Supply chain rock stars are the backbone of the cold food chain. The words used to describe many of this year’s winners range from collaborative, passionate, innovative and forward-thinking to inspired, driven and dependable.
NEW THIS YEAR: This year's Rock Stars of the Supply Chain award was broken down into four distinct categories:
- Top Warehousing Stars -- Recognizes professionals in the cold storage and warehousing space.
- Top Shippers -- Recognizes professionals in the transportation space, including freight, trucking, rail, air cargo, ship/ports, etc.
- Rising Stars -- Recognizes young or newer professionals (39 and under) whose achievements, hard work and vision have shaped the supply chain network.
- Lifetime Achievement -- Honors company leaders who’ve made outstanding contributions to the supply chain space. Must have at least 10 years’ documented experience in supply chain and logistics.
Each category consists of a bevy of winners who continue to go above and beyond to improve food safety, enhance efficiency and disrupt supply chain disruptions.
WHAT'S ALSO NEW THIS YEAR, we now have four overall winners, one for each category, whose application and their journey stood out above the rest.
Let's first meet the four overall winners:
President, Fresh Freight
Matt Heroux, founder and CEO of Fresh Freight, embodies the essence of entrepreneurial spirit, extending his involvement across every aspect of the business, ensuring the seamless operation and continual growth of the company. On a day-to-day basis, Heroux immerses himself in numerous operational and strategic activities that are critical to the success of Fresh Freight. For example, he oversees transportation operations, ensuring that all processes run smoothly and efficiently. He ensures that required key performance indicators (KPIs) are met for the client base, as well as for Fresh Freight's own business. He sees his primary responsibility as ensuring that the company not only meets but also exceeds customer expectations. Heroux is also diligent in making sure all aspects of the business are aligned with the company’s strategic objectives, including sales, HR, IT and its own fleet of trucks.
But, what separates Heroux from the others is that over the past 12 months, Heroux continues to make swift, informed decisions, proving crucial in safeguarding Fresh Freight's market position and ensuring its continued viability. For instance, Heroux developed a produce consolidation project for a major produce client in Washington, where Fresh Freight implemented a streamlined and efficient solution to create more efficiency in loads out of the Pacific Northwest. As a result, carriers now experience fewer stops, saving of 1-2 days on transportation time for loads. Under Heroux' direction, Fresh Freight also launched a new site in Dallas, strategically positioning Fresh Freight in a major food market. In just a short period of time, this one-employee location has grown to housing now 8 employees and represents 32% of Fresh Freight’s business.
What's ahead for Heroux? Under his leadership, Fresh Freight secured a partnership deal with an AI software startup to integrate the AI technology and enhance the team’s capability to deliver industry-best service levels.
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As president ad CEO of Lineage, Greg Lehmkuhl provides strategic leadership and oversees all facets of the company’s operations worldwide. Under his leadership, Lineage has experienced significant growth, expanded its international reach through acquisition and development activities and secured long-term investors to fuel innovation. Meanwhile, Lehmkuhl has created a strong company culture rooted in Lineage's values and purpose-driven work. Since stepping into his role in July 2015, Lehmkuhl has led Lineage to more than double the number of facilities operated through acquisition, built or expanded several facilities in the United States, entered new country markets, introduced a series of energy-saving innovations and coordinated the financial stability of the company. Perhaps more important from his perspective is engaging with frontline workers to help them do their jobs more efficiently.
It's this boots-on-the-ground mentality that separates Lehmkuhl from others.
During the past year, Lehmkuhl led Lineage’s acquisitions of Burris Logistics, NOVA Coldstore and Kennedy Transportation, as well as a new joint venture with SK Logistics in Vietnam. He has also directed the building of new cold storage facilities in Windsor, Colo.; Savannah, Ga.; and Tauranga, New Zealand, and the expansion of locations in Aarhus, Denmark; Harnes, France; and Swedesboro, N.J., to accommodate customer demand. Lehmkuhl also oversaw the development of Lineage’s first ever Sustainability Report; signed The Climate Pledge, committing to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across global operations by 2040; and helped form the Lineage Foundation for Good, an independent philanthropic arm of Lineage that aims to redirect food that would otherwise go to waste and address hunger to support the social and economic mobility of communities. With this pledge, Lineage has donated more than 300 million meals over the past three years.
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Tyler Hoffmeister serves as assistant VP of operations for Sheer Logistics, where he's responsible for overseeing the operational side of Sheer Logistics, managing a diverse team of 20 professionals, while executing a comprehensive and strategic approach to supply chain management, including his core commitment to Sheer’s fully outsourced managed transportation services (MTS) clients, navigating and addressing the myriad challenges and issues that arise in the complex realm of supply chain management and putting extra focus on client engagement. Hoffmeister takes a high-level view of client challenges, evaluating options to mitigate issues ranging from cost and service to warehousing and carrier performance. This extends to his view of customers, carriers, vendors, and shippers as collaborative partners rather than mere transactions. And, he sees Sheer Logistics as an extension of these partners' supply chains.
But it's his attention to efficiency, ability to optimize operations, maintain a forward-thinking approach and constantly challenge the status quo that separates him from the others. He fosters a positive and empowering workplace culture. His diverse background includes tenures at FedEx, YRC Freight, and HUB Group/Unyson. And, he continues to invest time and effort in the development of his team, particularly those without prior experience in logistics.
Over the past 12 months, Hoffmeister has spearheaded several initiatives that enhance internal efficiency and directly contribute to the seamless execution of client needs. One notable accomplishment is his identification of a critical need to streamline internal communications. In response, he identified and implemented the use of a third-party operations and communications tool that streamlined internal operations and fostered enhanced teamwork and accountability within the organization. In the next 12 months, Hoffmeister is committed to supporting the company's aggressive growth plans, continue to build a capable and trusted team and showcase commitment to continuous improvement, adaptability, and the pursuit of excellence.
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Steve Schult is a seasoned professional with over two decades of supply chain experience and more than eight years of dedicated service in the U.S. Coast Guard. Currently, he serves as VP of global supply chain at Blue Diamond Growers, where he manages a highly integrated and complex supply chain that spans from the farm to the table, moving approximately 1 billion pounds of product annually. Depending on the day, Schult can be found wearing boots and walking the almond orchards as he works closely with the growers. But his role also includes him frequently walking the aisles of retail partners, leveraging his expertise to ensure that Blue Diamond Growers' products meet the needs and expectations of both retail partners and consumers. He oversees the planning, receipt, and processing of almonds, has led the company in expanding its product portfolio to encompass refrigerated, dry and foodservice channels, and actively engages in addressing national supply chain issues as part of the National Federal Maritime Committee, where he chairs a subcommittee on chassis; and the California Freight Advisory Committee, where he advocates for sustainable and efficient practices on behalf of the agricultural industry.
But, it's his ability to be innovative and multi-faceted while maintaining a deep-rooted connection with Blue Diamond Growers as a business of innovative farmers that separates him from the others.
Over the past 12-18 months, Schult has spearheaded several transformative initiatives within Blue Diamond Growers' supply chain, delivering on 98% fill rates and 92% on-time delivery to cooperatives customers. One notable accomplishment during this period is the shift from brokered transportation to directly managing carrier relationships. By doing so, Schult's team sought to transform Blue Diamond Growers into a "shipper of choice." To support this, Blue Diamond Growers rolled out the SAP Transportation Management System (TMS) solution, which improved the efficiency and accuracy of transportation and logistics operations, resulting in enhanced on-time delivery performance, stronger connectivity with transportation partners, and greater visibility of inventory in motion, delivering $1 million in savings and improved on-time delivery. Another initiative under Schult's helm is the opening three new third-party logistics (3PL) hubs, while optimizing its supply chain, leading to 2,300 metric tons of CO2 reduction.
In the upcoming 12 months, Schult is set to lead Blue Diamond Growers toward several strategic goals, including supporting a number of new product introductions, increase Blue Diamond Growers' international footprint and a collaboration with an AI-driven demand planning company to better understand internal and external demand signals.
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CLICK HERE to view the full list of winners. Below are a couple of additional standouts (in alpha order by company name).
Practice Director, Security & Resilience, BSI Group
Category: Rising Stars
Serving as practice director of security and resilience for BSI Group, Tony’ Pelli's role involves working on client projects, managing his team across the United States and UK, and developing a strategy. He meets with clients regularly to discuss their supply chain risk management issues, assisting them on various projects such as gap assessments, risk management programs, and supplier assessments. He also ensures his team is actively supporting clients in these same areas and completing projects in a timely manner. A vital aspect of Tony’s role is proactively learning about new and emerging supply chain risks. This year, Pelli spearheaded a key initiative--helping clients integrate supply chain risk management into their overall organizational resilience strategies. In doing so, he aligned companies' goals for organizational and supply chain resilience, helping organizations see supply chain risk management as a key strategic priority, and communicating this to executives. He helped clients connect these systems to enable real-time risk understanding, fostering proactive identification and resolution of potential supply chain issues. For one client, Pelli and BSI developed a risk management approach across over 40 global sites that are managed by several third-party logistics companies. Pelli and his team worked to align these companies’ approaches to inventory management, cybersecurity and privacy, and physical and supply chain security. This allowed the client to achieve consistency across their distribution network, increasing efficiency and speed to market, while lowering cost and disruption. Over the next year, his primary focus is on advancing digital transformation in supply chain risk management and to integrate risk management seamlessly into procurement processes, supplier selection, and overall organizational resilience and risk management frameworks.
David Miller has served as senior director for the Container Maintenance Corporation (CMC), part of The Marino Group, for 12 years, tasked with championing several initiatives, including 24Safety, an always-on fleet and worker safety program. In 2022 and 2023, Miller evolved CMC's business to incorporate loaded container storage, which relieves port, rail and warehouse congestion and enables the trucking community to take advantage of first- and last-mile capabilities. Also in 2022 and 2023, Miller ushered in two additional state-of-the-art depots in Houston, Texas, and Mobile, Ala.
Tom Stretar serves as VP of technology at enVista, as well as the practice area leader for enVista’s labor management practice, where he leads a team of over a dozen consultants in completing critical labor and warehouse-related projects for enVista’s clients. His responsibilities include overall project management, customer training and delivery of supply chain management projects such as supply chain assessments, warehouse and labor management implementations, incentive pay programs, process optimization, and slotting. Over the last 12 months, Stretar has been involved in many successful labor management projects; contributes significantly to company collateral, tradeshow speaking sessions, trade publication articles and more; and maintains significant influence as a mentor to the company’s annual summer internship program.
Co-Founder and SVP of Energy & IoT Solutions, Ndustrial
Category: Lifetime Achievement
Charles Tuck serves as co-founder and SVP of energy and IoT solutions at Ndustrial, tasked with everything from business development and public speaking to scoping and implementing client projects worldwide. He is often traveling to facilities like cold storage warehouses across the globe, consulting with clients on their energy and IoT strategies and deploying hardware and software solutions tailored to their needs. In the past 12 months, Tuck led the deployment of energy and IoT solutions at over 100 cold chain facilities in 8 countries, bringing his total to over 400 facilities in 17 countries over the last several years. Collectively, these installations have helped large cold storage facilities save energy costs and support carbon neutrality across the globe. For example, one recent project helped a cold storage facility save over $175,000 in energy costs over 4 months by responding intelligently to real-time electric prices. In the next year, Tuck and his team are looking to onboard over 100 additional sites to Ndustrial’s energy intensity platform, expanding into other verticals, and bringing on energy analysts and Certified Energy Managers. Lastly, he will be resurrecting a program to help clients achieve ISO 50001 certification and earn recognition from programs like GCCA’s Energy Excellence Recognition Program, ENERGY STAR, and the DOE’s Better Climate Challenge.
Don Durm is a 28-year veteran at PLM Fleet, LLC, after serving 12 years in law enforcement. As VP, customer solutions at PLM Fleet, he spends time helping food shippers meet the demands of customers and regulators by providing guidance on supply chain efficiencies and food safety for temperature-sensitive products. He currently manages PLM TrustLink, which delivers on transparency, traceability and trust; has been active in the greening of fleets with new EV technology in refrigerated transport with all electric, solar and wheel generating energy axles; and is skilled in understanding and educating on FDA’s and DOJ’s New Era of a Smarter Food Safety. Durm has worked with both governments and industry on navigating regulatory rules and bringing safe foods to the consumer using industry best practices. He was one of the primary creators of the Certified Cold Carrier accreditation through the Global Cold Chain Alliance that recognizes carrier organizations for their commitment to sanitary and safe transportation of perishable products. He’s written for several publications on food safety guidelines; consulted the Trump Administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” on the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States; and works with cold chain industry on solutions using technology to mitigate regulatory disruptions.
Brendan McCann was promoted to his current role of director of major accounts for food processing and distribution at Yale Lift Truck Technologies in August 2023, where he runs a team responsible for 165 strategic accounts and 14,651 logistics locations across the United States and Canada. This promotion marks his third in five years. McCann takes the approach of immersing himself in the needs of the customer and uses those insights to optimize their lift truck fleets. He does this by studying their most pressing challenges and building solutions that address current and future priorities, such as productivity, safety, finances, ergonomics and more. This process produces a range of recommendations, from plans targeting near-term productivity gains to holistic, long-term roadmaps that guide customers through adoption of advanced lift truck technologies like operator assist systems and automation as their business evolves. McCann is also responsible for the tip of the spear sales strategy for Yale in food and agriculture verticals, leading thought leadership and guiding new products and technologies. Prior to joining Yale, McCann was a senior account manager for Briggs Equipment, a Yale dealer, where he was named Salesman of the Year in 2017. During his three-year tenure at Briggs, McCann learned from experience in a wide range of industries, from auto manufacturing to food processing. What sets McCann apart from others in his profession is that he never begins with the sole goal of making a sale. Instead, he takes the time to understand the customer’s current needs and long-term priorities, and matches them with the right lift truck technologies to help realize their vision.
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Director of Logistics, ReedTMS/Werner Enterprises
Category: Lifetime Achievement
Shortly after notifying winners, Food Logistics learned that Mike Ryan, director of logistics at ReedTMS, passed away from Stage 4 colon cancer. Ryan was instrumental in helping manage Reed’s day-to-day business activities and developing personnel on the operations side, building solutions both operationally and commercially for produce and foodservice shippers. Ryan was passionate about mentoring individuals new to the industry, helping them find their footing and talent. His main goal was to leave the industry a better place from when he first started.
Ryan began his career in logistics and transportation in 2002 as a sales manager with C.H. Robinson. Throughout his 20-plus years in the refrigerated logistics industry, his intelligence, passion and natural proclivity for logistics and refrigerated goods led to a rapid ascension up the career ladder. After almost a decade with C.H. Robinson, Ryan transitioned to a COO role with ReedTMS (now a Werner company), where he was responsible for managing operational employees and account managers. During this time, Reed tripled in revenue. Despite his passion for the industry, he took a brief hiatus from trucking and tried his hand at running his own produce brokerage, Bayshore Produce, alongside his father. After four years of success with Bayshore, Ryan returned to ReedTMS, where he tackled every new challenge head-on. He was heavily involved with company philanthropy efforts, including serving as the auctioneer at Reed’s fundraisers. He also served on the Southeast Produce Council Board of Directors. His legacy extends far beyond mentorship, friendship and admiration, and of course, his love for the Kentucky Wildcats. He is survived by his wife and two daughters. Go to https://foodl.me/aasf9kod to learn more.
CLICK HERE to view the full list of winners.