“What any engineer does is problem-solve, right? The thing that engineering teaches you is that there is no one way to solve a problem.”

Keith Saunders, Vice President of Direct Materials and Sourced Finished Goods at Zep Inc



There are plenty of people with sourcing responsibility that landed there after staring on other career paths, and yet few people’s backgrounds prepare them for that as well as Keith Saunders’ degree in chemical engineering. He has worked at companies such as Intel Corp, Newell Brands, Ingersoll Rand, and Pall Corp, and each role has allowed him to use a combination of his chemical knowledge and engineering thought process.

Today he is the Vice President of Direct Materials and Sourced Finished Goods at Zep Inc, a chemical goods company specializing in high-performance cleaning products. That role gives him a unique perspective on the personal and commercial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the supply chain impact of soaring demand and sanitation product ‘hoarding.’

In this podcast interview, Keith shares his point of view with Supply Chain Now Co-hosts Greg White and Scott Luton on a range of topics:

· Why there is an opportunity to incorporate more imagination into sourcing, especially for innovative projects where there is value to be created beyond low cost

· The importance of encouraging each team member to invest in long term strategic planning with the same kind of mindset that an entrepreneur applies

· Why it is relationships, and not contracts or specifications, that companies have to be able to fall back on when a significant disruption occurs

Amanda Luton (00:00:05):

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 (00:00:28):

Hey, good afternoon, Scott Luton and Greg white with you here on supply chain. Now welcome back to today’s show Greg, how are you doing? I’m doing great. We just had a little discussion about golf, and now we’re going to talk about supply chain. Two of my favorite things. Let’s go that’s right. This content, this episode continues our supply chain city series of programming, where we’re really, we spotlight some of the best things taking place in the Metro Atlanta community. However, it’s all universally relevant, right? Greg everything’s relevant to me, Scott. So, okay, well, we’ve got an outstanding, an exceptional business leader who’s based here in Atlanta, but in particular, the sourcing and procurement space is, is a, is a incredibly hot space in global supply chain. So looking forward to sharing some of his thought leadership with you some more to come on that in just a moment.

Scott Luton (00:01:16):

Hey, quick programming. Before we get started. If you enjoy today’s podcast, check us out and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from Greg, we publish just about every day as we look to cover the entire global supply chain community. Yeah, we’ve got a ton of series right now, so it’s going to be more than once a day, but it won’t always say supply chain now right out front, right. That’s right. New series of bounds. Okay. So with no further ado, let’s introduce our two special guests here today with us. Uh, Keith Saunders, vice president for sourcing direct materials and sourced finished goods at Zep incorporated. Keith, how you doing? I’m pretty good. How are you guys going to that? Very good. Good to have you. It’s been fantastic. Great to have you here really have enjoyed the pre show warm up and looking forward to diving into your story here momentarily.

Scott Luton (00:02:07):

Joining Keith is our dear friend, regular cohost, especially on the supply chain city series. We have been here as director of the supply chain ecosystem with the Metro Atlanta chamber. Ben Hayden doing very well. Scott is going to be back, definitely spend too long, so much is going on. Of course, not just in supply chain, but across the Metro Atlantic community. And I’m really excited about sharing this. You know, one of the good things is taking place. So I think our listeners are going to really enjoy Keith’s thought leadership and some aspects of his journey. I couldn’t agree more. I mean, it’s definitely a central to what’s going on in Atlanta and makes a lot of essential things that we need very much so right now. So this is a very relevant discussion. Good point. All right. So as we always like to start, let’s get, uh, let’s let our audience have the opportunity to get know Keith A. Little better. Like we enjoyed in the warmup. So, you know, can you tell us, you know, let’s, let’s, let’s learn more about you where’d you grow up and, you know, give us a goods on your upbringing. Give us a story that may be a lot of folks don’t know about kids.

Keith Saunders (00:03:12):

All right. So, um, I’m from, uh, the Washington DC area, but I actually grew up, um, in North Carolina, extra small little town in North Carolina called, uh, Norlina North Carolina, which is, I guess, short or North Carolina. Right. Uh, but it’s right on the Virginia border of 80 bikes. Um, so it was a, uh, a small farming community, um, actually only, um, one high school and two middle schools in the whole County. Right. Um, but, um, it was actually a pretty cool right to go from a big city like that to, um, a little small farming community. Um, in terms of a couple of things about me, um, by one of the things that I’m really proud of and I always have to give a shout out. Um, I actually went to high school at North Carolina school of science, the math. Um, it was the first hot school of its kind in the country, uh, students in the 11th and 12th grade that, um, showed aptitudes for, um, you know, science and math and, um, you know, some of the other, uh, categories and, um, allowed them to live on campus for two years.

Keith Saunders (00:04:26):

Uh, we went through, you know, an application process and interview process and you know, everything else. And, uh, you, at the time, I think, uh, the, the typical graduating class was 250 students. So they would take 250 kids every year from across the state. And, um, you know, we lived together basically for, um, for two years. So I’m always have to always have to shout out, um, not Carolina school, not the math. Cause I think that they really put me on the path, um, that I’m currently on, you know, in terms of the journey that, um, you know, I’ve had so far. And what I imagine is the journey that I’ll continue that.

Scott Luton (00:05:06):

All right. So I’ve got to, I’ve got to ask something on that. Keith, do you still, there’s so many things that talk about that, but do you still keep in touch with some of the folks that you went through that prestigious program with?

Keith Saunders (00:05:18):

I do. Um, you know, some of the people, um, you know, that I met there, I think are going to be lifelong friends. Um, so, uh, you’re not comparing it to, uh, you know, there are a handful of kids or people that I still talk to from elementary school. Right. But there are probably, uh, 10 people that I can constantly or consistently talk to from, uh, the school again. Um, you know, we basically, uh, you know, live together for, um, you know, years, right. So it was college before, um, you know, college. So to a certain extent, um, you, I’m not going to say I was off on no, I was on my own at the age of 16, but, um, you know, certainly I was in a college type environment, um, you know, at the age of 16 and, uh, we were a couple of blocks away from, um, you know, Duke university. So we would sneak over there and, uh, you know, played basketball and, um, you know, some of their, uh, outdoor facilities. And, um, it was a, uh, an amazing experience.

Ben Harris (00:06:24):

You mean, you were play sports whenever you weren’t getting even further ahead of us that we’re not good at science.

Keith Saunders (00:06:32):


Ben Harris (00:06:34):

Special opportunity. That was, um, it’s a two year program. Is that right, Keith?

Keith Saunders (00:06:38):

Correct. So it was a, your junior and senior year of high school,

Ben Harris (00:06:42):

Essentially the first STEM focused high school then, I mean, if you think about it from that standpoint, that was a STEM, essentially a STEM.

Keith Saunders (00:06:52):

Yeah. It was like I said, I think that for especially kids coming from smaller community, um, that didn’t have, uh, possibly some of the resources that some of the larger schools had, um, it was a tremendous opportunity. So when you compare, um, you know, maybe the impact that it had on me versus the impact that it may have had on kids coming from, uh, you know, Raleigh or Durham or chapel keel, um, the impact would have been larger for me because there were, um, some things that I had an opportunity to experience that, uh, you know, maybe at my high school or my home high school, I would not have been able to experience it because we didn’t have the resource.

Ben Harris (00:07:32):

Yeah. And that’s no small, I mean, that’s no small drive from home either. It’s not like you could go home and have mom do your

Keith Saunders (00:07:38):

Laundry over the weekend from exactly. Exactly. And, um, you know, and one of the crazy things is, um, you know, since then there have been a couple of States who kind of copied that model. Um, so, you know, we’re definitely not the, um, the only one anymore. We’ll always be the first. Uh, but in addition to that, we, um, actually, uh, also opened a second science of math is, uh, the West campus versus, um, you know, the one in the breakthrough. So, um, you know, it’s grown and, um, you know, again, I can’t tell you how proud I am to be a part of, you know, to be, to be one of the alumni

Ben Harris (00:08:19):

You should. So before we, uh, Greg dives deeper into your professional journey, uh, after you graduated this, uh, prestigious Academy for science and math, and really were a trailblazer, which is really interesting to hear about you went on to, uh, North Carolina, a and T, is that right?

Keith Saunders (00:08:37):

Keith? I did. Um, before, before with the auntie, I actually went to NC state. So the great thing about that, the man, uh, everybody goes through one of, uh, you know, a handful of schools, right? So everybody goes to, uh, Duke Carolina, NC state or antique for the most part. And then of course there are people that go through some of the Ivy league schools and, you know, they’re a lot more special, I guess. Um, but for a lot of us, you know, boy, that the kids that would go to the state schools, those were, um, you know, pretty much the schools that we could go through. Uh, so I started off in NC state, um, had an amazing time, um, probably, uh, too amazing of a time to be perfectly honest. I think my priorities probably weren’t where they needed to be. Um, you know, I never worried about, um, graduating, but I did worry about, um, you know, not being quite as focused as I should be. So, um, you know, after my sophomore year I decided to transfer, um, and to be perfectly honest, probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. So, um, outside of the northbound food science, math, North, North Carolina, NC state university, Aggie, Brian, um, you know, certainly has,

Ben Harris (00:09:52):

Let’s talk about your professional journey now. So tell us about maybe some of the most important or pivotal roles that you had, let, let’s start with that. Right. And, and how you feel like that might’ve shaped your professional journey.

Keith Saunders (00:10:06):

Yeah. You know, I, I think, um, because I’m an engineer by training, you know, I feel like I can do anything right. To be perfectly honest. So, um, I’m a chemical engineer. I have a BS and ms. In chemical engineering, but when I went to school, actually my intent was to do chemical engineering and being go to dental school probably wasn’t as well thought out, uh, you know, tasty as it should have been. But I mean, I really enjoyed, um, you know, the coursework, right. I think that, uh, chemical engineering is one of the more challenging curriculums, but, uh, it’s also, um, you know, one where it really tests your imagination. Um, so I really enjoyed it. Um, you know, the, the first job that I had as an engineer though, um, I was working on my master’s at the time and by the time I finished my master’s, I realized I didn’t want to be an engineer.

Keith Saunders (00:11:10):

Um, you know, I, I enjoyed the coursework, but the actual application, um, you know, I realized that, um, probably not what I wanted to do. Um, but, uh, you know, again, I think, um, having that engineering background gave me the confidence to know that I could probably do something else and I would be okay. Um, so, uh, you know, I moved from engineering to consulting, which was totally different just in terms of, um, you know, the day to day activity. Um, so da consulting for, um, for a little while, but I was building websites and know things like that, and, you know, realized that I want to do that either. Um, had an opportunity to, um, well, went back to school, got my MBA. I had an opportunity to intern at, uh, entail, and that’s kinda where, uh, you know, everything kind of came together, um, uh, intern, uh, on the sourcing team, but I was actually, um, the technical resource and, um, I felt like, Hey, this, this makes a little bit more sense for me.

Keith Saunders (00:12:21):

Um, and then when I went to entail full time, it was actually on the commercial side and, uh, became a sourcing leader and I was responsible for, um, the chemicals that were used in production. And, um, it was kind of a perfect match, right. Because I think, um, you know, one of the things that I’ve realized is, you know, relationships are, uh, are, everything is busy. So, um, it kind of fit my personality in addition to, um, you know, those technical pieces and it just worked out really well. And, um, you know, Intel was a great training ground. Um, it was kind of one of those places where they just throw you in and you’d have to figure it out. Um, but, uh, you know, it was a great opportunity for me. Um, Suzanne of course, um, uh, had, have had an opportunity to do a couple of different things.

Keith Saunders (00:13:17):

Um, but it’s, uh, pretty much stayed within that chemicals realm for the most part, or haven’t gotten very far from it. Um, you know, I’ve sold everything from surfactant to dyes, to, you know, a little bit everything. Um, but, uh, I’ve, I’ve had an opportunity to work for some really good companies and some, um, some really good people, right? So from entails the Newell Rubbermaid, uh, Ingersoll Rand to Paul, to this, um, every place that I’ve gone, um, I’ve had an opportunity to learn and develop and, um, hopefully, um, every place that I’ve been, they can definitely say that I’ve, uh, left a, uh, a Mark, um, from a sourcing perspective, but then also, um, they can say that, um, you know, I’ll let the Mark in terms of those interpersonal relationships that, uh, you know, um, you know, during those times

Greg White (00:14:17):

It is, it’s having a degree in chemicals like that, does that serve you well, you know, being in a supply chain capacity for a chemicals company, it seems like you wouldn’t have to know necessarily about that, but I’m sure for you it’s been good though.

Keith Saunders (00:14:30):

Yeah, no, I mean, it definitely has. And to be honest, I’m not sure if, uh, some of the doors that have been opened would have been open, um, if it were not for the background, um, you know, certainly, uh, you know, and I tell people that, um, that I hire, uh, you know, a lot of times that, uh, you know, sourcing is right. So I’m not as concerned about, um, your past and forcing a particular, um, widget, right? I’m more concerned about, um, your ability to process data and think things through and your willingness to, you know, get it done. Right. Um, but I think from a resume perspective, um, certainly there have been some opportunities that have arisen, you know, because of my background,

Ben Harris (00:15:25):

I was fascinated. Ben, I’m sure you heard this too. I was fascinated by the fact that you said chemical engineering kind of activates your imagination. I don’t know that I ever heard those two words in the same sentence engineering and imagination, but, uh, so I would give me, clearly you have used some of that and I have a whole nother question. We know what your pivotal moment was when you were in school before you started your career. I want to ask you about that in just a second, but before we do that, I’d like to understand, tell me how you’ve used that ignition of, of, of creativity in your career and in imagination.

Keith Saunders (00:16:06):

Yeah. You know, I, I think that, um, what any engineer, what they do is problem-solve right. Um, and the thing that engineering teaches you is that there is no one way to solve a problem. Um, there have been, um, you know, many instances, uh, you know, over the years where I think that, uh, typically, um, sourcing managers, whenever they want to go to, uh, or, uh, achieve a certain amount of cost savings, uh, they automatically go to RFP, right? So this is typically the easiest thing to do, figure out what the market is and the market is the price should be, and, you know, just try to beat them down on price and, you know, come up with, you know, the lowest cost available versus, you know, understanding that, Hey, once you, if that is a way, right. Um, but what you are doing at that point, it’s kind of locking yourself into, uh, what’s already available versus, um, you know, trying to understand if there’s, you know, another opportunity, is there another way to do it, right?

Keith Saunders (00:17:18):

Is there, um, you know, perhaps another material outside of the material that you’re using that can give you, um, you know, similar or better benefits and going to also provide you the cost savings that you’re looking for. Right. Um, I think that, um, you know, typically we want to go down a path because that’s the path that we’ve always gone down. Um, but, um, I think that the great thing about engineering is it shows you that, okay, there is this one pan, but, you know, let’s see, let’s figure out if there’s another way to get there, because sometimes there are roadblocks on the path that you are trying to go on. And certainly having the ability to remove roadblocks is key. But, uh, you know, in some instances the effort required to move, uh, those roadblocks make it really not work. Wow. Even though the goal doesn’t change. So your ability to understand that there is more than one way to skin a cat and to believe it right, is going to be key in order for you to be picked up.

Ben Harris (00:18:27):

That’s awesome. You know, it’s, it’s not that engineers don’t have imagination. You just don’t as a non-engineer. I just never really thought of it that way, but it really is that constant search for a solution.

Keith Saunders (00:18:39):

Yeah, it’s weird because my wife tells me all the time that, um, she hates, uh, you know, when she was younger, if he didn’t like, uh, dating engineers because, um, you know, we were, uh, tended to be a little bit dry and, um, you know, we had problems communicating, which may be true to a certain extent, right. Because we are really data driven, you know, but at the same time, I think that, um, you know, data can tell more than one story. Right. And you just have to be able to decide for the story that it’s telling. So, um, you know, I, I think that’s what, uh, engineering, uh, it gives you, um, it teaches you to look at the data in multiple ways to get to wherever you’re trying to go. That’s a really good perspective.

Ben Harris (00:19:29):

All right. So I have a feeling that this, the answer to this could be multiple choice, but I have to ask you, what was that, if you can name one or if you can’t name a couple, but what was sort of a pivotal or Eureka moment in your career? You know, something that kind of shifted your worldview or your direction in your career or something like that?

Keith Saunders (00:19:51):

Well, there, there are a couple of, right, but I’m going to tell you a conversation that I had, and I don’t even remember the guy’s name, but he was, I was at a, um, a conference, um, a couple of years ago, several years ago. And, um, just having the conversation, he was an executive at Delta. And, um, we were just talking about, um, you know, some things that were going on, um, you know, within the industry, um, we were talking about career and career path and he said, uh, you know, there are three things that you should look at, uh, whenever you are considering leaving or joining an organization. And he said, the first one is, does what you do make a difference. Are you have, can you have the opportunity to make an impact? Um, will you be treated fairly, or are you going to be treated fairly and three, will you be developed or are you being developed?

Keith Saunders (00:20:59):

Right. So whether you were thinking about leaving or whether you’re thinking about joining another organization, those are the three things that you need to consider. And he said, now notice, I didn’t say anything about money, right? Because money comes right. I mean, everybody loves money. Believe me, I get it. Um, you know, I, I’m not taking less money to do, you know, a job cause I like it like, um, but, um, money should not be the driving factor. It’s the, the impact that you’re going to have. And to know that, uh, you know, you’re going to have the ability to become better and better at whatever it is that you want to do. And to know that you’re going to be treated fairly while you’re in that organization. And, um, you know, honestly that has driven, you know, my decision making every, since I had that conversation. And I think as a result, um, you know, again, I found myself in, um, you know, some pretty good, um, positions in terms of, uh, you know, the, the work environment that I’ve been in. Um, and the opportunity for me to be, um, developing, you know, quite honestly, in some instances, you know, if you’re looking for an opportunity to show what you can do, um, but I use those guiding principles and it’s worked very beautiful

Ben Harris (00:22:20):

Clearly. I mean, you just look at your resume, Newell, Rubbermaid, Ingersoll, Rand, Zep, Intel, clearly something is going right there. So, uh, that’s uh, that’s good. And that, it’s interesting, you don’t remember the cat’s name, but it was that impactful. It’s fascinating how those kinds of things can impact your life. So, all right. So now I’m going to ask you about somebody whose name you better remember, cause I’m thinking of a colleague or a mentor or somebody like that that has had a big impact on your life. And kind of what that is.

Keith Saunders (00:22:53):

I had a manager at Intel whose name was Jeffrey Saputo. And when I arrived at Intel, um, you know, we were on the same team, but he wasn’t managing, but he was, um, you know, he was on a team. Um, and I think probably within that first year, um, I probably had four different managers. Um, but, um, at some point I began reporting to him and, um, you know, again entails one of those places where it kind of just throws you in there and, you know, it’s sink or swim, you gotta figure it out. Um, but he was probably, um, well definitely the first person to kind of, um, you know, try to slow it down a little bit, just to say, Hey, let’s walk through, you know, the process and, um, you know, make sure that you understand really what the goal is. Right?

Keith Saunders (00:23:49):

Because before that, the only thing that I thought I needed to do was to, uh, you know, negotiate the best price. Right. Um, whereas he really helped me understand that there is really a strategic eat, right? So it’s not just chasing, uh, parts or chemicals and, uh, trying to beat the Squire up for, uh, you know, 10 cents a pound. It’s more of, Hey, what does it look like today? What do you want it to look like three years from now, five years from now and how to kind of, um, build your plan in order to achieve it. Right. Um, and in some ways, um, you know, certainly, uh, you know, what he caught me, um, at that point again, it’s helped me build on, um, you know, what I’ve done every since. Um, but in addition to that, uh, you know, he helped me realize, Hey, you know, relationships are everything right? So even if we don’t agree today on something that doesn’t mean that, um, you know, two years from now, we can’t come together and, you know, work on something else. But if you burn those bridges, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to, uh, to come back to you later.

Scott Luton (00:25:07):

Hey, Greg, real quick, uh, this what Keith is sharing as it relates to kind of the bigger picture partnership and far beyond just price, as it relates to, you know, building relationships within companies reminds me of, of ARRA with Omnia partners and some of their exact same thing. Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s, uh, Keith, it’s really refreshing to hear your, uh, Ford looking bigger picture approach to sourcing and procurement where yeah. Price is important. It’s always important. But far beyond, as Jeffrey was, was sharing with you earlier in your career, Hey, where are you? Where are you? Two years, three years, five years down the road. And it’s about, it’s about the relationship and, and it, and the give and take across the board. It takes place in those and those really meaningful relationships. Right?

Keith Saunders (00:25:55):

Exactly. And, you know, it’s funny because, um, you know, there, uh, hurricanes happen, pandemic happened, you know, a lot of different things happen and, um, you can have contracts in place. And once they declare force majeure that contract they’ll, they’ll do the best they can. Right. But there, there will always be, um, you know, suppliers who may be, have lost along the way, but if you have the right relationships in place, you can always go back to them and they can help you out. So, um, you know, it’s, it’s very important, right. To manage relationships. You don’t necessarily have to be best friends with everyone, but, um, you know, I think it’s important that everybody agreed that you’d been, um, that they’ve been treated fairly and that they, that they have been treated respectfully. Right. Um, and I would like to think that everybody that, um, you know, I’ve dealt with surgeons would certainly say that

Greg White (00:26:56):

That’s well said ki speaking of, you know, relationships and so forth. I mean, you know, currently with you and inc right now, um, how’s the relationship been with you and your work currently and kind of what does that, what does that look like for you guys

Keith Saunders (00:27:13):

Work is busy, right? I’ll say that. Right. Um, you know, it’s as bad as the pandemic has been, you know, globally. Right. I mean, and certainly, I don’t think that there are a lot of people that disagree that, um, you know, this is, uh, detrimental right. For, uh, you know, human humankind, um, on the flip side, um, from a business perspective, um, we, we’ve made a whole lot of hand sanitizers here in the last year,

Greg White (00:27:44):

Just a couple months. That’s probably a good point to keep for some of our listeners here can take a step back to talk about the company as a whole, you know, kind of who you were before, you know, COVID, and then kind of, you know, who you are now, but yet just take a quick step back and talk about the company. That that’d be great. Yeah.

Keith Saunders (00:28:03):

Well, so there is, um, basically a cleaning company, right. Um, you know, at its core, that’s what we do is, uh, we produce, um, mainly cleaning chemicals, but also, um, you know, cleaning systems and, uh, cleaning solution. Right. Um, we have, uh, four, uh, business units. Um, we have a B2B group that’s called North America sales and service, which is, um, you know, the foundation of that. Um, at one point we had over a thousand salespeople, uh, you know, kind of going door to door selling, um, uh, cleaning supplies, the founder of that actually used to ride a bike around and had a little basket in front of the bank. And he had his, uh, cleaning chemicals and he’d go door to door.

Greg White (00:28:49):

Y’all might need to go back to that key at this point, that might be, we seem to have brought that, not need to bring back the door to door cleaning supplies as well.

Keith Saunders (00:29:00):

You know what, it’s probably easy to just put it on Amazon, but Amazon delivery. But, uh, so, so we have that B2B side and again, it’s mainly, um, cleaning chemistry. Um, we have, uh, uh, retail, which basically sales, uh, a lot of the same things that, uh, the BTBY group sale, again, focused on cleaning chemistry. Uh, but then we also have the food and Bev group, which is, um, cleaning and sanitation, uh, chemicals for, um, food manufacturers. So, um, if you go into a, um, a chicken plant or a beef processing plant, a very good chance they’re using, um, you know, a bit branded material in there. Um, and then we also do that vehicle care, which is carwash campus. Right. Um, so, uh, claiming sanitize and disinfecting is, um, a core competency. Um, but to be honest, um, you know, over the last, um, you know, what we produce now and hand sanitizer in a week, um, it’s probably equivalent to what we did all of last year, right?

Keith Saunders (00:30:16):

So I’m big about this, the sheer scale, um, in terms of how much the man has been out there, um, versus, um, you know, what we were doing last year, even versus, uh, what we’ve been able to, um, you know, accomplish, right? Because we’re at a point where we can pretty much sell everything that we can make, um, and developing, um, you know, that supply chain over the last couple of months has been, um, you know, a challenge to say the least because, um, you know, we had suppliers who had been used to shipping, uh, uh, you know, quarter truckload of product. And now we’re asking for multiple truck loads per week, right. So it’s been a challenge to get, um, you know, some of those buyers ramped up, so they had to go out and find new suppliers and stuff like that. So, um, to go back to the original question, uh, you know, business is good. Um, you know, in terms of, um, you know, what’s going on, um, you know, within, uh, you know, my group, um, it’s been, um, a lot of, uh, I’m not going to say sleepless nights, but not a lot, right. Because it’s just been, uh, you know, so much going on

Scott Luton (00:31:33):

Real quick. Cause I know Greg is itching to say something as well, because it’s so important what he just shared there. I think a lot of folks that may tuned in that maybe they’re not a supply chain professionals, maybe it’s the first time they’re listening to our show. It isn’t really important. The context is, is these historical level of demand across a wide variety of products and what Keith was just sharing. I think I’ve got it right where in some cases the suppliers used to sending his facility or his facilities, a half truck load or something very infrequently, all of a sudden they needed several truckloads of that per week, just to try to meet this historical record breaking, um, levels of demand we’re seeing across so many different product lines. Um, so I always thought that, and Greg, I know you do too, because a lot of folks just don’t, um, don’t quite know exactly how supply chains work and they assume incorrectly oftentimes the times that it’s a supply issue and that’s, that’s just not the case ramping a supply chain to that scale. You don’t just multiply by 52 and it works,

Ben Harris (00:32:40):

Right. I mean, that puts, uh, puts a strain on a supply chain that it was not built for. You know, my immediate question, when you said that was, are your production lines, are your vendors, your suppliers, production lines even built for that kind of scale because that kind of scale takes different indirect materials. It takes different conveyors and machines and devices and mixing because you have a lot of chemicals, right? A lot of it takes different size mixing vats and things like that. So, um, it’s, you’re absolutely right. Scott, it’s a lot to consider. Right. Um, I w I have to go back to this one thing, the thing that Jeffrey was telling you about just real quick it’s because, uh, my great grandfather said this to me when I was a kid. Life is bigger than this moment. And that’s essentially what Jeffrey was telling you, right. It’s so much bigger than just this moment, even when, when you ignited that thought was when you said we can disagree now, and we might not have anything we can do together for a couple of years, but we know the relationship is there and it’s valued enough that we’ll come back to it. So, sorry to take us all the way back there, but that was just so poignant I had,

Keith Saunders (00:33:53):

But I think it’s key again, I think that it’s important for everyone to, um, not just recognize that, but to embrace it as well. Um, because, um, you know, again, we might not be able to do a business together today or whatever. Right. Um, but that doesn’t mean that, um, you know, there won’t be an opportunity that’s going to be mutually advantageous for us, um, you know, next year or the year after. So, um, you know, don’t burn those bridges because you never know when you, when you have to run back and say, Oh, you know, [inaudible]

Ben Harris (00:34:34):

Yeah, yeah. Well, I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Ben, I didn’t mean to overtake your segment of the conversation.

Keith Saunders (00:34:41):

No, this is the whole point of this.

Ben Harris (00:34:44):

There’s just so much there. I mean, if you have lived, you have really lived and experienced and, and really, uh, drank in a lot, really have internalized a lot of what you’ve learned about. So it’s, it’s great having this discussion.

Keith Saunders (00:35:00):

Yeah, no, it’s been great. And I think, um, you know, in terms of like some of the things that I seen now, um, you know, again, it goes back to, um, you know, just problem solving, right. And so whether it is, um, you know, finding canisters or wipes or finding alcohol for, um, hand sanitizer, um, you know, I have a, a team that, um, you know, we’re responsible for, um, you know, developing the strategy for, you know, what we want things to look like a couple of years from now, but we’re also responsible for, um, making sure that the plant has material for what we want to produce to pay and, um, you know, with the pandemic and you know, this, um, you know, certainly, um, we’ll just call it unforecasted, um, demand, but, um, you know, we’ve had to do everything from, uh, work our, uh, contracted suppliers to, um, just get on the phone and just call, uh, I mean, w we basically cold call, uh, you know, producers all around the country, in some instances around the world, just trying to, um, you know, bond, um, you know, different materials, right.

Keith Saunders (00:36:21):

Um, so it’s not always sexy, but, uh, you know, at the end of the day, it’s about getting it done, um, and supporting, um, you know, the facility so that, uh, you know, our customers get the product that they want. Um, it’s been, um, certainly a challenge, but, uh, you know, I think even for my team, I think that, um, you know, they’ll walk away from it and feel like, Oh man, you know, we did an amazing thing. Um, but then they’ll also be able to look back on the experience and pool from that experience when things get tough again. Right. Because, um, you know, at some point things will get better, but then, you know, they’ll get tough again, but, you know, certainly this is an example of kind of going through the Wars and, um, they make it through this. They’ll be in Jamaica.

Scott Luton (00:37:10):

All right. So Ben, before I’m going to ask him, uh, Keith, something about RFP and sourcing versus procurement, but I know you had another question or so related to this current role.

Keith Saunders (00:37:20):

Yeah. I was going to ask you to, um, also can, you know, you kind of talked about your current role and it’s kind of unpredictable, honestly. I mean, with cold calling and things like that, but you know, what is a typical day, if we had to say a typical day in the life of Pete Saunders, you know, kind of before and asked her, like, what, what does that look like? Where do you kind of spend your time? What does your calendar look like? My calendar is filled with meetings. Right. Um, it’s amazing because I’m not sure when we’re actually supposed to do the work cause we all find that

Scott Luton (00:37:53):

Amen. We’re all on zoom calls all the time.

Keith Saunders (00:37:56):

Yeah. I mean, but I, I think that, um, there, there are a couple of things that, um, I try to get done every day. Um, so there are, uh, I try to keep up with, um, you know, current events to understand what’s going on. Um, you know, sometimes it’s blockchain related sometimes, um, you know, just things that are going on in finance or, uh, you know, whatever. Right. I think that it’s important to, um, you know, really understand what’s going on in the market around you. Um, I spend, uh, you know, quite a bit of time in terms of, uh, getting update and a big, um, for the communication piece is, um, you know, uh, extremely important, uh, being able to understand, um, you know, from an executive, an executive team perspective where we are and where we’re trying to go get to be able to, um, you know, really filter that down into tasks and strategies for, uh, for my team.

Keith Saunders (00:39:00):

Um, then also the, the interaction, uh, you know, with my thing, again, I’m responsible for, um, chemicals and responsibility or packaging or responsibility, or, uh, both finished goods and new product development. Um, you know, each, uh, uh, you know, my team members, uh, you know, I encourage them to, um, view their responsibilities as if it was their own little private company and a, I mean, how would you, how would you run it if it was your company? Um, you know, but to be able to sit down and kind of have some conversations with them about what they’re working on and, um, some of the roadblocks that they’re having and to, um, you know, get feedback from them in terms of what can I do to, um, enable them to achieve, um, you know, some of the things that they have to achieve for the deck.

Keith Saunders (00:39:51):

Um, and then, uh, you know, just taking stuff off of their plate and trying to get stuff done for them. Um, so, uh, I kind of consider myself like a player coach, right? Because I coach I provide direction, but, you know, at the same time, um, you know, I’ve taken direction based on what it is that they need. Um, so it’s a lot of, uh, running around listening to what other people need and trying to figure out how to get it form. Um, but then, you know, again, there is that, uh, that problem solving piece where, um, you know, I spent a lot of time just trying to figure out well, okay, here’s where we are. Here’s where we trying to go figure out all of the steps in between make sure that those are, uh, communicated a lot going on. Yeah.

Scott Luton (00:40:40):

Sounds, sounds like it. And we’re just probably scratching the surface. Hey, Keith, I want you to weigh in on something. Um, I worked for a manufacturer years ago and I had a couple of folks on our team that we worked with that were just incredible at going out and finding new suppliers, uh, vetting them in some cases, you know, going out and tour in their facilities and then getting them into our supply chain, which really gave us a lot of flexibility and allowed us to serve the customer, uh, in a more creative and successful manner. You mentioned RFPs earlier in some of your thoughts and, um, can you speak to how, you know, an RFP doesn’t work like a magic wand, you may not have all the folks that you need, or all the candidates to satisfy a certain specific need in the business that are going to definitely respond to the RFP. You got to get out there. And, and you were talking earlier about making those calls. You kind of got shake the trees and find some of these suppliers sometimes, right?

Keith Saunders (00:41:36):

Yep. So, you know, recommended the RFP as a pool. Right. Um, but there are a lot of tools, um, in that sourcing tool box sometime really what you need to do is look at developing something else. Right. So in some instances, um, it’s going to be difficult to, you know, come up with something different. Right. Um, but in a lot of instances, uh, really what we need to be looking at is, um, you know, really thinking outside of the box. Right. And so whether it is, um, saying, uh, you know, for example, uh, the laminating is a solvent that, uh, you know, is used in, um, a lot of the greasers, right. Um, certainly you can go to, um, the, the typical traders, right. The field Alemany and figure out who has the best, uh, the best cost today. Um, or you could also go to producers to see what they’re able to do.

Keith Saunders (00:42:38):

Um, you can, uh, go to, uh, people that actually use the orange juice and figure out what they are or determine what they are doing with the waste product, which in many instances, you’re able to pull the [inaudible] from, um, you and, um, look at global sourcing and identify who’s doing what, where, um, and, you know, you can make them part of the RFP, or you can partner with people who, um, view delaminating as a wage product versus a actual value add material. Right. So it’s really kind of stepping outside of that normal, Hey, I’m sending out to, uh, five different suppliers to see with what they can do versus looking at it from a larger perspective and really figuring out what it is that you’re trying to achieve. And what’s going to give you the competitive advantage. And I think that that’s really the key, right. Is I’m trying to figure out what’s going to give you the competitive advantage. And, you know, sometimes you only get one project like that a year. Maybe it’s one project like that every other year. Right. But normally when you get it done, it’s going to be something that’s going to have a significant impact on the business for, uh, you know, a couple of years.

Scott Luton (00:44:04):

I appreciate you shedding some light on that. We’re going to shift gears at this point. Uh, and you, and you did a beautiful job for shadowing this on your time at Intel. It really did. I mean, couldn’t ask for anything better. Um, so here recently we celebrated national internship day or intern day, which I gotta admit, this is a new one for me. Uh, we’ve got a couple of incredible interns here at supply chain now. So tip of the hat to Genoa and to Devin really appreciate getting a card. So this will have to do gang that’s. All right. Um, so Keith, to use your words when, as you were interning, or at least whether it was as you’re interning Intel or your, your early career time there, you mentioned quote, that’s kind of where all things it all came together. And, um, can you, can you speak to the value of, of internship programs and, um, can you, can you, can you challenge organizations that may not currently offer internship programs while that they need to do so,

Keith Saunders (00:45:03):

You know, I think that the, there is a obvious, I mean, in my opinion, there’s an obvious value, um, in internship programs for, uh, both parties involved, right? So for the students that are getting an opportunity to get experience in their field of study, um, it gives them an opportunity to understand exactly what it is that they’re going to be doing outside of just reading about the theoretical situations in a textbook, um, for, uh, the companies involved, it gets, it gets them get them some relatively cheaply. It gets, uh, it gets them a relatively cheap labor, but what it also does, it gives them an opportunity to see some of these students before they hit the open market. Right. And so if you get interns in, um, and they do a really good job, um, you know, normally they’re going to be yours dilute if you want to bring a meeting.

Keith Saunders (00:46:06):

Right. Um, certainly I think that for, uh, you know, the students, if they have an opportunity to intern, I mean, that’s development clock start much sooner. Um, so when they come in, um, you know, after graduation, um, you’re not teaching them, uh, as if they’re starting day one, because they’re already, um, in some instances, you know, after, uh, two internships session, you can consider it a year. Right. So they already know, um, you know, what’s going on. They, they know the right people within the organization, uh, you know, who they need to talk to you for whatever. Right. Uh, but for those illnesses invaluable, because, you know, you may think, you know, what chemical engineering is, but until you spent some time in that plant, um, you really don’t right. Uh, or, you know, whether it’s finance engineering, or, you know, whatever you think, you know, what it is, but, uh, you know, and feel you’ve been given, um, you know, this project to work on one, uh, you really don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into and it’s important for the student.

Keith Saunders (00:47:14):

So, you know, again, they have an idea of what they’ll be walking into, um, after graduation, but, um, it’s really good. Um, you know, for, uh, you know, the company, because really what it does, it gives you a pipeline into, um, you know, that new talent. Right. And, you know, and I think that, uh, you know, new talent is important because, um, wow, it’s good to have people that have experienced, um, in many instances, those people with experience base everything off of the experience that they had versus, um, having new ideas and the kids that come in, they’ll always ask why. Right. And if you don’t have a good explanation for why, and maybe you need to do something big, right? Yeah, exactly.

Ben Harris (00:48:09):

Blessing of naivete. That’s the beauty of an internship, Greg and Ben did y’all intern. And your earlier new career? I did,

Keith Saunders (00:48:18):

I did actually at Georgia tech at the Georgia tech research Institute, or otherwise known as GTRI, uh, did that for two summers. Uh, excellent. I worked starting when I was 16, also at what is now Dick’s sporting goods. Uh, originally it was galleons.

Ben Harris (00:48:34):

Oh yeah, yeah. Outstanding. Yeah, I did not. Uh, because, uh, I wanted to intern with the CIA and they had to kill you after you were

Keith Saunders (00:48:46):

Really excuse Greg.

Ben Harris (00:48:50):

Hey, I’d like to add one thing too about internships because we, uh, at every company that I’ve ever run, we’ve used internships significantly for, uh, all of the reasons that Keith presented. And one of the things that’s important is I think there is this source sort of grand mystery around internships. And the fact is if two people come together and, and that, and that one person, the student is willing to go back to the career center at their school and say, I’d like class credit for this. It’s as simple as that, that’s an internship. A lot of people think it has to be an IBM or an Intel formal internship, or that you have to go to a career fair. And you don’t, you just have to find somebody who has interest or you have interest in them and then have them reach out to their professor or their, um, you know, or their, their career advisor.

Ben Harris (00:49:46):

And, um, it’s, it’s an internship just like that. It’s really that simple. That’s a good point, Sarah. And there’s a ton. I mean, it’s, it’s like the notion of reverse mentoring, which he knows is a pretty big deal. These days we’ve learned so much from just that different point of view, uh, and, and how they approach what we do, how they, they approach some of the challenges in our business and how they see the opportunity in the market. It’s been a, it’s been fascinating summer for us and learning from our interns. Um, all right. So Keith, anything before we shift gears and, and Greg is gonna, we’re gonna kind of broaden the conversation up just a bit, any final words, or if you want the gauntlet down and challenge companies, they’re not to utilize these bright young minds that can bring so much to the table.

Keith Saunders (00:50:30):

Yeah, well, I would definitely say if you’re not hiring at least one or more interns every year, you are missing the boat, because that’s where the talent is. You want to be able to bring them in and mold them. Like you want something better to get better, to get them while they’re young. So definitely you should be invested in it,

Ben Harris (00:50:51):

Especially if you can work at a cool place like galleons. Um, man, I miss that store. Um, um, so Keith, tell us a little bit, as we start to kind of close here, we usually, we love to ask our guests to, to break out their crystal ball or, or to give us some thoughts on current events or news or trends, or, you know, what you see in the future. What’s got mind share for you, what, uh, outside of your day to day, are you burning cycles on to kind of think about or consider,

Keith Saunders (00:51:26):

Alright, so I’m going to answer that to too, right. So, um, what has my attention, um, currently is, um, you know, the U S is relationship with China because I think that that’s going to have a huge impact on, um, supply chain for years to come. Um, I think that, um, you know, two years ago, three years ago, when we kind of, um, drew the line in the sand to say, Hey, there’s going to be some changes in terms of, um, our trade situation with China. I don’t think that anyone, um, really thought that it would kind of drag out the way that it has and if anything, um, that tensions have kind of, uh, increased. So, um, it’s good and bad, right? Because, um, you know, certainly, um, there is more, uh, production, um, domestically. Um, but I think that the challenge is, I’m not sure if you can get all of the production, um, needed domestically within the timeframe in which, um, you know, things really escalate and how they could impact the, uh, you know, the overall supply chain.

Keith Saunders (00:52:46):

Right? So, um, uh, for, uh, for us, we’re starting to look at ways to, uh, mitigate that risk from a domestic perspective, but looking at, you know, alternative, um, global sources. Um, but again, I think that there’s so much that come out of China that, um, you know, the two biggest trading partners in the world, if we can’t figure this out, um, it’s going to be interesting to see, uh, you know, how things kind of fall out movies, um, on less of a, you know, on less of a supply chain. Um, but I’m also looking at, um, you know, how the economy, uh, you know, it’s Dawn in the light of covert. Um, so I think that, um, you know, most people were hoping that after the initial lockdown that we would see, um, you know, those numbers start to fall and that we would get to some type of new normal, um, you know, probably second half of the year.

Keith Saunders (00:54:03):

Um, and as of now, I would imagine that that’s not gonna happen. Um, certainly, um, you know, I think that we’re trying to find a political solution to ensure that, um, you know, the economy stays on track or that the negative impact will be minimized. Um, but I’m not sure is, um, you know, I’m a hundred percent bought in that. Um, you know, the, the things that we’re doing, uh, we’ll be able to hold everything together. So when you look at, um, you know, what the unemployment rate is, even though it’s improved, um, I’m not sure what half the sustainable it is, right. So, um, you know, like everybody else, uh, I’m looking at my 401k every day and this is not pleasant, but, you know, at the same time, um, you know, I, I do believe in, um, and I guess this is something that Warren buffet said may maybe, um, you know, you always bet on the resiliency of the, uh, you know, the American people and I kind of, um, follow that mindset. Um, you know, but at the same time, I’m also looking at where the opportunities may be, right. And so, um, you know, just trying to understand what’s going on and how to best, um, you know, position, you know, my categories at work, as well as, um, you know, my own personal, um, you know, stuff, uh, how to best take advantage of, um, the situation as currently.

Scott Luton (00:55:38):

There’s a lot there we can need to add on a second hour to unpack some of that stuff, but really, you know, your, what keeps you shared there been, and Greg really is in a nutshell, the world that supply chain leaders find themselves in, right. Th they’re tracking a variety of macro and micro challenges as they’re trying to take care of the enterprise in this case, a global enterprise that is not as simple as what a lot of folks come w what supply chain used to be perhaps. Um, so key that I can really appreciate that, that, well, don’t help. Hey, this is kind of some of the things between my ears, you know, night in and night out. Uh, so, um, all right, before we start to close Ben and Greg, I want get you off

Ben Harris (00:56:24):

Real quick to respond to somewhat some what you just heard there from Keith, uh, on either one of those things and, and, and Ben won’t.

Greg White (00:56:31):

Yeah, Keith, I think what you were saying was interesting around reliability at this point in the lack thereof, uh, the amount of uncertainty in the marketing as logisticians and supply chain practitioners out there, we want certainty, you know, that we, we like for things to, um, you know, from a sourcing standpoint, to be able to go to reliable people, reliable companies, to, to, you know, have a reliable quantity, uh, whether it’s a perfect order or whatever that may be. And right now we don’t have that at all. You know, so here we are, Keith, I think illustrating that, uh, talking about, you know, being on the phone a lot that your day is, again, your day is filled with even more uncertainty, uh, that you’re doing things that you haven’t done, you know, pre-code before, as far as I knew, uh, sourcing alternatives, new strategies that you’ve been employing there also. Uh, and I think that was really illustrated the way you did that more on a macro scale, um, with the way you wrapped that up kind of, you know, with the economy as a whole. So, um, I think we’re, we’re all feeling that to Keith. So that was, uh, that was really, really well done.

Ben Harris (00:57:41):

Good stuff there have been. And Greg, anything that really stuck out and keeps answering to you? Yeah. I think that macro perspective of it, I mean, you don’t think of us little supply chain folks, right. Sitting around our office thinking about world problems, but the truth is particularly in your industry, Keith it, world problems do impact the business. Right. Um, and, and the, you know, that really just kind of awakened me just a little bit that, you know, we all always need to be thinking about that and, and Keith lives it every single day. And, um, things like the relationship with China, not just tariffs, but you know, the debt that we owe to China and those other dynamics that impact that he has to consider things like that, to determine things like sourcing and production, uh, because some of those things, maybe at least certain aspects of that relationship may or may not be able to be resolved in the next decade or two.

Ben Harris (00:58:42):

So, you know, you have to think about those kinds of things. And, and I think that’s good. It’s good for our audience, for those of them who aren’t deep, deep supply chain practitioners, maybe even some who are to recognize that these are very, very complex issues in a, in a global trade world, um, that, that we have to consider every day. It’s not just your supplier, it’s the flag under which that supplier works. Right. It could be a number of things. Alright, alright. So, uh, before we wrap up, make sure our audience, our audience knows how to get in touch and connect with both Keith and Ben, your respective organizations.

Scott Luton (00:59:22):

Ben, I want to get your take here. You and the team over at the Metro Atlanta chamber have no shortage of, uh, projects that, that benefit all aspects of the business. That certainly a lot impacting the supply chain city here. What what’s, what’s the latest that you can share with us?

Greg White (00:59:39):

You got it, I’ll tee something for you real quick. We have a, uh, a report that we’re jointly, uh, publishing with the Georgia department of economic development. And then of course the logistics innovation center there, um, actually one of my former employer, uh, oddly enough, so we’ve kind of come together. They were working on a project, uh, around the supply side of, uh, supply chain and logistics education, just understanding in the state of Georgia, the amount of resources that are at our disposal, um, uh, from educational institutions or programs and things of that nature. Um, and trying to illustrate that basically with what we’re calling a supply chain and logistics education guide or report, it’s kind of TBD on the exact name for it, but they were working on the kind of supply shots, supply side of that equation. Then also the demand side of that equation.

Greg White (01:00:31):

Also, when we talk about students and people who want to be in supply chain as a career, or maybe they’re in another career and want to come over to supply chain, uh, this guide will help, um, kind of, um, folks understand kind of two key. Um, you know, there’s kind of two key goals for, for the report is, is helping economic developers around Metro Atlanta or the state or nationally, uh, or supply chain consultants out there, or site selection consultants understand the amount of supply chain and logistics, educational, and resources we have here in the state of Georgia. Uh, and then of course you, secondary audience will be actually practitioners of supply chain or students supply chain or folks that want to be in supply chain, uh, as a career. So we’re really excited, uh, about that report, uh, that should be published here. We’re gunning for a CSC MP. They’re a to CSUP edge conference nationally, uh, which is September 20th through the 23rd. I believe that’s, of course they’re going virtual this year, but that is the goal date for us to release that report. So we wanna at least kind of tease that a little bit for you guys and give you a quick preview, but, um, we’ll, we’ll have a little more on that coming up soon, but we’re really excited about that joint report publishing that together.

Scott Luton (01:01:45):

Outstanding. Uh, and looking forward to the tying with CCMP, we’re looking, we’re looking forward to interviewing Rick blastin, uh, in the weeks to come to get his take on, on what the neat things much like you’ve been in the Metro Atlanta chamber, some of the things that C a C and P is doing to make sure we, we fill up that talent pipeline with, with, you know, the best and the brightest. We’ve got to compete as an industry for the best of the best when it comes to talent and, and rightfully so because the industry offers some of the best opportunities around. Um, so all right, good stuff there from Ben and the chamber,

Ben Harris (01:02:20):

Greg, before we wrap up here and make sure

Scott Luton (01:02:23):

You can connect with Ben and Keith, any final comments on your end?

Ben Harris (01:02:27):

Yeah. I have one final question. And that is for each of the four of us, considering all the educational programs that are out there now, specialized in supply chain. How many of us, how many of you are happy you’re already in, because you think it would be difficult to get in this industry right now, man, the quality of students that we’re seeing coming out of these schools is unfathomable. Genoa is one coming out of Morgan state. Um, and her, her, uh, colleague Latina, Thomas, both they’re co-presidents of the apex chapter, we’ve interviewed, um, supply chain dogs from, from Georgia, Georgia Southern has an outstanding program and their leader of their program, there is really, really powerful individual. And of course, Georgia tech, which was the original supply chain program and sorry, Ben, but the original supply chain programming in Georgia, um, it’s just unbelievable what they’re learning and what they’re coming away with in terms of not just supply chain skills, but real world skills and awareness. Um, it’s, it, it bodes very well for the industry. We’ll keep Keith what you talked about earlier around, you know, the analysis piece of supply chain now that you almost have to be somewhat of an engineer, you know, to really understand that find different ways and be able to work with data effectively. I mean, that is just so key now and that’s, it’s really changed the way, uh, you know, really the skill set that’s required for, for supply chain. Now,

Scott Luton (01:03:58):

Keith was ahead of his time. He was, you know,

Ben Harris (01:04:01):

So ahead of its time, I mean, it’s so many ways, right? Yes. Yeah, exactly. A STEM here. Yes. Yeah, really. Yeah.

Scott Luton (01:04:09):

I mean, with your emphasis on data, your, your, uh, emphasis on engineering and, and imagination as Greg talked about earlier, I mean, we’re in the information age, so, you know, little did you, and all your classmates know just how much of a pioneer you were at the time. So

Ben Harris (01:04:25):

I need to have you here. Uh, I mean, really

Scott Luton (01:04:28):

It’s, it’s, you’ve got a very interesting story and, and, you know, we hear so many different perspectives here from, from supply chain leaders across in different sectors, different positions, different functional areas. You have a very unique background and a unique take on, on, um, not just the industry, but, but kind of the profession of supply chain management, uh, so that we’ll have to have you back and you have to give us an update on somebody’s these Mike, uh, macro issues.

Ben Harris (01:04:54):

Well, you know what, let me know when you want to talk and I am definitely available. It’s been, um, you know, great balcony you guys, um, it’s been a really good experience, so thank you for inviting me and I’ve really enjoyed it.

Scott Luton (01:05:10):

Thank you. All right. So let’s make sure folks know how to connect with Keith Saunders. How can they connect with you and then how can, of course they learn more about the

Keith Saunders (01:05:18):

Easiest way probably to connect with me is via LinkedIn. So you can find my profile on LinkedIn, um, keep bonded. Uh, but then you can also reach me, um, ki that fonder.com that the E P you know, the, the problem with reaching me via the email is I get a, probably 300 emails a day, and a lot of them go to spam. So, uh, either way it’s probably definitely going to be late, but, um, in order to find out more, um, you know, about that, just go to [inaudible] dot com. Um, and then you can also go into, um, you know, home Depot and Lowe’s, uh, you’ll find a lot of our retail products there. Um, as well as the one

Scott Luton (01:06:02):

It’s just that simple. Uh, it’s been a pleasure, Keith. All right, Ben, same question for you. How can our listeners connect with you and the Metro Atlanta chamber, please feel free to reach out.

Keith Saunders (01:06:10):

Email is B Harris in a C O C as in Metro Atlanta chamber of commerce.com also on, uh, uh, that LinkedIn as well, uh, judging from how Keith and I actually met digitally through LinkedIn. So it does work. I have to say it does need, and then you can find me on, uh, I’m actually, I’m taking a break from Twitter. So, uh, probably won’t find me on Twitter right now, but you can find me on Instagram and then a couple other platforms as well. And also for more information on the Metro Atlanta chamber, just go to www.metroatlantachamberaltogether.com.

Scott Luton (01:06:49):

Outstanding. I think more, more folks. Should we should all take a break from Twitter sometimes step back from the late nights. If everyone took a break from Twitter, Hey Scott, how can people reach you? How can they connect with you? We never asked you that question. Great question. So LinkedIn, LinkedIn really they’ve made some, some nice changes to help folks find each other. I love what they’ve done with the veteran community and giving up their free subscribed subscription level for veterans, especially in transition. So you can find a Sarah, you can find us at supply chain now, radio.com. And of course you can find us wherever you get your podcasts from every day, Monday through Friday, sometimes Saturday and Sunday. Uh, and subscribe if you like what you hear, I have to issue an invite. I’m sorry, Keith, next time. You’re at the plant in M in Emerson. Gimme a about a day’s notice. We’ll have lunch at Doug’s.

Keith Saunders (01:07:35):

Perfect. You can definitely do that.

Scott Luton (01:07:38):

That you’ve gotten a special invite. Keith, I hadn’t gotten that invite yet. So feelings here. No kidding aside. What a great episode really appreciate the time as busy as this panel is here. We’ve been speaking with Keith Saunders, vice president of sourcing direct materials and sourced finished goods with Zep incorporated. Thanks again, Keith and Ben Harris, director of supply chain ecosystem with our friends they’re over at the Metro Atlanta chamber. All right, great, great episode. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend, a wonderful summer as we’re moving into August here, the dog days of summer, right? Greg? Yes. Or, Oh my it’s uh,

Ben Harris (01:08:16):

Look, first of all, um, there is a lot to take away from this episode. I’m not sure that I can really add to it and you know how rare that is. I mean, that I feel like I can add to it whether it can or not, but I just want to thank first been you for somehow connecting with Keith and Keith, you for joining us. So really appreciate it. Yes. We’re going to have to hunker down here in supply chain, uh, here in Georgia. It’s too hot to go outside anyway, so we might as well be working. All right. So on that note, on behalf of our entire supply chain now team, including Greg white, and this is Scott Luton challenging all of our audience, as much as we challenge our own team. Hey, do good gift forward. Be the change that’s needed. And on that note, we’ll see you next time here.

Would you rather watch the show in action?  Watch as Scott, Ben, & Greg welcome Keith Saunders to Supply Chain Now through our YouTube channel.

Keith Saunders is Vice President of Direct Materials and Sourced Finished Goods at Zep Inc. He’s currently responsible for $300MM in chemicals, packaging and finished good spend as well as new product development sourcing. Prior to Zep he held sourcing roles at Intel Corp, Newell Brands, Ingersoll Rand, and Pall Corp and consulting and engineering roles at Henkle and Accenture respectively. He holds BS and MS Chemical Engineering degrees from North Carolina A&T State University as well as an MBA from Kennesaw State University. Keith is passionate about developing emerging talent in the field of sourcing as well as looking to extend his expertise to a corporate or non-profit board in the near future.

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

Greg White serves as Principal & 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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