Dial P for Procurement
Episode 44

There’s a lot of anger among the members of these two unions because they feel, after being essential workers during the COVID pandemic, they were getting screwed on the attendance policy and getting punished for taking sick leave.

- Seth Harris, Northeastern University professor, former Biden administration official (Source: Reuters)

Episode Summary

Global supply chains are decidedly intermodal, and rail plays a much larger role than many people may realize. The potential for a rail workers’ strike recently dominated news headlines… until it didn’t. The strike was averted at the 11th hour by efforts made by Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.

But is the strike risk really behind us? Nothing is over until it is over, and the membership of the 12 unions involved in the agreement still have to vote. If they don’t ratify the agreement, the potential impact has been estimated at $2 Billion per day.

In this week’s Dial P audio podcast, Kelly Barner moves beyond the headlines about the rail workers’ strike to better understand the real status of this important supply chain channel:

• What did the rail unions want from their new contract?

• The terms and conditions are on the table for union vote

• What we learned from news coverage of the strike, and whether there will be future implications of the new agreement

Episode Transcript

Intro/Outro (00:01):

Welcome to Dial P for procurement. A show focused on today’s biggest spin supplier and contract management related business opportunities. Dial P investigates the nuanced and constantly evolving boundary of the procurement supply chain divide with a broadcast of engaged executives, providers, and thought leaders. Give us an hour and we’ll provide you with a new perspective on supply chain value. And now it’s time to dial P for procurement.

Kelly Barner (00:31):

When I think about our supply chains, I think about trucks. I think about containerships, I think about warehouses, even air freight. And while I know logically that rail transport is part of the supply chain, it just isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when the potential for a rail worker strike hit the news a couple of weeks ago. I think a lot of us suddenly became aware of how important they are both logistically and economically speaking. For instance, according to the Wall Street Journal, 28% of US freight moves via the rail network, second only to trucking at 40%. Now interestingly, the trucking industry is freight rail’s largest customer. So they’re working together a lot more than we realize. According to the Association of American Railroads, about 467,000 additional long haul trucks per day would’ve been needed to handle the redirected freight that is currently carried by rail.

Kelly Barner (01:37):

And what would the cost of that be? Will the US Chamber of Commerce estimated that a shutdown of the nation’s rail service would cost the economy over 2 billion per day as long as the strike lasted? When Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, who’s from Boston like me, you can probably tell from his accent actually locally, we call him ma. When Ma Walsh announced on September 15th that a tentative agreement had been reached, everyone gave a sigh of relief after all a strike was set to begin the next day. And that is the last thing anyone needs. But I have to ask, is it really over in this episode of Dial Pay, I’m going to review what the rail worker unions want from their new contracts, the final terms and conditions of the pending agreement, what the process of ratifying that agreement looks like from here, and what all of us learned from news coverage of the strike, including whether there will be future implications from this new agreement.

Kelly Barner (02:44):

But before I go any further, let me pause and introduce myself. I’m Kelly Barner. I’m the co-founder and managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point. I’m a partner at Art of Procurement and I’m your host for Dial P for procurement here on supply Chain. Now I’m constantly scanning the news for complex stories to discuss things that are interesting but may contain a surprise or escape notice. I also follow these stories beyond the headlines, which is something we’re going to do today. And I stay on top of these stories until they go cold or reach a resolution. We release a new episode or interview on Dial P every Thursday. So subscribe and be on the lookout for future episodes. And don’t forget to check out some of the past topics we’ve covered as well. Now before we get back to the railway strike, I have a quick favor to ask.

Kelly Barner (03:39):

I truly hope you find value in the time we’re about to spend together. And if you do, here’s what I ask. Find a way to engage that works for you. We have listeners on all kinds of platforms, so give us a review on iTunes, offer up some stars on another podcast platform, share the post where you found this or give us a like or a comment on LinkedIn or Twitter. You can even send this link directly to a colleague that you think should hear it. I’m grateful for your interest and attention, and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have an idea for a future episode of Dial Paid. All right, back to the railway strike. What was really at stake here? What was it that the rail workers unions were looking for? Well, there are 115,000 unionized railway workers in the US and they have been working for years without an active contract as disputes between the unions and the companies have dragged on.

Kelly Barner (04:41):

In this particular round of negotiations, six of the largest rail carriers, including the companies that are considered the big three bnsf, Union Pacific and csx, were all at the table as were 12 unions. The key issues involved, wages, attendance, policies, sick time and scheduling. Now, labor has steadily been declining in rail as technology and cost cutting measures have been implemented. I was really surprised by some of these figures that I uncovered in preparing for today’s episode. For instance, the railroad industry has slashed almost 30% of its workforce over the last six years. In 1970, there were 600,000 rail workers, and today there are around 150,000, although not all of them are unionized. This reduction in labor pool is one source of the strain that’s being placed on these workers. Simply speaking, it’s making it very hard for them to get days off. They are on call at all times and often receive very short notice that they need to report to work, which is where those attendance policies come into play.

Kelly Barner (05:59):

So the final terms and conditions of the agreement involve voluntary assigned days off, an additional paid day off, the ability for workers to take time off for routine doctor’s appointments without being penalized, not having any loss of attendance points for hospitalizations or surgical procedures. And of course the money is important here. The biggest wage increase in more than four decades, they’ll be scaled up 24% between now and 2024. 14% of that hits immediately. And there will also be an assignment of thousand dollars annual bonuses over five years. There will be no increases to healthcare copays and deductibles, and all of these changes will bring the average railroad workers pay to $110,000 a year by 2024. So here’s where we dig beyond the headlines, because we all gave such a sigh of relief, but the union members have not yet ratified the agreement. And although there was a lovely ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, this is not over by a long shot.

Kelly Barner (07:12):

All of these union members across the country have to ratify the agreement, and the process may stretch into November, especially when you include the time required for all of the different unions to vote and for those votes to be counted and reported. Now, if it were even that simple, I still probably wouldn’t be covering this story. So you know, there has to be more to it. For one thing, there are two sets of potential agreements on the table. There’s the contract proposed by the rail carriers and then there are the terms proposed by the Presidential Emergency Board or p b. So there’s the offer from the railways, and then there’s sort of this somewhat objective mediated middle ground provided as an alternative, a survey of rail workers at the Smart Transportation division, which is one of the largest rail related unions in the US, found that nearly eight in 10 members would have voted to reject the carrier proposed contract.

Kelly Barner (08:15):

The grassroots group railroad Workers Union found that more than nine out of 10 railroad workers would vote to reject the p b recommendations and go on strike instead. So large groups have sort of tentative sense, almost like polling data that indicate their members are not going to vote to ratify of the two. The p b guidance, which all of the unions accept, the two biggest have agreed to is considered less worker friendly. So now we need to figure out why was the announcement made that the strike had been averted? And are the folks negotiating on behalf of the union leadership thinking in the same place that the individual workers are? There’s a huge question, and this is part of why the member votes stretch out into mid-November. Some of the groups where we’re hearing rumblings that the members may not vote to ratify have pushed those votes out maybe to give a little bit of time for discussion, consideration, uh, and potentially trying to bring people into agreement.

Kelly Barner (09:18):

So the guidance from the PEB is not actually an agreement on the table. It’s more like advice from a mediator. So as advantageous as all of these concessions to the workers sound, neither proposed agreement is being received particularly warmly. Here’s an example of how they differ. The union members wanted raises of 31% over the course of the next five years. The railroads offered 17 and the p b recommended 22. So you’ve got this range from 17% to 31% that are all being talked about. And yet, from what I’ve read from multiple sources, the union members actually seem less concerned about the money than they are the benefits. Apparently they believe that their salaries can be worked out, but the benefit terms and attendance policies that are being enforced very rigidly are making it incredibly difficult personally for them to hold these jobs. Now, the ink on all of these agreements and recommendations and proposals wasn’t dry before voices of discontent started to emerge, and some of them are pretty colorful.

Kelly Barner (10:31):

So as was reported in the Hill, quote, Ron Cameron Cow, an organizer at Railroad Workers United, which represents rank and file railroaders said that there’s a lot of anger, confusion, and hostility towards the new agreement which many workers feel is intentionally vague. That same article quotes an engineer from Norfolk Southern who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. Quote, workers are off and this time we actually have a lot of leverage. I know I’m not going to accept anything less than what we deserve. So the current agreement with the carriers actually only covers the two largest unions Of the 12, it covers the smart transportation division and the brotherhood of locomotive engineers and trainmen, one of the smaller unions, the 5,000 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers has already voted to reject the p b guidance and authorize a strike.

Kelly Barner (11:37):

It has plans to resume negotiations and hold off until, at least at the time they were talking about it publicly, the end of September. We’ve obviously made it past that. And so their vote is an example of one that’s been pushed out. It’s currently scheduled to to take place no later than November 20th. So they’re sort of inching all of these votes forward, trying to build consensus around the agreement, increasing the pressure on everyone is the fact that Congress has all kinds of ideas about how they can head off a strike. I think everyone, including Congress is hoping that does not become necessary because if there is a strike, it’s more than just the freight capacity that will be needed or the cost to the economy. It’s also about moving people. There will be significant interruptions in Amtrak service. This rail agreement doesn’t just include freight.

Kelly Barner (12:34):

And then if we look at a few specific things, typically shipped by rail, the big one that comes up is crude oil. 300,000 barrels of crude oil are shipped by rail every day, and this has a ripple effect. Refineries might have to slow production if deliveries of crude oil are delayed according to the American fuel and petrochemical manufacturers. This in turn moving through the supply chain could lead to shortages of gasoline and diesel fuel in some places, including the Northeast. Automotive is worried new car deliveries would be affected since most of them travel by either dock or rail. And of course, the big concern food. Food may take a hit if rail because it is the primary transportation method for a third of all grain and fertilizer is disrupted. So we know it’s going to be inconvenient, expensive, even worrisome, especially as we get into the winter months.

Kelly Barner (13:34):

But there’s been a lot we’ve been able to learn from this, including what might be the future implications of a strike. And part of how we got to see this is as we got into that September 14th, September 15th and the strike was looming on the 16th, how did different railways adjust thinking that there might be an issue on the horizon? So in anticipation of the strike, Amtrak proactively canceled long run trips. If a strike started, they didn’t wanna have people getting stranded partway between their origin and destination points. Another big change was that railways stopped moving hazardous shipments that might otherwise have been stranded mid trip and create very real danger for the people living in those communities. So there’s not just the potential of the strike. There are all of the calculations going place as companies and rail rail providers make different decisions about hedging against the uncertainty.

Kelly Barner (14:36):

So what this shows us is that as much as we talk about supply chain risk and risk mitigation and plans to hedge all of this off, sometimes the cost of mitigation can be as disruptive as the disruption itself and nothing is over until it’s over. You can have as many rose garden ceremonies, and I do love to hear from my friend Marty Walsh, but until these railway workers sign on to one or more of these agreements, it hasn’t really been averted. It’s just been postponed. And the closer we get to the holiday season and the closer we get to cold weather, some of the implications of a disruption actually go up. So one of the other cautionary tales that I think comes out of this actually has nothing whatsoever to do with railways, with labor unions. It has more to do with how we read the news.

Kelly Barner (15:38):

If we’re not reading beyond the headlines, we’re missing the true implications of what’s actually being communicated to us. Those of us that work in supply chain have been inundated with coverage over the last two or three years, every single headline everywhere above the fold, supply chain, supply chain, supply chain. But if you just read the headline, you’re missing the information that’s going to advise the way you do your job. The information you start to monitor, the decisions you make, the timing for those decisions mean here it was trumpeted that the strike had been averted, but that’s rather temporary when you look into this whole ratification process. And I think what I find interesting is that the more that the voices pronouncing success have to win or lose from the situation, the more skeptical we need to be about just how close that is to the truth or whether we need to dig a little bit deeper.

Kelly Barner (16:37):

Clearly, this is a situation where there’s not only misalignment between the headlines and what’s actually happening. There may also be misalignment between those negotiating on behalf of the unions and the workers that they propose to represent. Now, that’s my point of view, and I can assure you that as we go through October and November, I will be keeping an eye on news stories, on ratification decisions. And just as interestingly on the scheduled dates for those votes, I think there’s gonna be some really interesting jockeying because I do agree with that engineer. They have some real leverage this time, and I think they’re planning to use it. Now, I’ve shared with you how I look at this story and how I’m planning to monitor it going forward, but I wanna hear from you. I always say, As much as I’m grateful that you listen, your job doesn’t stop there.

Kelly Barner (17:38):

Please become part of the conversation. Here’s a couple of questions. Are you surprised at the central role that rail freight plays in the supply chain? How might this affect shipments your company was planning? Do you have mitigation strategies in place? Is it possible for businesses to address the concerns of workers and consumers in the current environment where workers and cash flow are both in short supply? Do you think we’re in for more drama and fireworks? And has this maybe changed the way that you will read the news headlines or interpret just how done an agreement is? I don’t know, but please let me know. Until next time, I’m Kelly Barner and I’ve enjoyed spending this time with you. Thank you so much for your time, and on behalf of Dial P for procurement and supply chain now, I wish you a great rest of your day.

Intro/Outro (18:36):

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Dial P for procurement and for being an active part of the supply chain now community. Please check out all of our shows and events@supplychainnow.com. Make sure you follow Dial P four procurement on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to catch all the latest programming details. We’ll see you soon for the next episode of Dial P four, Procurement.

Hosts

Kelly Barner

Host, Dial P for Procurement

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Adrian Purtill

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.

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Joshua Miranda

Marketing Specialist

Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more.  In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.

Donna Krache

Director of Communications and Executive Producer

Donna Krache is a former CNN executive producer who has won several awards in journalism and communication, including three Peabodys.  She has 30 years’ experience in broadcast and digital journalism. She led the first production team at CNN to convert its show to a digital platform. She has authored many articles for CNN and other media outlets. She taught digital journalism at Georgia State University and Arizona State University. Krache holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. She is a serious sports fan who loves the Braves. She is president of the Dave Krache Foundation. Named in honor of her late husband, this non-profit pays fees for kids who want to play sports but whose parents are facing economic challenges.

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Controller

Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.

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Scott W. Luton

Founder, CEO, & Host

As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.

From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.

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Allison Giddens

Host, Logistics with Purpose

Allison Krache Giddens has been with Win-Tech, a veteran-owned small business and aerospace precision machine shop, for 15 years, recently buying the company from her mentor and Win-Tech’s Founder, Dennis Winslow. She and her business partner, John Hudson now serve as Co-Presidents, leading the 33-year old company through the pandemic.

She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Certificate of Finance from the University of Georgia. She also holds certificates in Google Analytics, event planning, and Cybersecurity Risk Management from Harvard online. Allison founded the Georgia Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and currently serves as Treasurer. She serves on the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board as its Secretary, the liveSAFE Resources Board of Directors as Resource Development Co-Chair, and on the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association Board as Membership Chair and is also a member of Cobb Executive Women. She is on the Board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Northwest Area Councils. Allison runs The Dave Krache Foundation, a non-profit that helps pay sports fees for local kids in need.

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Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise

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

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

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Chris Barnes

Principal, Supply Chain Now
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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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Host of TEKTOK

If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.

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

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Kevin L. Jackson

Host of Digital Transformers

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

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Enrique Alvarez

Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español

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

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

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Kelly Barner

Host of Dial P for Procurement

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

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Mary Kate Soliva

Host, Veteran Voices

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

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Jeff Miller

Host

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

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Amanda Luton

Chief Marketing Officer

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

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Clay Phillips

Business Development Manager

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

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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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