Supply Chain Now Episode 286

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 Tevon Taylor with FedEx from the Supply Chain Now booth at the RLA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, NV.

“The neatest thing about airplanes, when you’re younger, is that you’re too ignorant to understand what they really do. For a global economy and for the world, the fascination I have with airplanes now is looking at what they do to connect the world.”

– Tevon Taylor, Managing Director at FedEx Supply Chain


FedEx is one of the most recognized brands on the planet. Despite the fact that most people know the company provides freight services, they have no idea of the actual breadth and depth of capabilities that FedEx has – some that they have built organically and others that they have gained through strategic acquisitions.

In 2015, FedEx completed its $1.4 Billion acquisition of GENCO, a third-party logistics (3PL) services provider specializing in product lifecycle and reverse logistics, a division that would become FedEx Supply Chain. That acquisition brought Tevon Taylor to FedEx and he has spent the last 6 years working in sales and operations.

In this interview, recorded live at the Reverse Logistics Association Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada (during the earliest recording session of the day), Tevon tells Supply Chain Now Co-hosts Greg White and Scott Luton:

  • How FedEx is using a variety of flexible models to provide warehousing and logistics services for smaller firms who don’t need dedicated capacity.
  • About the labor challenges that continue to plague companies like FedEx, not in response to employee attrition, but to support their rapid growth.
  • How the capabilities of blockchain are being applied to meet the complex challenges presented by reverse logistics.

[00:00:05] It’s time for Supply Chain Now Radio Broadcasting Life 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] Hey, good morning. Scott Luton here with your own supply chain. Now welcome back to the show. Today Show. We’re not broadcasting live from Atlanta like we typically do right here in Vegas, which is the center of the universe for returns and all things reversal. Just six this week, at least the reverse Logistics Association conference and expo. You can probably hear the lively background noise. The folks share best practices in networking, but it’s taking place right here. We’re in day I guess, day one. Yesterday was day zero. Yeah, but we’re excited to be interviewing a wide variety of thought leaders throughout our programing here. Today’s episode, we’re got to give a quick shot towards a sponsor. Tonight’s episode is brought to you. Our audience by Rod Commerce re Commerce Group Industries is an industry leader in return product management return center services, remanufacturing, reprocessing, repairing and recycling of consumer products. You can learn more over at Rieck Commerce Group. Dot com.


[00:01:31] Big thanks to those folks or at the booth right next door. My reasoning where they’re located. If you’re here, we go next door.


[00:01:39] We’re gonna have a lively conversation this morning. Quick programing note. Of course, you can find our podcast wherever you get your podcast from, including Spotify, Apple podcasts and YouTube. That’s right. And be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss anything. As you’ve already heard in the first two minutes of this episode, I’m joined by my fearless co-host, serial supply chain tech entrepreneur, kronic disruptor, a trusted advisor, Mr. Greg White. Greg, how you doing?


[00:02:06] I’m doing great. All things considered, first of all, we got to go see Beetle’s Love. It was awesome last night and it was amazing what a physical spectacle that all of those search galoot Cirque de Soleil shows are. I didn’t know where to look. Yeah, there there’s only seven things going on. One. So it was obviously about the acid trip days of the Beatles because it it actually physically felt like. I mean, what I perceived one to feel like sensory overload.


[00:02:33] Yes. Let’s go with that. Yeah. With great music. And that the team, the actors you up to, man.


[00:02:41] Just incredible. Yeah. All athletes. Yes. I mean, it’s just it’s very impressive depth event. Yeah. But we’re gonna upstage that with our first guests here today. That’s right. He’s going to be doing some backflips.


[00:02:55] Yeah. Oh, yeah. Huguette, right on that one. Let’s welcome in Tevin Taylor with FedEx.


[00:03:01] He served as managing director at FedEx Supply chain Tevin. Hey, do it. I’m doing well today. Great to have you. And what I really liked about Tevan as we were building out our interview schedule, he was one of the few, if not the only that said, hey, I’ll take the early slot you had while in Vegas. I love that. Makes our job easier. Yeah. I didn’t sleep last night. I question his judgment, but he’s clearly alive and well. Yeah, the alcohol gets out of the system pretty quick. That’s my my kidneys do a good job for me. Excellent. They’re in great physical shape. Yes. So if our audience, K-Tel think we’re gonna have a very lively conversation, fun conversation here today, talking about some serious topics. But but yeah, for starters, ’27, you know, we really want to get a sense of who you are, the person your talk shop and talk your your professional journey Patel us. Where’d you grow up and give us an anecdote or two from your upbringing.


[00:03:57] So grew up in Dallas, Fort Worth, Texas. Fifth generation Texan. Proud to be Texan. Yep, except for cowboy fan and all that. But you’re coming back.


[00:04:07] Got they got to hear Dak and you’re coming back. Yeah, that’s my theme for the town.


[00:04:12] I’m a diehard Texas A&M fan as well. So let’s go Aggies. Yeah, I’m third generation Aggie or Jigme. Aggregate magmas get gigging Maggies. You know, I growing up, I was just fascinated with airplanes, fascinated with aeronautics in which which airframe stands out, which for you, for me is a B-17 as a kid. I was just I loved it. You think that’s what I’d like? Because my dad was at Lockheed and it’s all about military airplanes. I love the F-16 growing up, but flying. Believe it or not, was the MDT really loved the MDH? Yeah. The way it felt the engines on the back. It was just in. The wings are flapping. Look like he’s gonna fall apart. But every time you landed it wants to ya. There’s no doubt. And you look at the wings and those things were in service for 45 years. The paint was chipping off. I just like it, but you never heard about him crashing. I mean, honestly, if you like the MDA, Tio’s a solid airplane. That’s a great short-haul for McDonnell Douglas. Yes. Manufacturer. Correct.


[00:05:13] So it’s a fascinating airspace and aeronautics and aviation.


[00:05:17] So what what it how you act on that? Well, how did that lead to your personal journey? So in high school, I was fortunate or unfortunate enough to date someone that her dad was recruiter at u._p._s. Okay. And I said, I love airplanes. I’d love to go load airplanes. And he said, well, I’ll get you a job at the ramp. So I went out in high school, start loading airplanes at DFW. There on the west runway and then went down to Texas A&M and start loading trucks. Mm hmm. So the cool thing about loading trucks in College Station is it’s such a small town they don’t have enough volume to justify a full schedule for part time. So you’d load the truck and then you’d wash all the brown trucks. So every day we wash those trucks. And it was it was a it was an interesting time, but less than glamorous, the less than glamorous. There’s no doubt I’d rather load a truck than wash a brown truck. What was that? Was that your first real, real job, uh, working in there? I wish it was, though. Um, I started I worked at a vet’s clinic when I was 12 years old in a small town called Madisonville, Texas.


[00:06:18] My grandmother lived down there and she thought it’d be good if I went to work in child labor. Yeah. All right. Taking care of castrating bulls, you know, taking care of all sorts of animals out there in the country. Wow. Yeah, it was it was a good time. So I did that. Then I roofed houses from the time I was 13 until I turned 16. Then I started lifeguarding. I start doing I hate all sorts of odds and ends. But I I you know, I learn that Logistics is definitely where where I wanted to be. Just, you know, the whole airplane thing fascinated me and I dreamed about being a pilot, but I was too cheap to actually pay for pilot’s license. So in its true story, my best friend growing up, he and I would go fly together. He paid for it. I wasn’t getting credit for it. He’s a pilot for Southwest Airlines now. So I look back and go. Should it could? It didn’t. Instead, I’m a FedEx.


[00:07:04] Are you. Are you still fascinated with with airplanes to read about it or spend time at airports and flying in planes?


[00:07:11] Well, you know, the neatest thing about airplanes, when you’re younger, you’re too ignorant to understand what they really do.


[00:07:18] For a global economy and for the world, you know, the fascination I have now is you just look at what they do to connect the world. Mm hmm. And Fred Smith, my founder and chairman back in the 70s, saw the benefit of connecting the world and connecting commerce. But, um, you know, it’s got a huge benefit. But then you start seeing not only that, but what it does, you know, when it’s cut off like this Corona virus. Yeah, we cut off flights to China. Yeah. And you start seeing commerce. I mean, literally, the global economy is so connected in aviation is really what’s done it. You know, obviously, the next, uh, you know, Industrial change we’re gonna see is really digital. But, you know, the airlines in Logistics have a lot to do with what we’re doing with moving goods and people.


[00:08:01] Absolutely. So we’re gonna talk about, uh, FedEx, his role in that and other things here in just a minute. Before I turn the past baton over the Gregg, let’s talk the Reader’s Digest version. You kind of talked about some of your early hard work, uh, jobs and roles you were in. Kind of give us a real quick progression to your current role.


[00:08:21] So, you know, out of school, obviously, I was in operations for u._p._s. I started a FedEx as an I.T. guy. Okay. So my degree was management information systems because, you know, I was one of those kids and went to college and I looked to the career center and said, what jobs? The highest paying and the most demand management information systems. It was great, great money. The problem is, as you can tell, I like to talk and do things. I was very much a disruptor in the I.T. department, meaning I disrupted all the program. Right.


[00:08:48] So they started flying me around, having me design the software, tests, the software and operations. And I happened to be in Nashville one night and I was implementing some software solutions. And there’s a whole bunch of Dell people walking on the way and they said, are you the sales guy? Because I was talking to him. I said, no, I’m the I.T. guy.


[00:09:05] They kind of shrugged it off. Even at Dell. Yeah, they made that present. Yeah, they do.


[00:09:11] Awkward for them. So then also in the sales team came it was all these different people. And one of the groups was called FedEx Solutions and it was run by a guy named Tom Schmidt. You’ve interviewed before? Yes. He runs for the board air. Yeah. So Tom Schmidt started this group called fetich Solutions and it was our consulting group. And they start talking to me and they’re like, okay. You like to talk? You know what we do? You really are value selling to us what you’re doing. So next thing you know, I got a job offer two weeks later, went into an engineering role, solutions. And then ironically, a headhunter called me and I left the company and went to Brinks. Okay. And I got into sales, their national sales. And the reason I did it is I did not want to leave FedEx, love FedEx, great company. But I couldn’t go into sales from an I.T. solution standpoint. You had to kind of go back to, you know, they’re really good about career progression. But did multiple roles at Brinks and got to executive leadership and then rise. You know what? Things have changed there. Time to go back to FedEx. So I went to FedEx and I was a global account manager for Dell, managing their worldwide business and small company called Genco. Call me up and start bugging me. ASIC called me up. Arch schmuck who was there? Their CEO. He was our CEO of FedEx Supply chain. I saw him in Ireland. Saw him again in Hong Kong. And you’re gonna interview Tom Ma today. So Tom’s team was giving us.


[00:10:32] I think he knows more about our program. We do. Right. All right. I put the schedule together. Just say. So they were giving us the supplier award.


[00:10:41] Now sitting at this table and Geoff Clark, who’s the EVP at Dell and some others were at the table and there’s 500 suppliers there. But I happened to be sitting next to the CEO of Genco. And when they were given me the war and I knew we were getting the award, it was a FedEx award. I handed Genco my phone parts, Mark, and said, here, take a picture someday. Maybe you’ll get one just being fired.


[00:11:01] Isn’t he like that?


[00:11:03] So he talks, takes me up to that 110 floor bar later on and said, I want you to come work for Genco. So I went to Genco and I was doing high tech sales. And six months later we got acquired by FedEx.


[00:11:15] So FedEx. I love FedEx not leaving. Right. They make me right. Yeah. Right. So it’s it’s a great car. Third time’s a charm. It is.


[00:11:23] Well, in quite honestly, the reason I went to jinkx goes because every time I talk to customers about what we did at FedEx, it was all transportation related. And we’ll go into what I do. It’s like chain. But I love what Jenko offered. FedEx acquired that for a reason and went on about that here. Mm hmm.


[00:11:39] Yeah. Well, so I I have to comment on this and that is you must have really liked loading trucks to get into to stay in the parcel and logistics industry.


[00:11:51] I hated trucks. Are you kidding me? I ripped a blood vessel on my elbow one day. They called me the Elephant Man because I literally was loading gateway computers, actually. Remember the big boxes looks the cows. Cows. Yeah. Some loading, loading, loading in.


[00:12:06] So I played basketball in high school and I landed on my elbows. And I just I guess I tore toward the elbow pretty bad. So when I was loading, it just ripped the blood vessel.


[00:12:13] Oh, God. I started feeling dizzy. You know, in Texas in the summer, those trucks are like 120 degrees in the truck. Yeah. And so I look at my elbow and I just remember the guy next to me. His name’s Hector. And Hector goes, oh, holy crap, you look like Elephant Man. I say crap on me.


[00:12:29] Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ve heard sleep. Me, please.


[00:12:34] My wife will tell you that I say a lot of words. I shouldn’t say that. A picture of a man that you don’t me buying tickets to your next. Yeah. Oh, no. This this is this is a this is called me. I should have done the interview late at night, sir. I hung out with the concrete people.


[00:12:51] Have you seen these guys here? Huh? They’re fun. So I’ll find y’all later. Take you a concrete conference they have here.


[00:12:58] So there there have to be four people on the planet who don’t know what FedEx does or maybe specifically what your division does. So for those four people, it may not be as many as four, actually. But for those four people can give us an idea of what what you’re doing now with FedEx.


[00:13:13] I would say it’s more like four billion people don’t know what we do. And this will shock you. So the acquisition of Genco by FedEx, which is now FedEx Supply chain, was a remarkable acquisition of Smart. But the FedEx brand is so associated with transportation. When I go to conferences like RLA, different because Genco was a huge part of reversely critics. So people know us here. But outside of this conference, if I go to c_t_s_ or I go to other conferences, NRF and I say I work for FedEx and they’re like, Oh, are you a driver?


[00:13:48] I get that. I don’t know the address rekos thing I get.


[00:13:54] Also, I mean, even here, somebody ask in the board meeting yesterday something about NRF, FedEx. Which part of FedEx goes to that show? So what I represent and what we do is we’re the three P.l. Of FedEx. OK. So everything outside of really the transportation, the express, the ground, the freight. So reverse logistics, warehousing, fulfillment, repair, 3D printing, critical inventory, logistics, meaning spare parts in the field. So most people don’t know that even exist at Fisher.


[00:14:25] I was at a conference that was for repair conference and some people came up to me and saw my badge go, why would FedEx be at a repair conference? We repaired thousands of iPhones, Samsung devices, laptops. So when you go to our warehouse, you go, my gosh, I never picture this being FedEx. But really, the monitor and what we do and what I love about my job is now goes back to the whole aviation thing in the warehouse. We’re connecting people and possibilities and we’re connecting the world with what we do. So I love like I just had breakfast with the. Prospect actually not a current customer, but just walking them through the process of using a FedEx office to drop off a return and giving you credit right there and after that. I want to pick it packet chip it, send it back to the warehouse. We’re good to go. And they said, you can do that. I said, yeah. And the technology my warehouse management system goes all the way into those retail FedEx office locations. My trucks are gonna bring it to my warehouse if I need to fulfill it back to someone else. I’ve got that network now that I can handle, so. Yeah, you look very powerful, very proud. Very I mean, we if you look at what we do at FedEx, ninety nine percent of GDP is within our reach right now. There’s been some disruption in the market. People are talking about in every meeting I go to, people talk about that disruption. It’s like it’s good disruption. It’s but it goes back to some trends we’ll talk about here and a little bit. Um, but FedEx, my part of FedEx, people don’t know. Yeah, they don’t know. FedEx, Supply chain, they know the transportation side. But I will say the evolution of where we’re going as a company, we’re no longer just trucks and airplanes. We’re warehousing, we’re e-commerce.


[00:16:05] We’re returns. We’re we’re repair. Um, if you need something 3D printed. Yeah, you think about the molds that make for teeth. He likes the smile direct and things like that. Right? Those things you can 3D print and do it overnight and ship it to the endpoint. We’re off to go. Yeah. I mean we uh the insoles issues, you know they’re they’re customers. We have a we 3D print. You literally take a phone and you image your foot and we’ll 3D they’ll send us the CAD drawing. We 3D printed Sinnett to your house. Never hit their factory, their warehouse. It’s mass customization. It’s mass customization. Wow.


[00:16:38] So it’s pretty cool. That’s fantastic. So I’m going to think we got a little bit of a picture of what, you know, some of the business problems you solve today. But you mentioned e-commerce. Right. And I’ve I have been in retail for a long time. I’ve sold technology into retail and e-commerce. And and I’ve worked with the big A in the past. And it’s interesting to me sort of the dynamics of what’s happening with e-commerce. Right. I think people are seeking more and more independence and self-sufficiency. And it sounds like if I’m reading you right, it sounds like some of those solutions are the kind of technologies that would allow, enable a big or even a small brand to kind of stand on their own and have their own facilities on demand. Right. Is that is that what your intention is to offer?


[00:17:28] It is. I answer that question, but I have to go back to the beginning. I’ve never heard it called that. But that’s now forever more what I’ll call the big stuff you because you couldn’t think of that in a couple of ways. But, you know, it’s amazing to me that, um, that company, which we’ll just call the big idea, which will what’s on this episode, it’s, um, so many customers.


[00:17:51] So obviously you’ve seen in the news. Right. We ended that relationship. Right. It was very obvious to us that that was not a relationship anymore. It was it was competition. One hundred percent. And all we were doing is helping them prop it up. But we have customers that are deathly afraid of putting their business and their work there.


[00:18:09] This week we talked with several folks that don’t want to mention and don’t want to give any heads up of what they’re doing because they don’t want the attention from this same organization. So absolutely, we all see it is one of the strangest things. But anyway, not to interrupt, but please go ahead.


[00:18:28] That’s good. So. So we you know, it is a Phenix Supply chain group, our warehouses and what we do. Used to be dedicated. So you’d have a three hundred thousand square foot facility, you’ll say Dell or, you know, an AT&T or something like that. So you have these big warehouses and you do fulfillment, reverse Logistics. But you know, for the small mid-sized customers, they didn’t have an option. They could only go to that company or they go to a couple their companies that are out there that do similar work. FedEx actually has FedEx fulfillment, which is multi-client, and it offers e-commerce. So you can plug in. Now, it’s it’s not customized. Those shops usually aren’t. You plug your inventory in, use a warehouse management system. Your orders dropped to our facility. But now, you know, if Supply Chain Now Radio wanted to fulfill hats and t shirts, which now I expect to commissions. That’s right. Good idea. Merche, I could put that inventory in my warehouse. You could have it on your Web site. Drop the ordered us. We pick, pack and ship it, fulfill it. And it’s all one brate. It’s all within FedEx. I have no desire to back into your business and create T-shirts or figure out who your customers are. I’m going to work for you and be your Logistics partner. So we do have a solution for that. And furthermore, e-commerce has gone cross-border, right? So we acquired a company down in Florida called Bongo, which is now called FedEx Cross-border. So we actually have the ability to do cross-border e-commerce shipments and offer customers a landed rate. So, you know, you get that landed cost and you understand. What it is. Not only am I going to control that, but I’m going to do the transportation warehousing as well for you. So there are a lot of cool solutions that are coming out, the FedEx going to kind of piece together.


[00:20:07] All right. Can we talk about this quite a bit? The ACA won’t we won’t dove into that. But I love what I hear you describing is how you are enabling firms of all sizes, of all ilks, the ability to be competitive in the ability and also the bill, the ability to fight. We all know how an entrepreneurial, especially small business venture is, the ability to focus in the special on core competencies and let go to things that are on the peripheral and and know that stuff will be done and executed very at a high level. That’s what I’m hearing. The things that you’re doing to enable businesses of all size to move forward while focusing on on the core, correct.


[00:20:49] In the past, they were never even a target. So when I was at Genco, nobody said, hey, go get that customer that does 100 orders a day. That wasn’t I couldn’t fill a building. Right. Right. So FedEx, uh, you know, obviously has the insight. And our chairman and our executives, they understand where the market’s going and they understand what the customers need. So it enables a customer called me the other day and they’re literally fulfilling stuff out of their garage and needed a solution. So. So that’s perfect. That fits right into this model. It’s, uh. Yeah. And you offer it. It’s but it’s backed by the FedEx brand. And so some of the companies out there doing e-commerce and doing fulfillment there, they’re new companies. Or I’ll just say they don’t have the trust in the brand of FedEx. So it’s nice to have that. Customers are like, I had no idea you did it.


[00:21:36] All right. So, again, it goes back to the edge. A lot of people that don’t know what we do. Right. Right. We all don’t don’t know. We don’t know.


[00:21:41] Well, when you when you think about short term delivery, I think about an old slogan when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight. We think that overnight or two day delivery is such an amazing revelation these days. But it’s always been around, around at certainly for for business product documents, products that you guys have been doing for decades. So don’t forget when.


[00:22:07] When Fred wrote the term paper at Yale that he was going to set up a hub and spoke overnight network. His professor gave him. He always kind of goes between a C and a D.


[00:22:16] I want to know the real story. I think he got a D on it. And you think he’s trying to boost his grade? I think you might try to inflate it this way. Hold on. No, he didn’t need me at this point. Fred did not do that at this point. I would think it wouldn’t matter. It’s more about the story. That’s right. All right. It’s a good story and it’s a true story, but it’s a fact. Academia looked at him like, you don’t know what you’re talking about.


[00:22:36] Nobody’s gonna pay for that service, right? Yeah. Which, you know, goes into where we are today. Overnight, people just think that’s it’s not premium. People just expect it. Yeah. Right. Yeah. Which, by the way, going back to the e-commerce solution. Yes. So if you look at how we set up our facilities, we don’t just have one e-commerce facility. So if you have inventory of your supply chain hats and in shirts, 2 percent commission, you’re up to one and a half.


[00:23:01] Yeah. One has one and half.


[00:23:05] We’re going to hit the right one and a half to a threshold area. How’s that? Well, banded on volume. So that the neatest thing with this is it’s not out of one facility.


[00:23:14] We want to put it multiple facilities because we have, you know, in Fontana, we have a facility in Indianapolis, we have a facility. So the ordered drops to the nearest location to where you are. Yeah. And we’re starting there. We’re we’re just trying to reduce the ground transportation. But really, we’re we’re gonna go to’s. It’s it’s no different than what you’re seeing with same day delivery. Right. Right. Where if you really want it, there’s a warehouse right down the street. You know, the future of transportation as the trucks in route. And it gets a signal almost like an Uber signal that says, hey, there’s a t shirt that we have to go pick up from the nearest warehouse, pick it up, deliver deliver it to you because you want the Supply Chain Now Radio t shirt so bad.


[00:23:52] Our our big question is Kansas City. We’re really big in Kansas City. Do you think you can do same day delivery in Kansas City? Because that could be a game changer as far as your commission.


[00:24:00] Is there anything in Kansas City, Kansas City, Kansas or Missouri? Oh, so nice. So the Kansas side is the big side. I thought it was Kansas, too. I’m sorry. I’m ignorant. So we’re going to switch gears here a little bit.


[00:24:15] We’re talking with the ever lively Tevin Taylor with FedEx, managing director of FedEx Supply chain on the first interviews of day one. Yes. Because a lot of what you’re describing is future looking is not about where we’ve been. And it’s not like nineteen eighty seven. We pick on 80 80s all the time. It’s about what can we do and let’s do it. So let’s look at the ever evolving world of in supply chain the circular economy. What one or two issues or trends or topics really jump out at you and our topics that you’re tracking more than others here lately?


[00:24:50] You know, honestly, the number one issue, this will shock you. It’s labor and it’s not it’s not qualified labor or Technical labor. It’s having enough labor at FedEx and FedEx Supply chain. Attrition is not an issue. It’s when you win a new business and you have to bring new labor in. It’s literally our heat maps have to go where is there a labor force? And now where there used to be labor, there’s none. Right. Yeah. Um, a little side note story here. So my my son worked at FedEx Express during college. He just graduated with a supply chain degree. Where? What? What university? North Texas. I mean Greene.


[00:25:27] Yeah. Greene. Although he he’s gonna get his master’s at A&M because he is he he wants the Aggie ring. So that’s good kid. Good kid. I brought him up. Right. Right.


[00:25:36] A buddy of mine is is a professor at Supply chain School. Okay. And so we’ll sweet see about maybe we can trade a half a point for good grades.


[00:25:45] Have a point. Dun dun.


[00:25:48] So he um he worked at FedEx Express and I think he did that as a you know, I work for FedEx Supply chain and I brag about FedEx, how great it is. So he went on his own. I didn’t put it, you know, no phone calls for me. It’s a different opco anyway. But I want him to earn it on his own. He went, got a job, but then it was like, these hours are miserable. It’s not a lot of money. It’s like fifteen bucks an hour. All right. I’m like, but when we were kids like Miura and minimum wage is four dollars and twenty five cents and I made four fifty. I did a step above what somebody else has done. But it’s amazing the labor force now. It’s like, I don’t need that job. I can go flip burgers for fifteen bucks. Ya get a free meal.


[00:26:26] Um, so ironically, the labor pool is very difficult right now. So what do you do? There’s more automation, more robotics. You know, ten years ago, robotics were just too expensive and you’d have to customize every few years and just the maintenance and support right worth it. The labor pool being where it is today is actually going to drive more robotics in the warehouse. So you’re seeing more auto stores, which is you know, I don’t know if you have seen auto store. It’s a it’s a cube storage solution that essentially allows more compression of space and people. So essentially, for every four people, you have this solution or reduce it down to one. And the reason why is because the warehouse is turning into. Stop having people walk around. Right. Have robots bring the goods to the territory. Yeah. To the people. So Labor’s huge. That’s gonna that’s gonna be an impact for for most businesses in our space for the upcoming years. The second thing is, is really believe it or not, blockchain. Mm hmm.


[00:27:23] So FedEx is FedEx freight specifically. His has really taken a leading position and looking at blockchain. So every shipment in our system gets about twenty five scans. And I don’t know if you know this back in the day, that was like, wow, it’s too many. Have you ever tried to package you’re like, I don’t care. It’s here and here and here and here and here.


[00:27:40] That’s the old days, though. Yeah. Everybody cares. Well, they do. They care. That’s on their front porch. Yeah. And they want to see a picture of the person doing it. Right.


[00:27:48] But that shows movement of a package. Blockchain in this shared ledger is gonna give you the opportunity to really know everything about that. So I’m going to talk a lot about our chairman. I mean, I’m obviously very fond of him. So. So Fred Smith back in 1978 said the information about a package is more important than the package itself. In 1978, he said that. So he really he invested a lot in scanning technology. When we acquired our p._s, they had barcode scanning technology. That’s boring. Everybody does that. Now, blockchain is going to give you you’re going to know humidity factors, type Sheer. You’re going to know where it is on the airplane. You’re going to know like who touched it last. I mean, there’s all that information is going to be shared on the blockchain. And it’s going to tie to where it started in the warehouse, the invoicing. So you start putting all that information together and think of the power you could use with that detail. We were seeing analytics with information people use with Google and stuff like that. But blockchain is going to make it foreveryone so well.


[00:28:46] And you can I mean, you can confirm let’s say you talked about temperature, you can confirm that you’re below zero product remained below zero throughout the shipment with blockchain. And so if there’s anyone out there that doesn’t know what blockchain is, it’s essentially an inalterably record. And so once the entry has been made or once the confirmation has occurred or once the handoff has been recognized from me to you, that’s inalterably. We can’t change the time or the other data factors around that. And that is what makes it so. Yes. People and I think a lot of people don’t exactly understand, they still tie it back to Bitcoin. And that sort of thing. That’s what that’s what that’s what creates the legitimacy of even of those of those currencies. But it’s applicable to this because think things like provenance and chain of custody and, um, and, you know, performance in Supply chain from a time and an efficiency standpoint, those become inalterably parts of the permanent record. So there’s not only so much you can track this, you can learn a lot from it going forward.


[00:29:48] And here’s that. And I love what you’re describing because it is more about the information, the power, that information. And I heard a. Industry executive put it in the simplest terms probably a year ago. I’ve used this analogy before, he said. He’s a look at it in its simplest version. Think of blockchain as like a mass email of one hundred and a hundred eight thousand people even. And once you have a couple replow walls in short order, you’ve got 30 pages of emails. But unlike email software, imagine you can’t go back to that second page responses and change anything that was said or done or or what transpired that at the core is what blockchain is. And that was such a easy way that our 10 year old can understand blockchain because. You know, while while it’s become cliche, it in a way that lean became cliche. Right. Because if it was while folks like talking about it, it was it was oftentimes mis misspoke and misrepresented. Of course, Lane’s been done the wrong way. Millions of times. Black Jenny one feels like it’s got to be instant every conversation. But the folks that know for at least from what, through 270 some episodes right now and our research, it is going to shape and change the way that supply chain happens and retail happens and the world does business.


[00:31:14] All right. Well, there needs to be more application of it. But you’re right, it’s become a buzzword. You know, one of my employees actually always says when he gets nervous and can’t talk I.T., he just says it’s in the cloud.


[00:31:24] That’s another one, isn’t it? He’s a guy. He’s here today.


[00:31:27] So if you see, you got it. Well, I won’t say his name out there, but. So the cool is like, let’s let’s simplify blockchain. Reverse Logistics. So you have all these different companies, retailers, big companies, and they all want to send returns back today. They all had to be integrated to the warehouse or to a Logistics partner. If you really manage reverse with blockchain, think about the product. I receive a product and I’m using the blockchain to disposition that product now. So now instead of sending everything back to one warehouse, the the blockchain could actually help us disposition further upstream. So the point of pick up or let’s say some might drop something off at FedEx office, FedEx office can print a label and we know that product is a broken iPhone. And it we the blockchain tells us where to send it. Then it’s not back to a central warehouse where it’s going to be stuck for 15, 20, 30 days. It tells us to send it to the repair provider and then the repair provider repairs it. And all this data is on the blaze, Miles. Say Foote’s that transportation decision time. Well, not only that, but think about all the wasted nothing against my brother and my team. But all that integration and customization of systems, if you blockchains getting to the point where would revolutionize transportation, going back to the aviation part was containerisation actually using containers for transport and understanding how to do that. So there’s a standard. Right. Once you have a standard and you can implement that standard and everybody starts using it. Then there’s the benefit. You don’t have all these disparate systems and trying to figure out integrations. Right.


[00:32:59] Well, so now you’ve got about 20 people that want to talk with you day. But really, let’s take this conversation is a little bit one step further because two quick points. One is I’m curious, EFT, after all the blockchain. You know, you have Bittar out there, which is a blockchain industry association. You know, if a lot of lot of folks that are becoming, uh, self-professed blockchain consultants, I think the industry, we will feel a lot better once there is some some protocols and standards in place. And and some of these folks are out there consulting with companies, have some sort of server occasion that that standardizes things. Right. I think that that’ll make the industry feel better. But number two, one thing things you alluded to and one of the things that Sims spoke about yesterday was the waste in all these server farms that are out there. And because that. I mean, honestly and again, I might be thinking about it, really think about this yet until yesterday of of the waste of saving things, saving large files five times because it may happen once or twice with all the video we take. Right. But all of the waste and the pressure that puts on no wonder all these server farms are popping up everywhere which consume massive amounts of natural resources. The we won’t name the the social media platform, but there’s a new huge investment server farm in the southeast and it’s gonna become one of the state’s largest consumer of electricity like in the next year, too. So I think that’s what you were alluding to, is some of the waste there. Speak live more on that.


[00:34:37] Yeah, absolutely. In one of those server farms is right across from our facility. We got all nervous because the things the size of like I think it’s like ten football fields. It has 42 employees. So we’re worried about labor going over the area because there are famous social platform. But at the other day, we’re storing massive amounts of information. But when you do it from a dispirit standpoint versus having a standard platform or standard user tool, it’s just waste. And eventually what will happen is, you know, folks will start going, OK, spend 10 million dollars on I.T. or start using the blockchain because it’s it’s it’s something that everyone has access to. And, you know, to worry about me right now, the benefit of it. The reason Bitcoin became such a big deal is you really feel comfortable that someone can’t hack it or do something. Now, my theory on that is everything’s hackable. If we create it, somebody can hack it. Right.


[00:35:29] But it’s still a it’s it’s a record that at least everyone speaking the same language. Yeah. I mean, it’s like if you got everybody on the globe would speak one language will blockchain. Is that like.


[00:35:38] Yes. And blockchain needs that language in and of itself. You know that going back to that, you know, how can we ensure that that in this emerging technology that so many leaders do not quite understand how it works and that I’m including I’m not I don’t how blockchain works, I’ll defer to the technology gurus, but also how to apply it in the cloud.


[00:35:59] Yeah. Yeah. Noted.


[00:36:01] But, you know, I think I think we need a better. It’ll it’ll have to come because blockchain is not you know, flavor of month is here to revolutionize the industry. So, so much to dove into. I really appreciate your flexibility on some of the topics that before, Greg. Before we ask Scott, before we make sure our listeners can can get in touch with Tevan here, anything. I mean, we went through a lot there last time.


[00:36:29] I want to weigh in. Well, you know, again, I think the accountability of blockchain is, to me, the most important aspect of it. And it probably can be hacked by somebody. Sure. There’s at least one person or organization, whoever they are, that can hack blockchain and that’s whoever invented the thing. But the truth is, not everyone can. And and it has been proven through the the cryptocurrencies to be very stable and secure. And, um. And I think that’s critical for us. Look, you know, one of my favorite applications of of blockchain would be political meetings.


[00:37:09] I would love to see every one of those meetings be recorded and read out of all of those handoffs. Think about all the backroom dealings. We’re talking about these days.


[00:37:18] Those kind of things, if those could be it would be like the Nixon tapes. One hundred percent of the time on that much.


[00:37:26] Look, let’s see what base we’re going to circle back on there. I mean, there are lots of artists like this. Sounds Jerry Springer for radio.


[00:37:33] Well, don’t don’t you wonder. I mean, truthfully, I mean, and it’s not just that. But you wonder about what is going on out there that. Everything. How can anyone still spin anything these dance? Right. I mean, it’s so accessible.


[00:37:47] I’m just glad we’re adults because growing up, you know, think about everything’s video recorded. No kidding. I wouldn’t he got away with it. I mean, you think about the things you did in your childhood. It’s like, oh, gosh.


[00:37:58] Their technology has replaced Gladys Kravitz. All right. In case anyone knows, I still knows who that is.


[00:38:06] Bewitch, nosy neighbor, Abby. I love that.


[00:38:09] What a reference. Okay. Real quick, weigh in on the value. Clearly FedExed a big supporter of the reverse Logistics Social Nation, which is a global organization. We’re big fans with a ton shroder and his leadership and what they’re doing to rejuvenate this organization. Against the backdrop of of how reverse Logistics and returns and how you handle all of that, got to be on the on a short list of the most important topics in in in Supply chain today. So so what value. You all see supportand RLA.


[00:38:40] Well say this Tony is amazing. Yes, I read that you don’t see someone that gives so much passion and effort towards a cause and it’s not. I mean, unfortunately, with industry events, there are two types of people. There are people that make money and that’s what they’re trying to do. Doug Miura wrong. We’re all in business to make money. But Tony really believes in making reverse Logistics better. He believes in bringing retailers, manufacturers, third party service providers like ourselves into the mix. Because I mean, every meeting, every industry event I go to with RLJ the education and the information that’s shared, even the event last night. I don’t know if y’all were at the little happy hour last night going around and talking to the different customers that we have. It’s a great opportunity for me to see my customers, the prospects. But the cross-pollination, I mean, literally where you have you know, I’ll just say one computing customer at another computing customer and there at the same table having drinks together. And it’s not you know, there’s no, you know, trade secrets or anything like that. But it’s amazing to me because there’s information Sheer that helps with solving for our problems to the day with reverse in reverse is always changing. You know, I was on the elevator with somebody coming down and it was a short elevator conversation, but they said, you know, fulfillment is clean and easy. They said reverse Logistics is just a messy business.


[00:40:00] And it really is. But it’s always changing. If you went to one of our reverse facilities, like on any given week, you’d see that we reconfigured and adapt to changes that happen. But events like this put us all together in the same room. And it’s technology solutions that service providers. It really it lifts the knowledge base and the education level with everyone. And it’s just a great opportunity for us to kind of share best practices. Look at the agenda today. You have sustainability conversations. You have conversations on technology solutions. You have conversations on disposition and improvements in retail. But all those things that just listening to them, I literally get my dose in two days that I couldn’t get in 12 months of talking to customers. Right. So RLJ is, um. It’s good to see the strength. Yeah, they kind of hit a dip, right. That’s when the the different industry groups are kind of going in trying to set up their own events. But this really is about it’s a member driven organization. Yes. So it’s it’s exciting. It’s good to be here. And yeah, I’ve been part of it for six years now. And this is kind of the unknown. Like, you know, people when my son first went through in our facilities, he goes, I had no idea FedEx did this. But people don’t understand reverse. They think they return something.


[00:41:13] It just goes back magically and in the cloud.


[00:41:17] And I think an important part of what you’re saying there is that even with all of the capacity to get together online, actually physically getting together isn’t is really, really important. You know, we and we’ve that’s actually been a theme of the of the first few interviews that we’ve done is, you know, you can accomplish over over a watercooler or maybe a drink or two much more than you can accomplish in 10 or 20 emails. Yes. Right. Because you you you can read the situation. You can really you can really, uh, establish deconstructed, too.


[00:41:52] Yeah. I mean, yeah. That’s when we have some of our most effective, uh, conversations when there’s a little bit of trust me rapport involved.


[00:42:01] Well, and this is a great podcast. This podcast is a great vehicle for that because you’ll get to know who ’27 is. They get to know that he’s a Roger Staubach fan, which that’s about all you need to know about opinion.


[00:42:13] My opinion is the same is is is, uh, Tevan is the first FedEx team member on our show. Is that right? Two hundred and almost a nebbish. Yeah. Two hundred seventy seven. Are you kidding? Your groundbreaking.


[00:42:28] I like it. Well, you know, you get a t shirt. Your office is too close to Browns, I’m sure. So why don’t you move from Atlanta to Memphis? We’ll talk to you more. My wife loves Memphis. Good barbecue. Their barbecue.


[00:42:41] All right. So how can our listeners get in touch with you, connect with you? Yeah. What’s some good avenues there? What’s your phone number?


[00:42:48] Mark, look, I get to but calls that Scott. But Mark, right. Yeah.


[00:42:54] Honestly, the best way to contact me is LinkedIn. That’s the best approach for now. Obviously, there are resources online. But you know, Tevin Taylor, I’m the only Tevin Taylor you’ll find on LinkedIn from FedEx.


[00:43:06] A very unique name. TV Oh 011 TVO and Taylor. So my mom gave me the best name on the planet. Calls me Trevor. Kevin Devon. It is amazing how people can mess up your name, isn’t it? No matter what it is, I can give some my my driver’s license and they will quién Kevin like it. Samms I went to Sam’s to go get a new I.D. card. Didn’t say a word, just hand on my driver’s license and they took Tevan and spelled KTV I-N. I got my new car and I’m like, well, I had a professor at eight and one time I said my name. And he goes, he called me Kevin. I said, No, it’s Tevan. He goes, That’s not a real name.


[00:43:43] Which, by the way, my wife says to go by t. That s that’s right.


[00:43:48] T t u r linked in. Uh, what a pleasure chatting with you. You haven’t. Taylor Fed-Ex Managing Director, Fed-Ex Supply chain. Uh, loved the conversation. We had her today kind of insights into some of the things that some of the aspects of what goes on, why the world Fed-Ex that folks may not know about. But also you’re very frank and forthright person. I love how you weighed in on some of the, uh, you know, things are shaping the world of supply chain. Yeah. Now. Yeah. Appreciate that. You bet. So stick tight for one second. We’re gonna wrap up here on the first episode of day one. Uh, Greg. Very, very expedited, uh, version of our event calendar.


[00:44:24] Madox, May 9th through 12th. Atlanta, Georgia World Congress Center. Well, we’ll take a march. And I say, may I?


[00:44:33] I think I may say it may March 9th through 12th. Well, already five thousand of your closest supply chain buddies. Yes. Um, all spending time together, materials handling, distribution, fulfillment, facilities built right there on the show floor. Yes. It’s like Tonka toys for Gates. For Supply chain.


[00:44:49] And you can come check us out in person. We’re gonna be at my ass dreaming laugh throughout the four days. Moto X is also hosting our 2020 Atlanta Supply chain Awards. Check that out. Nominations are open through February 15th. And Christian Fisher presidency. Georgia-Pacific is Speek is our keynote at that event. Motet show dot com. Free to attend, by the way, for more information on that.


[00:45:12] Atlanta Supply chain Award Also, that’s on what we said. That’s on the tenth. That’s right, 10 to 130. So come see us. Haven’t seen submersed. Yeah. Nominate somebody. Yeah. You must know somebody in the Atlanta area who’s doing something really good with Supply chain.


[00:45:28] Come on, Lu. So no thanks. That’s right. Brown Couple of the new events real quick.


[00:45:33] All the Automotive Industry Action Group, their corporate responsibility summit up in Michigan on April twenty eighth and twenty ninth will be there. Broadcasting Lab AIAG Supply chain Summit, also Michigan, June 9th. Great group AIG do a lot of great stuff in the automotive industry. And then finally, the Association for Manufacturing Excellence is bringing their Atlanta 2020 Leaders Summit to town. May 4th out of step with their first day interviewing some of their keynotes and some of their participants for that event focused on the world of manufacturing and continuous improvement. A lot of stuff to come check it out in person. Thanks again to Tevan Taylor with FedEx Lug. What a great day. Start to the day. Yeah, right. This first interview. So you’re setting the bar. Wait. We had, um, John Gold from the bar yesterday. Let’s lead off interview. And we had three great sessions yesterday.


[00:46:27] So you’re continuing that trend, setting the bar really high and good before 8 o’clock in the morning. Yeah. By the way.


[00:46:33] So and he’s already in like French mode. Yeah. Man, I’m impressed. I’m gonna go take a nap here. So are we right?


[00:46:40] Big thanks to all our guests. But to our audience for tuning in. Be sure to check out the upcoming events, replays of interviews, other resources at Supply Chain Now Radio dot com. Check us out wherever you get your podcast from, including YouTube. Be sure to subscribe. Still missing thing on behalf of the entire team here. Scott Luton and Greg White. Wishing you good day. May your elevator conversations always be short and not those awkward along conversations and come check us out. Stay tuned as we continue our live coverage of the reverse Logistics Association conference and expo brought to you today by Rule re commerce group industries. Things are about.

Tevon Taylor, a 20 year FedEx veteran, joined FedEx Supply Chain in 2014 and has successfully managed Sales and Operations helping to strengthen long-term customer relationships. As Managing Director, Tevon leads and provides strategic direction to the Technology Sales team. He is responsible for all aspects of the FedEx Supply Chain growth effort within the Technology Business Unit, including the delivery of superior and sustainable supply chain solutions. Tevon earned a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems from Texas A&M University and an MBA in Corporate Finance from the University of Dallas.

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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