Supply Chain Now Episode 281

Live Interview from the RLA Conference & Expo 

Prefer to watch the podcast in action rather than just listen?  Watch Scott and Greg as they welcome Jon Gold with NRF from the Supply Chain Now booth at the RLA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, NV.

“We need to dispel the retail apocalypse narrative that’s out because it’s not there. Yes, there are some retailers that are going out of business. But of the million plus stores that are out there, that’s only a small percentage, 1% of stores that have gone under. They’re recognizable names, so that makes it very difficult to say, well, why isn’t this an apocalypse? But we still see store counts going up. Retail sales have been growing year after year ever since the recession a few years ago. Our 2019 sales were up over 2018 sales which were the best in over 5 years.”

– John Gold, Vice President of Supply Chain and Customs Policy at NRF


In this Supply Chain Now interview, Co-hosts Greg White and Scott Luton speak with John Gold, Vice President of Supply Chain and Customs Policy at the National Retail Federation.

In particular, John offers his insight into:

  • Why the time has come for retailing to reinvent itself, and how customer expectations are shifting
  • The importance of both recognizing and remembering that – despite how overwhelming and prevalent it may seem – eCommerce still only represents 20% of retail sales
  • The challenge and/or opportunity presented by American infrastructure (roads, bridges, ports, etc.), one that will not be solved without a forward looking vision and a serious funding commitment from Congress

[00:00:05] It’s time for Supply Chain Now Radio. Broadcasting live from the Supply chain capital of the country, Atlanta, Georgia. Supply Chain Now Radio spotlights the best in all things supply chain the people, the technology, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts.


[00:00:29] Good afternoon, Scott Luton here with you live on Supply chain. Now, welcome back to the show. Today Show, we’re broadcasting live from the reverse Logistics Association Conference and Expo in Las Vegas. You may hear some of the boost and the exhibitors getting set up for three days of what’s going to be the center of the universe for returns and reverse Logistics. A ton of supply chain thought leaders sharing best practices and insights around what is really becoming a top critical component of the Indian supply chain. In the circular economy, today’s episode is brought to you by Cap Gemini, global leader in consulting, technology, services and digital transformation. You can learn more at Cap Gemini dot com quick program Kropp. Quick programing note easy for you to say Greg White. There you go. You can find our podcast whever your podcast from from YouTube to Spotify to Apple podcast. Be sure to subscribe. Still missing thing. So you may have already heard Greg chime in. Let’s welcome my fearless co-host, serial supply chain tech entrepreneur, chronic disruptor and trusted advisor Greg White.


[00:01:33] How you doing? You know, it makes me smile whenever you say that. It makes me sound feel so important. Whenever you dude. I’m doing great. First of all, we’re in Vegas. Yes. And it’s warmer in Atlanta. Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s the seventh sign. But I’m you know, I’m a big fan of Tony Sciarrotta and what’s going on with our L.A. and an Old-Time retailer. So it’s good to sit down with John from NRF and, you know, lead all. Yeah, talk about what’s going on, what’s really going on.


[00:02:01] That’s right. All right. Well, I couldn’t imagine us kicking things off with a more informed leader. That’s that’s going to share some insights and perspectives with our our listeners and to our listeners. This is the kick off episode. As Greg mentioned, we are really pleased to be featuring John Gold, V.P. Supply Supply chain and Customs Policy with NRF. John. Good afternoon.


[00:02:22] Thanks. Glad to be here. Yeah, it’s good to have you. How was your trip out? It was an early morning. Off in D.C., I think it’s colder in D.C. and warmer in D.C. than is here. You have the plane on. What’s going on? Yeah, right. Vegas, you know, warm heat and hold.


[00:02:36] Well, the wind got our we had a bumpy arrival. We did, too. So when we docked at the gate, we were all very, very thankful and grateful.


[00:02:45] In fact, the captain had to say it’s okay for you to stand up. No applause. We got us right. Everybody was too white knuckle on it.


[00:02:55] So what we want to start with, John, and as I mentioned before we got started here. Our audience really enjoys kind of getting a sense of the person behind our get shirt. Yeah. So before we kind of talk shop, talk more about NRF and what you do there. Tell us about where you grew up and and get you. Give us the skinny on your upbringing.


[00:03:12] Sure. So I grew up on Long Island, New York, and somehow got away without the accent. Okay. Every time I go back, you don’t get that every once in a while. But thankfully from Texas, no case can be confused with that. I thought grip group Long Island went down to D.C. for college. That’s where I went to America University. Okay. Yeah. Awesome. Came down school and had no idea what I wanted to do. Study business and somehow fell into lobbying politics. Had no desire to get into lobbying or sales or anything like that. Just kind of kind of fell into it. It’s what you do in D.C.. Yeah. So right out of the American University. What was your first role? What got things started for you? So my first job at it. Well, actually, while I was in school was not your typical waiting in bartending. Got in school. The economy wasn’t the greatest. So took me a little while to the land of first. You know, I don’t see a real job because. Working in a restaurant. Yes, every job. Do you think I completely agree everything needs to work in a restaurant or can service industry work in retail? I mean, it’s that’s where you learn your basics for how to deal with people. Yeah. Yeah. That customer service. That is that it’s okay. So who is doing that for. For a while and got a job, an entry level job with another trade association in their governor fair shop and got quickly into lobbying. This is back in ninety six. Okay. So China I was going into the trade. World trade had always been an interest to me and got into when the discussion over China’s most favored nation status. Okay. So start doing some lobbying on, you know, China and giving them IMF and treatment. And we got hooked on that and been doing it ever since.


[00:04:47] Tugwell expanded my portfolio of issues beyond that in the trade, in the tariff and the global economy, world never slows down. It seems like there’s always. Why not?


[00:04:59] Well, negotiations going on there between negotiations or some other issue. We spent all my time now in Corona virus and the impact that has on the Supply chain real estate interruption. There’s always something happening. And I think, you know, one of things that we let me personally try to educate folks on, whether it’s through the press, working with Congress, working ministrations and how complex the supply chain is. You can’t just turn it on a dime. It’s extremely complex. And you can’t just shift your sourcing overnight. So what are you doing overseas, even here in the States? It takes time to rebuild. And you’ve got no door in Supply chain is in a hole. So it’s not just getting the product from overseas to here to distribution center, but now it’s getting it back. Right, because everything’s looking at this lifecycle of the product now. So how do you get it back up? Reverse Logistics. That’s right. Which is a huge piece that every U.S. Is trying to figure out now.


[00:05:50] Yeah. So before we talk about NRF and your role there, all the great work in RF is doing quick sidebar because you tell us about your as a sports bar. Yeah, some of the teams you follow. Yes, some are put on the spot. Give us a quick rundown of of the teams that you are diehard fans up.


[00:06:08] You’ve got to go football last. Just saw your fellow Long Islanders are still trying to guess.


[00:06:14] So growing up on Long Island, a New York Mets fan near and dear and long suffering. But, you know, hopefully this is the year. All right. So we’ll see. You know, I’m very excited about our new manager and, you know, everybody else. Yeah, well, you know, we’ll see. Islander’s although I haven’t really followed Hockey’s closely in year, it makes two of, you know, was there for the great, you know, for Stanley Cup run and I love that, but it’s tough to follow ever since. And then the Knicks.


[00:06:42] But again, the wow sets the Patrick Ewing, Ewing and Oakley. I mean, those were the days. Yes.


[00:06:50] I loved watching them play. Didn’t they want start in the mid-90’s? They went to show they did know they were in finals. They were in the finals or the finals a couple of times the Pacers and the Rockets and just were never able to to pull it off, unfortunately. So again, long-suffering New York sports fan. And then football. That is the I guess the million dollar question who who I follow for for football growing up in my, you know, informative sports years in the 80s could not get myself to watch New York football. You know, just couldn’t follow. Kendall Bryant or, you know, whatever. And the Jets. The Jets. So, you know, sort of watching Miami Dolphins, Dan Marino and the Marx Brothers just kind of love watching them play. And I feel like I’ve been a long suffering fan since. So but, you know, look it up so well. We’ll see what happens.


[00:07:39] Oh, Scott Luton around Miami. I hope so. Yeah, I got to run.


[00:07:42] Well, they’re having big discussions on that today. Right. Should New England keep Tom Brady? Tom Brady. And if they don’t, it’s not like you’re a conference is not are the division is not what it used to be. It’s gonna be competitive.


[00:07:55] I mean, the dolphins I would like to thank you for the dolphins, because you put us in to see the chiefs in the 2 seed for the for the playoff. Yes. With a little bit of Fitz magic.


[00:08:05] Yes. That had to be satisfied every once in a while.


[00:08:09] And you get a nice little win in there. Yeah. You know, it looks up but you know.


[00:08:12] Yeah. Well as much as I would love to dove deeper in the show, we do this all day. We’re gonna talk more about NRF. Yeah. On the heels of a successful jerai Ryder. Greg either. Yeah.


[00:08:24] I’m an old time retailer and then provided technology solutions to the retail industry. So I’m a big fan of National Retail Federation. You know, most people who are in retail no of probably have been to the big show in in New York at the Javits Center. So tell us a little bit. So are any of our listeners who don’t know tell us a little bit about what in our EFT overall role? I think we have a shot idea.


[00:08:49] So you do NRF, National Retail Federation. We are the world’s largest retail trade association. We represent every from the small single store operators up to the large format, big box stores and everybody in between, including online retail, food, retail, restaurants. So basic if you go and eat or shop somewhere there, probably member of Interop, if it goes through a cash register of any Greene.


[00:09:08] Yeah. Well, yes.


[00:09:10] All right. Because we had that discussion off of. Do we.


[00:09:14] I mean we we survey a couple of roles. I mean, our primary objective is advocacy tone, the retail narrative, which we think is incredibly important both on Capitol Hill with the administration and with the public at large to definitely understand what retail is and the importance of retail to the U.S. economy, to the local economy, as well as the national economy. Our conferences and networking, the big show, this was the largest big show we’ve ever had. Forty thousand people. Forty thousand people at the Javits Center. We are at capacity. I think they’re building 10 floors, multiple. Three floors, three floors. That’s right. I think they’re actually building a whole separate wing just for us for the future. But we are bursting at the seams with all the programing that we’re doing. And. Really, it’s kind of turned into a tech show. Yeah. If you look at if you walk the floor, I mean, you’re not there selling your what you see on the store shelves anymore. Only about retail operations and technology that are you know, the retail industry as a whole really is a technology driver. Yeah. We kind of kid around that. We’ve got more I.T. specialist in Silicon Valley. And what we’re seeing in retail. So we are really kind of driving the industry forwards. The other piece to I mean, IBC research and networking, things like that. Yeah, but we also have through our in our foundation and really in very impactful student foundation that really provides scholarships, retailer food for students to go to universities. We have raised four million dollars at our gala this year that goes towards student programing and other other things than that. It’s amazing.


[00:10:44] As much as I’ve heard about NRF, that’s the first time I’ve heard of that. Give back where you’re paying it forward. Yeah, and probably creating retail thought leaders. That’s right. Right.


[00:10:53] It’s incredibly important that you build that next generation of retail leadership and that’s how you do it. We had a over a thousand students attend our student program at the beginning of the big show. So it just that continues to grow as we see the big show as well. The student program, when I started with an our EFT, you know, 10 plus years ago, we didn’t really have a student program. Now over a thousand people.


[00:11:11] So just the levels that a little bit. The big show you’re referring to took took place, were wrapped up just a couple weeks ago. Bajagua up in New York. In York City. Jacob Javits Center. Jacob Javits Center. Or Center. And when you’re talking about 1000 students. Is that where you all help connect them and network them? That’s part of it.


[00:11:29] Part of it is, is retail learning. They hear from major retail CEOs who talk about the industry in general. How do they move forwards where they need to do? We have networking sessions where the students can sit down with a retail leader, is the CEO, SVP or somebody else and can ask questions about, right. How do I get into the industry? What do I do? What do you need me to do? We also have as part of that interview. So we set up interviews for the students to meet with retail recruiters as well. So it’s it’s kind of a holistic radical, it sounds like. Yeah. I mean, again, it’s kind of building the next generation of retail leadership. And again, it’s looking at retail beyond just what you see in the store. Yeah, it’s so much more than than that that we try to convey as far as what retail is that it’s not just a job, but it’s a career.


[00:12:12] So you’re kind enough to give us a little bit of a preview to your keynote, which Sherkin Barroso. Can you share without giving up the whole thing? Can you share a little bit of what you’ve seen in terms of retail and, you know, in the last year? Sure.


[00:12:25] I mean, I think, you know, first and foremost, we need to dispel the retail apocalypse narrative that’s out because it’s not there. Yes. There are some retailers that are having going out of business. And yet here are the major names. But of the million plus stores that are out there, that’s only a small percentage, one percent of stores that have gone under. And I mean, obviously, they’re recognizable names. So that makes it very difficult to say, well, why isn’t this an apocalypse? But we still see store counts growing up. You see retail sales have been growing year after year ever since the recession a few years ago. I mean our twenty nineteen sales were up over twenty eighteen sales which were the best in in over five years.


[00:13:01] Right. Goodbye. Unique I mean because if you think about some of the other industries like we talk frequently about transportation. Right. Right. Where 2013 was an anomaly. Right. And then 2019 was down substantially off that. And they’re expecting real softness in the first half of this year.


[00:13:16] Right. So so back to that, that the closures. Is it fair to say a lot of those companies are going through just a reinvention of their model?


[00:13:26] That’s tough a part of it. I think, you know, retailing needs to reinvent itself. You can’t stay stagnant. You’ve got to be able to meet that new consumer demand. I mean, consumers are shopping in a very different way than they used to. You know, they’re looking now for the experience. So if they’re going to a mall or you’re seeing a revitalization of revitalization of malls. Right. From what they used to be Hurley. So it’s it’s growing. I mean, consumers really looking are looking for that that experience. You know, I see the consumer with, you know, the whole Amazon effect. They want to, you know, buy it and get it now. Narey can deliver something within an hour or two. But, you know, you go you walk in a story, buy and you’re walking out with that goods. Still, some folks don’t want to feel in that product. But it’s it’s incredibly important. I mean, you’re still seeing even online retailers that are now opening up brick and mortar stores. UPS, which is they’re going the opposite way. Right. So, you know, retail is is thriving. It’s changing. It’s evolving. And you need to do that as as the times change.


[00:14:19] So I think I was about you. Maybe you were you were starting to share. But speaking of just how strong the retail sector is. Give us a couple of bullet points. We are Coptic, a sneak peak, but give us a couple bullet points that will help folks get them onto shirt.


[00:14:34] Going back to looking at the online aspect, online retailing stonily about 20 percent of overall retail sales. So repeat that.


[00:14:41] I think it’s important for people to shop here that loud and Sheer.


[00:14:44] I mean, retail e-commerce sales continue to grow, but they’re still only about 20 percent of total retail sales, 20 percent.


[00:14:50] I mean, it seems because of the news, it seems so much bigger. Right. But that has been a recurring theme for, well, since 1996 when it really came on. eCom really came through the scene, right? It’s always been perceived as much, much bigger. Now it’s growing fast. It continues to grow. It’s growing pretty rapidly.


[00:15:06] But what’s interesting is the inverse, which you noted that returns that in a large chunk of folks still like that in-store return experence speak to that a little bit.


[00:15:17] Yeah. I mean, I think every looking how to solve the returns issue, obviously for a retailer, you want that foot traffic to come into the store. So being able to provide the return experience in the store in the consumer, not just turn for cash or something else to buy, something else is incredibly important. So, you know, that is something that returns to taking into account as they’re looking at the floor, the flow in their stores. Yeah. How do we capture that and make sure that the consumer stays in store and we’ll purchase something else?


[00:15:45] Yeah, it’s just like the cashier is at the back of a casino.


[00:15:49] Right. He turns the returns desk. Should probably be you at the back of my daughter. I to walk past all the shelves on the way out.


[00:15:58] So before we want to go abroad or on a couple of topics, but before we do that, one of the things I don’t think we had give you a chance to do is for folks that may be interested in joining in or Afshar or attending the big show or just getting involved with some of the community service give back. Y’all do give us you know why join Sheer.


[00:16:19] I think, you know, the best the best way to do that is take a look at our Web site you can see anything and everything about interactivity highlight a lot of the key initiatives that we’re doing right now. I think we’ve got, you know, Valentine’s sales private. What’s up there right now? Right. Yeah, it’s coming up in a cold chain. Yes. Driving culture. But I mean, we are extremely active multiples, tens of different committees between what I do in the company affairs side and then we do on the operation side. So everything from what I do on like Supply chain and trade and customs and product safety, we’ve got a big loss prevention activity that we do. We have our l.p conference coming up. Protect its Greene Pittsburgh. We Technical. Yeah, yeah. So EITI privacy, I mean we would get a supply chain specific conference as well. We had a supply chain workshop that we didn’t go back. End of the big show. Okay. And that continues to grow. We’re hoping Narva Supply chain conference in the future. We know it’s incredibly important. And just look at supply chain. There’s some different aspects of supply chain, right? Companies are trying to figure out it’s not just the saucing and getting the product here, but it’s the corporate social responsibility aspects that go into this outrace ability. It’s again, what’s happening here in the D-Mass with where one of our favorite word. How do you mitigate against risk? I mean, we talked with, you know, the Corona virus, right? Yeah. How is that impacting supply chain? Yeah, we actually had a conference call yesterday with the CDC to talk about it and inform our members of what’s going on. So they’re fully aware with their and their operations only here in the U.S., but obviously impacting overseas with the folks they have overseas supply chain and everything else. Yeah.


[00:17:51] In our dot com dot com. All right. So let’s talk real quick about coronavirus, because I wouldn’t want you to weigh in on infrastructure, which we have talked a lot about, and labor. But with the coronavirus, is it you know, based on what we have learned here and the experts we have brought in share with our audience, seems like. And then just how this story is continue to evolve. Big part of the challenge is just we don’t know. We don’t know. Right. All right. And we’re trying to grapple with with part of this part of the challenge.


[00:18:21] It’s it’s continuing evolving story. I think everybody learning as they go in. You know, the retailers plan for all kinds of disruptions within their supply chain, George Prest, even disruptions here with their stores. But they just said unknow. You don’t know how aggressive it’s going to be. I mean, we only have only. But we have eleven cases here in the United States. You know how quick these are going to grow. You know, CBP and DHS just instituted some additional screenings for travelers coming into the U.S. that were coming from from China or other visitors who had been to China. So trying to figure that out, a lot of questions about will it impact cargo operations at our nation’s seaports. Obviously, the airlines are making judgment calls on not continued flight impacts, not only travelers, but also air cargo. So everything right now is trying to figure out, get an assessment of what’s actually happening in with the situation and how best to mitigate against risk you’ve got, because the Chinese lunar new year factories have been closed. They’re going to price stay closed for a little bit longer. But how long they stay closed, you know, how much more disruptions is actually gonna be to the Zii chain? You know, for retailers, they can look for alternate sourcing. But as we’ve learned with the whole tariff and trade war fight, it’s not that easy to go through so much as it sounds. You know, you can’t just flip on a light switch and go and find somebody else overnight to go in and switch your products, right?


[00:19:41] Yeah, well. And with as with any supply chain challenge, you want all the facts in the halls. Right. Alstory before you start shift and things are moving people in and moving operations or whatnot. Okay. So let’s talk infrastructure. Right. Give us the. I don’t want to box. What are you most passionate about this infrastructure challenge that we’re facing as a country?


[00:20:05] I mean, I think for us it’s it’s a lack of a coherent freight policy. You know, we can to hear about roads that are falling apart, bridges that are deficient, our nation’s seaports aren’t keeping up at the time. So, you know, how do we build ourselves a I don’t even say 21st century, the 22nd century infrastructure that can handle the cargo flows that we’re seeing because we know that trade is going to continue to grow despite the the issues we’re having. But we’ve got to figure out a way to not only use our infrastructure smarter, because certainly there are things that we can do with the trucking to make it more efficient. But we’ve got to figure out how to best move forward. So you’ve got technologies that are coming down the pike that we can look at, whether it’s autonomous vehicles, drones, what have you. But that’s all going to be taken into consideration going forward. And I think the biggest challenge we have those how do we pay for this? That’s an ongoing issue that Congress continues to struggle with, that I keep kicking the can down the road. Yeah. I mean, I wish I had a good answer for how to do that. I think, you know, our concern is that they’re going to levy new fees against just the cargo owners. Right. You know, as opposed to everybody who uses a system, you know, we are fully supportive of actual user fees that go towards helping the system go forward. But it’s unfortunate Congress continues to kick the can down the road. You know that House Democrats put out their big framework vision the other day, but a heavy emphasis is on the greening of infrastructure and supply chain. But there is no real funding mechanism for how to get there.


[00:21:34] Yeah, yeah. It’s well in. I mean, not to mention that we have a we have a fund that has been historically raided. Yes. Right. Yes. And was supposed to was supposed to contribute. That’s right. Not handle all the infrastructure as well. So well.


[00:21:51] I mean the fact that, you know, it’s paper by the gas tax and the gas tax hasn’t been raised in, you know, 20 plus years. So that continues to be a very, very, very political hot potato. He wants to raise taxes on consumers. But, you know, I think for for us, you know, again, they continue the bigger issue. It’s not just the overall freight policy, but obviously that last mile so incredibly important that we you take a look at.


[00:22:14] Yeah. So being from the Atlanta area and the traffic, some traffic challenges and we all saw we’re talking to a guy from New York.


[00:22:23] Yeah, well, yeah. I mean, these d.c.’s got traffic.


[00:22:26] So when you’re one of the key interstates fill out just a year or two ago and not the project things, but bridges overpass, it happened in Chattanooga. I think that overpass, when some of these things start taking place because it’s not being addressed and lives are at stake. I mean, at some point we’ve got to quit kicking the can and take action, right?


[00:22:50] That’s right. No, I completely agree. I think every time you see a major incident where infrastructure has basically fallen apart, there’s a lot of we got do something and do something. Got to do something. And then while we can’t pay for it. Right? Yeah. It’s you’ve got to have that political courage just to do it.


[00:23:05] I mean, you’ve seen on the local level, a lot of states and counties have all kind of move forwards with paying for infrastructure and we haven’t really seen political retribution as a result of that. I think as long as the end user knows what the money is going toward and what he supports building infrastructure and fixing infrastructure, not just maintaining but building a future structure.


[00:23:24] But you’ve got, as you noted, you know, don’t read the phone. Right. Use the money for what is in 10. Even the money that is earmarked. That’s right. Does not get it. Yeah, that’s right. And that’s. That’s right. That’s part of the issue.


[00:23:33] And we have some bridges. Interstates. Feels like feels like there’s some infrastructure construction going on all around us.


[00:23:38] You know, you talk about, you know, things like the harbor, Maine. It’s fine. Yes. The pay for, you know, deepening reports. Right. The corps sitting on millions of dollars that they’re just not using. It takes forever to get these things done. So let’s use the money for once intended for because that’s actually paid by the employer. It’s paid by my members who make use of those ports. They want to see that money spent to make sure we’ve got ports that actually operate the.


[00:23:59] And it’s not gonna happen overnight. We’ve got it. We don’t take action. We got to put a plan together. Malcolm shot me in a VMI. My head said here, proper context. When 84, when the second eighty five eighty five in Atlanta went down. That was not due to old infrastructure, that was news weather things. However, the reason I bring it up is because when a major artery of any city collapses like that and has the impact on moving things, goods and people, everything out to large cities for last mile or other purposes is a huge constraint. That’s right. Right? That’s right. All right. So we would tackle infrastructure. Anything else before we move over to labor? Because you’ve got some interesting tech.


[00:24:36] You know, let’s let’s jump over to labor.


[00:24:40] I don’t I do want to talk anymore about it.


[00:24:44] So, John, you’re going through taking a sneak peek again at your keynote. I think, man, you got so much practical insights. Are you are you all are doing the Q&A part?


[00:24:56] I hope I have time. I don’t know if I can. 30 minutes is. Tough to get. Yeah, so we’ll weigh in. What do you seeing, especially from a retail perspective on labor that folks in the journey about? And I will preface by saying that I am not a labor expert on staff it and our efforts when my colleagues, Whizzy Simmons, who’s fantastic at her job.


[00:25:12] But obviously Labor tends to be a major concern. You’re seeing a lot of action in the states going after rewriting labor laws, get to things like independent contractors. That whole issue out in California with HB 5. Rod impacts everything from, you know, journalists to truck drivers. You know, thankfully, the California Trucking Association, Harbord Trucking Association, have been winning their lawsuit to stop this silliness. Right. But, you know, you’ve got a major effort by Democrats in Congress that are trying to rewrite labor laws. There’s a building voted on this week, the pro act, that is pretty much every bill that the labor unions want to go forward. So it’s it’s challenging. And it’s a it’s a very big concern, Froome for retail and for other industries that rely on, you know, a very strong labor force. This is rewrites labor getting rid of things like right to work and secret ballot. And, you know, all these kinds of issues. I mean, that’s a challenge. There’s a real problem. And I think that’s really is a concern as we look towards the election and what happens with a new administration if there is a changeover. You know, we certainly know that labor policy will be one of the first things out of the gate for a new administration.


[00:26:21] This goes to the fundamental principle of whether whether you are owed a job. Right. Right. And and it’s a very touchy issue. Right. I mean, I’ve followed this some in Europe, which is a distinctly different culture than we have. Right. But it’s it’s a touchy issue even even there. Right.


[00:26:42] That’s right. I think if we looked at it, that one of the stories in The Wall Street Journal believe it was a couple weeks ago, labor union membership has been better seen, better days. It’s, however, on the flip side of that. We see the negotiations with General Motors, I believe it was, and how the union played a big part in and to your point. There are there’s sage wisdom on both sides. Right. But there’s as part of the story where they were talking about a labor union membership is down. The Labor leadership was using these use cases as, hey, we’re still relevant, we’re still protecting the workers and still getting concessions from, you know, some of the big players out there. So it’s I think one other interesting aspect when it comes to labor is fulfillment and distribution centers that drive e-commerce. Right. You know, we’ve had lots of folks on the show because it’s so tough to figure find great people to keep warehouses and fulfillment centers and distribution centers humming along. And there’s no shortage of issues from pay to benefits to.


[00:27:54] So I’m not sure how much you hear on that side. I know you’ve got a different labor expert, but but weigh in a little bit.


[00:28:00] It’s certainly a ongoing challenge. And I think retailers are trying to find the best way to attract the best workforce. What do they do as far as offering whether it’s salary benefits, you know, other, you know, paying for education, things like that. So I think there’s a wide variety of options that retailers are looking at. Again, how do you attract and retain that that workforce? You know, obviously, technology plays a huge role in all this as the jobs continue to evolve. And again, how do you have that right skill set to take on those jobs? So that’s something that, again, retailers are taking a look at. And, you know, maybe. Yes. Play significant role. Have for, you know, millennia. All right. You know, for us, you know, what they’ve been able to do here. But I think we’ve got to look at how do you continue to evolve? Not just your workforce, but of all the unions to go with that. All right. You know, automation, technology, it’s all coming. How do you make the best use of it and make sure it gets implemented in the right way so that when it doesn’t really cost you jobs, but you create new jobs and that’s what’s gonna happen. You see these new technologies going, what? I mean, you know, this better rally is that, you know, you’re yes, you’re gonna be getting rid of certain jobs, but new jobs. And we’ve evolved as a result of. Yeah. So how do you build that workforce to meet that new requirement, that new skill set than, you know, what’s needed for the future?


[00:29:13] Well, we’re we’re exiting the largest generation in the history of Earth. And and commerce continues to grow. Even considering that they are retiring, they’re moving out of the workforce ten thousand a day. So I think automation is something we can now safely embrace and recognize that what it does is it uplifts people to take those jobs that that are more satisfying or more more appropriate for human beings and let automation handle it. I mean, look, I’m the first form of automation was the wheel, which gave us the cart. So individuals didn’t have to carry straw.


[00:29:51] Right. Right, right. Life was much better before wheels. It took it took jobs away from people. But those people didn’t go without jobs. I just didn’t have to carry straw anymore. Now they were they were guiding the oxen or whatever it was that they were doing. So I think if you have to look at it from that perspective and particularly now, because it’s inevitable and it’s absolutely necessary, I mean, we’re not that many years away from population decline. So, you know, it is 50 years away. But but 50 years is not that long.


[00:30:22] Let me tell you, as a suffering chiefs fan, you can survive the years. You can survive years of.


[00:30:32] So I want you to weigh in on one more thing, John. Sure. And then you’ve got ten people already waiting to think that the speak with you once you’re done here. Let’s talk about the value. I mean, between the NRF and our big show events like the RLA Conference Expo here, Moad X, that we’re going to be all these great shows that bring not none of not many bring 40000 people together. But but wait, why is it important to get out and shake hands and talk with folks in this Technical lot? You know, this technology.


[00:31:01] I mean, I think it’s critical. Go out and do the trade shows and networking because, you know, as you are identifying problems within your network, you’re supply chain within your company. You’re not alone because, you know, other companies are facing the same challenge. So being out and talking to your peers, whether it’s at other retailers or the companies, talk to providers and figure out what what are they saying, how are they trying to solve these issues? So it is critical. You’re out there, you don’t continue your education because that’s a big part of doing these shows as seen through the educational sessions. You know, hopefully folks don’t fall asleep like you might eye opening in the morning.


[00:31:30] I can’t see that happening. I really except the handful that stayed out to Forecki Roulette. And, well, that’s us. We’ll be on the air.


[00:31:39] But I mean, do these kinds of trade shows, these events, I mean, is so critical out there and networking continue to educate and learn and network with your peers. Yeah. You know, because, again, you’re not the only one facing these these kinds of issues. So how do you work together? I think, you know, one of the things that we noted is that you’re seeing these, you know, interesting partnerships now throughout the industry where retailers are working together, where traditionally they were competitors. But they’re working together. And you look at things like, you know, Amazon and Kohl’s, Kohl’s, Amazon returns.


[00:32:07] Right. Nobody saw that. I mean, that’s all. And that’s what’s in boots, right?


[00:32:10] Right. So you got all these new partnerships that are happening. You know, if you can come up or meet somebody, say, hey, I’m facing the same issue. We’re near each other. Let’s collaborate. Try and figure something out here.


[00:32:21] Dollar Tree buying all the old Rite Aid stores.


[00:32:24] That’s a new one. That’s in Atlanta. I don’t know if that’s person, but man, if you want to know where a Dollar Tree store is going to be. Look at where Ryder.


[00:32:33] All right. So I love what you’re doing. I didn’t realize. But before we interview you here today, is is kind of how you represent the big retailers. The mom pops all points in between. So there’s there’s no shortage of reasons to get out and and engage with who is amplifying the voice of the industry right. From and from industry association land to policymakers.


[00:32:55] That’s right. It is vital that, you know, not just retailers, but folks engage with their politicians. You know, as laws are being written, regulations are being written, it is important that lawmakers hear from those are going to be impacted directly. You know, I can go out and tell the story up on Capitol Hill, but what members really want hear from their constituents back home. So when we can bring folks into town to go meet with folks up on Capitol Hill or even better when they’re back home, meet with them, bring them into a store tour to a store, the distribution center to story to your facility so they can really understand what you do, the number of jobs associated with your business, the impact you have on the community, their constituency, how it all works together. So they need to see kind of real life example. Here’s what this means to me. Here’s infrastructure. Perfect example. Here’s how infrastructure impacts us. It’s the ability to get consumers to the store, get our goods to the store, you know, any kind of hiccup there. And, you know, you’re you’re having a problem. Yeah. So, again, how do you, you know, get folks there and see it from a fiscal perspective? Because it’s great to go to a meeting in D.C. to shake hands. But being back home and showing them. Exactly. Here’s what this means. The impacts can have. Here are the 50 plus jobs are impacted if you pass this law. Here are the ones we’re gonna create. If you do create the right to sell, it’s, you know, the pros and cons. But the out there and talking into telling your story is incredibly important.


[00:34:14] So we talk about this a lot. And that is the fact that and this is something that I think politicians need to hear. There is no such thing as a tax on business because there is no tax on business that doesn’t get passed. That’s right. To the consumer. So that’s why I think I think that is a message that consumers and and retailers need to resonate loud and clear. Right. Right.


[00:34:36] Because they have no choice but to pass. And the issue, too, is that it’s not just, you know, held within one industry. It’s not just stovepipe because it impacts the entire community. You look at the issue, the tariffs now and impact that’s having that. You know, farmers are getting hit crime retaliatory tariffs as well as just not being sell into the markets. Right. So if you’re a farmer, you don’t want has to go bankrupt. Doesn’t have. Dictionary income to go out and go to the retailer and buy things. The retailer suffers the job suffer there. The retailer has being hit because they now have to pay more money because of the tariffs because, oh, by the way, China, who pays the tariffs? It’s the importer who pays the tariff. You know? Thankfully, retailers been trying to figure out the best way to go to navigate that. They don’t have to pass on the costs. But if you impact their bottom line, they’re not making investments. They’re hiring. So it’s it’s all cycle cyclical impact. It hasn’t. It’s a butterfly effect. That’s right. Right. So.


[00:35:26] Ok. So beyond checking in our EFT dot com and beyond. Listening to your what’s can be a great keynote here.


[00:35:33] Clearly more mornin’ because we’ve reviewed it and give it a thumbs up. Thank you. Thank you. And there’s a private video and surprisingly, service provider. There’s a surprise video in there for those aren’t being in session. Oh, is that right? Yeah. I don’t think you guys saw the video. It’s OK. We have adequate. We’ve got camera. People will look at slow social.


[00:35:52] You’ve got more coming events. All can be found in RLA. Yeah.


[00:35:56] Yeah. Icon. We’re very active. Social media, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook all through, you know, indyref. I myself am extremely active on social media. That jungle D.C. I think that’s my Twitter handle. I just actually follow you guys. So appreciate them. Yeah. No. How to do that?


[00:36:12] I’m a prolific Twitter is what I’ve been told right after part of my my job response was, you know, keep pushing things out. Yes.


[00:36:20] Well, I mean, you know, if you’ve got your hands on so much, just sit in here for for 40 minutes with, you know, with all these different places. We won’t dove deeper. But but we’ll get you out here. So Jon Gold, V.P. Supply chain Customs Policy with NRF. Check out inner or check out John on social media. Yes. And really appreciate you carving some time out with us.


[00:36:41] Thank you. Got what you do is really enjoyable in so many ways, not just Paul’s, but also for the advancement of retail.


[00:36:48] That’s right. All right. So we’re gonna take the abbreviated Lu wrap up here today on this first episode here at the reverse Logistics SCAC conference. Next Bow. Episode one with John Gold. He set the bar high. Yeah. We’ve got about 50 Miura interviews. And we’re going to let these guys and gals know.


[00:37:05] Yeah, Barra’s maybe we’ll show him this interview first time. It’s a success.


[00:37:11] All right. So abbreviated. We want to invite our audience, come check this out in person at some of the events. We’re gonna be at beyond this one. And the next one on the docket is Modica.


[00:37:19] Yes. Yeah, with it. You know what? We’ve been talking about RLA for so long. It’s strange not to open with that one isn’t 10ish.


[00:37:26] Tony Schroeder did threaten to break your kneecaps, so you did. No kidding. Yeah, I didn’t kidding. We’re big fans of Tony. Yeah. And what they’re doing here, Arlie? Yeah, they’re on the move. You know, getting these these best practices and his insights out on what is a critical aspect of supply chain that a lot of great outstanding companies are struggling with.


[00:37:45] You know, Tony is he is a pioneer in reverse Logistics. His idea starts before you sell the product. That’s how you eliminate returns, is start to eliminate returns, as is to think about what causes returns and try to reduce that opportunity. Good point. Yes. So Moto X May, March 9th through the 12th in Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center. They expanded the Georgia World Congress Center for Moto X, took over what was a shipping dock. It’s a major everything. It is amazing how much more space they added and that it will be 35000. So you’re still winning thirty five thousand of your closest supply chain friends. And they build conveyor systems and small distribution centers and factories in there. It is like I said, it’s not good toys for supply chain Gates and it’s free to 10 x


[00:38:35] You can also check out the 2020 Atlanta Supply chain awards that we are facilitating on March 10th that’s hosted by Moto X. Christian Fisher, President CEO, Georgia-Pacific. That servant is our keynote mutex show dot com. For more information on mutex. Atlanta Supply chain Award Very complicated.


[00:38:52] Wiesenthal’s. Yeah, ourselves. So come out and join us.


[00:38:56] We’ve got probably 60 different companies already. Rep nominated. Yep. Looking forward to celebrating successes taking place throughout metro Atlanta. Okay. Couple of new ones. The Automotive Industry Action Group Corporate Responsibility Summit in Michigan April 28. Twenty ninth. And also at the same group, a a G Supply chain summit is coming up in Michigan, will be at on June 9th. End to end Liegghio and his crew.


[00:39:25] Yeah. Up there, AIG. Yeah. Kind of like NRF does for the massive retail space. AIG does great work being the kind of voice of automotive. Yep. A.M.E. Atlanta is the event between the two events drinks when he leans summit.


[00:39:40] That’s May 4th through the 7th. Right. So this is. Sorry. It’s lots of manufacturing excellence. Thank you. So that’s a great summit. And then they are having their their annual meeting in twenty twenty one in Atlanta. So this will be a great preview.


[00:39:59] For folks you know, who are into lean into lean manufacturing tenths improvement. Yeah. Plant managers, a lot of folks involved in operations leadership, all in Atlanta, especially as you can tell by my.


[00:40:13] Well, you know, it just so need to be at these different shows. You know, from retail to manufacturing to automotive to transportation, whatever it is.


[00:40:22] Yeah. There’s so many aspects of this industry. Right. And they all come together.


[00:40:26] Yep. So big thanks to our guests for listen. Big thanks to John Gold. Within our EFT for joining us here. Have a leadoff episode at the early conference. Next, both to our listeners. Be sure to check out upcoming events, our interviews, links to pass episodes, all at Supply Chain Now Radio dot com. And you can find us an Apple podcast, Spotify, YouTube, Remote River Chat podcast from. Be sure to subscribe to your messy thing on behalf of Scott Luton and Greg White and the whole team. Stay tuned as we continue our live coverage of the reverse Logistics Association conference and Expo. Coming up, it’s about.

Jonathan Gold Jonathan Gold is vice president of supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation. In this role, Gold is a primary spokesperson and is responsible for representing the retail industry before Congress and the administration on supply chain, international trade, product safety and customs-related issues impacting the retail industry. While with NRF, he has been a leading advocate of the value of trade and global value chains to the U.S. economy. Prior to joining NRF, Gold served as a policy analyst in the Office of Policy and Planning for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He joined CBP in May 2006 and was responsible for providing policy guidance on issues surrounding maritime cargo security and trade-related matters. Gold also worked on implementation issues surrounding the SAFE Port Act and other issues within the agency including CBP intelligence reform, pandemic flu and trade facilitation.

Before joining CBP, Gold spent nearly a decade with the Retail Industry Leaders Association holding several government relations positions including director and then vice president of international trade policy before being named vice president of global supply chain policy in January 2005. Gold currently serves on the Department of Commerce’s Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness. He has previously served on the Department of Homeland Security’s Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee and on the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Advisory Committee on Distribution Services. Gold holds a bachelor’s degree in international business with a concentration in finance from American University in Washington, D.C.


Greg White serves as Principle & Host at Supply Chain Now Radio. Greg is a founder, CEO, board director and advisor in B2B technology with multiple successful exits. He recently joined Trefoil Advisory as a Partner to further their vision of stronger companies by delivering practical solutions to the highest-stakes challenges. Prior to Trefoil, Greg served as CEO at Curo, a field service management solution most notably used by Amazon to direct their fulfillment center deployment workforce. Greg is most known for founding Blue Ridge Solutions and served as President & CEO for the Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader of cloud-native supply chain applications that balance inventory with customer demand. Greg has also held leadership roles with Servigistics, and E3 Corporation, where he pioneered their cloud supply chain offering in 1998. In addition to his work at Supply Chain Now Radio and Trefoil, rapidly-growing companies leverage Greg as an independent board director and advisor for his experience building disruptive B2B technology and supply chain companies widely recognized as industry leaders. He’s an insightful visionary who helps companies rapidly align vision, team, market, messaging, product, and intellectual property to accelerate value creation. Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams to create breakthroughs that gain market exposure and momentum, and increase company esteem and valuation. Learn more about Trefoil Advisory:


Scott W. Luton is the founder & CEO of Supply Chain Now Radio. He has worked extensively in the end-to-end Supply Chain industry for more than 15 years, appearing in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Dice and Quality Progress Magazine. Scott was named a 2019 Pro to Know in Supply Chain by Supply & Demand Executive and a 2019 “Top 15 Supply Chain & Logistics Experts to Follow” by RateLinx. He founded the 2019 Atlanta Supply Chain Awards and also served on the 2018 Georgia Logistics Summit Executive Committee. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and holds the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential. A Veteran of the United States Air Force, Scott volunteers on the Business Pillar for VETLANTA and has served on the boards for APICS Atlanta and the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance. He also serves as an advisor with TalentStream, a leading recruiting & staffing firm based in the Southeast. Follow Scott Luton on Twitter at @ScottWLuton and learn more about SCNR here:


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