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Swimming with Sharks on Day One of SMC³ 2023 Connections

Attendees on the first day of SMC3’s 2023 Connections were treated to a keynote presentation from Daymond John, serial entrepreneur, founder of FUBU, and a certified shark from ABC’s Shark Tank. John took attendees on a tour through his life story, giving lessons on how to stay sharp in business without losing sight of the little things.  

His talk revolved around what he referred to as his four “shark points”: Set goals; do your Homework; never lose sight of what you love (Amor); Remember that you are the brand; and Keep swimming. For each of these points, John had a ready anecdote from his storied past — whether it was his mother taking out a $100,000 mortgage on their Queens home to help him start his own clothing brand or successfully battling a cancer diagnosis.

“I’m not going to tell you anything new,” John told attendees at the beginning of his talk. “I’m only going to remind you what got you here.”     

Fans of Shark Tank were treated to a few behind-the-scenes stories too—as well as some colorful character studies of John’s fellow sharks.

“I just finished about 12 hours ago, filming the first half of the season. I’ve been sitting next to Kevin [O’Leary] for two weeks. Please save me.”

Jokes aside, John’s inspiring example of perseverance and priorities set the tone for a day of insightful discussion on areas of common and emerging concern. Conversations delved into a number of crucial issues for supply chain and logistics leaders, including the possibility of a recession and what the implications might be for the industry.

Another focus of the day included leading through heightened periods of risk and recession on how to ‘recession-proof’ LTL. The panelists highlighted the importance of having a risk management plan in place—one that is suited to not only traditional risks but emergent ones too. 

“I would just say that in LTL and trucking in general, it’s crisis management all the time,” said Darrel Harris, President and Chief Operating Officer of Yellow Corporation. “A word that’s mainstream in trucking now that I don’t know even existed 20 years ago is cybersecurity.” 

“I couldn’t even spell cybersecurity 20 years ago,” he joked. “And now it’s a significant thing that we spend time on simply because there are so many risks associated with that side of the business.” 

Other sessions focused on an array of less macro topics, including new industry innovations, implementing route planning software, tips to handle procurement more effectively, and dealing with lane imbalance. But recession planning remained an important theme. 

Keith Prather, Managing Director of Armada Corporate Intelligence, gave a deep dive into the data behind recession forecasting that has caused concern for some logistics leaders. Prather analyzed data from a number of industries to give a sense as to whether a recession had already happened, was forthcoming, or was an overblown consideration. Prather noted that the main metric to be watched is inventory-to-sales ratio. 

“Inventory is overstocked, and it’s choking off new orders,” Prather explained. “It’s the reason why you see the global economy grinding to a halt right now despite some strong demand.” 

He also highlighted metrics from the Federal Reserve pertaining to consumer spending as augurs for a possible economic downturn. While consumers are still spending about the same amount of money, inflation has decreased their purchasing power. 

“From a supply chain perspective,” he noted, “we’re not digesting as many units. We’re not seeing as much of those units flow out of the store as we normally would, which is why inventory-to-sales ratios are starting to push up.” 

Based on the available data, Prather forecasted an upcoming recession, but he predicted that it would be “shallow and short.” He examined broken and choked supply chains where there is untapped opportunity for growth, such as auto and construction. 

“The minute [the auto] supply chain gets fixed, you’re going to see this skyrocket, regardless of what the recession does or regardless of what happens in the macro economy,” he said. 

“The bottom line,” he added, “is just hold on, loosely … we should be able to dig out of these doldrums and recover. But a lot of stuff’s got to fall into place for that to happen. That’s where we are. That’s the honest truth.”

SMC3 Connections is an annual three-day conference dedicated to sharing knowledge among supply and logistics professionals. It is the premier summer conference for carriers, shippers, logistics service, and technology providers – by providing an optimal environment for meaningful networking within the industry, as well as a learning site for industry insights from top-tier professionals. Save the date for Jump Start 2024 June 22-24 in Atlanta, GA and sign up here <<>> to make sure you never miss an update.

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Categories: Data, Education, Freight, Logistics, Logistics Service Providers, LTL, Product, Supply Chain, Technology, Transportation, Truckload, Uncategorized