In this episode, Roger Garza, Director of Global Product Management at xpd global, joins Host Brian Glick, CEO of Chain.io, to discuss:
- The problems that logistics providers solve for their customers
- Challenges in supporting manufacturers
- How xpd organizes data across their company and customers
- Why project planning is a pivotal part of his role in product management
- The value logistics providers bring to the market
Roger Garza, Director of Global Product Management at xpd global, a prominent supply chain logistics solutions provider, oversees the development and implementation of cutting-edge products and services designed to meet the needs and expectations of global manufacturers.
With over two decades of experience in the logistics and sales industry, Roger boasts a proven track record of delivering exceptional results, adeptly managing teams, and generating substantial value to the company and its customers.
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Roger Garza 00:05
One of our co-founders, Casa Morales, once told me, Roger, if you help people articulate the problem, you have the solution right there. Like, it is very hard to really articulate the problem that you're trying to solve. But if you spend enough time doing that, you have half of the problem solved, and the rest is gonna come up by itself. And so I take it as a mantra like, let's articulate the problem. Let's find out what's there to go after them.
Brian Glick 00:40
Welcome to supply chain connections. I'm Brian Glick, founder and CEO of Chain.io. And on today's episode, we have Roger Garza from x p d, global. This is a particularly interesting episode if you're interested in product design. And really the shift that's happened in the supply chain industry over the last, say 10 years between when we used to just sort of move freight and get paid for it to this much more thoughtful approach to thinking about what products companies offer, what services different verticals need and how to repackage what we do and think about it in a very thoughtful and entrepreneurial way. We're going to talk about what that looks like from a customer solutioning process, as well as with a company that has just gone through a massive global rebranding. So I hope you enjoy the episode.
Brian Glick 01:38
Roger, welcome to the show.
Roger Garza 01:40
Thank you for having me, Brian.
Brian Glick 01:42
So why don't we start by give us a little bit of your background and how you got into the industry?
Roger Garza 01:47
Well, I have been in the industry for about 19 years now. And funny enough, it all started at my current company, back then in Mexico, in the name of the company back then was Europe Partners Group. And I started doing my internship, just fresh out of college.
Brian Glick 02:08
That's awesome. Tell us so you started at your partners, which is now x PD, what brought you back? How did you end up going away and coming back? Kind of how did that happen?
Roger Garza 02:19
Well, you have a whole journey, right? I started with your partners doing my internships, then the internship was done, I got an opportunity out of college to work in Citigroup as corporate banking. So that was very interesting. And I thought, let me go through the finance. But funny enough, the logistics industry is very addictive. And I found the pace in the finance industry very slow and very repetitive, right. So after a couple years working there, I decided to come back to logistics. I started working for civil logistics, one of the big players out there. Again, it started doing operations, I was doing some air experts at the time in the move up to customer service, and inside sales. Right about them. I decided that I wanted to be in front of the customer to start doing some outside sales and promoting our capabilities. Right. So I didn't have the opportunity to do it at Seba. But I got the opportunity to tune in to another power house in the logistics industry when I was working there for almost four years. That was back in Monterrey, Mexico, I was in charge of the automotive area in the northeastern Mexico side. And that was while we made a personal decision to move to Canada to Toronto, in a move to test the waters over here in North America. In here. I started working with Jody Wilson and other big freight forwarders in the French and I was doing steel sales. It was a learning experience for me because the marketing Mexico is more relationship based and they're always looking to save a few cents here and there in North America, not much so that you have to really bring value if they like stability, right? So it wasn't this tactic that I learned back in Mexico. We're not working the same over here. But again, it's a learning experience. Right. Then I do some corporate selling for Siemens. Finally in 2012. I circle back. Euro partners reached out that they were expanding into North America. In opening their first office here in Canada they asked me
Roger Garza 05:00
If I wanted to help setting up the operations over here, that's what I did. And then a lot of learning, setting up a freight forwarding from operation from the ground up. And I was doing operations, sales sourcing it, you name it,
Brian Glick 05:20
I learned, I know what that feels like,
Roger Garza 05:24
the last decade. But right now, at the moment, I am leading the customer experience design for the group, right out of here, Toronto, enjoying this new chapter of my career.
Brian Glick 05:38
So what is customer experience design? So
Roger Garza 05:42
as you know, freight forwarding was pretty much the same for the path. I don't know, if we started changing in the last 10 days. But before that, everybody was doing the same, right? Like there was not much difference rather than prices. And we talked about commoditization of the service. But funnily enough, the digital revolution started in freight forwarding in customers start asking for more value added services, right, they want to be able to see where the cargo is, at any given time. And then we invented track and trace, and then we wanted the quotes in the spot. Right? So now we have all these marketplaces. And now, I guess we're integrating a lot on our customer needs, in trying to work together right to tackle all of the supply chain challenges that are right in every day.
Brian Glick 06:45
So what does your typical day look like in this role? What's it feel like on the ground?
Roger Garza 06:51
There's two aspects of it. First one is in front of the customer, right? I tend to do meetings with them to understand what are their current challenges? How are they experiencing our services, everything is going right? If something we need to improve on in the other party, if they have any ideas, right to how can we make their life easier in then we do a process internally, when we evaluate if we can provide that value while capturing some back for for our company. In then we started doing an agile, we started dial teams, or service design. So we came up with some of our brightest people in the team in in Ron through the ideas in it, start iterating on them until we came up with a service that we can offer to our customers, right and not just to that specific customer, but to standardise it for our customers worldwide.
Brian Glick 08:00
So it's been 11 years, since you've been back at at what is now x PD. Well, loving years ago, when you started, I'm certain that if you had said the words agile service design to anyone in the business that those are, they've said, I know those three words, but if they don't go together into a meaningful sentence, what is it been like for you, you know, kind of learning over that time and bringing to the organisation, this idea that you can design and productize something because like you were saying we all used to just clear free, right? And it was just moved the boxes. And this like was it hard to bring the rest of the organisation along in that idea that we have to think about this as a product, eds
Roger Garza 08:45
in at the same time, we had a lot of health of our leadership. So one of the things that I enjoy working at Expedia global is they let us think outside the box in they treat us as intrapreneurs even though we're employees, right, but the owners really lead us wrong with our projects. And they make sense. And if they're feasible, we are free to expand on them. Right. And this was one of those projects where I was curious to understand how other companies started working on product management, right in the startup building on top of their capabilities using these agile methodologies. In a click, they like it and we started running. Now I have to admit that it was like five years in the making, right? Like it wasn't an instant buy in from the rest of the organisation. But today, I can almost assure you that most of my meetings are in the idle environment. So
Brian Glick 09:57
in your job in particular, you know You have that customer facing kind of get the feedback from the customers. And then there's the working with operations, figure out how you could actually incorporate that into something that would work. And there's the financial design of can you exchange value for money and in a profitable way, kind of which of those things gets you the most excited? What's your favourite part of your day?
Roger Garza 10:19
Well, something in I know that it's not something to be proud, but I understand that part of myself tends to people pleasing, it's part of my personality, in the fact that a customer feels that I understand their problems, in that we were able, as an organisation to come up with a solution. That is not just something to solve the symptoms, but rather, going through the root causes and in really attack their main problems, right? That's very gratifying for me in I guess, most of the effort, I do it for that moment, right? When they say, This is amazing, great job, like, pat on the back.
Brian Glick 11:08
That's, it's funny, I'm addicted to a very similar thing, which is that idea of use of getting at the root cause or like solving the real problem, right? Not necessarily the problem that customer brought to you. And it's sometimes actually frustrating for our customers here at Chennai. Oh, when we start working with them, because they say, you know, my agent has this XML file, and I have to get this XML file into my TMS VC. Okay, but why they won't because I have it and it needs to go on. I said, no, no. Are you trying to make more margin on these shipments? Are you trying to get better data accuracy, because you have a customer that's yelling at you, there's a lot of reasons you might want to bring that data into your system. And let's make sure we optimise the solution for the problem that you're trying to solve. That's actually I get excited about the same thing like, Okay, well, what we realised was you didn't need that file at all, all we needed to do was redirect something you already have to somewhere else. And suddenly, you know, the problem really sits itself. So I can very much kind of, I understand where you're coming from with that one.
Roger Garza 12:13
So one of our co founders, because the model is once told me, Roger, if you help people articulate the problem, you have have the solution right there. Like, it is very hard to really articulate the problem that you're trying to solve. Body view, spent enough time doing that, you have half of the problem solved and the rest is gonna come up by itself. So I take it as a mantra, like less articulate the problem, let's find out what's there in go after the
Brian Glick 12:47
guy, it would be impossible for me to agree more with you. So tell me a little bit about, you know, you guys have have rebranded and changed, you know, this new, whole new brand out there and tell me a little bit about how that came to be or how it fits with the products.
Roger Garza 13:04
So we realise we were growing very fast in the past 10 years, in suddenly, these intrapreneurship that I was talking about earlier, that were CEOs, levels have courses, to start building different brands for different projects. So we have expedited America that's focused more on time sensitive time critical. Then we have Euro partners, which is the original brand that everything started because we were doing imports from Europe into Mexico, then was up America, because we were told by our expert marketing firm that Americans love to have. So you North America, we went with up America. In finally in Europe, we were working on their LinkedIn partner, right? So something that caused having these many facets of our businesses, even though we were the same ownership, the same organisation, everyone working together, we were starting working on silos in, we figured it out that sometimes we were competing with each other. Sometimes we were working in the same things, but with different resources with different times. It was a waste, right? So a few years ago, Renato joined the organisation, his genius marketer from Latin America in he built with the owners the new brand experience global in brought us everyone together. I know. It just seems from the outside like rebranding right, but from the inside, it was a lot of work, building corporate identity to make us feel that everybody was part of the same organisation. You're breaking those silos and finally sending that message to the market right of what we are all about them SPD focus on time sensitive and time critical logistics.
Brian Glick 15:13
So you did something there, that's, I'm gonna say backwards from the way that I've seen it normally done. And this is a compliment, making the unification happen inside the company first, and then bringing it to market is very different than the way that most you know, and we've both worked for a lot of companies that have done a lot of acquisitions and a lot of things in and it's usually the name of the wall changes, and then it takes 10 years for the organisation to maybe catch up. So yeah, kudos to that. I watched this morning as a video on the About Us page on your Expedia global.com. website. That's really interesting framing of kind of bringing these brands together. So I would have to get a link to that in the show notes. Because it's it's a very good kind of explanation of how that comes together.
Roger Garza 16:03
Yeah, it was an amazing working, very proud of the whole organisation. Right, I came together, you wasn't easy, because, as I said, we have people that feel very strong about e Commerce, in we litical. In that's not an easy decision, right? We have to decide where was going to be our specialisation, our placing the market in, we put our heads together and come up with the area where we feel that we can deliver the most value to our customers in that we will not disappoint. Right.
Brian Glick 16:41
So I know because I've looked at your website, because we've talked but tell everyone kind of what is that specialisation? What is the area that SPD focuses on?
Roger Garza 16:49
So we decided to target the manufacturing space industrial manufacturing in specialised manufacturing like automotive aerospace. So if you're manufacturing, you know, how important is to keep your production lines running, in how any disruptions in your supply chain can lead to very costly situations, both monetary and with the trust of your customers. Right. So we know that we have a very strong specialisation on first preventing the situation from happening. delays, we always are proud of our coordination with vendors, with customers with customs to make sure that nothing stops the flow of your shipments. But again, this is logistics right and in now more than ever, there's things that the market throws to you that you cannot prevent. And that's the second part of this specialisation, right time critical services when something went off the rails we are very capable to react and make sure that we are we bring your freight to wherever you need it to be on time.
Brian Glick 18:01
What are some of the challenges in supporting those manufacturers that are different than general freight?
Roger Garza 18:08
Well, first of all e collaboration in the communication with their suppliers, most of the freight forwarders that I work, we started shipment when the customer asked for a quote when the freight is ready to move, or when they already have a contract, right. But we try to make sure that we are involved when you're setting up the purchase order. Because that's when we can prevent some of the blind spots right that they may have when setting up like the size of the crates or everything right that you want everything to fit on a container. Or if it's going to be a lever right playing, we need to make sure that it's optimised for that service. So I guess some of the value added services that we do is helping on that collaboration between our customers and their vendors to making sure that everything is ready, before that shipment is ready
Brian Glick 19:11
It's that ties into something that I used to talk to our customers about all the time when I was more on the operational end of it, which it's one thing to have that visibility, which is always important. But you know, if I tell you two days before something's gonna arrive at the port that it's going to be late, you have very limited options to what you can do, right? But if I can tell you 150 days before that it's going to be late. There's lots and lots of things you can do right and that that 150 or 180 or however many days before that's the purchase order. That's the project planning phase. That's when you know everything else is just like that's the big bang and everything else is just the unfolding of things after that.
Roger Garza 19:57
You're not understanding because especially in automotive, they have the preferred supplier, but they have emergency suppliers. But most of the time, they don't let you know that beforehand, right? If they wait until the supplier number one made a mistake or doesn't have the freight ready to let you know that the freight is ready now let's apply a or b. But if you are in that planning phase with them, and you understand that they have option A, B and C, you can also save them time and help them coordinate when the emergency is about to happen. Right.
Brian Glick 20:33
So, you organise your teams differently for different freight forwarders. So, how do you go about thinking about the structure of the teams?
Roger Garza 20:43
Well, we organise our teams into two segments of customers right they are automotive and aerospace where the most important factor is the speed, the speed and responsiveness speed of the services. So these are teams are normally have rotations, 24/7 service in then we have another team for general manufacturing, which is more focused on coordination purchase or the management more detail oriented, right? Not that the automotive and aerospace are not detail oriented will help me say that, but the fact is, we have a specialised people for those teams. In then we try to keep the customer having one dedicated person of contact, regardless of the mode of transportation. So if the customer, the decision maker has air oceans and over the route shipments, we have someone in operations that can give them the whereabouts of their freight doesn't matter the mode of transportation, right? So that way, we have the full picture in one team, game, follow walk on the customer's needs.
Brian Glick 21:52
And I would suppose that gives you that ability to find those alternatives, right? If you can see the whole picture for the customer. Exactly. What are you excited about what's coming up next? Or what what are you seeing out in the world that you're like, hey, this is the next thing for us?
Roger Garza 22:07
Well, we're continuing our expansion we use on Well, the next phase for European countries that we're opening. So we know Israel, France, Italy, are coming in the next couple months in that's really exciting. Then they integrations of the systems that we have, as we have several brands, some of them have different systems. So the visibility of the chairman for the customer perspective has to come from different files. So now we're trying to consolidate everything. So one, our team can have visibility of global operations of their customers, like doesn't matter if you're sitting in United States, right? If your customer have plants in Germany, or your customer have plants in China, you know what they're doing, even though you're not touching that freight, but you are aware, right, and you have awareness of the full scope of your customer operations.
Brian Glick 23:07
And I guess that's a challenge from having had those separate brands was that they sort of grew differently writing, I have to bring that data together. Exactly. I happen to know of a company that focuses on supply chain data integration, that could probably be pretty helpful for you there. So I'll see if I can find a salesperson for that company to give you a call. It's so cool. So you know, where can people learn more, tell us how to find the new brands and everything and where people can get in touch.
Roger Garza 23:37
So you can learn more about our company, Expedia global.com, that will be x p, d, and then the word global, or together.
Brian Glick 23:49
I'll have a link in the show notes for everybody as well.
Roger Garza 23:52
Awesome. That's amazing. I'm always here to talk about logistics with new people. So if you want to add me on LinkedIn, I'll be there to answer as many questions that you have.
Brian Glick 24:03
Awesome. Well, it's been an absolute pleasure talking to you. And thank you for so much for being on the show
Roger Garza 24:08
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity, Ryan.
Brian Glick 24:12
Thanks so much to Roger for sharing so much about this transition that Expedia is going through. I hope everyone got a lot out of that. As always make sure to check out the links in the show notes as well as the chain IO blog and all the great content on SPDs website. Again, I can't recommend more the video that they have on their About Us page that really takes you through their thought process behind this rebranding and that it's not just a surface level transition for them. So until next time, I'm Brian Glick, founder and CEO of chain io.