Supply Chain Now
Episode 918

We put so much data and information in front of our vendors. Opening their eyes and partnering with them at every level has been one of the most fun things to do because it makes everybody better. When you get together and share data and talk about trends, that's where true partnership lies and, that's super rewarding for me.

-Phil Rich, SVP & CSCO at Sweetwater

Episode Summary

Sweetwater sells musical instruments, live sound equipment, and recording equipment for every lever of user – people building multimillion dollar studios, clubs and churches that needs audio, etc. Because e-commerce is their primary sales channel, they have also built up an exceptional team of sales engineers that are trained to do everything from advise customers about their purchases to building relationships that will hopefully last a lifetime.

Phil Rich is a Senior Vice President and the Chief Supply Chain Officer at Sweetwater. He is well aware of the importance of the company’s relationships with customers, but he doesn’t let it end there. He is also building value-oriented relationships with the company’s 700 suppliers.

In this conversation, Phil returns to Supply Chain Now to get caught up Greg White and Scott Luton:

• How Sweetwater’s company culture drives every customer interaction, with the goal being to win a customer for life

• The time and effort the company is investing to ensure that their packaging and shipping materials are as cost effective and environmentally responsible as possible

• Why they selected Glendale, AZ for their new fulfillment center, and how it will reduce delivery times and costs for customers on the west coast

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:03):

Welcome to supply chain. Now the voice of global supply chain supply chain now focuses on the best in the business for our worldwide audience, the people, the technologies, the best practices, and today’s critical issues. The challenges and opportunities stay tuned to hear from those making global business happen right here on supply chain now.

Scott Luton (00:32):

Hey, good morning, everybody. Scott Luton and Greg White with you here on supply chain. Now, welcome to today’s show Greg, how you doing?

Greg White (00:39):

I’m doing great. I’m especially great. Now my two favorite things, great customer service and music. So

Scott Luton (00:45):

<laugh>, that’s a long list though. That’s there’s lots of,

Greg White (00:49):

I have a lot favorite things. I just can’t decide.

Scott Luton (00:51):

<laugh> all right. Well, along those lines, as Greg’s alluding to, we’ve got a special repeat guest here with us today. Uh, a special supply chain leader from one of Greg’s favorite brands. Is that right? Greg

Greg White (01:04):

Unquestionably? Yeah, I was introduced to, to, uh, Sweetwater, sorry. I gave it up on you, Scott, um, by my, uh, product VP at my last company who is a session guitar and keyboard player, pretty decent singer and, and an absolute stickler for outstanding customer service and Sweetwater is who he held up as the, the

Scott Luton (01:30):

Top gold standard of

Greg White (01:31):

The list. Yeah. So wonderful. Yeah. And you know, of course we have occasion to buy some audio and video equipment occasionally here, maybe the odd guitar. So yeah, I’ve had my own experiences with them.

Scott Luton (01:44):

Well, you know what, with all of that said that glowing, glowing endorsement, but heartfelt and genuine, no further do wanna welcome in feel rich chief supply chain officer with Sweetwater, Phil, how you doing great, Scott, Greg, glad to be back with you guys. Good to

Greg White (01:58):

See you. Yeah. Good to have you

Scott Luton (02:00):

Back. It is so nice to have you back. I tell you, it feels like it feel like it was just a few weeks ago, but man, it has been, it’s been a fast, I’ll call it 18 months or so. Uh, so great, great di meet you. And we gotta give a quick shout out, uh, by the way, Phil, uh, as we’re coming on, pre-show Justin, uh, our production engineer has been, I think, a Sweetwater customer since 1996 as Justin put it. So, um, I’m sure he is. He is edge of his chair waiting to see, uh, from a supply chain standpoint, how y’all do what you do. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, so Phil let’s do this before we get into to more of the Sweetwater story. Let’s kind of refresh our understanding of who you are feel rich. So tell us first off, where did you grow up?

Scott Luton (02:41):

And then I’ve got a quick follow up question for you. Okay. Grew up split between east Tennessee, uh, to the C uh, until about the age of eight or nine, and then Phoenix, Arizona would be up through high school. Okay. And, and, um, let’s tell, we’re gonna have to, we’re gonna have this follow up question is gonna have to hit both of those locales. So, uh, give me one of your favorite food dishes, both in Tennessee and that earlier stage of your life. And then in Phoenix, where Greg’s got some par, some common experiences with you.

Phil Rich (03:13):

Well, Tennessee, uh, I’d say strawberry rhubarb pie, man. <laugh> I mean, the rhubarb grows pretty darn, uh, tasty out there.

Scott Luton (03:22):

He’s

Phil Rich (03:22):

Really so do strawberries. Uh, so yeah, love that. And, uh, out in Phoenix, I mean, you just can’t go wrong with good old fashioned street tacos. I mean, one of my favorites.

Scott Luton (03:34):

All right. So Greg, uh, ask and, and he shall deliver, uh, you, you spent some time in Phoenix, those street tacos were they as addictive as, uh, Phil was pointing out,

Greg White (03:45):

I’m more of a burrito guy, myself. I love tacos, but, um, we actually had an adaptation when I was out there of something of this group of restaurants in San Diego, they call the BETOS and they make these giant burritos. They make tacos also. I bet I have a feeling. You probably got some from there.

Scott Luton (04:03):

<laugh>

Greg White (04:04):

Um, but what I loved about Phoenix and I don’t know, Phil, if you ever experienced this was you could go to two Mexican restaurants, literally one next door to the other or to the exact same dish. And it would be made totally differently because they’re from different parts of Mexico or different family recipes or whatever it, it is so far in my experience, impossible to bleed to beat the Mexican food in Phoenix, anywhere in the states.

Phil Rich (04:28):

Yep.

Scott Luton (04:29):

Same Phil. Um, alright, one last food question. You know, we love talking about food around here. When, when you first said Tennessee, I thought for sure, especially how you paused. I thought you were gonna say, Scott, you have moron. Of course, barbecue. Um, so I, you took me for, I’ve never had strawberry rhubarb pie, so I’m have to get with a man on that. What, but I’ve never had it, uh, I don’t know, maybe, maybe I’m you

Greg White (04:50):

Really a southerner.

Scott Luton (04:51):

I mean, must,

Greg White (04:53):

Um, the Midwest and I’ve had it,

Scott Luton (04:55):

Uh, well, Phil was, so was barbecue part of that early stage of your, your upbringing?

Phil Rich (05:02):

Uh, it was out, you know, I spent a lot of time out on a lake called Watauga lake in east Tennessee. And just the fact that we kind of lived out there most of the time, barbecue was just part of daily life. So I didn’t think of it as being all that special at the time, but it really was looking back on it, just

Greg White (05:18):

A staple

Phil Rich (05:19):

<laugh> yeah, it was what it was,

Scott Luton (05:21):

You know, it is so funny, uh, Greg, to your point, exactly. It’s just a staple. We, we take for granted these things that we have access to every day and those are for, for many others, that’s part of their food vacations, you know, take yeah, good point. People are paying the wine, that wine their way through different states for barbecue and, and other things. Um, okay. Uh, nothing. Well, not too many things pair as well with food as music and Phil, as you’ve got sitting there in your lap, some, some of our, uh, listeners from your last appearance with us will recall that you’re one heck of a guitarist, so, oh, nice. When did you, uh, when did you first start playing? Who got you involved,

Phil Rich (06:02):

Picked up the guitar around age 11? Uh, my mother was actually, she played, you know, just, just drummed on an acoustic guitar. She wrote songs. Um, she actually recorded her record when I was a teenager. Wow. And, uh, and my dad was a, like a church music director and he played trumpet. So there was a decent amount of music going on in the family. And of course, every kid who has an older brother kind of wants to be their older brother a little bit. And he started, you know, playing rock guitar, he got a strata caster and a PV amp. And so I just wanted to rock out. So start at 11, uh, joined the Navy at 17, ended up in the Navy band at 19 and, and did that for six years. So I, you know, kind of played every day for six years straight, uh, gigs, all kinds of gigs. So yeah. Wow. FARs been an important part of my life for a long time.

Greg White (06:51):

Who’s better. You were your brother.

Phil Rich (06:53):

Oh, I’m so much better than Navy. Yes. Not even close, man.

Greg White (06:57):

Hey, you know, well, every day for six years I would, I would figure, but yeah. Yeah. And I’m sure you don’t hold that over him at all. Ever.

Scott Luton (07:04):

<laugh>

Phil Rich (07:04):

I, I only bring it up five, six times a year. Maybe,

Scott Luton (07:08):

You know, I had forgotten that part, that you served the Navy and you’re part of the us Navy band. Um, I’m sure that you, you could write a book on those experiences for six years. Um, and, and you’re gonna play us out at the end, but really quick. You, you were a moment ago, you were playing an iconic tune that Greg said he can name in one note.

Phil Rich (07:26):

Oh, Greg knows the tune, right?

Scott Luton (07:39):

Yeah. Yeah. Well,

Greg White (07:40):

Here’s gonna, you, you want me to name it? I’m sorry. Yeah,

Phil Rich (07:42):

Go for it.

Greg White (07:42):

Wish you were here. I’m sorry. I, I didn’t realize you.

Phil Rich (07:45):

Yeah.

Scott Luton (07:46):

So Greg, you did not win the,

Greg White (07:49):

Uh, I

Scott Luton (07:49):

Wanted grand prize today.

Greg White (07:51):

I thought I thought we were gonna let him play it through, so,

Phil Rich (07:54):

Oh,

Greg White (07:54):

Okay. Just listening

Scott Luton (07:56):

In all

Greg White (07:57):

Honesty, you had me, Phil, you had me

Scott Luton (07:58):

In all honesty. I was hoping Greg was gonna start singing to the, your tune, uh, field. We’ll see if we, we,

Greg White (08:03):

Well, there’s a long guitar lead into that. Oh, that’s true. You’re a long way from vocals.

Scott Luton (08:08):

That’s true. All right.

Greg White (08:09):

Maybe on the way out Scott

Scott Luton (08:11):

<laugh>, I’m not a pink Floyd pro as I am, as I’m giving myself up here. Um, alright. So finally, speaking of bands and musicians, and clearly, gosh, uh, for heard you correctly, your mom actually, uh, recorded, um, and dropped an album and your dad played in the church, uh, great role models there, but, uh, whether it’s them or whether it’s others that we, we may be more familiar with as, as, um, music enthusiasts. Who, what, what, one of your favorite bands or musicians of all time Phil?

Phil Rich (08:43):

Well, probably the band I listened to the most over such a long span of time is rush. I’m a big joy rush, a lot. I’ve had the pleasure of, uh, meeting Alex. Lison having dinner with him. Wow. Just cause of being in the business. And he’s, he’s a wonderful guy and yeah, that’s, I’d have to say that band sits at the top and there’s plenty more on the list, but there’s one, I was this close to grabbing my rush t-shirt instead of my mentality t-shirt

Scott Luton (09:11):

Uh, ever, ever met Mr. Roberto there, Phil,

Phil Rich (09:13):

Mr. Robo. Yes. Mr.

Scott Luton (09:15):

Robo was, that’s not, is that rush? No. Or

Phil Rich (09:18):

Is that sticks? That sticks.

Scott Luton (09:19):

I always get them confused. My bad, my bad. All right. Um, <laugh> so I tell,

Phil Rich (09:27):

I said he’s out it.

Scott Luton (09:31):

So with all of that said, and I appreciate your, uh, your, uh, sense humor here. Um, let’s switch gears and let’s talk about Sweetwater. So as Greg and, and Justin, we were talking on the front end, of course, we use a lot of your equipment and really have come to appreciate, um, how your company does business, but for the handful of folks out there that may, may not, you know, use AV equipment and, and music and musical equipment, what does Sweetwater do?

Phil Rich (09:56):

Uh, Sweetwater sells musical instruments, uh, and, uh, live sound equipment, recording equipment, all kinds of stuff. And, uh, since I talked to you guys last, uh, we started selling band and orchestra equipment. So we sell TRS and trombones and, uh, saxophones and flutes and clarinets and all kind of stuff like that. But whether you wanna do something like this, if you want to, uh, record audio at home, or you want build a multimillion dollar studio, or you got a club or a church that needs audio, whether it’s, uh, speakers in the ceiling, just cranking out music and announcements or a big PA system microphones, you know, the stuff you guys are talking through and listening through right now, you know, that’s, that’s kind of stuff that we sell and, uh, we’ve just grown tremendously. And, and, uh, e-comm is our, is our primary, uh, channel for that. We do have a beautiful award-winning retail store here, but we’re primarily, uh, e-com in the United States.

Scott Luton (10:53):

Mm-hmm <affirmative> and, and the company’s headquartered where again,

Phil Rich (10:57):

In Northeast Indiana in Fort Wayne.

Scott Luton (10:59):

Okay. Fort Wayne, you know, Fort Wayne, we talkings last time you were with us Fort Wayne has really, uh, played a major role in innovation, uh, uh, over, over the decades. I, I wanna say that Fort Wayne and check me if I’m, um, if I’m off the mark here, Greg or Phil, um, I believe the first ever home video console was developed in Fort Wayne, Indiana. If I’m not mistaken, we’ll double check that. Add, add a link, Greg,

Phil Rich (11:27):

That’s a trivia question. I don’t know. I’m, there’s a long history with, uh, could be that, that the long history with Magnox Wayne. Yes. Yes. And Magnox is really no longer a presence here, but so many people that live here that are generally older, uh, worked at, at Magnox when it was in its heyday.

Scott Luton (11:47):

Well, um, that that’s exactly it. Cause Magnox, uh, developed, came in, in the name of the game system. They developed the first, uh, home con home video game console in the states, uh, right there, uh, in Fort Wayne. So, um, it’s a shame they’re not around. I did not know that as much anymore. Yeah. Okay. So Greg, uh, with Mr. Phil rich, where are we going next?

Greg White (12:07):

Well, I, I’m a huge fan of your customer service, so we have to talk about it. I mean, it’s legendary top notch, right? Of course, the gold standard, as Scott said, I’m curious how that became such a big part of your culture. And I’m also curious, do other companies come to you to learn from you?

Phil Rich (12:29):

Well, it’s a big part of our culture because it’s been a big part of our culture since day one, since, since Chuck was a one man operation all the way to today, you know, he always wanted to, uh, deliver the product on time in, uh, in great in perfect condition and exceed expectations. And that’s why, you know, originally when he had his recording studio, you know, he would leave the tapes out in his mailbox and he’d add a little bag of candy, you know, just to say, thank you. And we still do that today. We, we put candy in every order, but it it’s, it exists because we about it every day, Greg, we talk about it in our executive meetings. We talk about it in our, in our, uh, team meetings. We read customer letters and all the way from the top of the company to the bottom, uh, we’re solving customer issues every day. We don’t put them off and say, oh, that’s not important to me, somebody else’s problem. I that’s everybody’s problem. Uh, and everybody’s challenge. And, and, and we love doing it because, you know, what’s better than making customers happy and winning them over for life. You know, we, we do talk about, we, nobody wants to make mistakes. Nobody wants to have customer issues, but when you do, it’s an opportunity to make a customer for life. And, and that’s how we approach it, coach it.

Greg White (13:46):

And it is, I mean, I can vouch for it. I’ve gotten some of those bags of candy. <laugh> the occasional microphone or cable, or maybe a guitar or something. <laugh> so, and I really appreciate ’em, I’m always, uh, by the way, I’m always, um, asking for extra Smarties whenever you can, whenever you can get ’em just

Phil Rich (14:07):

<laugh> man, let us not talk about supply chain and candy. Oh boy. Not believe the shortage of candy right now.

Greg White (14:14):

I bet. You know, we have talked about that actually on the show and among ourselves lately, because some of the products that go into candy are they’re in very short supply. And I imagine similarly, you’ve had, you’ve had challenges like that in your industries. So I’m curious, uh, because supply chain is such a huge contributor to your ability to convert on the customer, promise to deliver on time in, you know, in full and, and, you know, an impeccable quality. What, what is maybe your favorite aspect of getting to be chief supply chain officer at Sweetwater?

Phil Rich (14:54):

Well, certainly being on the front lines of, of solving those issues is super, uh, rewarding. Um, I think one of the best parts for me is bringing our vendors into that sort of what I’ll call that huddle, you know, really with our top 25 and beyond cuz we’ve got, you know, about 700 vendors mm-hmm <affirmative> so, uh, bringing them into there. We, since the last time we spoke, uh, we rolled out a tremendous new B2B site with all kinds of, uh, forecasting and inventory health reporting. And we really put so much more data and information in front of our vendors and just to open their eyes and partner with them at every level has, has been one of the most fun things to do, uh, cuz it makes everybody better. You know, when you get together and you share data and you talk about trends and what’s going on and it’s kind of sounds like old hat, but when you accomplish that at every level of the company, um, you know, that’s where a true partnership lies and, and that’s super rewarding for me.

Greg White (15:57):

Yeah. That’s fantastic. Well, I mean, in, you know, we talk all the time about the fact that you, you can make promises anywhere. You want your website, your marketing materials, your, your sales pitches, whatever, but they have to be delivered through the supply chain. That’s you’re the last people to touch it before it goes into the customer’s hands. So yeah, it’s a critical, critical part of it. And I think until recently until recent events, Phil, I don’t think people recognize that as a supply chain function, you know, the delivery of customer experience as, as part of the supply chain function. But it really, really is. And, and um, I, I think it’s just, it, it shows that, that your, you guys commitment is completely circular. In fact, it reminds me that I owe my, um, my sales rep an email back he’s probably, <laugh> probably concerned about me. Well,

Scott Luton (16:52):

So on that note, Greg, I’m glad you, you touched that on that cause, uh, that’s one of my favorite parts as well. Uh, and, and every, you don’t find that in, in, in so many companies. So Phil speak to that if you would, for a second, because you do assign the person you buy from, uh, at Sweetwater, they, they stay with you, uh, and, and they can, you know, they get to know your business, they get to know your needs, your preferences and whatnot, right?

Phil Rich (17:14):

Absolutely. Yeah. We, we call those, uh, folks sales engineers. Uh, we have, um, just about 600 of those people today. And gosh, they’re developing those relationships with customers, you know, and you know, I was just out at the NA show that happens every year and you guys may be familiar with it. That’s the, our industry trade show. And I’m talking to, uh, a guy I haven’t seen for seven or eight years. And uh, he says, man, you guys make it so easy. I just, I can just text my sales engineer and say, Hey, I need this. Uh, can you ship it to me? And he gets a text message back. Sure. What credit card do you want it on? Here you go. And he goes, ah, do it on this one. And then it ships mm-hmm <affirmative>. And, and, you know, he is talking about what a unique experience that is versus trying to call up a music store and talk to somebody and get him to really care about you.

Phil Rich (18:08):

And so I, you know, it brings a level of concierge service. You know, we, we take folks, generally they have some sort of a recording or audio degree. We bring ’em into Sweetwater. We take ’em through what we call Sweetwater university for 13 weeks. It’s not just training on the fundamentals of product, but we take ’em through things like the seven habits. Uh, we take ’em through, um, other important lessons. Like don’t just do what I tell you to do, uh, to think for themselves, we teach ’em how to have what we call a perfect conversation with a customer. We just do so much, uh, to prepare them, to talk to customers, cuz we, we really feel that that interaction is the most important thing that we do. And, and, and they do a fantastic job and uh, you know, that’s what creates customers for life. And that’s why Justin, thank you. Justin has been a customer, uh, for so long.

Greg White (19:02):

Yeah. That’s unbelievable a customer for that amount of time.

Scott Luton (19:06):

Agreed and really quick for our listeners. Of course, Phil is referring to Justin, uh, our production engineer here today. Uh who’s off screen and, and doing his good work. So Justin appreciate what you do and appreciate you sharing your part of the, uh, Sweetwater story. All right. So Greg, um, where are we going next with Phil rich? Who’s dying. I think, I think we’re, we might get a whole set.

Greg White (19:28):

Go ahead and play. You can play while we’re asking if you want. I, I know you’re dying to, to rip a few notes on that thing. So go for it.

Phil Rich (19:37):

If I could play

Scott Luton (19:37):

Like Phil, I’d be dying for sure. To play

Greg White (19:41):

Chuck Sue rock, who’s your, your founder and CEO. I is, um, you know, kind of the center like any good leader is of, of all the culture in your organization. And, and even with everything that’s been going on over the last couple of years, sustainability has become a huge issue for supply chains. And I think much like you all have engaged your, your, uh, suppliers to recognize, uh, other a, you know, how collaboration can, can improve performance. Um, I think a lot of companies and obviously you all have rerecognized that sustainability is a critical part of, of what you guys do. So I’m curious, um, tell us about some of the things that, that you’re doing to convert on that, on that promise.

Phil Rich (20:28):

Yeah. Well, since the last time we spoke, uh, we did a very, uh, intensive review and on RFQ for all of our packing materials, all of our corrugate, our tape, um, you know, what was the environmental impact of those? How could, how could we use the least amount? Um, uh, we, uh, we now scan every single product that comes in. We know exactly what the dimensions are and we recommend the smallest packaging, uh, possible for any of those boxes. And we’ve really, um, you know, we’ve partnered up with our carriers to do, uh, some special things to, uh, to lower the carbon footprint. One of those things, um, that we’ve done is zone skipping. So instead of, you know, just sending trucks to the local sort center and then multiple trucks go out multiple directions, you know, we’re really dropping full trucks and moving them across the country and, and dropping them into sort centers. And just things like that, all those little things do add up to, uh, to an impact that, uh, that we believe is important.

Greg White (21:36):

I, I think that, you know, it’s, it is important because you, everybody has a page on their website nowadays, right? Not everybody to quote the great Kelly Barner, not everybody is converting that into action, um, in, you know, in their operations. And it’s not an easy thing to do because there are a ton of trade offs, right? I think we have to acknowledge that to the, to our, our community here, but, um, there are a ton of trade offs, but when you start to make that one of the key priorities of your supply chain, just like optimizing cost and demand, fulfillment, and, and, you know, and speed and reliability and all those things, then it goes into that mix and really can, can create other efficiencies throughout the supply chain. So, uh, it’s I mean like, like you guys, like, I’m not a big enough fan of you guys already. I think that’s really cool that you guys are working that stuff into it and doing so thoughtfully and including your trading partners. Right. I think that’s critical. It’s not your supply chain. It’s all y’all’s supply chain. <laugh>

Scott Luton (22:37):

Well, you know,

Greg White (22:37):

Tennessee.

Phil Rich (22:39):

Yeah.

Scott Luton (22:39):

I’m glad you mentioned that. Cause it does seem to be part of, you know, what I’ve heard thus far. And it reminded me of our first interview, you know, uh, just how intentional you and the Sweetwater team, the culture is about investing in relationships, right. Uh, you were talking a minute ago, but, you know, bring in, uh, 700 vendors or suppliers that you have bringing ’em in and, and, um, really, uh, uh, immersing, um, or really investing and deepening those relationships. Right. Uh, you mentioned the data side of it earlier, but it sounds like also you’re exchanging ideas related to sustainability, so that you’re really, you know, rising tide lifts all ships there as well. Is that right? Phil

Phil Rich (23:20):

We’re we’re sharing that. Um, absolutely. And

Phil Rich (23:24):

Just in the last few months, uh, we conducted a survey with our entire vendor, uh, community about employee wellbeing practices, and we just completed that. Uh, we felt really, really great about what we heard, uh, on that survey and just this last week, uh, we communicated back out to the whole vendor community and gave them some, uh, things to think about and some resources that, that they can use. You know, we have a lot of small vendors, right? We have a lot of guys making pedals in their garage or maybe a 25 employee company all the way up to billion dollar, uh, partners. And we do just, we do wanna make sure that they’re thinking about the right things as far as, uh, making sure that the factories that they source and that the labor that they use are, are all in really good standing and people are treated fairly around the world.

Scott Luton (24:13):

Love that, Greg.

Greg White (24:14):

Yeah, that’s critical. That’s absolutely critical. So, you know, obviously customer success, customer support, customer experience, sustainability, and, and, and the reliability of your supply chain, huge priorities for you, but maybe in the last 18 months or so, since we last talked, you may have had some other things come up, you know, maybe a global pandemic here and there, or other supply chain challenges that have hit you. So I’m curious, where are your priorities and where do you see your challenges today?

Phil Rich (24:50):

Well, uh, one of the top priorities right now is, is a new fulfillment center that we’re, uh, just about to open out in Glendale, Arizona. We’re really excited about it. Um, you know, the primary purpose of that fulfillment center is to reach the, the 25 to 30% of our customer base that lives out west. And, and right now the transit times, aren’t ideal for those customers. You know, uh, Amazon prime is a lot more attractive <laugh> yeah. Than, than, yeah. Then, then what our carriers can currently offer. That’s that’s affordable. So, uh, we’re gonna get really close to those customers. And, and I think that we’re gonna see a, a little bit of an increase in business for that, but there’s also the, the environmental impact of that with, uh, a lot less, uh, distance to cover with trucks. And we’re real excited. It not only does it help us cover the west coast, but it really gives us the whole country in about three days, uh, or less everywhere. And so again, we’re super, super excited about that one. Yeah,

Greg White (25:49):

That’s really good. And, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s near Phoenix, so you can get street tacos whenever

Scott Luton (25:55):

Visit <laugh>

Phil Rich (25:56):

Right. Strips will be made

Scott Luton (25:59):

<laugh>

Greg White (26:00):

Tacos will be consumed.

Phil Rich (26:01):

Tacos will be consumed

Scott Luton (26:03):

<laugh>. Um,

Greg White (26:04):

Uh, I’m sure that was purely coincidence. I mean, really a lot of math and science for in case people don’t know, go into where to put a facility like that. Right. So

Scott Luton (26:15):

You beat me to it, you beat me to it, Greg, that site selection and, and, and you may not can reveal a lot there, uh, Phil, but is there anything you can speak to there of why Glendale and, and, and some of what y’all’s process looked like?

Phil Rich (26:30):

Yeah, sure. The pro I mean, the process was, um, probably what you’d expect, uh, extensive network studies on, uh, time and transit and capacities and sort centers, and, you know, the ability to move, to move boxes around. We really looked at the labor market in depth and in a, in a lot of cities out west and, and, uh, you know, the one interesting thing about Phoenix is it’s really moved up to be the fifth largest Metro in the country. And there’s a lot of labor there right now, the city’s growing, uh, the city’s investing. Uh, so it’s a real exciting place to be. And, you know, you can probably imagine who some of the other competitive cities are, but then there’s the availability of just buildings in general. And so any one of those, uh, any one of those three can be, you know, can be a heartbreaker when it comes to, to pick a location, but Phoenix really checked all the boxes. And, uh, you know, we were able quickly able to, to lease a building out there. And, um, man, if you’ve driven up and down, you know, the Southwest side Goodyear or up to 3 0 3 in Phoenix lately, I don’t know of anywhere in the country that more fulfillment and distribution centers are being built. It is very true. Absolutely incredible,

Scott Luton (27:48):

Outstanding, exciting expansion ahead. Uh, this is really cool. And sounds like you’ll have to be building a bigger Sweetwater university as you onboard a lot of, uh, new family members, right?

Phil Rich (28:01):

Yeah. You know, growth, it’s fun. It’s challenging. Uh, and yeah, we just have to keep continuing to grow the organization, but we wanna stay like a small company. We wanna continue to feel and be agile, like a small company. And, and we will, we’ll continue to do that.

Scott Luton (28:18):

Love that, uh, the values driven organization, uh, great to sit back down far.

Phil Rich (28:23):

So good, Phil.

Scott Luton (28:24):

Yes, that’s right. You want

Phil Rich (28:25):

A customer’s opinion? <laugh>

Scott Luton (28:29):

So, um, as we come around the corner coming down the home stretch of our time here with Phil rich, uh, from Sweetwater, um, yeah, a lot as, as Greg mentioned, uh, goodness gracious. Uh, it has been a, um, uh, a challenging, uh, in new ways, old ways you name it over the last couple years, what’s been one Eureka moment. That’s really stuck with you maybe since, uh, your last time with us.

Phil Rich (28:56):

Well, I think that normal was closer to where we were last time we talked, even though it was a more abnormal, but things have changed quite a bit more since, um, I think a lot of these Eureka moments that maybe we could talk about, I wanna talk about, I think what the most simplest one is, and that is when we started connecting everybody at every level to our vendors, the conversations that they were having, uh, became so impactful so quickly. And I think in the old environment, you might have one person that owns a relationship or maybe two people that own a relationship, but now supply chain heads need to be talking to supply chain, heads, and forecasting. People have got to be talking to forecasting logistics. People need to share information. And I think that the Eureka moment is just share as much information as you possibly can make all those connections, have multiple people up and down your organization talking to your vendors.

Phil Rich (29:53):

And don’t try to coddle those hold. ’em close to the chest and keep information because conversations are the fastest form of communication that we have. And so we need to be having conversations regularly with our key vendors and partners out there. And that’s, that’s how we’re gonna keep a lot of that agility I was talking about earlier is gotta have those conversations, emails not fast enough. It just isn’t that things are moving too quickly. You’ve gotta get on the phone and be talking to those folks regularly. And that that’s been a big Eureka moment for the whole team here. Uh, and it’s, it’s fostered communication. Like I have never seen it before. It’s, it’s really been amazing.

Scott Luton (30:32):

I love it real is real. It’s one things I’m picking up on and an email isn’t good enough. Uh, and you know, it sounds like one of the breakthroughs, uh, your team has had is, is while some of those things will get the job done, they don’t deepen the relationship enough, uh, to do big things like you’re doing now open up, uh, basically expand the, the company even greater than what, what you already have been growing by opening up new facility there in Glendale, moving the mountains for sure. But Greg, what’d you hear there

Greg White (31:01):

Pace, right. I heard that the pace is so much faster and the expectations for performance are so much higher and not that there ever was in your organization, Phil, but you know, I’ve said this many, many times, there’s nowhere to hide. I mean, in, in supply chain, we’ve always wanted a seat at the table, right. And yet I think we have kind of relished the ability to hide in the background when, when anything goes wrong and now there is nowhere to hide. So, uh, you know, the, um, that awareness that you’ve expressed is, is common. It’s not as common to continue to support it instead of hope for things to go back to normal. But, um, yeah, it, I, I think that pace is probably the number one thing.

Scott Luton (31:49):

Jeanie’s never going back in that bottle. Darn Skipp

Scott Luton (31:52):

<laugh> so, all right. So Phil, um, really appreciate as busy as you are and the team is, I appreciate you sharing spend some time with us here today and, and sharing again, um, the latest and greatest of what’s going on at, uh, Sweetwater, uh, that clearly so many folks hold in high esteem, you know, um, they call that the Amazon effect been around for, for years and years, but I think Greg, we should be talking about the Sweetwater effect, right. Since we’re talking about yeah. Benchmarking and that gold standard. Uh, so I’m really excited to see, we’ll have to reconnect maybe later this year. When’s that? Um, have you already broken ground on that new facility, Phil?

Phil Rich (32:30):

Yeah, we’re doing the tenant improvements right now. Uh, we’re gonna be shipping our first orders outta there in October.

Scott Luton (32:36):

Wow. Okay. Well, let’s reconnect end end of this year. And, and, uh, well everybody on the west coast that’s right. Ordering let’s do it time for Christmas. That’s right. We’ll do it in person and grab some tacos, uh, and maybe get a quick tour of the new, uh, facility, but a lot of good stuff with Phil rich and a Sweetwater team. How can folks connect with you and Sweetwater Phil? They can email me@phil_richsweetwater.com. Be glad to talk to you. It is just that easy. Outstanding. Um, okay. So Greg, I think Phil get new emails. Scott, remember gang email is not sufficient, but that’s all, that’s what you start with. That’s what we’ll start with. Uh, and of course, sweetwater.com uh, check ’em out. Yeah. Get your orders in. As Greg said, uh, all you on the west coast, you may be listening. You’ll have new options soon. All right. So Greg, I think Phil is gonna play us out. Is that right? Yeah. Heck yeah. It’s right. Let’s see if you can name this tune. Oh, oh, sweet home, Alabama. There we go. Yes. <laugh> yep. There you go,

Scott Luton (33:45):

Man. We’re gonna have to, uh, connect with Phil and give him a, um, a speaker to plug into, grab some adult beverages and some tacos and invite a couple hundred of our favorite friends. That will be a great opening party for your, for your, uh, I bet you guys have great opening, all kinds of parties. I’ll bring you some strawberry rhubarb pies. <laugh> okay. Fair enough. Fair enough, Phil. Wait, big. Thanks. Uh, to Phil rich and his Sweetwater team as busy as they are. Uh it’s you know, Greg, it’s always one of my favorite parts of what we do now that we’re, uh, I don’t know, 920 episodes deep. I think with the main channel, I love sitting down and having genuine conversations with companies that really we’ve admired for quite some time and, and kind of learning about them from that operational, that supply chain side.

Scott Luton (34:32):

Uh, and if all of ’em were in as nice as Phil rich, man, we, we should do a couple of these a day. Right. Well, if all of ’em could play instruments, we’d have a hell of a band wouldn’t we <laugh>. Okay. Well, Hey, uh, big thanks again to Phil rich and Sweetwater. Be sure to connect with him and, and, uh, get those orders in big, thanks to Greg white. Uh, love having these conversations with you. Another quick, shout out to Justin, appreciate what you do, Justin. And I appreciate you timing in on the front end about your, uh, long time love of Sweetwater as well to our listeners. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this conversation, uh, as much as we have, Hey, do what Phil’s doing, do what Phil and Sweetwater team’s doing. Get out there and do good give forward and be the change that’s needed. And on that note, we’ll see next time, right back here on supply chain now. Thanks everybody.

Intro/Outro (35:16):

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

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Featured Guests

Phil Rich is a 20+ year veteran of the music industry with an incredibly broad experience in retail sales, training, merchandising, purchasing, marketing, promotions, and strategic management. His primary responsibilities at Sweetwater include working with his team to determine what brands and products the company carries, and overall management of Sweetwater’s incredible inventory selection. Right out of high school, Phil served in the US Navy for 8 years including a year at sea aboard USS Midway during Desert Shield/Storm, and then later as a guitarist and live sound engineer for the Navy Band. Phil continues to play guitar professionally and performs regularly with several groups in the Fort Wayne area. He also has significant experience as an audio engineer and is a graduate of the University of Washington’s audio production program. Prior to joining Sweetwater in 2011, Phil spent 14 years working for Guitar Center as vice president of merchandising and in other roles including district sales manager and director of training. Growing up with his father in aviation, Phil’s love for flying led him to become an instrument-rated pilot. He volunteers regularly with the local EAA Young Eagles program, bringing the experience of flight to local youth. Connect with Phil on LinkedIn.

Hosts

Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

Greg White

Principal & Host

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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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Katherine Hintz

Creative Director, Producer, Host

Katherine Hintz, MBA is a marketing professional 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 Reuter

Host

From humble beginnings working the import docks, representing Fortune 500 giants, Ford, Michelin Tire, and Black & Decker; to Amazon technology patent holder and Nordstrom Change Leader, Kimberly Reuter has designed, implemented, and optimized best-in-class, highly scalable global logistics and retail operations all over the world. Kimberly’s ability to set strategic vision supported by bomb-proof processes, built on decades of hands-on experience, has elevated her to legendary status. Sought after by her peers and executives for her intellectual capital and keen insights, Kimberly is a thought leader in the retail logistics industry.

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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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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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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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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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Allison Giddens

Host

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

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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Tandreia Bellamy

Host

Tandreia Bellamy retired as the Vice President of Industrial Engineering for UPS Supply Chain Solutions which included the Global Logistics, Global Freight Forwarding and UPS Freight business units. She was responsible for operations strategy and planning, asset management, forecasting, and technology tool development to optimize sustainable efficiency while driving world class service.

Tandreia held similar positions at the business unit level for Global Logistics and Global Freight forwarding. As the leader of the Global Logistics engineering function, she directed all industrial engineering activies related to distribution, service parts logistics (post-sales support), and mail innovations (low cost, light weight shipping partnership with the USPS). Between these roles Tandreia helped to establish the Advanced Technology Group which was formed to research and develop cutting edge solutions focused on reducing reliance on manual labor.

Tandreia began her career in 1986 as a part-time hourly manual package handling employee. She spent the great majority of her career in the small package business unit which is responsible for the pick-up, sort, transport and delivery of packages domestically. She held various positions in Industrial Engineering, Marketing, Inside and On-road operations in Central Florida before transferring to Atlanta for a position in Corporate Product Development and Corporate Industrial Engineering. Tandreia later held IE leadership roles in Nebraska, Minnesota and Chicago. In her final role in small package she was an IE VP responsible for all aspects of IE, technology support and quality for the 25 states on the western half of the country.
Tandreia is currently a Director for the University of Central Florida (UCF) Foundation Board and also serves on their Dean’s Advisory Board for the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Previously Tandreia served on the Executive Advisory Board for Virginia Tech’s IE Department and the Association for Supply Chain Management. She served on the Board of Trustees for ChildServ (a Chicago child and family services non-profit) and also served on the Texas A&M and Tuskegee Engineering Advisory Boards. In 2006 she was named Business Advisor of the Year by INROADS, in 2009 she was recognized as a Technology All-Star at the Women of Color in STEM conference and in 2019 she honored as a UCF Distinguished Aluma by the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems.

Tandreia holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University and a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management Systems from UCF. Her greatest accomplishment, however, is being the proud mother of two college students, Ruby (24) and Anthony (22).

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Marty Parker

Host

Marty Parker serves as both the CEO & Founder of Adæpt Advising and an award-winning Senior Lecturer (Teaching Professor) in Supply Chain and Operations Management at the University of Georgia. He has 30 years of experience as a COO, CMO, CSO (Chief Strategy Officer), VP of Operations, VP of Marketing and Process Engineer. He founded and leads UGA’s Supply Chain Advisory Board, serves as the Academic Director of UGA’s Leaders Academy, and serves on multiple company advisory boards including the Trucking Profitability Strategies Conference, Zion Solutions Group and Carlton Creative Company.

Marty enjoys helping people and companies be successful. Through UGA, Marty is passionate about his students, helping them network and find internships and jobs. He does this through several hundred one-on-one zoom meetings each year with his students and former students. Through Adæpt Advising, Marty has organized an excellent team of affiliates that he works with to help companies grow and succeed. He does this by helping c-suite executives improve their skills, develop better leaders, engage their workforce, improve processes, and develop strategic plans with detailed action steps and financial targets. Marty believes that excellence in supply chain management comes from the understanding the intersection of leadership, culture, and technology, working across all parts of the organization to meet customer needs, maximize profit and minimize costs.

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Laura Lopez

Marketing Coordinator

Laura Lopez serves as our Supply Chain Now Marketing Coordinator. She graduated from Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente in Mexico with a degree in marketing. Laura loves everything digital because she sees the potential it holds for companies in the marketing industry. Her passion for creativity and thinking outside the box led her to pursue a career in marketing. With experience in fields like accounting, digital marketing, and restaurants, she clearly enjoys taking on challenges. Laura lives the best of both worlds - you'll either catch her hanging out with her friends soaking up the sun in Mexico or flying out to visit her family in California!

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Jake Barr

Host

An acknowledged industry leader, Jake Barr now serves as CEO for BlueWorld Supply Chain Consulting, providing support to a cross section of Fortune 500 companies such as Cargill, Caterpillar, Colgate, Dow/Dupont, Firmenich, 3M, Merck, Bayer/Monsanto, Newell Brands, Kimberly Clark, Nestle, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Sanofi, Estee Lauder and Coty among others. He's also devoted time to engagements in public health sector work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. At P&G, he managed the breakthrough delivery of an E2E (End to End) Planning Transformation effort, creating control towers which now manage the daily business globally. He is recognized as the architect for P&G’s demand driven supply chain strategy – referenced as a “Consumer Driven Supply Chain” transformation. Jake began his career with P&G in Finance in Risk Analysis and then moved into Operations. He has experience in building supply network capability globally through leadership assignments in Asia, Latin America, North America and the Middle East. He currently serves as a Research Associate for MIT; a member of Supply Chain Industry Advisory Council; Member of Gartner’s Supply Chain Think Tank; Consumer Goods “League of Leaders“; and a recipient of the 2015 - 2021 Supply Chain “Pro’s to Know” Award. He has been recognized as a University of Kentucky Fellow.

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Marcia Williams

Host

Marcia Williams, Managing Partner of USM Supply Chain, has 18 years of experience in Supply Chain, with expertise in optimizing Supply Chain-Finance Planning (S&OP/ IBP) at Large Fast-Growing CPGs for greater profitability and improved cash flows. Marcia has helped mid-sized and large companies including Lindt Chocolates, Hershey, and Coty. She holds an MBA from Michigan State University and a degree in Accounting from Universidad de la Republica, Uruguay (South America). Marcia is also a Forbes Council Contributor based out of New York, and author of the book series Supply Chains with Maria in storytelling style. A recent speaker’s engagement is Marcia TEDx Talk: TEDxMSU - How Supply Chain Impacts You: A Transformational Journey.

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Luisa Garcia

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Luisa Garcia is a passionate Marketer from Lagos de Moreno based in Aguascalientes. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes, Mexico. She specializes in brand development at any stage, believing that a brand is more than just a name or image—it’s an unforgettable experience. Her expertise helps brands achieve their dreams and aspirations, making a lasting impact. Currently working at Vector Global Logistics in the Marketing team and as podcast coordinator of Logistics With Purpose®. Luisa believes that purpose-driven decisions will impact results that make a difference in the world.

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Astrid Aubert

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Astrid Aubert was born in Guadalajara, she is 39 years old and has had the opportunity to live in many places. She studied communication and her professional career has been in Trade Marketing for global companies such as Pepsico and Mars. She currently works as Marketing Director Mexico for Vector Global Logistics. She is responsible for internal communications and marketing strategy development for the logistics industry. She is a mother of two girls, married and lives in Monterrey. She defines herself as a creative and innovative person, and enjoys traveling and cooking a lot.

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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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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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Greg White

Principal & Host

When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.

Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.

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Chris Barnes

Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring

Talk about world-class: Chris is one of the few professionals in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS. He’s also the APICS coach – and our resident Supply Chain Doctor. When he’s not hosting programs with Supply Chain Now, he’s sharing supply chain knowledge on the APICS Coach Youtube channel or serving as a professional education instructor for the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistic Institute’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Center for Professional Education courses.

Chris earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University, an MBA with emphasis in Industrial Psychology from the University of West Florida, and is a Doctoral in Supply Chain Management candidate.

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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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Kevin L. Jackson

Host of Digital Transformers

Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog.  He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community.  Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include CiscoMicrosoft, Citrix and IBM.  Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane UniversityO’Reilly MediaLinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight.  Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems EngineeringCarrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.

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Enrique Alvarez

Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español

Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.

He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.

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Kelly Barner

Host of Dial P for Procurement

Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.

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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

Mary Kate Soliva is 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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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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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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Chantel King

Social Media Manager

My name is Chantel King and I am the Social Media Specialist at Supply Chain Now. My job is to make sure our audience is engaged and educated on the abundant amount of information the supply chain industry has to offer.

Social Media and Communications has been my niche ever since I graduated from college at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. No, I am not a West Coast girl. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but my travel experience goes way beyond the garden state. My true passion is in creating editorial and graphic content that influences others to be great in whatever industry they are in. I’ve done this by working with lifestyle, financial, and editorial companies by providing resources to enhance their businesses.

Another passion of mine is trying new things. Whether it’s food, an activity, or a sport. I would like to say that I am an adventurous Taurus that never shies away from a new quest or challenge.

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Lori Sofian

Marketing Coordinator

Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.

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Katherine Hintz

Director, Customer Experience

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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Mary Kate Love

Chief of Staff & Host

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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