Supply Chain Now
Episode 820

Selling more stuff is good. It's all about capitalism. But at the end of the day, it also needs to be about selling the right stuff that people need.

- Tony Sciarrotta, Executive Director of the Reverse Logistics Association

Episode Summary

Large conferences may feel like a thing of the past, but some of the most popular events are actually starting to make a comeback. And while the attendance numbers aren’t at the same level as they were before the pandemic, so many new innovations have been put into use over the last 2 years that there is more to absorb than ever.

Tony Sciarrotta has been the Executive Director of the Reverse Logistics Association since 2016. He has 35+ years’ experience in the consumer products industry, including 15 years of managing returns at Phillips. He has become an evangelist for improving the customer experience as a means of reducing returns, becoming an outspoken voice for the reverse logistics industry in the process.

In this interview, which is part of the Reverse Logistics Series, Tony joins co-hosts Scott Luton to share his observations and take-aways from the recent 2022 National Retail Federation ‘Big Show’ in New York:

  • How secondary marketplaces for used goods are gaining traction as new items and products continue to be in short supply
  • The new collaborations between retailers, technology providers, and logistics partners that will change how business is done
  • The role that AI is playing in sorting returns more efficiently so that the best use for each product is found

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:03):

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

Scott Luton (00:31):

Hey, good morning, everybody. Scott Luton here with you on supply chain. Now, welcome back to today’s show folks. We have an excellent conversation teed up here today, talking with one of our favorite friends of the show as we continue our reverse logistics leadership here. Now, with that said, uh, I want to introduce our featured guests. It’s been a little while since we really dove into our guest background. So I gotta refresh your memory. Maybe, uh, our guest brings, you know, we typically don’t go over two decades worth experience, but I wanna give our guests here is full due. It brings 35 plus years of experience in the consumer products industry to the table, including 15 years of managing returns at Phillips. Now in 2016, Tony assumed the leadership mantle at the reverse logistics association, which has been serving the global industry since oh two. Our featured guest has truly become an evangelist for improving customer experience so that we can reduce returns. And he is also become the voice for the returns and reverse logistics industry along the way, join, being welcoming Tony Sciarrotta executive director with the reverse logistics association, Tony, how you doing?

Tony Sciarrotta (01:39):

Hello, Scott? I am humbled by that introduction. They, you so much, it, uh, makes me feel old and makes me feel young at the same time, you know? Cause, uh, if you can, if you can keep the passion going in life, it keeps you going. It doesn’t matter what the years are.

Scott Luton (01:54):

That is right, man. I already dropping the knowledge on us here at supply chain now, Tony. Um, all right, so let’s continue that. Let’s have a little more fun before we get into the heavy lifting. Uh, appreciate all that you do and Hey, it’s good to feel. Uh, uh, I kind of share that it’s good to feel old and young at the same time. It’s better than feeling old, only old, right? That’s right where I sit that’s right. And my kids remind me of just how old <laugh> I am every week. Um, so let’s talk music. That’s one of the things that you absolutely love. You’re a big music fan. Some folks may not know that about Tony Sheroda. So, uh, what is your, what are you really excited about the return

Tony Sciarrotta (02:31):

Of, well, the return of live music is phenomenal. Um, and here in Georgia, in spite of the lax rules about whether to wear mask, whether to be vaccinated in spite of that, we’ve had some incredible going on at our tabernacle, the variety Playhouse, and, and I’m very proud of the fact that they do all require vaccinations and they do require masks. Now not everyone’s perfect about keeping the mask on when you’re in a music auditorium and you’re drinking, it’s a little tricky, <laugh> a little more fun, but at least they check the vaccination carts at the door at the variety. And so I’m, I’m, it’s a, it’s a double edge, of course, I’m, I’m happy for that. And so yes, live music is back Scott and, uh, maybe even outdoors this year.

Scott Luton (03:18):

That’s right. Oh, that’s right man. And music. Uh, we all need to take time to laugh during these challenging times, but also to listen to good music and great lives music, one, one of the best things. Um, now let’s dive a little deeper in Tony. She road’s love for, for the world of music. If you had to think of some groups that you, that you have grown just to love over the course of your journey or equally as important, some big events or music fests, what would those be?

Tony Sciarrotta (03:47):

Well, Scott, I, um, so first, uh, I’ve been lucky enough to, I, I go way back. I, I was there in Detroit when, uh, pink Floyd, blewed the stage. Wow. Uh, by accident. And, um, for probably took out part of my hearing back then. <laugh> um, so, you know, it’s been a long, long time of, of great, but I have to say my consistent passion for the last 22 years, 23 years now has been to be able to go to new Orleans for the jazz and heritage music festival, which is the best in the world bar. None, you got up to 10 days of live music on stages, 10 stages in this, uh, racetrack, uh, fairgrounds, uh, 10 stages. So everything from Bruce Springsteen and, uh, and, and, and other great Eric Clapton, I mean, just all the greats down to the, uh, blues 10th, the jazz tent, the gospel tent, um, the Cajun stage and, uh, you know, even Snoop dog and ludicrous show up there, love it.

Tony Sciarrotta (04:48):

So it’s the most amazing music festival on the planet. And, um, I’ve been introduced to groups there. Uh, it, it’s great to love music. It’s also great to feel energized by the music and, and cert the Mavericks who are just here, Scott, last November at the variety Playhouse, the Mavericks make you wanna get up and dance <laugh> they just do, you know, they’re just that much fun and any kind of a group that’s like that is, is amazing. And, uh, Scott, you know, we have this other little venue called eddies attic, right? Just here, Metro Atlanta right here in Metro Atlanta. Correct. Uh, Eddie’s attic is fabulous. Went there last week and saw Chuck prophet. Who’s an amazing storyteller and songwriter. So it’s even more fun when you have these, uh, performers who love to give stories. They may have been in a big band, but they choose that small venue so they can connect with the audience and tell stories. And I, I, I can relate, relate to that so much. You just, you wanna feel a connection with your audience? Um, how did one guy put it? He said, uh, it’s great to be in a dark venue and hear 300 anonymous people clapping for you and things like that. You know, it’s just like, I can understand that energy a lot. Scott. I really do.

Scott Luton (06:00):

So I’m with you, you paint, you paint a, a wonderful, warm picture. Um, we should also, I’d love to dive deeper into your pink Floyd in Detroit experiences. I bet you’ve got some great stories. I won’t put you on the spot. Uh, I should add to, you know, uh, for of the show here, we’ll hear away in the sun dogs, which they were playing down at the 30 a, uh, I think that’s what they call it. The 30 a singer and songwriter, um, which is also a yearly music Fest down there. And one of the beaches in Florida and they just released a new album, uh, embroidered rose, I think it’s the name of it. So listeners checked it out will, Haraway’s a great friend of the show. The sundogs played great music. Um, one other thing you mentioned, uh, Bruce Springsteen, is it gonna be Bruce or is he gonna be with the E street band? Any idea there, Tony?

Tony Sciarrotta (06:45):

Um, Bruce, I don’t know if he’s gonna be there this year, but, uh, they did announce the who, okay. He’s gonna be there and the F fighters and some amazing big groups, but Bruce Springsteen, you have to be proud of someone who’s as passionate as he is about everything in the world. And he showed up at jazz Fest the year after Katrina. Wow. Put on an amazing show, which is available on line somewhere, lots of places. Um, but you know, he, and, uh, Paul Simon, and so many others went there to help rebuild new Orleans and they’ve done a pretty good job of

Scott Luton (07:20):

It. That is awesome. Okay. Uh, we could talk for hours to think about music. We’ll have to stop it there cause I wanna get into, uh, some of your recent travels and of course, all things returns and reverse logistics. You just got back. You’ve been on the world with the conference coming up, which we’ll touch on here towards the end today’s conversation. You’ve been on a whirlwind of, uh, travel and work and conversations and interviews. You just got back. Tony, I believe from the big show up in New York city, right? Put on our friends, uh, put on by our friends over at the not, uh, national retail Federation. Right. So you’ve got maybe a few key, take a ways from all your conversations. And I think you were part of the programming this year. So what I was, what sticks between your ears, when you think about things, messages, topics that, that, uh, you picked up or spoke about at, at the big

Tony Sciarrotta (08:10):

Show? Well, you know, the challenge is, uh, we’re on a rollercoaster in, in this country with the COVID because not enough of us are vaccinated and wearing masks to make everyone else get safer and, and feel safer. But New York of course leads, um, in terms of trying to be strong about what they do. So the national retail Federation with this outburst, the last variant we had was really questionable what would happen. And, and honestly, um, the show was, oh, was downturned a lot, um, probably, uh, uh, less than 10,000 people for a 40,000 typical event. And that happened with CES a couple weeks ago as well, but still some 10,000 people showed up many exhibitors. It was a little different, uh, experience because you walked on the aisles and, uh, you could get a cappuccino immediately at any booth because really there weren’t long lines, no waiting.

Tony Sciarrotta (09:04):

So no waiting, um, got my cappuccino fixes on Sunday morning. And, um, and there were some missing major players of course, and things like that. But, uh, you know, we hope to all get back to those good adventures. And it’s, it’s more of a challenge of course, for a major event where, where 5,000 thousand people used to show up to downsize, right? That’s a challenge. How do you feel the hall? How do you, you know, make it valuable for the people who were there? And, um, and so I walked around the show, but let’s talk about that part of the program that they invited us to do, uh, uh, Scott Case there he’s the vice president of sustainability. Oh,

Scott Luton (09:44):

Scott Case Scott Case. Okay. Gotcha.

Tony Sciarrotta (09:47):

Scott Scott Case, um, vice president sustainability was doing part of the program, John gold, who’s vice president of their so supply chain side that you must, of course know. Well, he is a

Scott Luton (09:59):

Good, I tell you, he, um, if you ever want to talk, have a conversation with someone who’s got their finger on the pulse right. Of, of retail supply chain and kind of retail industry, John gold, as you got. And Tony, as you may know, he’s one of the world’s biggest Miami dolphins fans, if I’m not mistaken. So anyway, Tony, please, you’re talking about the big show, sorry.

Tony Sciarrotta (10:19):

Well, that’s, that’s okay. We need to, you know, include all these important tidbits of, uh, the people that we know. And, um, and so, uh, you know, and here’s an example where my panel, which was supposed to be discussing reverse logistics end to end solutions started out with, uh, three panelists. We lost two, um, but more important. We had Becca mines, vice president of end to end reverse logistics at best buy. You could not ask for a better industry thought leader than Becca who, by the way, stepped into this role just a couple years ago, right. When the pandemic was starting. Um, and right when she was about to have a baby <laugh> wow. And, and has emerged as such an important thinker and, and illustrating how, how strong best buy is in this space and how they accidentally became stronger in this space. Right.

Tony Sciarrotta (11:18):

So we’ll talk about that for a moment, if we could Scott, because I am so proud of them, not just as a member of the RLA, that’s nice, but what they do, what they’ve done is they’re led by Corey Berry. Uh, and she leads the organization. She’s one of those people that came from the, from the ranks on up. Okay. <affirmative> and has committed best buy to be a major force in a circular economy, major force, and a major force in returns reduction. You know, Scott, we talk a lot about revers logistics and people forget we’re we’re talking about more than just moving boxes, right. We’re talking about what can you do to reduce returns? Not many people talk about that. And then, and honestly, we don’t get to talk about as much cuz we focus on the logistics part,

Scott Luton (12:06):

But that the, the logistics part is such a massive feat to get that right. There’s yeah. To your point, there’s a whole different and even bigger maybe perhaps conversation when you get to root calls, you move upstream. Yes. So that we can, we can bring, we can lessen that big, massive movement challenge.

Tony Sciarrotta (12:24):

Right? Absolutely. And what Becca talked about and what she recognizes is presentation to the customer is first and foremost critical. You wanna make sure they know what they’re getting, they’re getting what they want and what they need. And if it doesn’t do exactly what they thought it would do, there’s the geek squad desk. Right? Right. So when you go back and you, you, you know, you’re having problems because honestly, Scott, the whole world needs to remember people don’t jet generally go to buy something online or in a store just to take it back. Right. <laugh> that’s not, what’s in the minds of most people. They want something they think they need and they buy it and they want it to work. And um, that holy grail, Scott we’ve talked about in the past where at Phillips and Sony and these other companies, they say this stuff that’s coming back is not defective. It’s not technically defective. So that’s like the holy grail, right. The holy grail is stopping returns is how do you get people to stop bringing things back that there’s nothing wrong with it, right?

Scott Luton (13:27):

Yeah. To use a quick analogy, if I can, to, to, uh, someone that maybe hasn’t heard some, some you speak earlier or be, uh, or, or any of our conversations here, it’s like, uh, you’re, you’re trying to fix a, a, a, a massive plumbing leak, right? Yeah, of course. You’ve got to kind of get the water out. That’s, that’s the, um, that’s part of the problem. But if you stay right there, you have an endless problem that you’ll never solve. What you’re talking about is getting to who, finding that leak, root and addressing it there, which will bring down all the other work we’ve gotta do. So I, I love, I love your focus on that root calls. Let’s get, let’s take care of the customer. Let’s better educate ’em, let’s give them the right options, um, you know, and really embrace circularity. And how can we, it sounds like in my, what I’m hearing you say best buy is committed to becoming a much better, um, disciple or advocate for all things circularity. Is that, is that

Tony Sciarrotta (14:27):

Accurate? Tony? I’d say it. I, yes, you can absolutely say it that way. Scott, they are committed and, and many of their people are very passionate about this. Uh, and Becca is one of them, uh, you know, the stories she told about the things that they do, simple example, Scott, they will help you recycle your old appliances and electronics really, right. That’s huge. Even if you didn’t buy it from them, they will help you get rid of that stuff. And, um, and that, that’s a pretty big step for a retailer. Cause when we talk about the cost of reversal logistics and how enormous they are, most of those costs are passed back to the manufacturer. Mm. You made the stuff, we got it back as defective. You need to take care of it. Right. But in, in, so in a retail space for the retailer to assume some of the responsibility, um, that’s commitment, that’s commitment. But again, the focus and that conversation was about the fact that they’ve expanded their reach. Uh, about two years ago in the pandemic began, they already, the geek squad was keeping stuff, repairing it and offering it for resale as a value, right.

Scott Luton (15:39):

And inside the, uh, inside the store is that best buy right? For

Tony Sciarrotta (15:42):

The best part inside the stores. And now they had included some stores, a small area where those, uh, pre loved as we call them, gently products have been put back into the opportunity for someone to buy and, uh, they even offer ’em online. And so what happened as you, as we all know, in the last two years is inventory started to run short on new goods. So they had this entire market of products returned goods that they had refurbished themselves to make available for sale. So when computers and printers were in very short supply, they had an extra supply in this secondary product, uh, refurbished product that they were offering warranty on. So they were able to not only, um, stay solid, but to grow their business because people were looking for values. And now, instead of looking at on Craigslist or eBay and, and places like that, for those questionable return goods, refurbished goods, uh, here is best buy selling these products with their full strength of their geek squad and their company behind it. So they, they blossomed, uh, as an expanded retailer and that’s all part of being right. Scott, take the old stuff back and, and have life after death. Right.

Scott Luton (16:58):

<laugh> now you, you know, we’re both laughing as you said that, but there’s, there’s so much truth there. Um, as, as I think when you and a friend we interviewed, uh, Howard Rosenberg, right? Yes. Peace stock, not too long ago. And I think I already had purchased that old Nintendo we that, or that pre loved as you put it Nintendo. We we’ve gotten already in, in the handful of weeks, we’ve had it, we’ve gotten hours and hours of enjoyment and they stopped making that, I think in oh eight. And that’s just a small example of the wealth of the, uh, what they call the, uh, the, the reuse reuse market is

Tony Sciarrotta (17:34):

Secondary marketplace,

Scott Luton (17:35):

Secondary marketplace. Thank you, Tony. Yep. Um, so let’s speak more. So, um, I’m so glad, you know, a lot of panels when they lose a couple of panelists at last minute, they might, would cancel a chat. I love that you and Becca shared all of what y’all know, and, and this new, this not newfound, but maybe new, new package, newly structured, uh, uh, corporate priority to, uh, embrace circularly more at best buy that’s one, that’s a wonderful story.

Tony Sciarrotta (18:03):

I, I was, uh, very impressed by what they do and, and what more so than, and the, of course I did walk around the show and we can touch base on that too. But, um, the, the audience 150 people or more, uh, got that insight of, of what they’ve done and how they’ve done it. And so, uh, have to be really proud of that. I have to say, Scott, I’m looking forward to us being in Vegas with you on stage. That’s right. Uh, I gotta find some of those super bright lights and, and just blind you on stage, because it’s really a challenge with those bright lights aimed in your eyes to talk to the audience, you know, it’s, uh, right. It’s, it’s quite a challenge, but

Scott Luton (18:42):

Well, he ones up to the challenge though. Tony certainly is. And Becca, uh, be mines is her last name, right? Yes. Uh, which we enjoyed y’all’s chat here. Um, so one more question before any other big takeaways, what was your favorite, you know, cause I imagine at some point of that discussion that you took a question or a comment from the audience there, anything come to mind, any of your favorite exchanges come to mind?

Tony Sciarrotta (19:10):

Um, we actually, uh, in, in deference to these major corporations who have to be careful about what it’s said in public, uh, Beck and I had taken questions and worked through them earlier, cleared them with legal PR and, and I, and I understand that. And I believe in protecting my, my members, my, my, my retailers, my manufacturers, we don’t wanna surprise from the audience a loaded question, but, but the exchange that, um, Beck and I had, uh, was about what, what are the challenges for this year? What do you see coming down the road that will help? And, um, and, and they’re so committed to this idea, uh, when you take something in for service, and let’s say it’s a laptop computer that you can’t figure out. So you’re gonna have an option. Now you’ll be talking to service and they’re gonna say, okay, we can fix this for you, but it’s X dollars, right? Versus over here, we have some refurbished ones you can get for Y dollars, right. And that opportunity allows that customer a choice. It’s like, you know what, that, thing’s only a year old. I want it upgraded. I want it back. Or it’s 10 years old. Let me switch it for this one here. Thank you very much for that. I, I think that’s an amazing path to go down for business opportunities and for taking care of the customer, which is ultimately what it’s about. Right.

Scott Luton (20:33):

I love it. Choices are good. Choices are still good. Right. So what else I wanna move into next, um, in, in a minute here, you know, kind of a top three list of things that you really need to be on your radar when it comes to the reverse logistics and returns and management space, anything else stick out from NF that you wanna share

Tony Sciarrotta (20:50):

With us? Well, as I walked around the floor, and as I mentioned about loading up on cappuccinos, you know, yeah. Little baby cups, so that’s right. Takes a few extras to get in, to get it going. Um, you know, it’s, it’s interesting that they have a section for a new technology. So you walk, you gotta walk around that and see what, what do people have for trends coming in the future? Um, they had a supply chain area, uh, couple of other areas. And, and I feel like not all companies are sure where they need to be at that show. But if you walk around enough, you start to see things like, uh, the drive for the, the, the software, uh, to, to manage everything. It’s just unbelievable amounts of software out there, uh, different opportunities, uh, SAP combining with Matic and with DHL. And, you know, there’s a lot of interesting combinations now, but the takeaways that I, I, I will point to, uh, one is, uh, digital signage, smaller digital signage that can be put on shelves and, and change messages.

Tony Sciarrotta (21:57):

Hmm. Change pricing, change the, uh, the messaging in the sense of, um, buy this now, because it’s a deal or, or buy this because it will help make your life easier because of this. So, so digital signage is appearing from several companies, um, analytics, Scott, that genie has been outta the bottle a long time. Hasn’t it? You know, people worry about privacy. Don’t understand that every time you buy something or return something, they are tracking you to death and, and deciding your customer profile. And so there’s that kind of analytics, uh, very popular Scott, you know, I call it smoke and mirrors. <laugh> right. It’s, it’s like, okay, but at the end of the day, how do we touch stuff and make stuff happen? That, to me, it’s all about being practitioners and just talking about the smoke and mirror numbers, but here’s the it’s gotta lead to action. It’s gotta lead to action. So the, the other one though, that was interesting is there’s now these software companies providing analytics connected to cameras in the store, watching people. So they are watching you, they build a profile of you. They see what stations do you stop at? What do you pick up and touch? Uh, what do you put back? What do you put in a cart? I mean, they’re, they’re, they’re tracking us. Wow. Scott

Scott Luton (23:22):

<laugh> are we gonna have to sign off on releases? When we make a quick run to the grocery

Tony Sciarrotta (23:25):

Store next year, maybe they’re watching us, they’re watching us Scott out. I’m I’m not gonna suggest that they are personally invading our own private space. Right. But they’re watching the reactions of maybe hundreds of people going past this display. Is it working? Is it catching their attention? Um, now on the positive side, I would like to think that the more that they can promote products effectively, the less returns are gonna happen. Right. So I’m, I’m gonna be positive about this scary prospect that the cameras are watching us. Okay. Right. Uh, I’m gonna hope that it turns into, as you said, actions, to make the product better, easier to use, uh, provide people with something that they, that they can, that they need. Right. Right. So, um, so those were a couple of the trends, so that digital signage, the analytics with the cameras, uh, the smoke and mirror softwares that are all over place. Um, just unbelievable. And, and of course the national retailer Federation is appealing to the retailers, right. To do this stuff in their stores so they can sell more stuff. There’s a part of me that has a little bit of a reaction to that. Yeah. Selling more stuff is good. It’s all about capitalism. But at the end of the day, it also needs to be about selling the right stuff that people need.

Scott Luton (24:49):

Excellent point excellent point. Cause that stuff’s gotta be, uh, it it’s gotta go somewhere. Uh, it comes back. It comes back, which we’re headed to next. Yeah. Uh, one, one quick comment that digital signage is such a, a fascinating, uh, thought, uh, and visual, you know, it wasn’t too long ago. Uh, in fact, I worked in, in WND Dixie grocery stores. That was my first ever job. We’ve talked about this. And at the time we were still, I still remember folks in the, um, uh, like the medical aisle and like, uh, there was a name for that kind of stuff. Anyway, pharmaceuticals, something like that, you know, where you, you get, um, deodorant and band days and that kind of stuff. Anyway, they still had the old sticker sticker tape done. Oh my God. Remember those things. Yes, <laugh> right. And now look how far we’ve come to now.

Scott Luton (25:41):

Uh, maybe even without any human interaction based on data analytics and the Mar market and this, that, and the other, the prices that just update themselves. It is it’s remarkable times we live in. Um, all right. So Tony, let’s shift gears. We’re gonna talk about two big things before we wrap up with you here today. Um, we’re gonna talk about kinda what’s your top three list when it, when it comes to the reverse and you’ve already shared a lot, but beyond that, what are three things? Navy folks should keep their finger on the pulse of when it comes to returns management and reverse logistics and the big show or, or the RLA version of the big show, right? The 18th annual RLA conference, NPO coming up here just around the corner in February. But before we get there, your top three list, what are three things folks need to have on the radar when it comes to returns management and or logistics?

Tony Sciarrotta (26:29):

So definitely we are seeing the trend towards out, let’s call it sizing software in general. Uh, we have, uh, some members now in the LA they’ll be with us in Las Vegas. So I’ll give a plug to my size ID and a couple of other companies that are all about you enter your own measurements into your own personal database vault with them. And when you order clothing from different companies, it tells you this size will work from this company, or because you’ve bought other things from other company that’s this size you’re gonna need this size from this company. Wow. Right. So, you know, an example would be, uh, sketcher shoes versus Johnston and Murphy shoes, right? So a size 10 sketcher might need to be a size 10 and a half or 11 Johnston and Murphy. Right. Cause unfortunately, Scott, we know the world of bracketing is exists because there are no standard sizes. Like there should

Scott Luton (27:28):

Be, well, just so, really quick for the three or four folks that may not be familiar with bracketing Tony, that’s where a customer may order in this case, a size nine and a half shoe, a 10 and a 10 and a half, and then keep the one they like and they send the other two back, right?

Tony Sciarrotta (27:44):

Yes. Okay. Yes. Bracketing is the nightmare for e-commerce in any category where size matters. <laugh> I think I stole that line. I think I’ve seen that on a few billboards, right. Um, where size matters. People are very, very cautious about it unless they bought something from that company before. So sizing software is important. It’s important enough that Walmart made the purchase of a very large sizing software company themselves because they recognize number one. Um, it adds value to the customer experience. Okay. And, and Walmart and target any retailer’s goal is to make the customer experience better. So I’m super in favor of that idea. But number two, the side benefit is if you get the customer to buy the right size, the right fit, they’re less likely to return it, right? So it’s a win win. As far as I’m concerned, sizing software it’s come a long way from when they ask you to take a picture of yourself in front of a green screen naked <laugh> there, there was software out there, Scott, that kind of went in that direction. And I thought they were kidding. I, I don’t think they’re around anymore, but yes. Imagine that one. So, so software sizing is, is kind of a, a, a big deal and we’re glad to see it have happen. Uh, cause

Scott Luton (29:06):

That, that goes after again, that goes beyond just the reverse of just excited. It goes to Lessing those returns, right? Lessing, the probability that folks can buy the wrong size or color based on differences from, from manufacturing manufacturer. Love that my size.com you said, is that the,

Tony Sciarrotta (29:23):

My size ID?

Scott Luton (29:24):

Okay. My size I okay. Yep.

Tony Sciarrotta (29:27):

And actually it’s an Israeli company, Scott. It’s not even an American company, so it’s, this is a global issue. And it tell that tells you that, um, you know, Israel is even working on this kind of stuff too. Right.

Scott Luton (29:38):

So yeah, lots, lots of innovation, uh, coming outta middle east Israel and, uh, Dubai and, um, uh, Saudi, you name it, uh, UAE. What, um, so that was the first one. What else, if you, if you to round out your top three list items two and three,

Tony Sciarrotta (29:53):

What would those be? I think, um, we have to recognize the recycling and the importance of recycling, uh, from a sustainable, um, circular approach. Uh, we, we talk about life after death and, and that’s where it really plays. Um, I was very lucky to tour some facilities in Nashville, Tennessee recently run by, uh, one of our board companies Sims one of the big ones and they had three facilities up there that actually, you know, one facility shreds the heck out of all kinds of stuff and isolates raw materials out of it, you know, giant magnets that take out all of the metals. Uh, the rest of it goes in a different direction. I mean, it was really cool to see, I forgot the name of the machine, big birther, something like that, just a humongous we had to put on the head for own so we could listen, we could talk or hear each other.

Tony Sciarrotta (30:44):

It’s just like unbelievable sound of, of things being crushed down to raw materials. And that’s exciting. And then, um, you know, the, the, uh, uh, ink jet plant where they try to recover all of those cartridges that we all send back with inking ’em and they try to turn it it into something else is also very cool. Um, cool and slightly creepy, but we were warned as we were turning the corner, we were said, don’t be shocked. This isn’t what you think it is. And it was a Gaylord full of plastic molded teeth that, you know, it could have felt like the Holocaust museum. That is it for a moment, but it was clearly reprocessed plastic. That’s being used to help people dentists do teeth molds, uh, for those of us who, you know, at some point lose their teeth. So wow. Very creative stuff.

Tony Sciarrotta (31:36):

Um, so that’s, that’s another version of recycling. And then the other version of, of, of silly there is take back massive servers. Uh, this is something that companies like Cisco and these other ones that they wipe ’em clean, they upgrade them and they make ’em available to companies that aren’t Facebook <laugh> or, or Google. Right? So those of us who are smaller planetary, uh, entities, we could use one or two servers and we don’t wanna spend a hundred thousand dollars on ’em now Cisco and these other companies make redeployment it’s called redeployment. So that that’s very cool in that whole recycle space. The creativity that’s there, Scott is, is amazing. And it’s really an impact to supply chain because you don’t have to always look for new stuff you can use what’s been used and use it again. So I think we’re gonna see a lot of activity in the recycle space, uh, related to returns. And, uh, there’s been some, but to your point, Scott companies are out there recognizing, well, we’re gonna say we’re sustainable. We’re gonna say we got ESG focused on this and cetera, et cetera. We better, you know, walk the walk as well as talk the talk. And they’re starting to, to do that. So proud to see the companies in reverse logistics for on that

Scott Luton (33:00):

Outstanding. Um,

Tony Sciarrotta (33:02):

So that’s number two. Yep. I guess number three.

Scott Luton (33:05):

I, I, and, and, and lemme, let me couch this for you because sure. It, it’s tough to pick three and say, okay, these are the top three, there’s so much going on. And so to be fair, I was asking Tony for three of the top things calls as, as the voice here, he, I bet you’ve got a thousand different things on any day of the week going through your head and, and there’s, cause there’s so much going on in the return, in, in, in supply chain in general, but also in the returns and reverse space. So three of the top. So what’s that number three.

Tony Sciarrotta (33:34):

I think we, if we went back to some of the broadcasts we’ve done together in the reversal logistics space, we probably hear the term that I used. There’s no one silver bullet, right. To put in your gun. Okay. There’s the WOL of returns and you need more than one silver bullet <laugh>. So, so, um, so let’s talk about another silver bullet, which is AI, um, you know, on stage at the end of Beck. And I, we were talking about the nightmare of opening up a returns trailer, seeing 26 pallets of stuff. I had a little visual aid for that one on the screen, 26 pallets of stuff, all onesies, right? And, and you’re counting on these warehouse workers to pull this stuff out of the truck, open up a pallet, which is usually shrink, wrap and touch each and every single product and figure out what do we do with this <laugh> right. That’s, that’s the nightmare. What do we do with it? Um, it’s impossible to do a great section on every single piece, just impossible. This is where forward and reverse, just go in completely opposite directions, those onesies, I mean, you could unload a trailer, 26 pallets, couple thousand units of products, and you wouldn’t have two of the same product and people don’t understand it. The, the complexity in, in that, right. It’s just massive complexity. So,

Scott Luton (35:05):

Well really quick if I came really quick. Cause the first thing that comes to my mind is when you’ve got all these different products, all these onesies you’re talking about. Yeah. Um, you know, one facility is not gonna know how to perhaps disposition a million different things. Right. So what immediately comes in my mind is as you, they begin to unwrap and process it, that may require more movement to get into the hands of the experts that know how to get it back on the shelves or right. Or more sustainably dispositioned. It can, if you’re not careful, that’s why we gotta have, we gotta have the rope pros doing this. It can create, um, uh, what’s the way there, there’s a term rework basically re remove re re movement. We’ll call it. Um, it’s the gift that unfortunately keeps on giving Tony to some degree, right?

Tony Sciarrotta (35:54):

Yes. Yes, it does. So, um, <affirmative> so to your point, Scott, do you have experts on the frontline touching every piece? Again, it could be a thousand items. It might be one air fryer, one game, boy machine, and a dozen, uh, you know, liquid soap, dispensers, things like that. So you, you don’t want your talent at the frontline necessarily, but here’s the secret with AI. You can have your AI set up to make a disposition decision on every UPC and that’s it. That’s where it has to happen. The decision making. Now you have to count on people coding this the right way. They have to understand. Yeah, liquid soap may go to landfill or to one liquidation, but the game boy, the robot or vacuum, uh, the air fryer will go a different way. So it’s really about AI helping make decisions of what is the best use of this product.

Tony Sciarrotta (36:53):

And by using AI, you can improve your recovery. <affirmative> because the decision making isn’t in that person, who’s touching it. The decision making is in the system that says, well, this air fryer sells for $200 new. Um, we’ve got as a return, we gotta put a little money into it to package it, but the value comes out. Yeah. Let’s put this in the right pile to be returned to second to market, to resell. So it’s really about AI software. And again, we’ve got some members in the LA who are great at this. They’ve got that software. This is where I don’t mind smoking mirrors. I, I don’t think of it as smoke mirrors. It’s a decision tree that is not one person. And if you’ve got 50 people on the line and they all look at the same 50 items, you’re gonna get half, throw it away and half put it into stock. Right. It’s just right. That’s, that’s what it’s gotta be about. Cuz returns are so complex,

Scott Luton (37:50):

Right? It’s practical, artificial intelligence. It’s practical. There’s a lot of AI out there and, and not to paint with a broad brush, but there’s a reason why, you know, there’s a lot of AI memes out there because it’s being applied far and wide. You know, if AI falls in the, in what’s that old joke, if AI falls or, or codes in the woods, does anyone ever hear it fall or code? I don’t know. There’s a dad there anyway. Um, I love it. And, and I also like the potential of this, of real powerful. And again, practical, actual artificial intelligence is still a, a Greg is a Greg white is AI, uh, different acronym of how that can, it can also what I’m hearing you say. It can also, um, limit wasted miles and wasted movement. And if you look at the however many waste we’re counting these days, um, you know, 11, 12 depends on who you talk to. That’s one of the, the biggest, you know, we hear the phrase empty miles a lot when, when trucks are moving pallet, you know, with empty, pallets, empty, uh, boxes, you name it, uh, if we can limit wasted and an accurate miles. Yes. Uh, that helps too. All right. Helps

Tony Sciarrotta (38:57):

All of us. Right.

Scott Luton (38:58):

So the three things, again, if we had at the top, uh, one was right sizing, right? Yes. The second, uh, the third was like real powerful AI. What was that second one again, Tony, the,

Tony Sciarrotta (39:10):

The three, uh, channels of recycling that we talked about, the, um, uh, uh, shredding and, and creating raw materials. Yes. The remanufacturing it into something else. And then the, um, the redeployment, um, that’s right. So recycling is now and, and some people think of recycling as a bad term. It’s like, it implies that this is junk. Um, but we wanna get people to understand cycling in the supply chain is all about returning it back to some form of use. Right. Um, and, and, and get creative. It doesn’t all just have to be raw materials. It can be other types of, uh, reuse as well. In fact, I heard the compliment at the ribbon cutting of this one facility. Uh, the comment was made, uh, the, that this, this company, our board member says the highest form of recycling is reuse. Mm. So that that’s important to keep in mind. It’s not just to make raw materials, it’s to make something that can be reused. So that’s really cool about recycling.

Scott Luton (40:12):

I love it. I love it. So long, long li <laugh> long of the Nintendo we family boons. That’s what we’re doing around here. That’s

Tony Sciarrotta (40:21):

Right.

Scott Luton (40:22):

That’s right. That’s good. So let’s talk about the 18th annual quite a track record here. Annual reverse logistics association conference. Next spoke, coming up at the Mirage in Las Vegas, February 6th through the ninth. Um, so, uh, we were there together, uh, a couple years ago, I think 29, 20, 20, 20 20. Was it okay? Yes. They had a wonderful time. Uh, first class programming content networking. We saw you were kind enough to include us on, um, what’s the Beatles, the famous Beatles show

Tony Sciarrotta (40:56):

CTU sole the Beatles love show.

Scott Luton (40:58):

Oh, it is so cool. It’s so cool. I had a great time look forward to being back. We’ll be, um, recording interviews and, and some live stuff. They are from the, what, what we call the heart of the returns and reverse logistics universe, uh, every year right there in Vegas. What are you looking more, uh, amongst your long list of things you look forward to? What are some of the things you’re looking forward to at the next conference expo? Well,

Tony Sciarrotta (41:24):

Again, it’s probably a long list, but the top of the list would be the opportunity to sit with my board again. Uh, they’re on our website, rla.org. The 12 board members are 12 global companies, 12 passionate, committed people from retailing, manufacturing, and providers. So a chance to talk to them about, Hey, where are we going next kind of a thing, right? Yep. We, um, the other is I get to stand in front of the audience, um, Scott and announced that we will have broken 200 paid company members for the first time ever in 20 years. Uh, we’ve got another 3000 companies in the, in the system, but 200 paying members is phenomenal. Um, we expanded the hall and Scott, you remember it was kind of a crowded at place last two years ago, we had you at the back of one. Well, now we’ve expanded it.

Tony Sciarrotta (42:18):

We’ve doubled the size and not doubled the boost so that people will have safe distancing possible. Um, but I’m really proud, Scott, and I hope you get to hear, I hope you get to escape your tiny little 10 by 20 so space, uh, occasionally to catch, um, uh, our keynotes, um, Steve Koenig, uh, vice president of research for the consumer technology association, better known as the people who do CES. He always comes on stage and, and, and Steve and I have been friends for a long time. And Steve gives you the perspective of not only this is the new, new, cool stuff coming out, but he tells people in the audience, you know, this is something new and cool, but you might see a lot of these coming back. <laugh> Steve always adds just a little bit of, uh, of reviewing the products, um, when he is reviewing the new ones.

Tony Sciarrotta (43:09):

And I, and I appreciate that so much. Um, so we have two great keynotes. Uh, we have several panels, uh, of presentation. We have a full haul, um, and, uh, I I’d say it. It is about, you already said it, Scott. My, my focus is this is a member association. This is not a paid political announcement stage. Okay. I don’t like advertising from the stage. I have it. And I’ve only had to yell at two people over my five, six years and say, don’t come back and ever do that again, but it’s really it. It’s important to talk about the industry. What are the best practices? What are the industry thought leaders saying we can do, we should do to reduce returns, to improve what we do with returns. That’s what people are there to learn about. And, um, and then we did cut back on the session.

Tony Sciarrotta (44:01):

So there’s more networking time. So the people who show up, especially the new ones will get a chance to, uh, interact and connect with, with the leading retailers and manufacturers. And, um, I’m, I’m really happy. We cut back on some of that. We made more time available. Uh, we have a couple of receptions. We want everyone to feel comfortable. We’ve taken some extra steps on the safety protocols, Scott. Yep. Um, we’ll be checking to make sure everyone’s either vaccinated or negative tests. Lots of sanitizers around the room. We’ve got, uh, a mask mandate still in place, but, um, it’s really about sharing. It’s really about networking. It’s really about, I believe every member of the RLA is a vetted company. They wouldn’t spend the money and to be in an association. And as you know, and I’ve said this several times on my LinkedIn post, um, you know, I, I’m not this isn’t my baby.

Tony Sciarrotta (44:58):

Exactly. I have the honor and privilege of serving as the executive director for the industry. That’s what matters first and foremost. And we have a heavy responsibility. Scott. I am so lucky to have a supply chain now as a voice of the industry as well, because we’re the only voice as an association in the world. And that’s, that’s nice, but it’s also a heavy responsibility and, you know, I take it serious, right? It’s just, we, we need more voices. We, we need to tell the there’s so much more we can do to reduce the waste, the landfills. And there’s so much we can do to make consumers happy, happier with stuff. It really comes down to that. Um, and I can’t beat that drum hard enough. Right, Scott, I’ve done it for now. A lot of years, I can’t stop beating that drum.

Scott Luton (45:50):

Well, uh, we, we got gotta, we gotta keep beating it, uh, while we make progress and, and, you know, we can’t just keep reacting to, uh, the returns game and, and moving the returns and, and, um, the status quo. I love how, you know, when you hear the best practices, oftentimes, uh, some folks may think about kind of what’s been established, right. But what I love, what I, what I’m, uh, hear a lot of times at, um, at the conference and our conversations is these new things that like, kind of like the best buy example, these new things where folks are reinventing, so they can move upstream to your point, to make, to make customers happy. And to also less than the likelihood of returns. So we have less of a huge challenge, uh, to disposition, um, at the end of the day. So Tony keep fighting a good fight. We’re delighted to continue our on a couple years worth of, uh, working and collaborating together and helping as you bang that drum, we want to amplify it, right? Uh, the space needs it, the thought leadership within the space needs it more need to understand. I, I would argue more consumers need to understand of how their actions, their daily actions even impacts the challenge that we have collectively. And that that’s a big part of the battle, right?

Tony Sciarrotta (47:06):

Absolutely. And Scott, I, I, this is that time of the year Scott, where every news station and news journalist suddenly calls us out and they wanna talk about returns, holiday returns. But I do wanna give a plug to Alexi Horowitz from NPR, from planet money. He did a phenomenal in depth story about the treasure hunt approach to what happens with these returns that show up in these bin stores and people go crazy. It’s like feeding frenzy. It’s a great story. Um, it’s on our website. I also wanna give another teaser Scott to our conference. Now this is gonna eliminate a lot of the attendees, but Becca mines will be there. She will be speaking to the women’s luncheon. And unfortunately you gotta be one of that tribe to get into that room. Um, those of us who, uh, would like to can’t, if you’re lucky, you might see her out on the floor and get to say hello. Uh, but to any of the women that are listening to this supply chain now podcast, um, please go up to Becca, tell her how great it job she did. You heard she did a great job at NRF and tell that Scott and Tony talked about her endlessly on the podcast. It’ll it’ll, it’ll get her. <laugh> absolutely.

Scott Luton (48:19):

You know, we look forward to that. I, I look forward to hearing, um, and being a part of everything that’s gonna be taking place at Vegas. Tony, how can folks connect with you and the RLA,

Tony Sciarrotta (48:32):

You know, Scott, the responsibility of being an association for its members means we share everything. And if you go to our website, rla.org, rla.org, you will see a conference page that will tell you all of the speakers, the schedule every day, including we’re doing that, uh, charity golf outing on Sunday evening, Scott, um, I’m gonna go there. I’m not even gonna pretend to play golf, but it’s top golf it’s indoors. So it’s a small intimate 75 people. Uh, Julie Ryan from HP is one of the hosts, Kevin Taylor from FedEx, another one of the hosts, FedEx supply chain. So that’ll be a nice intimate event. We’re asking extra money for charity. For that one. We give it to cell phones for soldiers. I am so proud Scott, two years ago, we did this this year. Our check will be 50% bigger already to them. So I really wanna emphasize that part of the schedule.

Tony Sciarrotta (49:29):

You go down and you’ll see the exhibit and the sponsors, maybe less interested in that, but there, the attendee list is posted. Mm. We actually provide the attendee list. So you can see the, uh, it’s over 400 names already. You’ll see the company and their title. And we’ve got people coming from Europe. Scott, we’ve got people coming from the UK, from Germany, from Israel, very proud that there’s some adventurous world travelers who know this is the only big event out there and they’re coming for it. So, uh, you can see the attendees. And of course the Mirage Scott, you stayed there. You know, it’s a nice venue, very nice venue. That’s right. And unbelievable room rates. They’re starting at like 68 to hours a night in Vegas. Wow. So, um,

Scott Luton (50:15):

Good stuff. Yep. That’s right. Come out. Learn how companies are changing the game. When it comes to returns and reverse logistics come out and connect with of course, Tony and the whole RLA team. First class team, um, a great ecosystem and community of thought leadership y’all have. And Hey, while you’re here, you can get a card game and take in this Beatle show, which is just, if you hadn’t seen it, it is remarkable. So heck of a time rla.org, we’ll make sure the link is in the show notes of the, of this podcast. Tony really appreciate your time here today. Always a pleasure. Uh, I look forward to, uh, a slew of interviews that we’re gonna be conducting there, uh, in Vegas. But as we continue again, this reverse logistics leadership series here at supply chain. Now thanks so much, Tony. And thank you, Scott.

Scott Luton (51:05):

Again. Great to have another four voice of the industry and supply chain. Now you bet you bet the one and only Tony Sheroda executive director with the reverse logistics association folks, uh, Hey, connect with Tony. Be sure to connect with Tony on LinkedIn. We’ll have that link, uh, in the show notes as well. I’ll tell you he can sit down and just ad hoc, tell you what you need to know about what’s going on across you. Reverse logistics world, and one heck of a personality along with it. Great friend of the show. Um, if you like conversations like SP sure to find us@supplychainnow.com, you can find supply chain now, wherever you get your podcast, don’t miss a show. So subscribe. Um, but most importantly folks, Hey, be like Tony sch Sheroda. You gotta do good. Give forward, be the change, right? Change at status quo. And with all that said, we see next time, right back here at supply chain now. Thanks everybody. All right. Thanks Scott.

Intro/Outro (51:56):

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 of us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. See you next time on supply chain. Now.

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Featured Guests

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

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

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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.

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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.

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With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.

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Kevin L. Jackson

Host of Digital Transformers

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

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Enrique Alvarez

Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español

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

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

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Kelly Barner

Host of Dial P for Procurement

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

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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

Mary Kate Soliva is transitioning from active duty in the US Army. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.

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Jeff Miller

Host

Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business.  Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.

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Amanda Luton

Chief Marketing Officer

Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM.  When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or reading.

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Clay Phillips

Business Development Manager

Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.

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Trisha Cordes

Administrative Assistant

Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.

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Billy Taylor

Host of Dial P for Procurement

Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.

An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.

A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.

A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning.  He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.

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Chantel King

Social Media Manager

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

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

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

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Lori Sofian

Marketing Coordinator

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

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Katherine Hintz

Sales and Marketing Coordinator

Katherine is a marketing professional and MBA candidate who strives to unite her love of people with a passion for positive experiences. Having a diverse background, which includes nonprofit work with digital marketing and start-ups, she serves as a leader who helps people live their most creative lives by cultivating community, order, collaboration, and respect. With equal parts creativity and analytics, she brings a unique skill set which fosters refining, problem solving, and connecting organizations with their true vision. In her free time, you can usually find her looking for her cup of coffee, playing with her puppy Charlie, and dreaming of her next road trip.

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Ben Harris

Host

Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.

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Page Siplon

Host, The Freight Insider

Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).

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Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.

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Kevin Brown

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics.  He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.

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Sofia Rivas Herrera

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.

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Demo Perez

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.

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Kim Winter

Host, Supply Chain Now

The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.

He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.

A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).

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Nick Roemer

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Nick Roemer has had a very diverse and extensive career within design and sales over the last 15 years stretching from China, Dubai, Germany, Holland, UK, and the USA. In the last 5 years, Nick has developed a hawk's eye for sustainable tech and the human-centric marketing and sales procedures that come with it. With his far-reaching and strong network within the logistics industry, Nick has been able to open new avenues and routes to market within major industries in the USA and the UAE. Nick lives by the ethos, “Give more than you take." His professional mission is to make the logistics industry leaner, cleaner and greener.

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Alex Bramley

Sales Support Intern

Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.

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