Todd Skiles is senior vice president of global sales and solutions for Supply Chain Solutions (SCS) and Dedicated Transportation Solutions (DTS) at Ryder System Inc. Focused on matching Ryder’s solutions with the needs of customers, he is responsible for overseeing the sales and solution teams for all of the SCS and DTS verticals and functions.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 00:01
How can military veterans be welcomed into supply chain jobs? Consumers look to more services from e-commerce providers and are willing to pay for them. And companies struggle to find seasonal workers.
Pull up a chair and join us as the editors of DC Velocity discuss these stories, as well as news and supply chain trends, on this week's Logistics Matters podcast. Hi, I'm Dave Maloney. I'm the group editorial director at DC Velocity. Welcome. And let me take this time to recognize those who serve and have served to preserve our freedom on this Veterans Day. As usual, our DC Velocity senior editors Ben Ames and Victoria Kickham will be along to provide their insights into the top stories of this week.
And speaking of veterans, we realize that veterans often have difficulty transitioning from the military to civilian life. How can supply chain companies help with that transition, and also fill the ranks needed within the industry? To find out more, here's Victoria with today's guest. Victoria.
Victoria Kickham, Senior Editor, DC Velocity 01:06
Thank you, Dave. Yes, our guest today is Todd Skiles, senior vice president of global sales and supply chain solutions at Ryder System Inc. Welcome, Todd.
Todd Skiles, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Supply Chain Solutions, Ryder System, Inc. 01:17
Good afternoon, Victoria. Thank you for having me.
Victoria Kickham, Senior Editor, DC Velocity 01:20
Yeah, it's great to have you here. First, as we mark Veterans Day, I want to thank you for your service. I believe you were a captain and company commander in the army. Is that right?
Todd Skiles, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Supply Chain Solutions, Ryder System, Inc. 01:29
Yes, I was. Thank you.
Victoria Kickham, Senior Editor, DC Velocity 01:31
Okay, terrific. Well, can you tell us a bit about making the transition back to civilian life, and maybe talk a little bit about how military experience can translate into a career in corporate America and/or supply chain specifically?
Todd Skiles, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Supply Chain Solutions, Ryder System, Inc. 01:46
So I sure can, and thank you. First of all, we have to recognize there are certain challenges that are unique to a veteran when coming out of the military workforce and trying to enter into the civilian workforce, and there's also some unique challenges that a veteran's family may experience, too. So, I think, you know, as employers, I think it's somewhat incumbent on us to understand some of these challenges, study some of the uniqueness of making that transition and then putting together programs and assistance that not only helps the soldier make the transition, but also, of course, their families. And how do we do that successfully, I think is is really important.
Victoria Kickham, Senior Editor, DC Velocity 02:29
So what are some of the skills that sort of translate well into supply chain in particular, and why should companies hire veterans in your opinion?
Todd Skiles, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Supply Chain Solutions, Ryder System, Inc. 02:39
Well, I think if you really go up at a high level, Victoria, I think the cultural fit with a majority of U.S. companies is solid. I mean, you've got workforce, it's well trained, it's motivated, very much experienced. Now, whether that experience translates directly into your particular company, that could be questionable, but certainly things, when you look at supply chain and logistics, you look at truck drivers, warehouse workers, technicians to work on vehicles, they are readily place or able to be placed within the civilian workforce. But I think overall, when you look at the disposition of our military leaders, the experience, as well as our soldiers, I think you'll see that a number of companies in varying backgrounds and disciplines can can benefit from from hiring veterans.
Victoria Kickham, Senior Editor, DC Velocity 03:27
So Ryder has a focused program for doing that. I wonder if you can tell us a little bit about the program and maybe talk a bit about, you know, what kind of strategies are useful in general for companies in recruiting this demographic?
Todd Skiles, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Supply Chain Solutions, Ryder System, Inc. 03:38
Well, certainly. We're very proud of it, Victoria. We have been in this program, off and on—I mean, I served long before 2011, and Ryder was always a supporter of our military, military family, and certainly our veterans. But since 2011, we've really put together much more of a formal process. We've hired over 11,000 veterans since 2011, and currently 10% of our workforce are veterans, and we're very proud of that. In 2021, Ryder was named Forbes best employer for veterans. So, we're seeing some success, obviously, and I think there [were] three major programs that I think about, relative to your question. We have a dedicated military hiring page that we try to get out to our military organizations, which is in addition to what's available on our webpage, but it's more specific and tailored towards the veterans; experience and questions they may have. We also have a veteran buddy program, and that was something over the last couple of years we started to work to marry up with our current workforce veterans, to have them work with our new hires who are veterans and, you know, that program, Victoria, has worked out very well for us. The experiences, the shared experiences, the camaraderie, I think really help the individual transition in. And we've also put together some specific training programs that are focused on military veterans, and one [that] comes to immediately in the mind is training our diesel techs, which is a program where we take the veterans who are already experienced as technicians fixing different types of military equipment, and then train them specifically to the needs of a company like Ryder, who is a third-party logistics company. What do we need to maintain our equipment? How do you do that? What are the nuances or differences between what we do in the civilian world and what, certainly, the military people already have training on? I think the overall, though, impression, Victoria, is, you know, with the right cultural fits our veterans can be super successful in a number of organizations. It doesn't have to be just supply chain and logistics. We also have training and development programs for leaders and managers, where we seek out middle-level leadership within the military. It's more of a focus on our leadership roles within our company. So, there's a number of ways to approach it, but I think overall, it can be effective in many different roles.
Victoria Kickham, Senior Editor, DC Velocity 06:21
Yeah, thank you. And you mentioned earlier, sort of the fit between, you know, some of the skills that the veterans have and bring to the table. Is there, are there any, can you talk a little bit more about, you know, sort of maybe the mindset, motivation, that kind of, that kind of, that part of it? You know, why as a draw to, you know, looking for this type of employee?
Todd Skiles, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Supply Chain Solutions, Ryder System, Inc. 06:43
Well, I think if you, if when I look back on my experience in the military, Victoria, and I consider what was important to me as a commander, it was the it was a well-being of our people. It was the training and development of them as individuals, that was making sure that they felt they were part of an organization that cared for them, and also cared for their families and their communities. And I think that is ingrained in our soldiers, and it's certainly ingrained in the leadership teams. And I think for some companies, I think that's a direct cultural fit. I look at Ryder and I think about why I've been an employee for 37 years, and it's, you know, those companies that treat their employees with respect, that truly look at their employees as their greatest asset, maybe develop, or invest in their future and their success, directly invest in their trading and development, but also have an eye towards their families and what are the challenges that their families may be going through, and also, as I mentioned, having that commitment to the community, I think all those cultural nuances and fits are certainly ingrained in our military and certainly available in a number of U.S. companies.
Victoria Kickham, Senior Editor, DC Velocity 07:59
Yeah, I would agree with that, and it seems to be part of a larger effort to kind of foster a culture of service in the workplace. I hear that quite a bit when talking about these kinds of programs. Do you agree that that's important, and can you talk a little bit about the the role of veterans in furthering that kind of mission?
Todd Skiles, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Supply Chain Solutions, Ryder System, Inc. 08:16
Well, if you think about that, Victoria, the veterans are coming out having made a huge sacrifice to their community, to their countries. They've already decided—but long before they become veterans—that they believe that there are things that are worth fighting for, and that are worth them leaving their families, in many cases, to do these things. So, by the time they come out and they're ready to join the workforce, I think what they're looking for is the the passion for service is there, and it's just how do I redirect this passion, or how do I direct it, moving forward, and can can I find a company that has that same set of values for service, for people, for training, development, for family that I do, and I think if companies focus on those aspects, or they're proud of that aspect of their company, then I think the veteran becomes a logical extension of that. It becomes, you know, where do I find people that share these cultural, these important cultural features? And I think the military, by the time the veterans come out, are, not only have they expressed interest in, they've dedicated themselves to it, and they've demonstrated that they're willing to follow through with it. So, I think it's a real easy fit.
Victoria Kickham, Senior Editor, DC Velocity 09:36
Yeah. Thank you. That makes a lot of sense. Is there anything else you'd like to mention, either about this topic in general, or really anything you'd like to say, you know, as we honor our servicemen and women this Veterans Day?
Todd Skiles, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Supply Chain Solutions, Ryder System, Inc. 09:49
Well, I would like to start as you, of course, did to thank all the, our current military members and certainly our veterans. The sacrifices that everyone makes or are huge, and we recognize that. From a corporate America standpoint, I would encourage many different companies—I have encouraged over the over the years—that they look at our veterans as a critical resource in terms of filling much-needed roles and positions. And we also realize that, you know, we're proud to compete, that the veterans now probably have more alternatives in terms of employers than maybe we've had ever before in the last three years, certainly. And we're happy to compete with that. But the companies that I believe are worthy of the time and investigation of our veterans are those that share their culture, their important aspects, I encourage you to do the due diligence, but there are many, many companies out there that I believe you'll find will will make similar investments to you and your family that you found in the military, and they can be great careers, they can be rewarding careers, and, as I said, be a win for a community, be wins for you as an individual, and certainly be a huge win for your family.
Victoria Kickham, Senior Editor, DC Velocity 11:06
Terrific. Thanks so much for joining us today. Todd. We really appreciate your insight, and certainly expertise on this topic. So thank you very much.
Todd Skiles, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Supply Chain Solutions, Ryder System, Inc. 11:14
Yeah, thanks, Victoria. I appreciate being invited.
Victoria Kickham, Senior Editor, DC Velocity 11:17
We have been talking with Todd Skiles of Ryder System Inc. Back to you, Dave.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 11:22
Thank you, Todd and Victoria. Now let's take a look at some of the other supply chain news from the week. Ben, consumers have come to expect free shipping on their online purchases, but, first of all, is that a sustainable model? And then you wrote this week that there may be some services beyond the free shipping that consumers are actually willing to pay to receive. What can you tell us?
Ben Ames, Senior News Editor, DC Velocity 11:44
Yeah, that's a great point, Dave. Everybody's heard, who are frequent readers of the magazine and in the industry, of the Amazon effect, which is roughly that online shoppers and consumers have sort of been trained to assume that they can get free shipping and next-day or two-day delivery, whether they order their goods from the Amazon website and or not, anymore. So, those kinds of demands, we've seen them put enormous pressure on retailers on 3PLs, parcel delivery services, everybody in the logistics chain of events that get those parcels to our door. But of course, it's not free, right, and changes in the nation's economy could be forcing some change in that area. Of course, I'm talking about inflation, talking about rising interest rates. They're putting the squeeze on shoppers and on retailers. You know, we'll have to wait until all the dust has settled from these holidays to see how the actual numbers add up from what we're looking at with the peak season coming up very soon right now, but we did get some data this week about how consumer demands might be changing under all those pressures. We heard from FedEx Express Canada. They found that almost 80% of the holiday shoppers in Canada expect to spend about the same or more this holiday season than last year. So, a little bit surprising there, considering all those economic pressures. But the shoppers are going to make some changes to get to that goal. About six in 10 said that they would focus their shopping on major sales—the Black Friday kind of thing—and that they'll shop earlier than usual. They intend to finish shopping by early December. If they do that, by the way, they'll be far ahead of me. FedEx also said that online shoppers have a rising concern, though, about package theft. Some people call it "porch piracy." After the courier drops the parcel on your doorstep, maybe you're off at work, or doing errands, and sometimes it can not be there by the time you get back. That's a rising concern. Almost 70%. That's up about 8% over last year. So, to control that risk, Canadians were looking to things like package tracking technology—you can check that on your phone exactly where it is, picture proof of delivery, and expanded hours of operations for those residential deliveries. So, it looks like that's part of how they're trying to adjust some of their habits to deal with the new realities.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 14:11
Yeah. And those of course, there's some different demands than just wanting the e-commerce deliveries fast and free, a lot of extra add ons there. Are consumers willing to pay for those extra services?
Ben Ames, Senior News Editor, DC Velocity 14:22
Right, and I touched on this a little further, right? It's a great question. This business of free delivery, it's always been a little bit of a thorn under my saddle. Somebody has to run the distribution center, hire all those workers, buy a truck, pay the delivery driver, buy the gas that makes it go, you know, there's not a lot of free in there. And in fact, today I saw a different survey today. This one was also about customer preferences, but it was from Merchants Fleet. They're private equity-backed fleet management company up in New Hampshire. Likewise, they had found also that shoppers are planning to buy more goods online this holiday season the last. That was true for about 55% of U.S. consumers. The numbers were a little bit different, but the general trend line is similar. But their survey showed that shoppers are also increasingly aware of the environmental impact of that package delivery. It's particularly true for express delivery. That can have a pretty high carbon footprint in cases where those delivery vans are rushing to get to certain drop off points, so maybe they're not fully loaded, or they're not running the most efficient route. So, the question is, as we've been coming around to, will they put their money where their mouth is? So Merchants Fleet said, Sort of. They said the survey discovered that a little more than 50% would consider buying more online if they knew that their packages could be delivered by an electric vehicle, and just under 50%—48—would choose one package carrier over another if they knew that that one would deliver by electric vehicle. So, those numbers are right in the middle of the scale. It's almost the flip of a coin. But that's always been the challenge and figuring out, you know, exactly what consumers will pay for in what's always a very competitive sector.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 16:14
Yeah. And trying to figure that out is like trying to hit a moving target.
Ben Ames, Senior News Editor, DC Velocity 16:18
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 16:18
Ben Ames, Senior News Editor, DC Velocity 16:19
Yep. Glad to.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 16:21
And Victoria, you reported this week on the difficulty that many companies are having with finding seasonal workers. Can you share some details?
Victoria Kickham, Senior Editor, DC Velocity 16:30
Yes, absolutely. And this comes down to kind of working conditions. So, flexibility has really become a buzzword in the labor market, and that's due in large part to the many changes that have occurred in the workplace these past few years, especially as companies developed, you know, remote working strategies during the pandemic. That trend has coincided with the rise of the gig economy, of course. That's where workers can get the ultimate in flexible scheduling by working when they want and where they want. They do that contracting with rideshare and delivery companies and the like. Well, now it seems that hourly workers, and especially those looking for seasonal jobs during holiday peak time, are demanding the same kind of flexibility, and that's according to a study out this week by a company called Legion Technologies, which develops workforce-management software. Legion surveyed 1,500 hourly employees and 500 managers for its" 2022 Seasonal Hourly Workforce Report" and found that the seasonal workforce values gig-like flexibility, really above all else, and that not offering flexible employment could be detrimental to businesses this holiday season. The company pointed to the widespread need to fill positions and the competitive landscape for employees, which you alluded to earlier, and that's really put workers in the driver's seat. As our listeners know, logistics companies do a ton of hiring this time of year, filling positions in warehouses, DCs, and on the road to meet that holiday buying and delivery demand. So, according to the survey, more than 60% of those kinds of employees said that having a schedule that meets their preference is the most important aspect of a seasonal employment job. And what's more, nearly half said they would take a different job if the schedule better matched their preferences. It's also important to note that nearly 60% of the hourly employees surveyed said they're not confident at all that their employer will have enough workers to manage the holiday rush this year, so it is, as we said at the beginning, a crucial issue.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 18:31
Yeah, so what are business leaders and managers doing to address that crucial issue?
Victoria Kickham, Senior Editor, DC Velocity 18:36
Yeah, well, first of all, they're trying to be as flexible as possible to attract workers. Almost half of the managers that were surveyed for this report said their companies should offer more flexible scheduling as a way to get the workers they need. It's also important to note that this issue takes a toll on those managers as well, and they're dealing with understaffing, with shift burnout, among a lot of other issues. About 70% of the managers that were surveyed said that matching employee preferences with business needs is the most difficult part of their job in creating a work schedule. Somewhat not surprisingly, those managers said they think technology tools could really help with this problem. That's the other way to address it. And they pointed to things like automating scheduling, automating timekeeping requirements, and also automating demand forecasting as three areas that would be particularly useful. So, we'll see how this all unfolds over the next few weeks, I guess.
David Maloney, Editorial Director, DC Velocity 19:32
We certainly will, and we're seeing, in a lot of different ways, that technology can certainly be our friend. Thanks, Victoria.
We encourage listeners to go to DCVelocity.com for more on these and other supply chain stories. And check out the podcast Notes section for some direct links on the topics that we discussed today.
And again, our thanks to Todd Skiles of Ryder for being our guest. We welcome your comments on this topic and our other stories. You can email us at podcast at DC Velocity dot com. We also encourage you to subscribe to Logistics Matters at your favorite podcast platform. Our new episodes are uploaded each Friday.
And speaking of subscribing, check out our sister podcast series Supply Chain in the Fast Lane. It's coproduced by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals and Supply Chain Quarterly. New episodes of that series are released each Tuesday, and they deal with attracting and retaining labor.
We'll be back again next week with another edition of Logistics Matters when we'll discuss how peak season has changed this year. Be sure to join us. Until then, have a great week.