Time to spotlight another industry. Ever wondered how Logistics plays a role in day to day operations? We asked expert Steve Brooks, CEO of FST Logistics for help shining some light on the industry. Read more below on the Logistics industry, and everything it has to offer!
Describe your role in the Logistics industry – what do you like about it? What did you find surprising about the industry as you grew in your role? How do you see the impact of the industry on other fields?
I’m fortunate enough to be CEO of a growing full service temperature controlled logistics company. We have a great group of talented people here, and also a dynamic growing customer base. I really like being a part of a 100% ESOP (we are employee owned), so all of our associates are also owners. What surprised me about our industry is how things (like weather) happening across the country (or world) can impact our daily operations. You see and read about things like fires in California, but since they are rare in Ohio, you don’t really understand the impact until you see trucks unable to travel on the interstates in California because the fires are so severe. We only serve customers in the food and grocery industries, so when trucks can’t use roads due to weather or a natural disaster, that means food isn’t getting delivered to areas that need it. We deliver to all 48 states in the continental US, and some days it’s perfect weather in Ohio, but our drivers are dealing with something very different on the other side of the country.
How does someone prepare for a position in the industry?
We have a lot of logistics and supply chain graduates at FST, but we have a lot of other great associates and leaders that got their start as a truck driver or warehouse worker. Personally, I did not have a logistics degree. We have a lot of associates that came into the company, worked hard, and learned our business from the ground up. One of my favorite recent stories is of a young OSU grad that had a degree in an area other than logistics. He tried an industry in his field of study for a year, it wasn’t for him, and was willing to start with us in the warehouse. Because he’s smart and hard working, within a few months he was leading a team of warehouse associates. Another great story is an associate we hired when she was 18 and working at McDonalds. 11 years later, she manages one of our Customer Success teams.
What is the most challenging part of your job? What is the most rewarding?
For the last 18 months, our biggest challenge has been to find enough associates to match up with the opportunities we have. It’s not a challenge limited to us, since there are nearly 8 million open positions in the USA right now, and we’re doing everything we can to make FST a place people want to work and want to stay. The most rewarding is helping an emerging food company grow and scale. We have food grade warehouses, refrigerated trailers, and do e-commerce fulfillment, all things a growing food company needs. To become a partner in their brand is what we love to do.
Where do you see the future of Logistics going?
“Freer and Faster” is a real thing that consumers and retailers want and need. We need to be innovative and nimble to keep up. I read a recent article about a retail research company, and they said of the 25 retailers they interviewed, 24 of them used the term “reinvent.” As they reinvent, we need to adapt to keep up.
In the spirit of April, and turning hard times into opportunity, how does this play a role in Logistics? In other words, how do you overcome difficulties in your role?
We collaborate a lot. Internally, with our customers, and with our partners. We lean on partners and their expertise, and we hear from our customers all the time “you’re the logistics experts, what can we do better?” Everybody is looking for thought leaders to help grow and improve, and I enjoy collaborating with thought leaders to overcome difficulties.