My Story

Ever since I can remember, I dreamed of becoming an Engineer. Starting in 5th grade, I started mapping out my path to achieve my dream with my father. My father is an Engineer and, at one time, owned his own conveyor company. I really loved hearing about his projects and listening to his work calls, so he inspired me to learn about more about the career.

I chose to go a private high school to build a solid foundation and education for my studies. I would forego my spring breaks to travel to job sites to watch and learn new packaging lines being installed. After I graduated high school, I went to work for him at his Company for two summers. I remember teaching myself AutoCAD from scratch. I was in awe of how fun and powerful this tool was and have never stopped drawing to this day. I remember many sleepless nights in college studying the math and science classes needed to graduate with an Engineering degree. I knew when I stepped on the stage to receive my diploma that the best chapter of my life was about to begin.

My Supply Chain career has directly influenced my relationship with my father. Ever since high school and to this day, I have never missed attending ProMat with my father. We always walk the show and spend numerous hours discussing new and interesting technology emerging over the years. It is so great to share a knowledge and common interest in equipment and technology.

Throughout my career, I have also had many opportunities to give back to the Community. My passion is to educate middle school and high school children about Engineering and Supply Chain. I have spoken at work events, schools, and Career Day events. I have had many children come up to me and thank me for making a difference in their lives by inspiring them to pursue Engineering.
If feel as an Engineer and a Salesperson, I am able to reach many people to educate them on the importance of Supply Chain and the impact on their Organization. I think anyone who knows me, knows my enthusiasm and dedication to finding the best solution and resources for Customers and colleagues alike. If I can leave a meeting introducing new ways of thinking and offering “out of the box” solutions, then I feel like I have accomplished my mission in life. To me, in my daily dealings, I feel like it is important to leave a positive impression and open up a line of communication for years to come.

I have been in this industry for 20 years and, on a daily basis, make connections with friends, colleagues, and Customers whom I have had the pleasure to know over the years. I feel like Material Handling is a small and tight knit community and have always made sure to be a resource to others with no hesitation to reach out to them when I need help. I have watched various new trends and technologies emerge, and I can say that I strive to keep current and understand their impact on the future of the Supply Chain. I would be truly honored to say I could represent the face of Supply Chain.

Tanya Kiefer

My Story

My initial exposure to the Supply Chain Industry and my earliest memories began when I was a little girl listening to my family talk “shop” at family gatherings. My family at one point or another, sometimes simultaneously worked in manufacturing, distribution and transportation. My fondest memories are of my Grandfather who worked for a small family owned Janitorial Supply Company delivering product to local customers. During the summer months I would spend a portion of my day riding along watching him interact with what appeared to be friends but in reality were customers. The time I spent with my Grandfather although I didn’t know it at the time, taught me a great deal about respect for the customer, hard work, dedication and loyalty.

Many years later I became a member of a manufacturing company, little did I know at the time but my experiences and the lessons learned would result in a love for the industry and a lifelong passion and career. I am very fortunate to have spent time in manufacturing, working with people who were willing to share their knowledge which allowed me to grow with the company. There never seemed to be a limit to how much I wanted to learn or how much they were willing to teach. For me, being in manufacturing working with the tremendous talent never really felt like work, we were a family striving to make a difference. I recall vendors becoming friends and in some cases like family sharing in our annual Christmas Party, picnics and social events. These relationships taught me the value of team, never discounting another person’s abilities. I often look back at my years in manufacturing and realize that from this one company I learned lessons which drives my work today.

Today, my career allows me to be in a position which helps bring positive change to our company, team and customers. My role allows me interactions with all levels of our organization gaining an understanding of their needs to provide our internal and external customers with the promised products and services. A unique aspect of my role allows me to be part of the interview process. My contribution provides hiring managers a look at the candidate from a cultural, team and customer “centric” point of view. My candidate review helps to ensure that all new team members share values similar to those of our existing members ultimately enriching the team.

The amazing thing about the Supply Chain Industry is that with all the innovation, automation and struggles faced today, the heart of the industry or its people remains the same as in year’s past. Today, the men and women in the Supply Chain Industry all share the same drive, dedication and pride in a job well done as those who served the industry before them. The men and women today inspire those of us who serve the Industry to always put our best foot forward being proud to be a part of this team.

Lisa Everly

How Strong is Your Supply Chain?

June 1986 will be forever etched in my mind as I walked through the front doors of a supply chain warehouse. I was greeted by the Human Resource Manager, who appeared disheveled, confused and somewhat in a panic. I was quickly ushered through the office area into the main warehouse. The temperature change was approximately 20 degrees cooler and as we got deeper into the 50,000 square foot cold storage building the temperature continued to get cooler. We stopped at a collapsed racking structure, immediately I noticed a pair of legs protruding from the wreckage. I asked the Human Resource Manager our exact location. A voice yelled out, “Aisle 14, door number 5”. With my radio in one hand and my other hand feeling for pulse; I informed my partner to enter through “Door Number 5” and informed the HR Manager to meet the incoming rescue personnel. The fallen structure was unstable and working as a team, a nearby forklift was used to stabilize the remainder of product from crushing the entrapped worker. Assessment revealed, a 24 year old female with severe chest trauma, with bilateral femur fractures. Her vitals were fading quickly and we knew this would be a load and go situation to the closest trauma center as there was no time to airlift the patient. Coordinating her extraction would take all of the responding companies’ effort. In one swift motion, the fully immobilized employee was placed on the receiving stretcher. She now laid unconscious, with two large bore IV’s as we quickly rolled past the visually upset co-workers who formed a line towards our exit. Once in the ambulance, my partner and I continued advanced life support as our driver negotiated heavy traffic conditions to the awaiting emergency room. Twenty minutes after her arrival, this 24 year old mother of two children succumbed to her injuries, making her another statistic of a work related fatality.

Fast forward 27 years later, I have retired from my role as a fire medic officer and now have taken a position of Corporate Safety Manager with a major supply chain solutions company. As I walked through the doors of Associated, that tragic day in June resonated in my mind, committing to create a safety culture that would prevent a repeat loss of life or further tragic events. I was a newbie to corporate America; an adjustment from the public sector to the private sector was a huge change in my daily tasks of providing and implementing safety. My shift schedule of 53 hours per week consisting of 24 hours on with 2 days off was now replaced by a straight 40 hour work week.

My family quickly acclimated to me being home every night and took comfort knowing that my life was no longer in danger while at work. One major balance was traveling on a daily basis. However, it was nice to know that each night I would be home for dinner and my sleep would no longer be interrupted.

My work days now were focused on preventive measures rather than emergent reactive solutions. I now learned that the protection of lives, safety and security in the supply chain industry would come through understanding industry metrics as well as policy and procedure implementation. These metrics involved a deep dive into workers compensations claims, auto accident trending, and experience modification rates all which impact insurance rates and operational needs. Training, communication, employee involvement, and committed managerial support would be key in creating a strong safety culture to any organization.

Approaching my third year with my Associated family, together we have reduced our workers compensation incidents by 54%. Total claim dollars decreased by 63% with total lost time rate decreasing by 44%. Our experienced modification rate was reduced 23% over the past 3 years. These accomplishments were possible through increased training to all staff, employee participation in safety committees, safety directives, strong managerial support and most importantly a companywide commitment and passion towards customer service and safe work ethics.

We are only as strong as our weakest link.

Bob Forgue