“Supplier development is a journey. It’s not something that’s going to take place overnight, and both the supplier and the corporation have to be committed to that journey.”

– David Burton, Founder and CEO at the Diverse Manufacturing Supply Chain Alliance


The Diverse Manufacturing Supply Chain Alliance (DMSCA) is a Washington, D.C. area based nonprofit organization formed to provide direct development support to select mature and maturing manufacturing suppliers towards their achievement of operational excellence, sustained engagement and business development, and continuous improvement in industry group segmented digitized supply chains.

Under the leadership of Founder and CEO David Burton, the DMSCA team focuses their work around three key terms: align, collaborate, and achieve. These days, they are placing the majority of the emphasis on collaboration between suppliers and customers. If they can help foster a collaborative relationship early enough in the process to provide suppliers with sufficient ROI from the engagement it can lead to accelerated performance alignment.

In this conversation, David joins Supply Chain Now to provide Co-hosts Greg White and Scott Luton to discuss:

  • The key areas of investment suppliers need to be focused on now, including predictive analytics, cross-enterprise maturity, cybersecurity, and environmental sustainability
  • Why COVID-19 may open up a surge of opportunities for US-based manufacturers, one that prepared diverse manufacturers should be positioning themselves to benefit from
  • The potential acceleration of supply chain digitalization in the aftermath of the pandemic, both responsively and in terms of long-term cohesive strategies

Intro – Amanda Luton (00:05):

It’s time for supply chain. Now broadcasting live from the supply chain capital of the country, Atlanta, Georgia, heard around the world supply chain now spotlights the best in all things, supply chain, the people, the technologies, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts.

Scott Luton (00:29):

Hey, good afternoon Scott Luton and Greg white back with you on supply chain. Now welcome back to the show on today’s episode. We’re really excited about our guests here today. We were interviewing an industry leader that is making it happen in supply chain in particular from a supplier development and diversification standpoint. So stay tuned as we look to increase your supply chain leadership IQ. Greg, excited about today’s episode. What about you?

Greg White (00:55):

I am excited I didn’t get to join you and Phoenix for this and you met with, weren’t able to meet with David who we’re going to talk to in a second, but you met with Latiya Thomas and a number of other folks that are high potential or already participating in supply chain and learning how to employ diversity in, in your supply chain and sourcing.

Scott Luton (01:18):

Absolutely. Yeah, nine episodes and about a two and a half days, I think we did in Arizona. And we’ll touch on that in a second. Find yourself, well, we had some good help from our friend mr. Supply chain, Jane queen, Daniel and Sherry were both out there. Paul Noble was verus and who, you know, David and Paul and Daniel were the ones while we were out there able to make the trip. So a ton of content. But let’s really quick, quick departure from our, you know, we’re going to bring in David Burton with Dem Scott and in a second here, but let’s talk about the podcast we publish today. So this is the video version of our podcast basically. And we’re inviting our viewers basically, if you enjoy this, be sure to check out our podcasts wherever they get their podcasts from. Today. We featured Dan Reeve, not the football coach, but Dan Reeve with Esker a fight, move live. Greg, you love this stuff with Dan, huh? Well, you gotta love the

Greg White (02:17):

[inaudible], a fighting spirit that he has that whole fight, move live is how to survive in the terns, which is a great term. You know, these difficult times, whatever they may be, certainly now we’re talking about COBIT 19. Mmm. But how do you survive these times? And also some practical discussion around how to employ AI. It was just so down to earth, um, and practical that I just felt like it was really, really valuable. Look, one of the things I took away, he didn’t say these words, but, but implied it strongly is necessity is the mother of invention. And we just talk so much about that. I think people will learn a lot from this episode.

Scott Luton (02:54):

Agreed. Absolutely. And you know what? And that’s our podcast, right? That we just, we’ve already published by the time this hits today, how much better on a podcast? Well, I’m going to tell you this. Today’s interview with David Burton, who’s founder and president of dim SCA, the diverse manufacturing supply chain Alliance. Our listeners and our viewers are in for a treat. So with no further ado, let’s bring in David. Hey David, how are you doing?

David Burton (03:24):

How you doing? Hey Greg, how are you doing?

Scott Luton (03:26):

Good, good, great. Uh, we are really excited to have you back. You know, we were talking about the big conference that dim SCA hosted out in beautiful Arizona at the end of February before the war. I mean, the world was changing already, but here in the States we kind of had this little protective bubble at the time. That’s right. It was a huge bubble, right? Um, but Arizona in late February, it was gorgeous weather. There were so much, uh, wonderful feedback around the Dem SCA event. We’ll talk about that more in a second. And I’ll tell you, it was tough to get David’s time. Greg. He was like the governor out of this event. I mean, everyone’s trying to get a few minutes when he wasn’t keynoting or making the panels happen or engaging the attendees he was getting interviewed or something else. So, so David, what a great conference. When you make stuff happen, it’s hard to get to everybody and we really appreciate your time, David. Thank you guys for being there. Great. So let’s start from the top. Uh, David Lee, before we start talking about, uh, [inaudible] and even your professional journey, I want to get to know you a little better. Let’s give our listeners a chance to know you a little better. So tell us about where you grew up and give us a anecdote or two about your, your upbringing.

David Burton (04:39):

Well, I’m a Columbia, South Carolina native, uh, grew up there with high school there. Um, uh, following high school I attended Morgan state university, which was then Morgan stay college. All right. I’m going to got a BS in psychology there because I really wanted to be a psychologist. That’s what I really wanted to be. Well, there was this thing called Vietnam going on and, and I was, uh, a distinguished military graduate. So what that meant is that you are going to go into the army. And so I was a regular army commissioned officers, second Lieutenant and I had to make a decision to go to Vietnam. Well, the expectancy of a second Lieutenant, I think that time was like 23 days. Wow. I’ll go to grad school. I said, let me see. That’s a hard to say. Let me go to grad school. So, um, I got it.

David Burton (05:32):

I applied to Harvard in psychology and university of Pennsylvania. He said in regional planning or subject matter, which I knew very little about, but Morgan Penn had an exchange program but army had a timeline. So I had to accept the university of Pennsylvania, uh, opening in grad school before Harvard accepted me, but I got locked into city and regional planning because my military artists, his subject individual will be assigned to university, Pennsylvania to get his degree in Sydney regional plan upon graduation subject individual will be assigned duties commensurate with his graduate skills. Well, that’s what the army got me there because I thought I had to harm it because the funny part about that is I got my degree to sit in regional planning as they would. Army would never figured out how to view city planning in almond, except they had the last laugh because I had, uh, I was involved with a special operations unit in Vietnam where we had to relocate Martin yall villages from BC territory.

Scott Luton (06:36):

They found a way, nature, the army will find a way. Wow.

David Burton (06:42):

And therein lies the glitch. So I was um, I was in a purse special unit, but it was a unit that action, please change my focus on or what I would want to do because I had my degree instead of original plan before going to the army. And after that, uh, I returned to the States with the military, uh, Sigma 16 military assistance command in Washington DC. And I started teaching also at how university, uh, planning there and I got involved in building new communities. Make a long story short, I um, ended up as new community development and they’re in where, aye. Peripheral control data corporation that wanted to find someone with my talents and skills to help them build small business incubators around the country. Got involved with control data corporation. I was a guy, they went coast to coast. We helped them put together public and private partnerships to build small business incubators.

David Burton (07:44):

But while doing that, I saw that there was something missing here because I saw a real opportunity for incubating manufacturing companies, but I didn’t see a lot of resources for that. And when he came to diverse manufacturing company, I didn’t see any orders that are in the country specifically focused on helping minority manufacturers, um, become more competitive. Right. And the problem and the problem there is, at least at that time, manufacturing was a primary source of wealth creation. And there was no organization in entire country, Kevin diverse suppliers, uh, uh, develop a pathway of course to more and expanded manufacturing. And that, that led to a palliate initiative, which I began with the South Carolina manufacturing central partnership. And David, we launched it.

Scott Luton (08:33):

If I can ask real quick, uh, during this time, as you are launching this first initiative with the South Carolina manufacturing community, do you feel that there wasn’t a ton of incentives for companies to develop diversification programs and get minority owned suppliers into, you know, the, the, the matrix, so to speak?

David Burton (08:53):

That’s a great question. I think, you know, there was the industry of supply diversity was, uh, was then, it’s still, there’s now an industry focus on diversifying their supply base to mirror the evolving consumer base. That has always been a very successful, uh, ecosystem of, of, of energy organizations. The problem with that is that they call direct suppliers, manufacturers, the manufacturer, direct suppliers for a particular reason. And that is of all the suppliers in the country from a through Z manufacturers, the only one that is on a direct side of it financial statement. And what that means is that any dollar of loss, any dollar value goes straight to the bottom line. Do you lose it or do you add to it? And corporations for my research, don’t take a lot of chances on profit MROs, non-manufacturing companies, janitorial office supplies, folks like you and I, we are indirect to large corporations, right? It doesn’t really matter how much they spend there, but they are not going to lose dollars on that direct side. Yeah. And that’s what I saw. I saw that university community, wow. Advocate and socioeconomic and gender certification as a criteria for engagement in diverse diversity programs. No. Was really dealing with what does it really mean to be a direct manufacturer? And that’s where companies were not taking a lot of chances and that’s why he didn’t see a lot of successful, uh, direct, uh, supplier or manufacturer supply diversity efforts early on in today’s.

Scott Luton (10:44):

So gosh, you know, we need several hours to dive into that. Some of that was what Greg and I were talking earlier today on the, on the bus in terms of the appetite for risk and innovation and experimentation and, uh, but we’ll have to put that aside for this episode. David, before we bring grad at Greg, and to kind of talk more about your journey, especially since you kind of brought us up to the point that you were launching, launching your initiative with the South Carolina manufacturing community. I got a quick question, uh, just on your upbringing side, you grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, is that right? That’s correct. Okay. And we’ve talked before and we believe we’re second and third cousins cause I grew up in Aiken, South Carolina, 40 miles away. And when the school, even though I’m a Clemson fan, went to school and graduated from South Carolina and spent a bunch of time in Columbia, um, including my first ever role in the manufacturing community for a family owned private manufacturer. Um, and enjoyed my time in Columbia. What, you know, when you think about your time growing up in Columbia and different elements of that community, do you ever go back, you still have family in Columbia? What, what did you miss the most about your upbringing there?

David Burton (11:53):

Uh, what Columbia is, it’s a family oriented town. I, I still have family in Columbia. Um, and I go back there quite often. I still have a house there, which I’m renovating just in case Columbia, part of my, uh, my home. And, uh, so I do go back there quite often. Uh, and the daughter is in Charlotte, so she’s close by. Yes. The X’s in Columbia. And so I have a lot of friends there. So Columbia is, yes. Uh,

Scott Luton (12:31):

well they, yeah, they’ve done a, they’ve done a decent, uh, they’ve got a good, a really good job at least, uh, I’ll defer to the technologist gurus in the room, but they’ve done a really neat job which started seemingly with the nanotechnology, uh, uh, school there that was affiliated with USC. Of course the business school was one of the better business schools in the world, at least the country. Um, and their technology market has really done well in recent years. And Greg, I’m not sure how, how in tune you are, but Columbia I think, um, nice city to live in, but it’s becoming more and more a neat city to work in too, right?

David Burton (13:07):

It is.

Greg White (13:09):

I have a really important question about Columbia South Carolina and Scott knows I’m a foodie, so I have to ask you this, David, to give you some, give me some perspective on who you are as a person. What is, what would you say is your favorite dish at yesterdays?

Scott Luton (13:31):

Do you eat there?

David Burton (13:32):

I do not.

Greg White (13:34):

Okay. I’m going to, let me just give you a suggestion. I mean, I know we’re all trying to be healthy these days, but it is some of the best in fried steak you will ever eat.

Scott Luton (13:43):

Oh really? You eat that?

David Burton (13:46):

Have you been to Columbia?

Greg White (13:48):

Oh yeah. My, uh, my eldest daughter was a student athlete and she was being recruited by South Carolina for the swim team, so they were doing so much, first of all, the core part of that campus and it’s so cool. It’s very nice and very tight and family, you know, very cozy. It’s right next to the Capitol and then they were building, you guys know the street better than I do. They were sort of revitalizing the street that kind of goes off at an angle towards the stadium. Yep.

Scott Luton (14:19):

Assembly’s Creek

Greg White (14:21):

assembly assembly. Yes. Condos and apartments and dorms and whatnot. Man, they were just making that in. They were completely renewing that whole area. Very important what they’re doing in that city.

Scott Luton (14:34):

That’s right. Yeah. The Vista was some of, uh, of the more progressive development. It was kind of ahead of its time and in many ways of revitalization. And I’m not sure exactly where all that stands now, but there’s been a lot of development Columbia, um, both related to the school, which as you might imagine is of course a big, um, uh, engine from a, from an 80 standpoint but also independent of the school. So it’s been a interesting thing to watch. You know, I graduated in 2000 and it’s been really neat to watch over the last 20 years how the city continues to evolve. Alright, so no further ado, let’s get the work. That’s right. So Greg, I want to bring you in here cause I know we’re really curious kind about from where D David stopped with his, uh, background into kind of moving forward. Well, I’d just like to go just back just a half a step and make sure we captured everything. So was there any, I mean we kind of went from, um, you were in the army too, working with South Carolina manufacturing to discovering this gap and founding them. Cisco was there. Were there other things or other influences or influencers in your life and at that time that kind of drove you this direction towards this diverse manufacturing group?

David Burton (15:51):

Well, I think, you know, one of the things I probably left out was my, I mentioned the parents were working with control data corporation in building incubators. No. Okay. Most people may not have heard of control data, but at one time it was one of the biggest competitor competent in the world,

Scott Luton (16:11):


David Burton (16:12):

There was IBM control data Cray and a Japanese basically. Right. But control of data, uh, before they went under. Um, the division that I worked in called city venture corporation was very much oriented to us economic development, utilizing small businesses to build communities. And that was something that controlled data okay. Is

David Burton (16:39):

known for. And so I got a chance to look both at the real estate part of building the facilities that housed the business, but also embracing the community, uh, that will be supported. So I started my own consultancy after control data went under an economic development, uh, economic disparity studies for large banks like bank of America or Cobia. I was a guy that worked for them to go out and do disparity studies, uh, around the country and look at the, at inequities in the lending market. So I got a chance to see something else there I hadn’t seen before. And also was the guy I started consulting in building small business incubators and that’s what led to the South Korean, LEP. So, so those things contributed to my getting to the South County MEP. And I think essentially, essentially if you think about it, Oh Dempsey is now, it’s a virtual incubator.

Scott Luton (17:38):

Real quick for our listeners, when, when David refers to the MEP a and D, David, correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s the manufacturing extension partnership, right? And

Greg White (17:50):

each state has one, uh, organization that is, that States a partner with the federal government to grow small and medium and help help small and medium manufacturers grow. Did I get that right or,

David Burton (18:04):

well, you got exactly right. And that was the issue that I saw. Uh, there are about 52 centers around the country. Every state has a manufacturing extension partnership program. Hm. They are run differently. Some are run by university, some are run by nonprofits, some are run by other organizations. But when I looked at that organization, their mandate was to help small and medium sized businesses increase their productivity and profitability. The next question is, okay, who are they doing that for? When I look at what they’re doing, they were not, there was not a charge there too, provide those resources for. Uh, so I, um, um, when I saw that aye connected with them and that’s why this department, South woman, the university, not the university, but the us department of commerce supported the South Carolina project to look at the okay minority businesses in South Carolina. And that essentially is what led to the formation of what was then the national minority manufacturing Institute.

David Burton (19:19):

But that followed a pilot study at the South Carolina 90 stage teacher party that she had, which was then, uh, extend it to a national project to help the national Institute of standards and technology take the South Carolina effort and scale it to the national level. And that essentially is when the concept went national. Uh, but it was also, to make a long story short, he was also a child with Proctor and gamble essentially when they, we’re involved with a, uh, an aspect of my project at the national level essentially said, well, if you build it, we will come. That is if you build it a national nonprofit organization to replicate this effort and extend the service too, uh, the private sector, we will support you in doing that. And that essentially when Proctor and gamble feed it, yeah. [inaudible] of an organization, which was initially a coordination I’d already made factoring Institute, but it’s now called the diverse manufacturer supply chain clients. But that was how it, this all came together. Wow. So

Greg White (20:32):

you sort of spawned,

David Burton (20:34):


Greg White (20:34):

A pseudo government initiative. And then out of that, somebody saw value in a private industry initiative and you, and you described it earlier as a, an incubator, but I think it’s more than that as well. But, but tell us a little bit about, you know, how the incubator aspect of it works and the other aspects of the business and how [inaudible] really helps, um, minority manufacturers or, or diverse manufacturers to, to make hay.

David Burton (21:08):

Yes. Well, again, the, um, the whole organization to call on them. And that was another main point, but it definitely used to call it. And it eventually, of course

Greg White (21:21):

we give all these letters and then we give them, give the letters names, right.

David Burton (21:27):

Uh, that became Dempsey after we, you know, uh, scale it and, but essentially [inaudible] became an organization that was safe membership based organization of suppliers and large corporations. And the focus there, of course, was to bring them together to foster an environment where diverse suppliers could support Mmm. There initiatives to integrate that manufacturers into their supply chain, the value because they, they’re being, uh, how they will support large corporations, supply chain cost reduction. Uh, performance aligns innovation, uh, and contribute to the overall resilience. And to do that, I put together a program called the corporate mentoring program, which procedurally it took suppliers through a five phase program, two, uh, help them evolve to a level of competitiveness where they would be able to support operations, uh, efforts to integrate them. Because again, now we are trying to integrate diverse practices. Uh, it’s such a way that they add value to the supply chain and w and all the way to do that is to, uh, develop suppliers that are performance management, performance driven.

David Burton (22:51):

And of course we’ve all heard the phrase, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Well that especially goes true in manufacturing and especially those trooper manufacturers who compete in supply chains because not only must they be proficient within their four walls, therefore walls, they also must be proficient in terms of how they relate to their upline customers and their own downline suppliers. Yeah. Cause sometimes gonna have to remind suppliers, uh, yes, and you great between your four walls, but you know, are you managing your own suppliers? So the same level it that you will be managed by your upstream customer. And of course the metal suppliers, they’re so focused on their own world, they’re their full walls that they don’t understand that they are part of a supply chain, which is why we tell manufacturer suppliers, you know, it’s not manufacturing, it’s supply chain. Yeah. You are just the supply chain organization that makes something. Right. But yeah, we have to understand the planning side of the sourcing side of it. You know, the delivery side of it, the returns that have it and the technological enabling side of it. If you don’t understand those aspects of it and you’re just focused on manufacturing, uh, you, you may be desktop on the long line versus a short line when you engage with your customer.

Greg White (24:08):

It’s really interesting. You know, I’d like to touch on one aspect that you described, which is your sort of five step program, right? That helps get, yeah. These companies ready to work with major corporations. Frankly, it doesn’t matter what kind of small business you are, diverse or whatever. The opposite of diverse is. Mmm. You know, being a small business puts you at a somewhat of a disadvantage in working with larger corporations because they have very, very specific and sometimes unspoken

David Burton (24:45):


Greg White (24:46):

expectations of you knowing what those, those requirements are. You, you surfacing that to those, those diverse manufacturers helps them get to the next stage much, much more effectively, I imagine.

David Burton (25:01):

Well, Skype, if you think about it, there’s no such things as a department of supply development in corporate America. You know, there are some, I mean a lot of large corporations made an effort to do that in terms of utilizing their own resources to help suppliers develop and automotive industry especially did that, you know, in days gone past. But uh, yeah, when w when large corporations do that, they are not focused on their own core competencies. So this thing called supply and development has to be define. I see. It really has to be put together because, uh, large corporations, uh, when they think of supply development in many respects, it’s not about improving the supplier skills, but looking at how much business can they get in the, in my world, it’s all ways about process improvement, improving those maturity requirements within the plant and improving the unique supply chain processes Mmm.

David Burton (26:09):

In the supply chain. And until suppliers understand their current state, we’re not using cross enterprise maturity, Oh, unique supply chains, until they understand that current state and there are future state requirements in terms of what’s going to be required for competitiveness. They need to understand both of those in order to close a gap. And that gap has to be very strategic because you can’t, you don’t have enough time, not a resources to improve everything. You got to improve the right things for the right reasons, for the right purpose. Mmm. Uh, [inaudible] to have a strategy and a roadmap for doing that is really what we have to do at dams to help suppliers to understand where a suppliers focus can be, uh, directly in order to have the greatest return. In terms of helping them to build strategic relationships with their customer. And what we do a Dem SCA is we tried to document and validate the readiness of the suppliers, uh, performance and maturity for engagement based on the specific needs of a customer or their customers.

David Burton (27:24):

Industry group. [inaudible] there’s a lot of variation how we do that, but essentially that’s what we do. Mmm. Well we have to, crap. There’s out of collaboration of three entities, you know, the supplier diversity and organization, uh, the corporate source buying organization and of course, right, and they all have to work together collaboratively too. Two, uh, conclude, uh, successfully in terms of how that supplier must engage with that customer. Not just one time, but continuously, right? This thing called continuous improvement. It has to live in the supply chain. Suppliers have to be able to demonstrate that not just their supply chain performance metric, but also all the things that go with that. In terms of the insight, Oh, table stakes stuff like quality, financial solvency, things like that.

Greg White (28:22):

You’re a girl, you’re the great translator. I think of of, I mean I, from what you’ve described, I see you as kind of a a diplomat slash translator that helps these small businesses, these, these diverse manufacturers speak the language and understand the language and requirements and culture of, of these entities with which they want to do business. Is that a fair estimation?

David Burton (28:51):

Yes. A fair assessment. And, and to our corporate members, we will demonstrate that are granted because every corporation is not as focused on developing suppliers as others are because supply development is a journey. It’s not something it’s going to take place overnight. Right. And both the supplier and the corporation has to be committed to that journey. You know, we want to generate a quick returns for the supplier. Of course, in terms of, uh, business development, revenue increases, uh, that of course is a reason why we in business. Uh, but we also need to understand that, uh, [inaudible] it’s not going to take please overnight. Yep. Uh, you have to take place incrementally in step, typically taken in steps in is that strategy. That’s supply chain strategy. That has to be developed for the supplier to understand what do I need to do next? You know, too achieve my business objectives. And together with the corporations, the guidance as they provide input into the corporate mentoring program, the supplier can therefore, uh, okay. Ensure that they perceived there in NGOs.

Greg White (30:09):

Yeah. Alright. So incubator right to manufacturers who want to do business facilitator and translator and diplomat between the corporations that want to do business with these companies. And, and you have your own event every year. You sound like a busy guy. David. Tell us what it is. W how does your day sort of shape up? I think it’s probably often when we talk to leaders like you, it’s hard for them to understand exactly what you do. It sounds like to me in some ways you’re head chef and bottle washer at the same time. So tell us a little bit about what’s a day in the life of David Burton?

David Burton (30:53):

Always trying to improve? Um, well I think it’s already a good process. I mentioned that we use three buzz words for developing scope. They were aligned, collaborate and achieve, uh, well we are placing more emphasis now on the collaboration part first. Uh, so I’m always looking at waste. How can I foster well, collaboration between suppliers and the customers. Okay. How can I bring about a collaborative relationship early in the process to provide suppliers with early ROI in their engagement? And how can that lead to performance alignment procured to align alignment so bad we can accelerate. No, the, it’s business development. Mmm. Oh, the supplier. So that’s your question. Aye. I spent a lot of time looking at not where things are today, but trying to get a sense of where they’re going tomorrow because supply chains are moving so fast. Yeah. Maturing. It’s such a way that what was competitive last year may not be competitive next year and we’re cold at night. Yeah. You’re gonna have an acceleration of, of supply chain digitization, uh, uh, practices such as predictive analytics. And that’s going to be more of a need to look at. Mmm. How suppliers and corporations collaboratively can help each other to remain competitive. I look at the strategies and trends that large corporations

Scott Luton (32:39):

have to be considering now in order to,

David Burton (32:44):

but ensure supply continuity. And we, we as you saw in Scottsdale, we will suppliers too. Again, there’ll be a little redundant to not just focus on how they need to be competitive today, but the investments,

David Burton (33:00):

the capitalization, the funding requirements, the technical requirements, the workforce and talent acquisition requirements. Because I tell them they’ve got to have five strategists and we all know happy with two of those. Yeah, you got to have a operational cross enterprise maturity strategy. You got to have a unique supply chain strategy and you gotta have a carbon footprint, you know, otherwise, you know, don’t leave home without it because everybody wants to know are you contributing to helping to kill the environment and foreplay? You got to have a technology enablement strategy. Do you understand predictive analytics? Do you understand how blockchain is going to change everything eventually? Do you really understand

Scott Luton (33:42):

how you must,

David Burton (33:44):

uh, prepare for adapting to that predictive analytics, cyber security. These are things that suppliers need to integrate into their operations now, not tomorrow now. Because when the customer gets there, it’s too late for the supplier to the debt. Right. The customer’s go and spec you to already be there if your supplier and that to get ready to be there but to be there.

Scott Luton (34:06):

Okay. And by the way, in the last one,

David Burton (34:09):

this is where we collaborate and partner with other organizations. It’s talent acquisition and workforce training because

Scott Luton (34:17):

that’s right. The most important thing. Right, right. I mean above, above your product. Yeah, exactly. So you touched on uh, Scottsdale, obviously that was the site. Scottsdale, Arizona was the site of the Dem SCA conference we attended in late February. And if I understand that correct, that is an annual event, right? Yes. Um, so I’ve got some of my favorite takeaways from that conference. I mean, we were, we were busy from post to post and that was my first Dem SCA event. Had a blast, uh, had 27 pages of notes, a bunch of new friends, a bunch of people I learned from and, and took insights perspective from in a variety of sectors and from students to senior level leaders. And I’ll point some between David. What were some of your favorite moments from the Scottsdale event? Seeing the collaboration that takes place and the conference like that. Seeing suppliers in corporations

David Burton (35:26):

collaborate around and talk about, uh, things that have been discussed at the conference.

Scott Luton (35:33):


David Burton (35:34):

Seeing those HPC use students from Oregon state university happened to be mama model by the way. Uh, uh, present

Greg White (35:41):

sending, well, by the way, we’ve interviewed Latiya Thomas, uh, man twice already. That overall story, David, but it’s very impressive. Latiya Aaron, Genoa and Dierdre and four for four.

David Burton (35:59):

Absolutely. You know, and I’m on the advisory board there at the Morgan state, Earl gray school of business there and they have a great, uh, this was programming a great supply chain management program, but the Alon HBC use, they have great programs like that, Howard and many others. Um, so I was glad to see that they, Oh, we’re able to articulate, uh, their value proposition and potential contribution to that fifth strategy we just talked about talent, talent acquisition and workforce training. They are the future. And I was so glad to see that the future is in great hands of people like the Teesha and others that understand supply chains. They understand that if you’re in manufacturing, you’ve got to understand supply chains because if you’re just in manufacturing or you don’t understand supply chains, I repeat myself. You’re destined for the long line not to show up. Uh, and uh, um, so

Greg White (36:56):

well, I mean, you know, we, we fight this battle every day. It’s all, hi Jane, whether you’re a retailer and your or your consumer or your manufacturer, anything in between you part of the supply chain. Right.

David Burton (37:14):

Right. So if there’s any, if there’s anything good about COBIT 19 people have heard about supply chains.

Greg White (37:22):

Wait, explain it. It’s find parents, I feel so much better.

David Burton (37:26):

Absolutely. It’s given us opportunity to explain ourselves to what the fever is all about. But yeah, but, but those are my high points of the conference. Yeah. I, uh, you know, I really, I’m not playing up to you guys, but you guys being there giving people a chance to really verbalize what they were thinking cause you don’t always get those thoughts in a conference. And I learned a lot by going through your interviews that they helped me to really, uh, uh, further guide, um, the direction of this organization. And I really appreciate that

Greg White (38:04):

it means a lot coming from you, a trailblazer in so many ways. Uh, you know, as you walk us through what you’ve done, especially for the manufacturing community and the manufacturing industry. And you know, while I’m sure all your work benefits companies here, but we’re talking to global industry, but when you, when you innovate here, um, you touch a lot of places around the world. Um, I’ll tell you that I think I was counting earlier. We, we knocked out nine interviews, podcasts, interviews over, just ride around two days. By the

Scott Luton (38:36):

time you look at arrival and departure and from, uh, fair to Ali, uh, the accidental CEO based up in Michigan, right? Uh, to Michelle Morin with Cortez Cortez forever. As I, as she ingrained in my brain to remember how to pronounce that Cartiva agriscience to Hannah Kane, who I know is on your board. Uh, such a unique interview. I wish I could go through all of these, but Hannah Kane in particular, David, I’m not sure how long y’all known each other, but, uh, she’s also a trailblazer and she’s a dynamo. So, so when did y’all to get connected to Hannah Kane and you?

David Burton (39:16):

Well, Hannah was, uh, one of the first pro suppliers in the program. She was a introduced to the program by Johnson and Johnson, uh, years back in what a personal plan and sticks with you and helps to make you better as an organization. Uh, that’s what makes me feel good. The fact that, uh, some manufacturers like Hannah, who is one, at the end of the day, one of the best manufacturers in the country, the world, uh, is on my suppliers advisory committee and, and advisory board. Uh, it just helps because you, you can’t be in this by yourself. It’s too big. Right. I can’t have ears everywhere. I don’t, I’ve never run a plant. I’ve never responsible for getting inventory out to the customer, but you got to listen to people that do and that understand how change is taking place in their world. And so people are kind of helps me to integrate those things back into the processes.

David Burton (40:18):

How to George Hill at Walker, uh, folks like that, a great board. I just have a great cast of suppliers who have stuck with me to help me make them scale better. And a great cast of corporate members, uh, uh, founding ones, uh, like Johnson, Johnson current was like Abbott and entail McCormick, uh, uh, heavy hitters, Cummings and um, others and new ones that are looking at us to engage like Coca Cola and Catawba and others like that. So we, I think we, you know, we are hitting a stride now where organizations are beginning to see the real value of an organization like Dansko that’s focused on supplier development, right? Because it is a journey and has to be fabricated with the interest and commitment of all of those. And we gauge.

Scott Luton (41:11):

Agreed. Okay. Uh, so, and one of the quick highlight of course, sitting down and spending time with the Morgan state university delegation sharp group there. Really enjoyed those two sessions and some of the followup conversations we’ve had. So appreciate what you do to give forward. As we like to say here, Greg coined that word. Um, you know, back to your Alma mater, Morgan state university, um, uh, love the supply chain program they’ve been building there. Alright, so let’s move right along. And, and for the sake of time, David, uh, you’ve shared so much we could dive into from a, um, you know, kind of a trends and what’s taking place in the current state and for that matter of future state too. But if you had to identify one thing, um, supply chain related manufacturing related or just sheer business related, one thing that you’re really keeping your, your finger on the pulse of, what would that be?

David Burton (42:02):

Okay. Uh, large corporations, uh, channel plus one, two, three strategists at the COBIT 19 in large corporations have understand what they’ve always understood, but understand even more that they’ve got to have a channel plus one, two, three strategy. And what that means for me [inaudible] is does that mean more, uh, domestic manufacturing production? Are they bringing make batch and closer to home? Are they beginning now to, um, instead of ocean insuring, um, the manufacturing capability to production? I’m looking at that. Oh, looking at the trends and most of them are, I’m looking at, uh, B, uh, hope that diverse manufacturer especially are not utilizing this. I’m not wasting this time. Right? And I’ll use this time to improve the capabilities and the capacity of this, uh, because I think there’s going to be a surge of new opportunities, manufacturer suppliers. I think diverse manufacturing suppliers have to be, must be a big part of that.

David Burton (43:21):

Uh, realignment of large corporations, supply chain strategy. So those are the things that I’m looking at. I’m looking at how fast were correlating. For example, accelerate as I mentioned earlier in the interview, a supply chain, digitalization practices and advancement back to practice and that say, and I’m also looking at will diverse suppliers a waste this opportunity and that move forward in those strategists and integrate those strategists into a cohesive strategy that would not make them just manufacturers but strategic supply chain organization, that manufacturer. Yeah. And so those are things I look at very closely and everybody knows me know that I’m going to get into word blockchain here somewhere because I think blockchain is a mix of everything. We aren’t there yet, but I think it’s going to enable, uh, all of us to look at new procurement practices, how procurement is going to change in terms of e-commerce practices and we’re going to change how suppliers are bedded in supply chains and to suppliers, um, uh, on the flowers, how suppliers get paid.

Scott Luton (44:34):

Right, right. So I’ll let Greg weigh in because I know he’s chomping at the bit of weight on what you were sharing there. But real quick, Mark Manning, Kevin Jackson. Speaking of blockchain, I know they’re part of your network and your circle and you’ve got some dentists got some really cool initiatives going on with their organizations and others, uh, uh, centered on blockchain and many other technologies. So you all certainly are not sitting still despite all the gains and success you’ve had. Alright, so Greg, weigh in on blockchain real quick. What’s the most important? It’s sort of magic to people, but blockchain is simply an in alterable record, right? Simple as that. And an in alterable record creates flawless accountability and [inaudible] much, much more efficient ability to communicate and collaborate. End of discussion. It, you know, as I often described, the supply chain, the supply chain can be as simple as I want it. You grew it,

Scott Luton (45:33):

I’ll take it. And everything else in between is a hindrance, a cost or a delay. And blockchain breaks down hindrances. It reduces costs and it, and it reduces delays. So it’s, it’s an inevitable part of supply chain. I’m going to have to go out and buy one of these blockchains. Where can we get an ACE hardware or home Depot? Alright, so, uh, David, yeah. Make it a story. I’m going to sneak one more question here before Greg kind of starts to make sure folks know how to get in touch with you. So David, you know, given all the change you’ve driven and all the, all the initiatives you’ve been a part of and or led and, and the change, you’re still continuing to drive. Think back if you, if you met, um, uh, David Burton just graduated from Morgan state university and had they had to give that student with everything and more on the horizon, what one or two tips or pieces of advice would you give that, that new graduate

David Burton (46:37):

and I’ll tell that graduate to understand first of all that their abilities, you know, it is a limited in terms of what they can contribute to the world in general. But I think supply chain is something that I would ask and encourage that person to understand that because I’m in supply chains, but because everything is in supply chains and if they can grasp that, understand that and make that part of their, um, worldview or worldview in what they contribute. I think they have a head start in terms of of the things that they can contribute to all of us. I mean, and I’m prejudice in terms of my love for and commitment to supply chain, so I’m going to naturally be, I’m going to steer them in that direction. But

Scott Luton (47:50):

the point you’re making is a very savvy point. It’s the consumer. The more consumers are naturally curious or just kind of get how end to end global supply chain works and why they can enjoy things in some cases same day. Or if they don’t like the, you know, if they ordered a size two big shoes and they can put it back in the box and set it on their front door or drop it off at ups and then their account is just magically credited. I mean, we all win with more appreciation around this, right?

David Burton (48:23):

Yes. I know so many different types of supply chains. Every, every company, every, every product. The around us, uh, is impacted by a supply chain. Everything we consume is impacted by supply chains.

Scott Luton (48:38):

Yeah. Speaking of which, of course, all the right now speaking consumption, you know, we’ve seen a lot of conversations around the meat market with Greg and has been interviewed about some of the concerns around that industry and, and uh, you know, hopefully does it rise to the same level of, of uh, um, I’m afraid to pick the wrong word around toilet paper. Um, but, but regardless, the silver lining here is consumers are, are more curious, uh, they’re going to be somewhat more aware depending on kind of David, to your point, what element of the world’s supply chain maybe they spend the most time in or most impacted by Greg weigh in and what David was sharing here as we, as we start to close, well,

Greg White (49:23):

a couple of things come immediately to mind and a couple of things are that regardless of who you are, well, no, let me start with regarding who you are. Your ability to stand up, speak up and stand out is much better now than it was when David Burton came out of Morgan state. Right? And there’s no denying that. And I think it’s David’s recognition. Sorry, I’m not going to talk about you like you’re not here because of your recognition, your recognition of that and your journey that you just described, that you are enabling that so effectively for, I would argue not only diverse manufacturers but manufacturers in general and, and young people in general now are emboldened to stand up and speak up. Right. And act up. Yes. Like they never were when any of us were younger. Right. So true. You know, we were so in all of the status that we were in some ways early on, I sense David, you were not as much.

Greg White (50:34):

I can tell you I was always that smart out in the back of the room. But we were in, well we knew if we spoke up, we were in trouble here. If you speak up you are heard. And I think that is a great development in the world and you being one of the advocates for making that happen is really, really inspiring. Really appreciate what you’re doing. Absolutely. Great. And, you know, speaking from personal experience would beat to be the outsider, to be the first time, dims, get tindy and to be welcomed with open arms. And, and, and, and this is gonna sound cheesy, but there are some times that conversation just started and you feel like you’ve been there seven or eight years in a row. So you really, you’ve struck, there’s that very interesting cultural dynamic related to the dim SCUP, um, organization and to welcome newbies like myself as highly appreciated. And it helps drive change and improvement so much faster, right? Rather than pointing fingers and just let’s bring everybody around the table, build some rapport, and then let’s, let’s have the conversations that matter that drive actions, not lip service. So love what you’re doing, Dave. Let’s make sure it’s a Greg. Let’s make sure that folks know where to go. Tell people how can they get ahold of you.

David Burton (51:47):

Uh, go to our website, DMS ca.us and there’s a link there to connect with me, ask questions. Uh, and of course, I, I encourage anyone to reach me on my website at DMS. CA. What corrections? D Burton at DMS. CA. Dot. USD Burton.

Greg White (52:07):


David Burton (52:07):

D M S C a.

Greg White (52:09):

Yeah. And you’re right.

David Burton (52:14):

Uh, so connect with me through LinkedIn or my email and I will connect with you expeditiously

Greg White (52:22):

and you’ll be better off for it. I love that word. He’s done. Three things that I know we must’ve been separated at birth expeditiously as the third. I love that word. What’s the first to leave me hanging? Well, we talked about the first one. I can’t even remember what it was. Now you’re going back to align, collaborate and achieve, which I love. It was number two. I mean, if you think about, I don’t know if you’ve ever read Stevan Stephen Covey’s seven habits line is seek first to understand collaborate is win-win or no deal of course. And achieve is, is um, you know, coming out of it, whatever the seventh, I’m sorry. Success. Right, right. So, right. Um, [inaudible] it is, it’s very, it’s a very sound philosophy. I like it. Yeah. Good stuff. You know, an hour does not do your journey, nor Jim Scott. Uh, you know, you can’t get into, but

Scott Luton (53:26):

you know, like we set out to do, to give folks an appreciation for your journey, what you’re doing, how you view the world, how you view opportunities and what you’re doing to take action to help others and help improve the industry. So we love it. We look forward to having you back. Uh, [inaudible] dot us and again, that is diverse manufacturing supply chain Alliance. We’ve been talking here with the founder and president David Burton and David, we look forward to having you back you guys back in our next conference. I’ll let you know where and when. Absolutely. So, thanks so much David and don’t you guys, Hey, stick around for just a second. It was, we’ll wrap up this episode and we’ll make sure that the hyperlinks that David shared are in the show notes. We’ll try to make it as easy as possible for folks to connect with Dem Demsky.

Scott Luton (54:14):

Right. Okay. All right. So Greg, great episode with uh, the one and only Mr. David Burton. Uh, again, we want to encourage people to come to our website. If you like this conversation, you’ll probably like a lot of other stuff that we publish a daily Monday through Friday these days. And then Greg. Yeah, it’s a tough, tough schedule. We worked very, very hard, but it’s fun. It is so rewarding to sit down and spend time with, with folks like this interview here. So check us out@supplychainnowrated.com again, find us and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from. On behalf of Greg white and our entire team here, and Mr. David Burton, I hope you have a wonderful week ahead and we’ll see you next time here on supply chain now. Thanks everybody. Thank you guys.

Prefer to watch the podcast in action rather than just listen?  Watch Scott and Greg as they welcome David Burton to Supply Chain Now on our YouTube channel.

David Burton is the President and Founder of DMSCA. He is a native of Columbia SC.  He received his bachelor’s degree from Morgan State College and later completed his master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania.  David is a U.S. Regular Army Captain and decorated Vietnam Veteran specializing in military intelligence.  He is a professor at Howard University and a member of the Earl Graves School of Business and Management Advisory Board for the Department of Information Science and Systems.  His experience includes extensive small business, community planning, and economic development experience. David has written numerous articles and white papers on manufacturing supplier development in supply chains. He is the recipient of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Frank E. Parker Client of the Year Award for “Courage and Perseverance.” David is a life member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

Greg White serves as Principle & Host at Supply Chain Now. 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 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: www.trefoiladvisory.com


Scott W. Luton is the founder & CEO of Supply Chain Now. 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. Follow Scott Luton on Twitter at @ScottWLuton and learn more about Supply Chain Now here: https://supplychainnowradio.com/


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