Supply Chain Now
Episode 760

Supply chain disruptions are everywhere now in the news. I think there's a much better understanding and awareness among consumers, which can also be very tricky by the way, because we need to make sure the product is already there in advance of their demand.

- Patricia Gabriel, Vice President of U.S. Customer Service with Mondelez International

Episode Summary

U.S. Bank processed $29.7 billion in freight payment transactions in 2020. Those payments and the data that accompanies them are analyzed quarterly by Bobby Holland VP/Director of Freight Data Solutions at U.S. Bank and his team. The FPI report includes quarter over quarter, year over year, and full-year data and analysis.

According to a summary released by U.S. Bank, “The U.S. Bank National Shipments Index showed growth, but at a slightly slower pace in the third quarter, compared to the preceding quarter, and year-over-year, reflecting several headwinds. This included an increase in the COVID-19 Delta variant, general supply chain constraints and auto plant slowdowns/shutdowns due to supply chain and microchip shortage issues.”

In this interview, Bobby is joined by Patricia Gabriel, Vice President of U.S. Customer Service with Mondelez international, to share the results of the Q3 2021 report with Supply Chain Now Co-hosts Greg White and Scott Luton, interpreting what they may mean for the economy and the shipping industry in the short and longer term.

  • The sources of the ‘index headwinds’ that Bobby and his team saw evidenced in this quarter’s report
  • How a lack of return freight from the Northeast region of the country is making it harder for shippers to get drivers to head in that direction in the first place
  • Localized issues beyond the regional level, such as weather events and city-specific traffic congestion, that are having a widespread impact on rates

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 (00:33):

Hey. Hey. Good afternoon, good morning, good evening based on wherever you are in the world today. Welcome to Supply Chain Now. Scott Luton and Greg White with you today for a great, great show. Greg, how are we doing?

Greg White (00:44):

We’re doing great. You know, I just thought about it, whenever you say that it could actually be tomorrow somewhere that we’re talking to. We’re up noon here. Right?

Scott Luton (00:54):

Continuing the theme, Greg [inaudible].

Greg White (00:57):

Do we say happy tomorrow? It’s today there.

Scott Luton (01:01):

We’ll, have to ponder that question through the weekend.

 

Greg White (01:04):

Yeah. Let us.

 

Scott Luton (01:06):

But, folks, today once again, not only do we have the one only Greg White back, who’s had his hands full lately. We have an outstanding show teed up all around the ever shifting, ever evolving, ever challenging world of freight. So, on this episode, we’re going to be sharing key insights from one of the leading transportation industry resources – y’all know it – it’s the U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index, but this time for Q3 2021. Greg, hard to believe we’re already talking in the rearview mirror about Q3, huh?

Greg White (01:38):

It’s true. I was just talking to somebody the other day and they said, “It is almost November.” I mean, this year – unlike last year, which shall not be named – has flown by it feels like. Doesn’t it? I mean, does it to you?

Scott Luton (01:55):

Undoubtedly. Undoubtedly. And, of course, I can only remember just a few of the headaches we’ve all experienced here in 2021. But all that said, we have a slew of new best practices, new learnings, new takeaways that supply chains around the world are applying, but a lot of them come out of conversations, like the one we’re going to have here today. We’re going to be gaining key takeaways from Freight Payment Index from two business leaders with extensive experience in the transportation markets. So, Greg, before we introduce our guests and before we say hello to a few folks, and Peter, and Susheel, great to see you all here today, tell us about this ongoing collaboration that we’ve had now with U.S. Bank because they’re one of the leading financial institutions involved in powering global supply chain, especially transportation. So, tell us about why U.S. Bank.

Greg White (02:47):

Well, so it turns out, Scott, when people ship things, the people who ship them for them want to get paid.

 

Scott Luton (02:55):

What?

 

Greg White (02:56):

What a brilliant concept that is. And, of course, there are hundreds, thousands, millions of shipments all over the world all the time, and U.S. Bank is one of the key resources for funding that, for making sure that those payments happen. $31.4 billion worth of transactions in the last year – last year, remember that year that shall not be named. And, of course, that gives them an incredible amount of insight into where things are going, how many shipments are being made, what the cost is, whether that cost is fluctuating up or down.

 

Greg White

And Bobby Holland – who almost everybody knows. And those of you who don’t, you soon will, Bobby’s brilliance – and what he and his crew do is, they put together this index that shows us how things are trending, how they compare to the last quarter, how they compare to the last year, and that sort of thing. And it’s a really important service, particularly now. And I got t say, no spoiler alert here, but it’s really a little bit jumbled this time around. And I think people will be interested to see how things and why things, trends mostly have shifted. So, it going be interesting to go through this, this time.

Scott Luton (04:14):

I can’t agree with you more. I really enjoyed the prep-shows and all the prep-work that goes into some of these things, the U.S. Bank team in particular, gosh, to put out something as comprehensive as the Freight Payment Index. They went into overdrive over this last few weeks. I want to say hello, Greg, to a few folks and then we’re going to welcome in our guests here today. So, Peter Bolle, all night and all day, always with us. He’s off in 15 minutes, he says, to get supplies to install the under cabinet lighting in the kitchen. How about that for a project?

Greg White (04:42):

Has he shown his kitchen since he finished it. And I hope those lights are LED, Peter. I mean, not just for the environmental factor, but back when you could only get halogens, halogens create a tremendous amount of heat underneath your cabinets. We had under cabinet lighting that was halogen, just astounding the amount of heat that generates.

Scott Luton (05:05):

Man, one minute I’m sitting next to Greg White. The next minute I’m sitting next to Bob Vila. Nothing, nothing that Greg does not offer expertise on. Hey, Peter Bolle, great to have you here today and really enjoyed your popping in yesterday as well. Susheel is with us via LinkedIn. Susheel, great to see you here today. Looking forward to your POV. And, folks, we want to hear from you. We’ve got two experts – really three, I’m going to throw Bob Vila in there as well that you’re going to be hearing from throughout the hour. But we want to hear from you as well. So, hello, Susheel. And then, Geoff LeRoy, a great friend of the show. Geoff leads one of the supply chain organizations down in Savannah. And you talk about a growing Mecca for all things logistics and transportation, Savannah is a dynamic market, right?

Greg White (05:49):

Yeah. Harder and harder to brag about not having the container and ship jam like the West Coast. I’d love to hear if Geoff’s got eyes on that and kind of where that stands.

Scott Luton (06:01):

That’s right. Geoff, all the best to you and your family, and great to see here today. We welcome your perspective. And, yes, just to knock off the important things here, Peter says, “Yes, low voltage LEDs.” All right. So, Greg, are you ready to welcome in our two esteemed guests here today?

Greg White (06:18):

Yeah. Particularly today, because one of them represents several of the world’s favorite foods. So, we’re [inaudible] all of that.

Scott Luton (06:26):

Yes. We’re going to establish that because you’re absolutely right. I want to welcome in Bobby Holland, Director, Freight Data Solutions at U.S. Bank, and Patricia Gabriel, Vice-President U.S. Customer Service with Mondelez International. Hey. Hey. Bobby, Patricia, how are we doing this afternoon?

 

Bobby Holland (06:45):

We’re doing well. How are you?

 

Scott Luton (06:47):

I’m doing wonderful here in the home studio on this gorgeous Metro Atlanta afternoon. And we have got some wonderful hardworking folks just on the other side of the wall. Y’all might can hear them, I don’t know. But it’s got to be a gorgeous day to be outside making stuff happen. But, in the meantime, Greg, we’re really excited as y’all heard to tee up this episode here today, focus on the Q3 Freight Payment Index and continuing our work with the U.S. Bank team. And Patricia, gosh, as Greg alluded to, Mondolez is one of our favorite companies. And, Greg, go ahead and let the cat out of the bag. Why is that?

Greg White (07:24):

Because Mondolez, among other things, makes Oreo cookies – the greatest food on the planet – and Toblerone, and a ton of other products like that. So, we’ve hit kind of the U.S.-centric with Oreo and Toblerone, of course, known worldwide. And I can’t even list all the others. But how would we survive without you, Patricia?

 

Patricia Gabriel (07:44):

I will for you, Greg. And many more.

Scott Luton (07:49):

And we enjoyed our prep conversations with you both, Patricia in particular. I think we talked a little bit about chocolate and beer, one of our collective favorites. But for starters, before we dive into the Freight Payment Index, let’s get to know y’all a little bit better. Let’s start with Bobby. Bobby, of course, you’ve been here, sat in two appearances with us. We’ve always enjoyed those. Refresh our listeners’ memory of who Bobby Holland is.

Bobby Holland (08:15):

Well, I’ve been with U.S. Bank for five years. I come from a long software engineering and software development background. So, being at data-related, data science oriented – metadata scientist, data science oriented product manager, this is kind of my wheelhouse.

Scott Luton (08:33):

Wonderful. And, Greg, no one cuts through the tidal wave of data to offer real signals and things you got to pay attention to, like Bobby. Even if he says data science oriented, I’m with you, Bobby. I can’t own anything science-related. But, Greg, Bobby is one heck of resource, huh?

Greg White (08:53):

Yeah. Well, I mean, if you’ve ever seen this Freight Index, you’ve seen his handiwork and, of course, the handiwork of the entire U.S. Bank team. But making sure that we distill this – and what I love about this thing – it’s perfect for me to analyze. And I think a lot of people will like – probably like Patricia – to analyze because you can get through it so quick. It’s visually engaging. The explanations are complete but concise. And you don’t feel like you’re reading a novel every time you read this thing. And every single time, you know, there’s something surprising in this, and this time around is no different for sure.

Scott Luton (09:31):

Well said, Greg. Speaking of Patricia, Patricia, same question for you. Tell us a little about yourself here.

Patricia Gabriel (09:37):

Yes. So, my name is Patricia. I am working at Mondelez International. As you see, it’s much more brands than the one you referred to. Although, Oreo is, obviously, iconic and Toblerone as well, but we also sell Sour Patch Kids, we do Ritz, we do Milka chocolates. I’m working there as, really, into the transportation, logistics, distribution, customer service. So, obviously, my life over the last year-and-a-half have been very exciting, the challenges that we are going through as a market and across, actually. I’ve been in supply chain, like, for more than 20 years – we’ll say 20 year plus. And not only into chocolate, but also into the beer industry. Which, as a good Belgian that I am – yes, I’m not French. I know I have the French accent but, actually, in Belgium we speak French as well. So, as a Belgian, having been part of my career in the beer party industry and [inaudible] the chocolate, I think it’s a good strategy. I’ve been doing distribution, logistics, customer service for a long time now. Very exciting to be there and discussing the Freight Index.

Greg White (10:51):

We’re glad to have you. You just throw waffles into that mix and we’ll have the entire country covered. You have everything.

Scott Luton (10:59):

So, Greg, talk about passion. Goodness gracious,Patricia and Bobby has got it in truckloads as measured every quarter here on Supply Chain Now. So, Patricia, welcome. Big fans of the Mondelez team. And by the way, let’s confirm, Geoff says, yes, “Savannah Port does have plenty of container congestion and backlog.” As we all know, for a long time, that was one of the main alternatives.

Greg White (11:24):

That’s right. People were coming through the canal to Houston, and Jacksonville, and Charleston, and Savannah. And I think they’re all starting to stack up. But let’s just pause for just a moment, I think Bobby’s taking notes here. He’s going to be looking into that for the next Freight Payment Index Quarterly Report.

Scott Luton (11:44):

That’s right. He doesn’t miss anything either.

Greg White (11:46):

After, you might get a phone call in the name of research.

Scott Luton (11:52):

So, Greg, with Bobby and Patricia here, where are we going next?

Greg White (11:54):

Look, aside from what we talked about before we brought you both on, $31.4 billion worth of transactions that U.S. Bank facilitates, Bobby, tell us a little bit about why you do this, kind of how you accumulate the data. And just give people, again, a baseline for how the index works.

Bobby Holland (12:17):

Well, Greg, as you mentioned, the $31.4 billion in freight transactions, shippers and carriers, generates a lot of data. And we want to be able to provide value to our customers using that data. And so, one of the ways that we’ve done this in our first project from my product team was the Freight Payment Index. And we wanted to, first, add our perspective to the marketplace. We’re not saying that we are the end all and be all of indexes or indices. We, basically, wanted to provide another perspective to give our customers and the market large and other data points. And so, that’s basically what the Freight Index was, another data point helping their decision-making and it provides our perspective. We wanted to add the regional perspectives since that wasn’t represented in the marketplace. And so, that’s what we brought to bear.

Greg White (13:12):

Well, you might not say you’re the end all, be all, but I will. I mean, $30 billion worth of transactions speaks to it. And as you said, you capture a lot of volume and you had added, of course, the regional breakdown is really important and I think particularly interesting this time around.

 

Greg White (13:30):

So, Patricia, maybe you can give us some insight how you at Mondelez use this index. You know, we love to have professionals who are on the ground or, you know, in the marketplace seeing what the data represents. And it’s great to understand how you all use it.

Patricia Gabriel (13:48):

We definitely use it a lot, obviously, because, to what Bobby was saying, it provides us a very good market indicator. Definitely, understand also how we are performing and how our rates are in line with the markets. The regional breakdown is also very insightful for us, as obviously we are moving product across the United States, so we definitely use and leverage really to understand some indicators that are helping us. The data set and the visualization is very, very insightful. We are also using, obviously, other data and analytics, I think, especially in the current circumstances to understand more the leading indicator. Because at the end of the day, it’s also for us understanding the past to also predict or forecast how the next quarter is going to be as well, because this is a part as well of the big questions for us how to stay agile.

Greg White (14:47):

Yeah. I think that’s pretty common. I mean, when we started doing this – Bobby and Scott, I know you remember – we had the VP of logistics at Home Depot, and very similar, it gives you both an indication of what just happened – which I think is a feeling a lot of people have right now – but, also, it does give you some indication as to trend and the regional part of it, especially for someone who ships nationally and, of course, internationally as you do. I got to imagine that that is having an impact on your business regionally. And it has to be impacting margins differently in different areas of the country. So, knowing that breakdown is really important.

Scott Luton (15:29):

Well said. Well said. And, Patricia, I bet you’ve got some big time to-dos on that board just over your left shoulder, right?

Patricia Gabriel (15:38):

That’s the one of my daughter.

Scott Luton (15:40):

That’s your daughter’s.

Patricia Gabriel (15:41):

We have an open space policy here, an open office policy.

Greg White (15:45):

Does one of those say study for the SAT? Because we know you have that coming up also, right?

Patricia Gabriel (15:54):

This one is only in seventh grade,look at her to-do list.

Scott Luton (15:57):

Wow. Man, we’ll have to see if we can get her into the supply chain industry. She’s clearly a planner and a doer. Well, kidding aside, Patricia, I appreciate that. And by the way, I want to give a shoutout to Larry Klein down in Albany, Georgia, I believe. Larry, hope this finds you well and great to see you here today. Whether you’re Jeff, Peter, Susheel, you name it, all the other listeners, I want to hear your take on freight markets, global supply chain, you name it, some of what we’re talking about here today. All right.

 

Scott Luton (16:24):

So, Bobby, I want to circle back to you. I want to ask you starting with the Q3 Freight Payment Index, what is this one telling us? Let’s start from that national point of view, give us that overview.

Bobby Holland (16:36):

Well, nationally, we saw growth, but it was a slow growth, slightly slower pace than the third quarter. We’ve found or believe this is largely due to things like, you know, COVID-19 impacts, particularly from the Delta variant, where we’ve talked to and alluded to supply chain constraints. Some of which include auto plant slowdowns and shutdowns due to things like the microchip shortage and other components and other input components to the manufacturing process. And then, we also had storms. So, all of these things we called them out in the index as headwinds. But then, on the other side, we had drivers such as the port traffic that we’ve talked about. We still had solid home construction activity. Consumer spending has still been pretty robust. Traffic has still been moving across, you know, Mexico and Canadian borders. And then, we also, in some non-automotive sectors, had improved factory output. So, basically, it just results in an overall growth but, again, not as robust or as fast paced as it was in second quarter.

Scott Luton (17:47):

Outstanding. And we’re sharing some of the visuals there. Of course, to sign up for this report for free, check out freight.usbank.com and you’ll get your own copy each quarter. Before we go region by region with Bobby, Greg, and Patricia, any initial takeaways? Greg, I’ll start with you. Any initial takeaways just kind of speaking to that overall bigger picture?

Greg White (18:14):

Yeah. I mean, when you think about it from the large picture standpoint, it’s hard not to be surprised that the impact of constraint – I think this speaks to this largely – it largely speaks to the constraint of the workforce. Because the reason that semi-conductors are not available and other things is because people aren’t back at work yet in the states, many are not. So, I guess I was really, really surprised at the impact that that continues to have. And you start to see, and people will see it as we go through the rest of this report, the circularity and kind of network effect of that on the supply chain. One thing affects the next and the next and the next, and that comes back all the way around. So, that was probably the biggest takeaway I saw at a macro level.

Scott Luton (19:10):

Quite a cycle. And, Patricia, anything to add on the frontend before we go down region by region?

Patricia Gabriel (19:15):

We have seen definitely a third quarter with a very strong demand across the markets and, obviously, the capacity. And we’re going to discuss this in the regional insights, but the capacity didn’t really improve. We still have the driver shortage, the new trucks not coming in, and so on. So, we have seen, obviously, the impact for us as an industry, and the pricing, and how difficult to secure capacity. Not even talking about price, it’s how do we get trucks and access to trucks. So, it really gets into the fight for capacity right now, even beyond the pricing.

Scott Luton (19:55):

Wonderful. I appreciate that, Greg and Patricia. So, Bobby, with that said, let’s go down region by region and give kind of some of your key takeaways. And then, we’ll get Greg and Patricia to offer up some color commentary. Let’s start with the Northeast Division. And really quick to our listeners, so the Freight Payment Index is broken up when they dive a little deeper to five regions, Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, and West. And we’re going to work these from East Coast to West and get a little more lower altitude, a little more specificity in what we’re seeing. So, Bobby let’s start with the Northeast.

Bobby Holland (20:30):

Okay. So, what we saw in the Northeast, it had its largest quarter to quarter gain in more than two years. And, of course, that covers the heavy COVID-19 period, where the Northeast got really hammered in that regard with the shutdowns. But it was up 5.1 percent from Q2. It has one of the most population dense areas. And so, with that, retail sales have a big impact on shipments. And then, on the other side of that coin, we see that housing starts slowed. So, the housing prices are going crazy, it appears I can personally attest to. But it’s not new stuff. It’s selling old inventory. So, housing starts, basically, flat. So, again, moderate growth in the shipment side. And then, the spend index was up about 2.1 percent.

Bobby Holland (21:27):

And, again, as we’ve been talking about, and you’ll kind of hear that, as you pointed out earlier, Greg, it’s a recurring theme of higher diesel prices and tight industry capacity. One of the things that we started to see more this quarter than previous quarters is the impact of, not only the truck driving shortage, but actually the truck shortage. There were some allusions to it back, I think even as early as like the Q4 of last year, start to inkling about it. A little heavier in Q1. But now, to your point earlier, it’s making a more severe impact across the board because all the clever and creative things that both shippers and carriers and all associates had to do to accommodate these things, that’s basically one other item that’s kind of being slowly taken off the table or at least impacted heavily.

Scott Luton (22:24):

The hits keep on coming for sure there in the Northeast. Any commentary there, Greg or Patricia?

Patricia Gabriel (22:30):

Yeah. I think, first, I agree with what Bobby said. I think as shippers, we still see limited capacity in the Northeast into New England and so on. There’s a lack of return freight, obviously. So, it’s hard to get carriers moving some of the loads because, to be honest, they cannot return and then they will prefer to to move the loads on another vein. So, we definitely see that impact.

 

Patricia Gabriel (22:56):

And we touched base a little bit on the shortage of drivers, but overall, the shortage on labor also in the warehousing and in the trucking industries is also very prominent in the Northeast. [Inaudible] impact in some of [inaudible] and warehouses in that region.

Scott Luton (23:15):

And, Greg, I’m going to give you the last word on the mighty Northeast.

Greg White (23:19):

Yeah. So, Bobby, probably you acknowledge this, too, when Patricia said it, the lack of back haul freight is a significant issue in the Northeast all the time. And we’ve talked about that in previous reports as well. But, now, I would imagine with the rates being where they are, that’s stunting that demand even further, which is making it harder to find carriers to go into these more – I don’t know if I’d say remote, but whatever – less populated areas, because they’re less likely to find a return haul out of there.

Scott Luton (23:54):

Well said. And that is certainly a recurring theme. I want to bring in a comment here from Kelly Barner. So, some of y’all may know Kelly Barner leads our Dial P for Procurement and also Buyers Meaning Point. Kelly says, “I know one of the ideas that has been floated is bringing the National Guardian to help drive trucks. That is going to be a challenge here in the Northeast -” where she lives. “We have some of the strictest vaccine mandates in the nation. So, the National Guard has already been called up to drive school buses, work in hospitals, prisons, state police, you name it.” So, that is a great perspective there, Kelly. Thanks so much for sharing.

Patricia Gabriel (24:30):

I can confirm that we have a shortage of school bus drivers here as well. Families understand the challenges we have in terms of checking capacity and [inaudible].

Scott Luton (24:45):

Thank you for sharing that, Patricia. We can’t let one of these shows take place without calling out the need to hug on those truck drivers. They have such a tough, tough job and lots of burnout there, lots of, as we learned firsthand, mistreatment, and they’re the backbone of the industry. So, thank you for sharing that, Patricia. Okay. So, from the Northeast, let’s keep driving here to the Southeast, Bobby. What are we seeing in the Southeast?

Bobby Holland (25:13):

Okay. The Southeast Region was one of the ones that, from a shipments perspective, that contracted slow, about 2.9 percent from the previous quarter. The Midwest of the other contracting region with shipments. But we know that the Southeast was impacted by severe weather as well as fluctuations due to COVID-19. But they’re also impacted by auto production, which declined as well for all the reasons that we’ve previously discussed. But on the other hand, housing starts are still elevated there. And we’ve talked about that in previous versions of the index where the cycle is catastrophe, insurance, and then rebuilding, truck freight increases. So, we’ll be looking to see if that cycle repeats itself here. But, again, shipments down and spend up.

Scott Luton (26:10):

Yep. And really quick before we get Greg and Patricia to respond, Kelly says, “Having the National Guard drive trucks is a fabulous idea, Supply Chain Now, and much less scary than driving a school bus.” All right. Good stuff there, Kelly.

Greg White (26:26):

You can protect the load as well as haul the load.

Scott Luton (26:29):

So, continuing on Southeast, let’s go to Patricia first. Anything else stick out to you, Patricia?

Patricia Gabriel (26:36):

I think the storm and the weather has definitely impacted the third quarter for the Southeast. Not as bad as some other years. To be very honest, I think it was not as bad as we anticipated. But for the rest, yes. And, also, like the Northeast, there’s also a lack of a return freight into the Southeast, obviously putting a lot of pressure on the capacity.

Scott Luton (27:02):

Yeah. Thank you for that, Patricia. Greg?

Greg White (27:04):

I’m only speculating, but I think one of the things that the particular case of the Southeast and the Midwest – which we’ll talk about in a second – makes me believe is that, the cost and availability is suppressing demand. Because while shipments are down, I know there are plenty of shipments that there’s probably latent demand out there. Things that can’t be shipped because there aren’t enough drivers. And so, the attempt or the transaction of a shipment payment never actually occurs. So, that was a bit of an epiphany for me, is that, at this point, the limitations of capacity are actually suppressing demand. Bobby does that kind of jive with what you’ve seen in the data?

Bobby Holland (27:55):

It’s possible. Like I said, the usual things that our customers have to do to manage around these obstacles seem to compound. And, you know, you can only go so far with shifting things around. And we were even reading articles and seeing things about cannibalizing truck fleets. So, after a point, there’s only so much you can do, and then you just have to work with what you have. You can’t get more clever. And so, that’s basically an indication of what you just stated that, once you reached that limit, you’ve just got to let it ride out with what you have.

Scott Luton (28:35):

Well said. All right. So, that was the Southeast. And, Bobby, from there, we’re going to start to move our way westward and we’re going to talk about the Midwest. So, what are we seeing there in the Midwest?

Bobby Holland (28:49):

Midwest, as I stated, was the other region that was down from a shipment’s volume perspective. It was down, basically less than 1 percent, 0.7 percent. The spend, however, grew 3 percent from the second quarter. So, again, less things happening. And auto production is big in the Midwest and it was off more than 30 percent from a year earlier, again, because critical aspects of the supply chain for our auto manufacturing were missing. The microchips are the ones that make the news and that everybody’s familiar with. Because not only is it the auto manufacturing, but a lot of the freight that comes out of the Midwest is auto-related, there’s an impact to that as well. But the spend-wise, the fuel prices are still going up. One of the things we quoted in the index was that diesel rose about 3 percent, almost 4 percent in the third quarter. And, basically, it’s up almost 44 percent from last year. So, you can do the math and just see that’s why spend was so much with so many orders of magnitude over what the shipment volume increase or the shipment volumes were.

Scott Luton (30:06):

All right. So, coming to you first, Greg, when we talk about in the Midwest, some of what Bobby has shared versus maybe other things you saw in the analysis, anything stick out?

Greg White (30:15):

Well, what started to stick out as I went through this analysis myself was that, this is a familiar tune. There aren’t enough trucks. There aren’t enough people driving the trucks. And fuel prices are very, very high. They were at 40 percent in the Southeast. So, basically, fuel prices are up 30 to 44 percent across the nation. So, just to give you an idea, anything that costs you two bucks before, now costs you $2.67, and diesel fuel is much higher than that.

Bobby Holland (30:52):

I think it’s about $3.70 now.

Greg White (30:54):

Yeah. Yeah. I saw a bargain yesterday, Bobby, $3.45.

Scott Luton (31:03):

As you’re driving a truck through Atlanta, Greg.

Greg White (31:07):

Well, I was just checking out all the fuel prices to see how high they were and then I went to Costco. But I think this was the point about the third of regions that I started to analyze that it’s the same story nationwide. You’re going to hear it, but there are certain other impacts as well. And I think one of the things we need to recognize is that, trucks, just like cars, they expire. They have extended their useful life. Bobby said, you can only get – I want to say cheeky – but you can only get so clever with trying to keep these things on the road. And then, eventually, you’ve got to get it off the road. And there aren’t enough trucks there to replace it. So, even if we do have the drivers, we don’t have the trucks. And we don’t have the trucks because we don’t have the workers in the factories. And we don’t have the workers in the factories because people aren’t going back to work.

 

Greg White (31:59):

So, that will, I believe, start to abate because now that the federal pandemic unemployment insurance is going away, people have rolled to their respective state unemployment insurance. And, now, with the actual requirement of having to actually look for a job to keep getting it. So, people will have to start going back to work, but it is, I have to say, much slower than I expected at any job, not just driving.

Bobby Holland (32:32):

A slow ramp back up to repair the damage to the supply chain. So, it’s not just going to pop that way as soon as people start going back to work.

 

Greg White (32:41):

Yeah. That’s a good point.

Scott Luton (32:41):

Agreed. The challenges certainly will keep coming. Patricia, your thoughts when it comes to the Midwest.

Patricia Gabriel (32:49):

Yeah. I think what we have seen that we didn’t talk yet about is, obviously, it’s the congestion that we see on the intermodal around Chicago. And, obviously, the congestion is well-known. It’s there for quite some time. But it definitely got worse even in the third quarter. And then, everybody’s converting, obviously, to trucks and this put even more pressure, I would say. So, that’s definitely something that was also experienced from our side and from the market side.

Scott Luton (33:21):

That’s a great call-out, Patricia. I read somewhere that in one of the big rail yards, a 25 mile backup for rail cars to get into. Man, holy cow. By the way, Larry Klein says, “More loads, smaller trucks.” Simple solutions, maybe. We’ll see Larry. Well, you know, along those lines, Greg, one company – speaking of more load, smaller trucks or smaller loads – Roddy, of course. I cannot remember who acquired them not too long ago –

 

Greg White (33:50):

UPS.

 

Scott Luton (33:50):

UPS did. That’s right. So, you know, freeing up the trunk of a sedan to make a delivery, fascinating times we live in for sure.

 

Greg White (33:59):

It’s hard to fit [inaudible] sedan, however. Believe me I’ve tried.

 

Scott Luton (34:02):

You beat me to it, Greg. You beat me to it. We do love our Oreos around here. Okay. So, that is the Midwest. And by the way, I’m going to share Joshua’s comment here. He says, “I can’t wait until we get to the West Coast where diesel prices are out of control. And the ports are clogged with empty containers.” Joshua, excellent point, and looking forward to your POV as well. All right. So, from the Midwest, Bobby, let’s move from the Midwest to the Southwest. So, tell us what you see there.

Bobby Holland (34:35):

Southwest shipments rose about 2 percent, 1.9 percent, over Q2. About 4.3 percent from a year earlier. And what we see in the Southwest is still high retail sales levels, housing starts growing, consumer consumption is also growing, even though there’s a surge of COVID-19 Delta variant in some places in the Southwest. The interesting thing we’re seeing, crude oil rig counts jumping almost 10 percent from the second to the third quarter, which is helping bolster shipments. And then, the same with the cross-border shipments from Mexico rising. And since the Southwest has one of the largest number of land ports across their border, again, it’s helping to buoy up their shipment traffic.

Scott Luton (35:36):

So, Greg, talking about the Southwest, what else comes to mind based on what you heard Bobby say and what the data is telling? As well as our fingers on the pulse across supply chain?

Greg White (35:48):

Well, I believe it was last quarter also, energy shipments are largely doing this segment of the country. Because oil prices are higher, people are apparently putting in more wells. Though, I have to say, Bobby, that was a surprise to me, 10 percent increase. But that’s what’s moving. At the same time, all of that goodness is just barely getting growth into the system quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year and yet prices are still rising dramatically.

Bobby Holland (36:26):

Yeah. The spend index was up almost 6 percent, which in these modest rises is a pretty good sized one, especially for the Southwest.

Greg White (36:37):

Yeah. Well, almost 27 percent year over year as well. I mean, so we’re continuing to see that inflation – there it is – in shipment costs and spend grow. I think overall, Bobby, not as much as Q2, but still pretty significant in terms of rate or spend increase.

Scott Luton (37:08):

Great. So, coming to you next, Patricia, when we look at the Southwest, what we’re seeing there, what comes to mind?

Patricia Gabriel (37:16):

Yeah. The capacity is very tight on the cross-border, as Bobby mentioned. There’s a clear imbalance between the export and import, so very hard to find trucks. And then, for the international shipments, we can’t go into modal so much because it get congested in the Midwest. You go back to truck loads that your consumer find out of Laredo and the Texas border. So, this is about trying to find the capacity moving from one problem to another problem. And when we get most probably on the West, we’re going to discuss on the port congestion, so it feels like a little bit of a domino effects you’re trying to fix somewhere. And then, it appears somewhere else.

Scott Luton (38:00):

Peter to pay Paul comes to mind in many ways there. So, Joshua knows where we’re going. We’re about to move to the West Coast where we’re seeing some big things. He says, “I heard that the Port of Oakland has excess capacity. How feasible would it be to redirect shipments up north?” I’ll tell you, as we’ve seen, Greg, here on the East Coast, folks have moved from Savannah to Charleston. Which, I don’t know how many nautical miles that is, but Charleston has been benefiting from some of the congestion in the Savannah Port. So, Joshua knows where we’re going. So, on that note then, Bobby, let’s talk about the Western regions. What are we seeing there?

Bobby Holland (38:39):

The West had one of the largest gains, especially on the shipment side. They’re up 13.8 percent from the second quarter. And we’ve been talking about it in bits and pieces about the significant activity in the West, which is reflected in high port volumes and lots of tracking activity. Attempting to move that from the port into the state and into the country. However, from a shipment perspective, there was a slowdown in housing starts up over last year, but still fell from the previous quarter. On the spend side, it was up almost 16 percent from second quarter, which was a second straight gain, about 44 percent over this time period last year. Again, strong freight rates for all the reasons that we’ve talked about.

 

Bobby Holland (39:29):

One of the big ones is in the port congestion issue – we talked about it a little bit in the last index call – which is the retailers trying to replenish their stores as well as to prepare for the holiday season in this quarter. And so, again, they’re trying to get as much in as they possibly can. And then, on top of that, you have high fuel prices. Diesel was up 5.6 percent over Q2 and 37 percent over a year earlier. So, it’s all the same theme, putting pressure on all the activity that is attempting to rectify previous problems.

Scott Luton (40:13):

Hey, really quick, of course, it feels like a year round peak. Amanda was telling me – Amanda, Jada, Clay, and Allie, I appreciate y’all’s production work here today – that target has rolled out an incentive encouraging folks to buy now. And if there’s a discount later as we get into the holidays and first of the year, they’ll just offer up that refund based on where that discount was. I think it’s interesting to see how that will play out, Greg, and Patricia, and Bobby. But let’s talk about the West for a sec. So, based on what Bobby has shared there, Greg, what else sticks out in the wild wild west?

Greg White (40:51):

So, I think the increase in shipments shows that they are actually getting goods through the ports, finally. Even though we talk a lot about port congestion, and it’s always about Long Beach and LA, they must be getting goods through to have that level of increase in terms of shipments. You know, the pricing is confiscatory, of course. But, I mean, this is the market that we live in. And by the way to answer Joshua’s earlier question, if the capacity is there, somebody ought to test it. Unless there’s something fatally flawed about the Port of Oakland, then, yes, it is absolutely feasible. Because, Joshua, a lot of those shipments are actually going through the canal to Houston, or Jacksonville, or Savannah, or Charleston, as Scott was talking about. So, I would think Oakland would be much more feasible for at least a certain number of shipments than doing all of that.

Scott Luton (41:49):

Well said. Confiscatory, that’s a new one for me, Greg. Gosh, I’m going to have to bring my dictionary to these conversations. All right. Patricia, so a lot shortage of things going on in the West, what sticks out to you?

Patricia Gabriel (42:02):

Yeah. Not much more. By the way, I’m not even trying to say that word. It’s impossible for me.

Greg White (42:08):

I bet it sounds great with a Belgian accent. It sounds much more intelligent.

Patricia Gabriel (42:15):

I think the point that we are all making, indeed the retailer brought a lot of the seasonal products as ahead of time as they could. Of course, the big unknown is how much the consumer will also react to the supply chain disruption that we see buying ahead of the holiday season, the Christmas gifts, and Thanksgiving. This is definitely also a potential shifting to some of the behavior that we see because the supply chain disruptions are really everywhere now in the news. And I think there’s a much better understanding and awareness of the consumer, which can be also very tricky by the way, because we need to make sure the product is already there. So, this is really, for us, the preparation of the season.

Scott Luton (43:04):

Excellent point, Patricia. Excellent point. Gosh, no shortage of things. It feels like we need a couple extra hours as always, Bobby, and Greg, and Patricia. All right. So, Greg, where are we going next with this esteemed panel?

Greg White (43:18):

I think it’s time to ask the big question and the one where Bobby has to recuse himself. But before we do that, Bobby, whatever you can share with this that is either analytic, historically, or indicative maybe of the future, or whatever you can share, I’d love to hear kind of what is your big takeaway here?

Bobby Holland (43:41):

The big takeaway, I think, is just that the problems that are being experienced, I think that they will be handled. But I don’t think the impacts of the solutions are going to be immediate. I think that, ultimately, we’re going to crest this hill, but it’s going to be a long cresting. It’s not going to be, like, things are going to bounce back or snap back in Q4, even by Q1. Because, again, the fact that the supply chain is so severely impacted, it can’t snap back in one or two quarters. So, 2022 should still continue to be an interesting year with a lot of contradictions.

Scott Luton (44:23):

Excellent point. And, Greg, speaking of not being able to snap back, there’s some systemic things that must be addressed in order to mitigate future situations like this. The ports, of course, has been a main theme here. And you look from Gene Seroka to many others that know ports best, we’ve got some catching up to do in terms of how data and visibility is shared multi-party. Greg, you and I have talked about kind of the fiefdoms that are created and that coopertition between the ports that takes place. How can we systematize that in a much more holistically, efficient manner? The truck driver situation that we talk about every time we have this show, we talked about here. I mean, how can we change the role there? How can we change how that profession is also treated within industry? No shortage of really systemic issues that aren’t going to be resolved overnight. But, Greg, what’s your key takeaways? You and Patricia, what else are you thinking here before we move into wrap-up?

Greg White (45:24):

To the point that Bobby made earlier, even when we do get people back to work, even when the government stops paying people to stay away from work – and largely has to their credit, finally, at this point – it is going to take a while because people have not just stayed away and collected money from the government. They’ve stayed away and rethought their priorities. And it was hard enough to get drivers before COVID. The incoming generations of workers are not inclined to be long haul truck drivers. What we’ve seen is, to some extent, I’ve seen some reports of actually baby boomers coming out of retirement to become drivers, because they’re willing to do that job or whatever. But that’s not going to be enough.

Greg White (46:13):

So, to the point that I think everyone has made, this will not be a rapid recovery. We will probably see ebbs and flows like this. We’ll see differing regional effects. I mean, winter is about to come to the Northeast – where Bobby lives into the upper Midwest – and that will start to impact things. And with so many people in supply chain already on their heels with uncommon supply chain disruptions, like government intervention, then when the natural disruptions come, like weather, they’re less equipped. As Tommy said, they’re doing all these clever things to fix the problems they have today. They have to adapt those clever things when the natural occurrences of storms and weather and seasonality of peak occur. So, I think that the big takeaway is, we’re a long way from seeing any kind of stability. I would argue even indicative trends or changes in the data here, and certainly on the ground. But I’m not on the ground, so I’d love to hear of it.

Patricia Gabriel (47:29):

I think, Greg, you’re spot-on on the drivers. I think it was already difficult before. It is going to be even more difficult, I think, to find drivers, especially for the long haul distances. This is really not an attractive job, like it might have been in the past. I think that we are entering this fourth quarter, the supply chain employees wherever they are, whatever they are working on, transportation, on the warehousing, on manufacturing, people are exhausted. Let’s be very honest, they have gone through a lot of the COVID challenges, obviously, but also the fact that the demand is there and the economy has picked up and so on. We keep asking more, but with less actually. So, I think it will take time before we start resuming a little bit of – and I cannot even say normality because I think it will never go back to the same normality that we had before.

Patricia Gabriel (48:29):

But then, I agree with what you say, Bobby, I mean, we do expect still that it’s going to improve. But definitely not in the next two quarter, I think. And especially this quarter is going to be really challenging, the holiday season, the storms, the snow, we sure have our fair share as we always had. It’s just that you don’t have the capacity, you don’t have the same agility. So, that’s why for us, as a shipper and especially in the consumer goods industry, it’s really thinking about the consumer first and how can he get the product on the shelf is the right and the most important thing, despite the challenges.

Scott Luton (49:10):

Well said. Keeping it frank with an optimistic spin. I think you’ve got to be optimistic to be a supply chain practitioner based on some [inaudible].

 

Bobby Holland (49:18):

Definitely. Definitely.

 

Scott Luton (49:20):

So, we got some great comments. Unfortunately, I’m not going to have time to get through all of those. Bobby, we enjoy these quarterly conversations. And, Patricia, as busy as you are in the Mondelez team thrilling your consumers around the world, again, Oreos and milk. Just keep the Oreos and milk coming and the world will stabilize things.

 

Greg White (49:39):

In a better place, that’s right.

 

Scott Luton (49:41):

That’s right. I want to make sure, Bobby, let us know the easiest way beyond the link, freight.usbank.com, that’s how folks can sign up for this quarterly information that never disappoints, huh?

Bobby Holland (49:54):

Yeah. It’s a free link or free subscription, and you’ll get it delivered in your email box quarterly.

Scott Luton (50:00):

Wonderful. And we’ve got that link also in the show notes of today’s episode, so you all check that out. And as a follow up, Bobby, I’m sure you get keynote requests and interview requests all the time, how can folks connect with you?

Bobby Holland (50:13):

[Inaudible] freight.usbank.com link, which is the subscription link, but then, also, my information is on LinkedIn and it’s current, bobby.holland@usbank.com. And I’ll be happy to answer whatever questions I can.

Scott Luton (50:28):

Wonderful. I appreciate that, Bobby. And Patricia, the same question, when you’re not solving the world’s supply chain issues, you and your dynamic team there, how can folks connect with you?

Patricia Gabriel (50:41):

Through my LinkedIn profile, obviously, I think is the easiest one.

Scott Luton (50:47):

I agree with you. I tell you, LinkedIn is making things very easy for us. Well, big thanks, Bobby Holland and Patricia Gabriel. Before they go, Greg, this is always a very informative data-driven conversation. Now, as Bobby Holland said, not data scientist – how’d you put it Bobby? Data science oriented. I’m going to completely steal that phrase from you, Bobby. That is wonderful. Greg, these are really fun and important conversations we have. We love how we take kind of the voice of the data, so to speak with Bobby Holland and then pair that with a leader from industry that is leading and doing it out there. Your final word, Greg, before we bid our guests, ado.

Greg White (51:30):

Well, all of this has made me think of a grocery store visit I made just some weeks back and the good work that Patricia and her team at Mondelez are doing. I think we even had the photograph that I took on one of the shows of the full shelves of Oreos of many varieties. So, there are people persevering and succeeding even in this difficult environment. And I’m sure that it’s taking back flips and all sorts of unnatural acts to try and figure out how to make this go. Clever acts, as Bobby coined the phrase. And I just want to applaud everyone who is doing that because it is important and it is about the consumer. And, Patricia, great that you acknowledge that. My saying is, the supply chain begins and ends with the consumer. It does. If not for them, we’re not needed. So, I just want to acknowledge the work that everyone’s doing to get there.

Greg White (52:31):

And, also, to encourage consumers to be patient. This is not going to be the holiday of your youth or even your recent past. Goods are going to be hard to come by. Many of them won’t land. Many of them intended for Christmas won’t land until after Christmas. A lot of those ships that are in port now, those are ships that are delivering goods for the spring fashion season. So, if the goods aren’t here, they may not be here for Christmas. And I would just encourage everyone to make an alternate plan besides consumption.

Scott Luton (53:08):

PTK every day, Greg – patience, tolerance, and kindness. We’re going to need loads of that. Hopefully, loads not stuck in cargoes to get through the end of year season.

Greg White (53:18):

No doubt.

Scott Luton (53:19):

No doubt. All right. So, on that note, big thanks again to Bobby Holland, Director, Freight Data Solutions at U.S. Bank. Always a pleasure, Bobby. Thanks so much for your time.

 

Bobby Holland (53:28):

Thank you. Thank you very much. I’m glad to be here.

 

Scott Luton (53:32):

And best of luck this weekend, too, Bobby, by the way. Let us know. We need some pictures. And joining Bobby today was the one and only Patricia Gabriel, Vice-President, U.S. Customer Service and Logistics with one of our faves, Mondelez International. Patricia, always a pleasure. Thanks so much.

 

Patricia Gabriel (53:48):

Thank you. It was a pleasure for me.

Scott Luton (53:50):

Have a great weekend. Thank you, Bobby and Patricia. Thanks so much. There’s always something else. It’s just one additional thing I want to bring into the conversation, but always messes with our timing. But I’ll tell you what – just keeping it frank and transparent – Bobby and Patricia – gosh – we could sit down and solve many of the world’s challenges, huh?

Greg White (54:13):

Yeah. No doubt. And here’s evidence that Patricia is already solving. Let me see if I can get this to focus. There we go. Patricia is already solving some of the world’s challenges because that is the store shelf that I was alluding to earlier. So, it can be done. And it probably does take a lot of magic and witchcraft to make it happen these days, but it can be done. And, again, also, I think it’s a great opportunity for people to just kind of sit back and people have been reevaluating what’s important to them for 19 months now. So, it’s probably a good time to reevaluate what’s important to you about the holidays and how you’d like to spend them, because it may not even be possible to get what you or your loved ones want for the holidays.

Scott Luton (55:05):

Excellent point. Excellent point. Enjoy presence – spelled differently, I think, this year. Big thanks to our production team, I appreciate all that y’all do. I really appreciate Bobby, Dan, and the whole U.S. Bank team for all the work they put into a very helpful piece of research each quarter. And big thanks, of course, whenever we get a chance to pair all of that with a senior leader from supply chain, like Patricia Gabriel, which it’s like a passion. It came out in the prep meeting, it came out today, she loves what she does, and we need lots of enlightened and innovative leaders getting us through these times like her, right?

Greg White (55:45):

No doubt. Yeah. Doing great work. And I love the insights. I think U.S. Bank wants to have these insights from the people who are doing the doing, from the people who are making these transactions and these shipments happen. So, I think that’s a great and important point of view for us to expose there.

Scott Luton (56:05):

Agreed. Agreed. Well, big thanks to you, Greg. Appreciate you joining me here today. Great to have you back in the saddle. I know things have been busy. It’s a busy, busy fourth quarter for all these days. Big thanks to all of our listeners that tuned in here today. Sorry, we couldn’t get to everybody’s questions and comments. Lots of data and perspective to get through as always each quarter with our friends at U.S. Bank.

 

Scott Luton (56:28):

Hey, folks, have a wonderful weekend. Hopefully, the weather is as nice where you live as it is here in Metro Atlanta. I think those leaves have been blown around just as much as they could possibly be blown around earlier today. I’m glad I didn’t lose a connection, but always a pleasure. Most importantly, folks, do good, give forward, and be the change that’s needed. And with that being said, we’ll see next time right back here at Supply Chain Now. Thanks everybody.

Intro/Outro (56:56):

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

 

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Featured Guests

Bobby Holland is responsible for the Freight Data Solutions team at U.S. Bank. Bobby has over 36 years of broad-based data processing, software engineering and consulting experience. He has leadership in multiple industries including insurance, large-scale billing, customer care services and banking. His specialties include systems integration, enterprise applications architecture, agile methodology, DevOps practice, systems engineering, object-oriented development, analytics, and product and project management. Bobby’s current focus is in analytics and data-related product management for the freight industry. Bobby holds a degree in Computer Science from Metropolitan State University.

Patricia Gabriel is US Vice President Customer Service and Logistics for Mondelēz International, a global company leading the future of snacking with 2019 net revenues of approximately $26 billion. In her role, Patricia leads Supply Chain Planning, Logistics Operations including both the Direct Store Delivery Operations and Warehouse Delivery Operations, as well as Customer Service for the US. Patricia is passionate about the role the Supply Chain plays in driving competitive advantage, through Customer Centricity focus and End to End Supply Chain Collaboration. Patricia joined the company in February 2018 from Anheuser-Busch InBev where she worked in different areas of supply chain for 11 years, including building the International Supply Chain organization and operating model, to support the growth of the Global Brands internationally. Prior to her time at Anheuser-Busch InBev, she worked at Accenture in the Supply Chain practice for FMCG and Retail Customers. Along her 20+ years of experience in FMCG, Patricia developed strong expertise in Supply Chain, delivering best in class results through operational excellence focus, customer centric approach and passion for building high performing, diverse team. She has deep experience in delivering impactful business results through leading business transformation programs. Patricia has extensive international experience and has worked in North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia. A native of Belgium, she earned a Master degree in business management from Solvay Business School in Brussels. She attended 2 AB InBev Executive Programs, one in Stanford university and one at MIT. On a personal note, Patricia lives in Westchester, New York with her family. She has a passion for Gourmet Food and Cooking, and can spend a full day in the kitchen to prepare a meal, and then share it with Friends and Family. Connect with Patricia on LinkedIn.

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Founder, CEO, & Host

Greg White

Principal & Host

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Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring

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

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

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Karin Bursa

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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Jamin Alvidrez

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

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

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

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Jeff Miller

Host

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

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Amanda Luton

Chief Marketing Officer

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

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Clay Phillips

Business Development Manager

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

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Trisha Cordes

Administrative Assistant

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

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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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Allie Krasinski

Marketing Coordinator

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

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Lori Sofian

Marketing Coordinator

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

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Jada Carson

Marketing Coordinator

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

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Ben Harris

Host

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

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Page Siplon

Host, The Freight Insider

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

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Kristi Porter

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Kevin Brown

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Sofia Rivas Herrera

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

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

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Jose Miguel Irarrazaval

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Demo Perez

Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol

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

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Kim Winter

Host, Supply Chain Now

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

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

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

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Nick Roemer

Host, Logistics with Purpose

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

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Alex Bramley

Sales Support Intern

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

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