth, how big the company is. I want every customer who buys a product from this company to be happy. Because when I had the recall, they were upset customers and they were suing us. I’m saying also, and I said, why did I become an entrepreneur? So this is my goal now to innovate pro innovate and make products that bring joy, bring happiness, that improve people’s quality of life. And that’s all it is. And it doesn’t matter what the volume is, each customer is so important. They should be happy one at a time.

Enrique Alvarez (31:16):

Wow.

Atul Vir (31:16):

And that’s kind of what the

Enrique Alvarez (31:18):

Book talks about, right? Your kind of a story and how you defeated the odds and how you came back. And that’s why I am guessing it’s also titled underdog thinking.

Atul Vir (31:30):

Yeah. So the story is about the start of the company, how it went up, and some of the things that happened, intentional or non-intentional, and the sequence and how I rebuilt it back. And actually it is for this, it’s a story for entrepreneurs and for anybody else, for anybody who’s not an entrepreneur, to think what entrepreneurs go through. And most entrepreneurs I have met have gone through something similar that they have gone through some, uh, catastrophic event in whatever they, mine was pretty catastrophic. So some may have more or less. And what I did to bring it back and ultimately how I had to repurpose my life and change my life and what I wanted and what I wanted to do. So that’s the story. And it’s for people who are not entrepreneurs and also for entrepreneurs to show them that there is a greater purpose actually to just, uh, and don’t give up because it can be done. It’s difficult actually because when you go down, your credit is shut. You don’t have anybody, your, everybody’s saying, what did you do to me? Your, you have problems even in your family who’s saying, Hey, what’s going on over here? So it’s tough. And um, so I hope it’s been useful to people who read it.

Kevin Brown (32:42):

Well, you’ve given presentations to, to people all over the world, different entrepreneurs, industry executives, to M B A students, people at your alma mater as well. And so with all the learning that you have gone through, the successes of the failures that have helped you become what you are today, when you present and you talk to the to, to people, what’s, what are some of the main questions that you get that, that Makes A difference in someone else’s life as they go down this entrepreneurial road that you’ve been down?

Atul Vir (33:14):

Well, I think the number one thing is to focus on your customer. You know, I mean, if you just focus on your customer, people ask all sorts of questions, oh, how can I make money? And I tell them, if that’s only your only goal, then you’re not gonna get there. Because that’s a very shallow goal. Money is a consequence of success. And if you deserve it, and clearly we, we, we in the consumer products industry is we are, we are right on the edge dealing with consumers. And now it’s even more with social media and so on. So I give, I tell customers it’s a long, long, i, I tell people who listen and talk to students and so on. It’s a long road to do doing that. But the satisfaction you get from making your customers happy of, it’s his immense. And many people say, well, can I get a job? Then we’d love to work with you. So I think that is a validation that <laugh> that is making some difference.

Kevin Brown (34:03):

Doing the right things right, makes a really, it makes a big difference. And the way, the approach that people perceive you, your organization, and then those people that you work with as well. So Right. I, I guess the last one of the things I have is, is advice to these people that you talk to other than focus on the customer, other than reading your book, of course, that’s always a great piece of, uh, advice. What’s something else you would advise them other than as they’re sitting in that chair trying to figure out what I want to do? Yes, focusing on the customer is critical. How do you do that? What, what is one of the first steps that you do?

Atul Vir (34:39):

Well, I think the answer is that you have to keep looking for it until it comes. And if you have to do it organic, you know, if you’re looking for an idea, the idea will come just like I got the idea and I became, I learned to become good at it. I learned. And the secret is to have empathy for the people. I go back to that first point. I empathize with the people. At the end of the day, appliances are used mostly by women except men like to barbecue, but mostly the appliances are used by women, whether it’s washing machines, the dishwasher, and so on. And what we are doing is helping, making life easier. In many of the developing countries we’re working with, we are saving an enormous amount of time for the women so they can free up their time to have better quality of life with their families and so on.

Atul Vir (35:21):

So I look at it almost like a service that I’m doing that’s a, I mean, uh, that, that York’s helping improve people’s quality of life. So it’s more than just, than just, just a calling. Now, it didn’t start off like that. It started off trying to set up a business, earn a living, then got into innovation. So this is, I’m actually in equator. This is the third phase, the new equator. The first phase was importing, just selling a product that I could sell. The second one was actually setting up manufacturing and so on, and then crashing from that. And the third one is the new equator where we understand how do we improve people’s lives. So I just tell people that, try to find your calling. What is your calling? And it’ll, it’ll find you. But money shouldn’t. Trying to say, I just wanna earn more money, shouldn’t be one of them. Well, be careful what you ask

Enrique Alvarez (36:07):

For someday. You may

Atul Vir (36:08):

Just get it right. <laugh>, yes, why not? That will also be a

Enrique Alvarez (36:13):

Well,

Atul Vir (36:13):

And, and

Enrique Alvarez (36:14):

As you said, right, money’s always a, the out the product of some of the decisions that you make in life and how you work in life and your approach to life. So no, I totally agree. And very powerful, very powerful words. Great recommendations for listeners. It seems to me a tool that you’ve always had a really good pulse on the market itself. You, you understand the trends, you understand what people’s needing. You understand that some things are important. So my question to you is, how do you, what are the main indicators that you keep track of and how, how do you have such a good pulse on what the consumers or the trends are dictating? And then as a follow up question, once you realize what the changes are going to be, then how do you turn around and then adopt it so quickly in your company? ’cause again, you’ve restarted many, many times. You’re adjusted to the new equator as you just brought it up. What’s the trick? How can you change so quickly to keep innovating?

Atul Vir (37:09):

Well, I think the first thing is to find the opportunity. And I’ll give you some examples. I mean, uh, COVID was a time, it, it came upon us and it was a very challenging time, whether for consumer products or people at home or logistics or everybody that was trying to figure it out. And there was, in, in the manufacturing side, there was a chip supply. There were plants shutting down because their workers had covid. So it was a very challenging time, but we had to see it through and say, okay, if people have covid, what do we do? And we go to sort of segment your short-term goals and your long-term goals. So the short-term goal is, well, COVID is here, how do we do it? People are concerned about their lives, about their health and safety, wellness, and what can we do? So we, first of all, we set up, made sure that our plans were up and running.

Atul Vir (38:00):

We supported them in some cases with financial support and investing in things like chips, made sure that their workers were, all, the workers were okay. The production could, could, it may not be as smooth as it was, but it would take place in every alternate month or whatever. Nick. And the logistics, as was a very challenging time where the freight rates went up by seven to seven times, 10 times. And so we had to accept all those, uh, things. And uh, but as a result, our washing machines came up with a sanitized function, allergen function, antimicrobial features, which were embraced by customers. And so we were rewarded in that by thinking about the customers and their concerns. We said a lot to the rv, uh, RV space, and people go to the common, the common areas or laundry. And they didn’t want to do that.

Atul Vir (38:54):

They wanted to have the washing machine in their own space, their own rv. So we came up with these machine that was a great success. We came up with many other products. Another example is the outdoor line that, uh, we came up with people who are entertaining. And, uh, we, you have a social need, so you’re not entertaining indoors because you’re concerned about catching an infection, right? And so we came up with a whole outdoor line, outdoor air conditioners, outdoor refrigerators. So the need created, the opportunity, and I think it is a question of trying to figure out anytime there’s a problem, what’s our solution in the field we operate in? So the field we operate in is appliances. And as example, we came up with air purifiers and the washing machines and four or five products in that segment, and then in the outdoor segment. And they’ve all done very well, even though Covid has gone to some extent. But I think it’s here to stay. And people have a much different awareness of these things, risks to life now. So absolutely. And I’m happy we’re, we’re able to contribute and find solutions for peoples that they’re doing it

Kevin Brown (40:02):

Well. Covid has changed, as an example. It’s changed the way we do business today as we’re doing podcasts and uh, meetings as we’re doing today. So as we continue to talk about logistics and with purpose, it’s an honor to work with you, the entire team that you have, that you’ve assembled and, and working with you and your team day to day. Obviously you have a, a passion for what you do, and then working with your employees as well. What does logistics with purpose, what does that mean to you today and then even in the future as we continue to evolve?

Atul Vir (40:35):

Well, logistics is a very important part, part, part of the whole process because we, as I mentioned, we are, we’re in the consumer space, consumer product space. And we are dealing directly with consumers as opposed to say, business to business, which is more, okay, something happens and replace the product. And you’re dealing with one person, dealing with consumers, you’re dealing with social media and blogs, and people can nowadays, people, customers, consumers have a simple goal that if we decide to buy a product at the click of a button, it should be delivered here in the shortest possible time. In say good condition. It should work. I mean, I paid for it. I have a right that it should work. So there’s a lot of pressure on all fronts. The machine should work. We need to move it to ship it from one part of the world to another safely on time because many people’s livelihoods are depending on it.

Atul Vir (41:29):

For example, our distributors depend on us having products in time. Our retailers, us depend on us. They don’t depend only on us, but let’s say they depend on many people who supply them on time. The consumer, if they order a product and you say it’s not in stock, let’s say, what do you mean it’s not in stock? It’s supposed to know whether you have it in stock, right? So all this is connected to logistics. How do we move it safely without damage on time and deliver it to the customer so they’re happy. And frankly speaking, it’s a big challenge, a lot of these, uh, spaces because we have the, the, these, these topics because you got damage issues and lots of things happening. Not specifically the international, but the whole chain of logistics is, is involved in this, when now people want it installed in their home and take away the old product. And we are dealing with labor shortage and all these things. So the entire, all this gamut of logistics is a ever evolving situation and challenging situation.

Kevin Brown (42:31):

And what I love about working with Equator is that we’ve taken out the vendor supplier relationship, And that’s been gone for a long time working with Equator. It truly is a partnership and it’s the way you work with people and your associates, your employees, whether it’s at your level, working with suppliers and everyone else in the supply chain. You do it with honesty and integrity, and you keep your values and your principles in check, good things happen to good people. So it, it’s an honor again, to work with you, the folks on your team as well. As we wrap up here the next couple of minutes, how can our listeners connect with you and of course, learn more about Equator Advanced Appliances and how’s the best way for them to better understand what you do professionally and then also about how, what the journey that’s gotten you here as well.

Atul Vir (43:21):

Thank you. Well, thank you for your, for this, uh, this opportunity to talk. Uh, it’s an honor. I think, uh, we value the relationship and relationships are the most important thing in any business, not just the numbers, but the best way to learn about our company and our products is to look on our website, which is equator appliances.com. And the best way to reach me, well, on the company website, there is a contact page with a direct link to me and anybody can send me an email from there. Or I also have a personal website, which is a tool beer.com, and they can reach me there. And this is about the presentations I do, and as part of the giving back that I do, that I hope somebody will benefit from this and it’ll be useful to somebody’s life and having successful and happy life and fulfilling life.

Enrique Alvarez (44:17):

Atul, thank you so much. Thank you very, very much for being here today. It’s been a pleasure. It’s great knowing you and your family and your wife. So thank you once again for being such a great example for a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners out there, and for everyone out there that’s trying to work hard and make a positive impact in this world. To everyone else that’s listening to this episode, and if you like conversations like the one we just had with Atul, don’t forget to subscribe. Thank you so much and I’ll see you next time. Thank

Atul Vir (44:45):

You very much. Bye-bye then.

 

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Featured Guests

Atul Andy Vir is a hands-on CEO, entrepreneur, inventor, author, speaker, and thought leader, dedicated to excellence and innovation. He founded Equator Advanced Appliances with a singular mission: to make life easier for his wife by reducing laundry time. Guided by strong ethics and a commitment to superior customer service, Mr. Vir has grown Equator into a leading appliance company with a global presence, including in the United States, India, China, Canada, and Europe. As President of Equator, Mr. Vir is renowned for his innovative household appliances designed to simplify chores, save space, enhance well-being, and cater to specific regional needs. The product range encompasses Combo Washer-Dryers, Refrigerators, Dishwashers, Wine Refrigerators, Cooktops, and Microwaves. Equator’s extensive distribution network ensures global accessibility. Mr. Vir’s achievements include being twice named Wells Fargo Bank Entrepreneur of the Year, and an Ernst and Young Finalist. Equator has earned a place in the Houston 100 List of Fastest Growing Companies three times and has garnered recognition in leading media outlets, including CBS News, Fortune magazine, Popular Mechanics, and The Wall Street Journal. Vir holds 18 patents for appliance technology, and his award-winning products cater to home, recreational vehicle, and marine markets. In 2022, his decades-long entrepreneurial journey culminated in his induction into the Dealerscope Hall of Fame. He is the author of “Underdog Thinking”, in which he shared his journey. Connect with Atul on LinkedIn.

Hosts

Enrique Alvarez

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kevin Brown

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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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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Mary Kate Love

VP, Marketing

Mary Kate Love is currently the VP of marketing at Supply Chain Now focused on brand strategy and audience + revenue growth. Mary Kate’s career is a testament to her versatility and innovative spirit: she has experience in start-ups, venture capital, and building innovation initiatives from the ground up: she previously helped lead the build-out of the Supply Chain Innovation Center at Georgia-Pacific and before that, MxD (Manufacturing times Digital): the Department of Defense’s digital manufacturing innovation center. Mary Kate has a passion for taking complicated ideas and turning them into reality: she was one of the first team members at MxD and the first team member at the Supply Chain Innovation Center at Georgia-Pacific.

Mary Kate dedicates her extra time to education and mentorship: she was one of the founding Board Members for Women Influence Chicago and led an initiative for a city-wide job shadow day for young women across Chicago tech companies and was previously on the Board of Directors at St. Laurence High School in Chicago, Young Irish Fellowship Board and the UN Committee for Women. Mary Kate is the founder of National Supply Chain Day and enjoys co-hosting podcasts at Supply Chain Now. Mary Kate is from the south side of Chicago, a mom of two baby boys, and an avid 16-inch softball player. She holds a BS in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Amanda Luton

Vice President, Production

Amanda is a production and marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Amanda currently manages, produces, and develops modern digital content for Supply Chain Now and their clients. Amanda has previously served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah, and founded and managed her own successful digital marketing firm, Magnolia Marketing Group. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now production team, you can find Amanda in the kitchen, reading, listening to podcasts, or enjoying time with family.

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Constantine Limberakis

Host

Constantine Limberakis is a thought leader in the area of procurement and supply management. He has over 20 years of international experience, playing strategic roles in a wide spectrum of organizations related to analyst advisory, consulting, product marketing, product development, and market research.Throughout his career, he's been passionate about engaging global business leaders and the broader analyst and technology community with strategic content, speaking engagements, podcasts, research, webinars, and industry articles.Constantine holds a BA in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an MBA in Finance & Marketing / Masters in Public & International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.

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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

Mary Kate Soliva is a veteran of the US Army and cofounder of the Guam Human Rights Initiative. 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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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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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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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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Tyler Ward

Director of Sales

Tyler Ward serves as Supply Chain Now's Director of Sales. Born and raised in Mid-Atlantic, Tyler is a proud graduate of Shippensburg University where he earned his degree in Communications. After college, he made his way to the beautiful state of Oregon, where he now lives with his wife and daughter.

With over a decade of experience in sales, Tyler has a proven track record of exceeding targets and leading high-performing teams. He credits his success to his ability to communicate effectively with customers and team members alike, as well as his strategic thinking and problem-solving skills.

When he's not closing deals, you can find Tyler on the links or cheering on his favorite football and basketball teams. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing pick-up basketball, and traveling back to Ocean City, Maryland, his favorite place!

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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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Greg White

Principal & CMO, 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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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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