Yeah, when I had my internship at Frito-Lay today, when there’s interns, sometimes people have internships just to have internships. When I went to Frito-Lay, they had a really good internship program and the person that brought me in put his arm around me and really made sure that I had all the resources that I needed had the guidance I needed. Put me in within the rest of the workforce, right in the middle of it, I was engaged in team meetings along the way. And he was somebody that wasn’t too much older than I, because he’d only been with Frito-Lay three or four years, but he knew what it was like for him coming in. So, he was very receptive and since retired, but I still call him today, talk to him about certain things.
And he was most certainly for the next three or four years of my career somebody that I leaned on heavily for guidance within Frito-Lay and within supply chain. And he turned me on to some organizations to join and get involved with. So that person, that first mentor coach, was really important for me and something that I then took forward and looked for and asked for as I moved to different organizations, keeping in touch with people along the way. And not
afraid to raise my hand. If I did have some questions as to what the expectations were, what goals we’re trying to be achieved and if I was heading the right path or not, and any of the landmines that might be sitting out there as well, so that was the start for me.
Today, when we have interns or somebody or colleagues that come on board that are new to the organization or new to the division, I make it a point to reach out to them and grab them, knowing that they are kind of lost in what they’re doing, need some direction, needs some introduction to other colleagues in the organization and where to go, what to do and what to say, kind of the language and the nomenclature and the acronyms that go along with it. Not to mention the fact they’re new and they need some guidance as to what their job expectations are, especially the interns. And so I make it a point to reach out to them on a continuous basis to make sure that they’re taken care of if they have any questions and really that they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing and being held accountable to some extent, because the company is largely paying them to do some work and get an ROI, but they need the direction. They just can’t be left alone. So, I knew the importance of that, and I try to pay that forward as I go.
Tell us about some of the other industry positions that you’ve held, how different their supply chains were and some of the supply chain career lessons that you learned during the transitions between those positions?
I started off as a dispatcher in a private fleet for a company where my customer was the company. It was sales and commercial people in the company. We were delivering potato chips across the country for salespeople that were selling to stores. We were held accountable by internal folks. And then, part of that private fleet was learning about managing drivers and working with warehouse folks, and what technologies and other operations and KPIs and everything that went along with it. Frito did a great job from a larger organization providing the HR direction, young management trainee programs. But I was thrown into the fire. I had 35 truck drivers that reported to me and I was 23 years old. And many of them were twice, three times my age. So that was an eye-opening experience. And it was three or four years of operations. Working Fourth of July’s and Memorial Days and Labor Days and all the popular potato chip days.
From there, I went to a 3PL, so kinda on the other side of the fence, I was working as a contractor for Toyota. I was with Ryder and my only client was Toyota. So, I was mainly focused on engineering side of things and bringing in raw materials to the automotive industry. I’m on a plant, scheduling them inbound and then scheduling them within the plant to the line side. And that was an awesome experience. I was able to use some of my operational experience prior to put a solution together on the engineering side. The kind of evolution was big, big company to a little bit of a smaller company, but focused on providing services for a company.
From there, I went to another 3PL, JB Hunt. And we were starting up their dedicated fleet operations. It was servicing multiple types of organizations like food, retail, automotive, furniture. My operational experience combined with the engineering experience, put me in a position to design and work with the sales team to put solutions in front of these clients. And it was a lot of the private fleet stuff I was doing before, but it was an augmented fleet. It was a dedicated fleet
going in and replacing their private fleet. So, I had that kind of stepping step stone to guide me as to what worked and what didn’t.
From there I went to another organization, Cardinal Logistics, and I got into business development and sales. So, all the experience from operations, engineering, design, and solution. Now I had to sell it. I was on the forefront right in front of the client having to sell that solution out there, which if you are following along, it was stair-stepping my experience. And really starting to snowball into bigger and bigger roles, because I was learning a little bit different types or pieces of the organization that I could really then at the end of the day, standing in front of a client and sell a solution confidently because I would have been there in the trenches and operations. I’ve been there and designed and engineered a solution.
And then the next step for me was to go on my own. And so, I started my own company. It was a logistics technology company. We were providing solutions, custom solutions, custom technology solutions, mainly in the dedicated and private fleet sectors for routing and scheduling and optimization and mobile solutions and visibility and such. And that was a great experience for me. Scary, because you’re looking at the person in the mirror, that’s going to bring the income in. I also had to wear many hats, build a website and manage the books and the finances and go out and sell and then put together the solution. Help the developers put the requirements and to develop a solution. That was an eye-opening experience. I did that for eight years. It was very rewarding. It allowed me to do some other things outside of just that particular organization. Cause I was free to do some other things.
But then I got back into a small entrepreneurial type corporation that put me into the last mile sector of the supply chain that was forefront with not only are you dealing with our clients that we’re serving furniture manufacturers or retailers or online e-commerce suppliers, but now we’re dealing with the actual consumer themselves, taking it across their threshold and into their home. And you’re dealing with folks that are getting big and bulky items that cost them thousands of dollars. And you’re trying to schedule that into the home. That taught me a ton about consumer experience, customer experience and how important it is to protect the brand that we were working on behalf of. So, the retailer that we are delivering that ping pong table for protecting their brand, the retailer, or the manufacturer that we’re delivering a couch for, or the designer, or delivering a couch for protecting their brand. And it was different expectations of the client, the consumer at the end was a little bit different.
Growing into that role, my former experience in operations engineering sales did prepare me for dealing with consumers and customers in their home. That was another thing you had to learn from, and what you had to do is imagine what it felt like for you as you’re receiving in something that you spent thousands of dollars on that you’re waiting for, that you’re excited about. It’s a new treadmill. Or I need some patio furniture and you’ve got company coming over or family reunion you’ve got to get ready for, or a new refrigerator because yours is busted and You got food sitting out in a cooler. Having that empathy for those consumers, learning what it would feel like on your side, really put things in perspective.
Then as XPO purchased 3PD, I started climbing that big corporate ladder again,
and then it became one of the larger supply chain companies in North America that was all built through acquisitions. And in that sense, learned a lot about bringing a lot of different companies and cultures together into what we refer to as one XPO. And understanding you’re a public entity. And because I had 20 plus years of experience going into a position in an executive team level to understand the importance of a public company and what it means to Wall Street and the decisions you make on cost and service and how that impacts EBITDA and the return to the shareholders. And so sometimes you get a little too close to the sun and you’re like, wow, this is big order, and they were not delivering potato chips anymore. This is you’re delivering value back to shareholders and that’s a different experience in different worlds.
So that’s been my evolution from delivering potato chips to delivering shareholder value. I just didn’t know it at the time when I was delivering potato chips, I was just thinking that it’s just potato chips. Why are you getting so mad? Well, the person I was delivering it for counting on that to deliver it to a client who was a bigger role, who was paying back revenue that was delivering shareholder value at the end of the day. And it was an aha moment for me, this is a career.