The Jukebox Never Lies, or if you are under fifty, Spotify gets a Supply Chain Playlist

By Whit Welch

Vol. II

I love music. I can’t sing or dance, or even clap in time. The ability to make music is well beyond me. But I love it none the less.  I decided to build a playlist of music that in some way was reflective of the industry that I also love. Now I have spent the last twenty plus years moving freight across this country and when I tell you there are similarities between a song and the supply chain, you can believe it. I want to share this list with you, one hit at a time.

Road to Nowhere

By The Talking Heads

When I build a play list I am beholden to only one rule: Pick good songs. I usually allow lists to either be genre specific (jazz, reggae, ska, etc.), or theme specific (Christmas, lake time, chill, whatever). Because this exercise is clearly theme driven, I had no problem shifting gears, and picking a 1980’s alternative classic. This song was released in 1985 on the most excellent album, Little Creatures. If you like catchy, clever, upbeat alternative, the Heads are a band you need to know. Here is the official video:

I included this song because it captures some of the key elements to the transportation industry. Moving goods to market seems simple enough. You pick it up here and you deliver it there. If you can execute this maneuver in a safe and timely fashion, you can have a fairly successful career in logistics. However, an awful lot can happen between here and there. The space between origin and destination is where the real work gets done. Its both magic and tragic, depending on the people, equipment, weather, and circumstance involved. This week’s song is all about the journey and nothing about the destination.

Here’s What I Really Wanted to Tell You…

By Whit Welch

I wrote about my experience as a stranded traveler in Denver last week. For those of you who had better things to do at the time, that rant (Dead in Denver) can be found on LinkedIn or at freightycats.com.

As I slugged it out this week in the ever-changing world of transportation, I kept going back to my Denver experience. I realized that while it was therapeutic, and a little fun, to complain about being stuck for a night due to snow in a city that, well, gets snow, the real value was how my inconvenience so mirrored the realm of moving freight. My failed attempt to get home had all the same elements of disaster that you see on every service failure in shipping. Let us review:

Multiple appointments are set, reset, and missed due to weather – This happens all the time in transportation. No one can argue if weather makes it impossible for carriers, whether trucks, trains or planes, to safely arrive on time. The fact that no one can argue this makes it a handy excuse to cover other issues. The frustration I felt as my carrier reset and then canceled my flight home was distinct.

Technology that under delivers – My air carrier depended on its technology to communicate updates and cancellations. The deployed system failed. I had three flights cancelled under me, and only once did I receive notification. Further, the deployed technology was not able to re-book me on another flight. The lesson here for transportation providers is to remember that the best technology when service is failing is the telephone. Call your customer. Own the issue and bring a solution. Technology can help transportation. It cannot fix transportation. This is, and will always be, a people business.

The customer cannot connect to anyone who can solve the problem – I was very frustrated while stuck in DIA by the fact that no one in the building could help me. The gate agents and ticketing people were trying, but they lacked the authority or the abilities to solve the issues of the customer. Transportation companies must be accessible to there customers and be staffed in such a way that problems can be solved anytime during the transit of goods. We operate in a 24/7 world. Companies that staff for 8-5, Monday through Friday are dinosaurs with a two pack a day habit. Your days are numbered. In the end, my experience was simply capacity drying up in a certain market due to weather. We see external events effecting capacity in transportation all the time. Having empathy for your customer is the key to surpassing their service expectations and surviving changes in capacity. Communication is one of the few things we can control. Tell the truth in a clear and concise manner. Deliver updates quickly. Own the problem and bring a solution. Your customers will appreciate it.

3 Lessons from the Playground to Apply in the Office

Written By Jamin Alvidrez

Spring has sprung here in Kansas City…FINALLY! And, as a result, besides my allergies going bonkers, I have been spending many hours at the local parks with my 3 kids (ages 1 ½-7 yrs old). This past weekend I was at a particularly crowded park. While I sat safely away from the cyclone of children, I couldn’t help but draw a comparison to the workplace.

Watching these kids play at the park felt a lot like watching people work in an office. Right down to the open concept feel and color schemes. Which is hilarious if you have never noticed. Next time you see a park notice the color schemes and think back to offices you have been in…yep same thing. I forced my mind away from negative comparisons between a playground and an office and decided to watch to see what we could all learn from these happy, playful children.

Here are 3 lessons learned:

Positive Atmosphere

Observation: The smiles, noises and activities from the group of kids was all focused on having fun. The energy around the playground was positive and happy. No kid seemed to show up wanting to have a bad time and if a kid did, I wouldn’t have been able to notice as they were over powered by the positive smiling majority.

Lesson: Show up to the office looking to bring a positive energy and have fun. If everyone showed up with this attitude together, we could help drowned out any negativity.

Fully Engaged

Observation: Kids showed up and from the moment they were out of the car they were running full tilt toward their favorite part of the playground. My oldest son always immediately identifies a game of tag or hide and seek and looks to insert himself in the middle of the game immediately.  Other kids seemed to prefer playing alone on the swings or slide, but nonetheless were fully engaged in “playing.” Everyone was participating in their own way.

Lesson: Our “playground” happens to be an office. We have all the equipment and people around us to succeed. The key for us is to be fully engaged. Insert yourself right in the middle of the “team.” Fully learn and utilize the tools at your disposal. Be an engaged participant in the office. When the majority are fully engaged it leads to a more productive and positive environment.  

Inclusive Play

Observation: There were all types of kids and the playground. And yet none of that mattered. Kids of different ages and abilities were involved in all corners of the playground with other kids. All were welcome. All were part of the group if they chose to. There were not any cliques or kids trying to tell other kids they couldn’t lead up a game of tag because they didn’t have the personality for it or the right connections.

Lesson: Avoid cliques at all cost. It is easier said than done. However, being an inclusive office, aside from it being the right thing to be, leads to happier teams and more creative work. You will receive the input and perspective of all instead of just the select few. Ideas and laughs will flow freely from all corners of the office.

The next time you pull up to your office, change your perspective for a moment and view it more as your playground. Go have fun and crush it this week with your coworkers!

Sports, Numbers and Logistics: A Look at the 2019 KC Chiefs Away Schedule

By Pat Lawhon

In celebration of the NFL Schedule being released this week I made a breakdown of the “away” games for the Kansas City Chiefs. Miles from Arrowhead Stadium to the location of the game along with the current market rate to get a full truck of goods in that lane. Enjoy!

Kansas City, MO:

Jacksonville, FL: 1807 miles. $3110

Oakland, CA: 1795 miles. $3090

Detroit, MI: 772 miles. $1360

Denver, CO: 598 miles. $1454

Nashville, TN: 554 miles. $954

Los Angeles, CA: 1617 miles. $2509

Foxborough, MA: 1419 miles. $2755

Chicago, IL: 535 miles. $814

Total miles: 9097  Cost: $16,046

THE JUKEBOX NEVER LIES

By Whit Welch

The Jukebox Never Lies, or if you are under fifty, a Supply Chain Playlist on Spotify
I love music. I can’t sing or dance, or even clap in time. The ability to make music is well beyond me. But I love it none the less.

I decided to build a playlist of music that in some way was reflective of the industry that I also love.

Now I have spent the last twenty plus years moving freight across this country and when I tell you there are similarities between a song and the supply chain, you can believe it. I want to share this list with you, one hit at a time:

The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends-By Robert Earl Keen

If you are a hip cat that digs alt country, you know this song and the man who wrote it. If you are not familiar, take a moment to check this number and give it a listen. You can thank me below in the comments:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJRWtKePKuY

This song is not exactly about the transportation industry, but it could be. This number has cargo, deadlines, money, and desperate people trying to get ahead in an ever-changing world. In the end, one partner gets a new Mercedes Benz, and the other partner gets the electric chair. That sounds a lot like transportation to me.
The true connection however is in the title. In logistics the road goes on forever and the party never ends.

Our modern economy becomes more dependent and defined by the supply chain we support. What we do will not end. That means that the challenges and opportunities are unlimited.

The industry is a great career choice where you can earn and learn. Education, technology, and financial support are all helpful, but if you can work hard, play fair, and be good to people, you can thrive in transportation.

It may even lead to a new Mercedes Benz. Or the electric chair. Or both.

Why I Wear Hawaiian Shirts on Sales Calls

By JAMIN ALVIDREZ

I have been in the Logistics game for 15 years and the “business” world for almost 20. And, it may seem over simplified, but what I have come to appreciate above all else is the need to be yourself. The only true competitive advantage you have is-YOU. An authentic YOU.

That includes how you dress, talk and act.

For so long the corporate “beige” mindset of navy sportscoats and khakis has prevailed. Why? I cannot answer this. I presume because people think that is what their customers and partners want out of them. And, for some maybe it is.  

Yet, I determined long ago that my decision would be to utilize my dress to be authentic and help me qualify potential customers and partners.

What do I mean?

I want some to see how I dress and be upset. Ok, maybe not upset, that is dramatic. For better or worse I gotta be me. I want my partners and customers to know exactly who I am. And to be frank I am not a khakis kinda guy. If that is what they are expecting than I will gladly refer them to another 3PL sales person. Nothing wrong with khaki loving people at all, I am just not that guy.

I always say if I am wearing a navy jacket and khakis it probably means something went terribly wrong and I am in court.

When I am planning for us to meet, I plan to be exactly who I am. Some may not like it, but the goal for me is honesty, not acceptance. I hope some are turned off by the Hawaiian shirt quickly as that would save us both time. Who am I really?

I am a nerdy Dad who loves to wear Hawaiian shirts. I look forward to meeting YOU and having a non-corporate and genuine conversation.

Be yourself at all times, even if it means wearing a Hawaiian shirt on a sales call.