Logistics in Disaster Response: Getting Supplies Where They’re Needed Most
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This episode explores how logistics organizations coordinate disaster relief efforts before, during, and after crises like hurricanes and wildfires. Learn from Emilee Martichenko, the Communications Coordinator at American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN), how nonprofits like the American Logistics Aid Network bridge the gap between relief supply needs and donations to effectively get supplies to impacted communities. The conversation provides insight into an often overlooked but critical component of disaster response.




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Show Transcript

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Blythe Brumleve: 0:05

Welcome into another episode of Everything Is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight. We are proudly presented by SBI Logistics and I am your host, Blythe Brumleve. I am happy to welcome in Emilee Martichenko. She is the Communications Coordinator for the American Logistics Aid Network, otherwise known as ALAN, and I am it feels weird to say I'm really excited to talk about disaster recovery because of the nature of it, but I am just endlessly fascinated. What happens after, what happens before, during and after a disaster takes place, all of the people that come together to make sure that other folks are taken care of. So that's really the root of the conversation that I wanted to have today, because that's exactly what ALAN provides. So, real quick, before we get into the discussion, give us a little bit of sense of your career backstory. Were you involved in logistics? Is this sort of your first logistics company? Give us a scoop.

Emilee Martichenko: 1:06

Yeah, so to be fairly brief, this is my first professional position in the logistics industry. I guess it kind of runs in the family. My father had a logistics and supply chain business that he built up from the ground up. Oh nice, he was sold in 2020, so he is a long time industry professional. And I went to college, did not study logistics, I studied Latin American studies in comparative literature and then just kind of made my way to ALAN in 2020. First part-time as a contract worker and then full-time in May of this year.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:48

Oh, wow, so okay. So you kind of grew up with supply chain knowledge, Were you? Because I know my friends know that I work in supply chain and logistics, but they have no idea what that entails. Was that a similar experience for you that?

Emilee Martichenko: 2:02

you had no idea what your dad did yes admittedly for many, many years, and it really wasn't until I started my work with ALAN that I started to get pretty educated in what it all meant and entailed.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:16

Oh. I'm sure he's so proud now to be able to have somebody else in the family to talk logistics too. He's having a lot of fun with it, awesome, okay. So give us, I guess, the backstory of ALAN. From what I understand is that it was started after, I guess, sort of the questionable relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina hit. I think it was back in 2005,. I think is when Hurricane Katrina hit. That's what I have in my notes. So ALAN was started right after that, is that?

Emilee Martichenko: 2:43

correct. Yeah, so you know, Hurricane Katrina hits in 2005 and it's devastating, and ALAN was formed as a result. ALAN was formed by industry associations coming together and saying, hey, this hurricane was so unprecedented and so devastating and so much of the relief that people that was pouring in and that people wanted to provide could not get to where it needed to be in the right quantities at the right time in order to be as effective as possible during the first response phase and then recovery phase. So these industry associations came together and they said there is an opportunity here to improve disaster response and ALAN was born out of that.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:34

What were some of those, I guess, moments that were like, wow, that this is completely not working and we need to create a solution for it. Were there anything that you could pinpoint?

Emilee Martichenko: 3:47

You know, unfortunately, that one will be a little bit tough for me because I wasn't around in 2005.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:51

It was a long time ago, so it was a very very long time ago.

Emilee Martichenko: 3:54

So I would have to admittedly, on this one I would have to touch base with either our executive director or truly, one of our founding network, one of our founding partners.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:08

Who are some of those, I guess, founding partners that you mentioned, trade associations. So it's awesome to hear that some of these trade associations are working together and because usually they're independent operations or where they work pretty independently.

Emilee Martichenko: 4:22

So our founding president, who's unfortunately no longer with us. His name was Jock Menzies and he passed tragically a couple years ago. He was the kind of uniting figure in all of this who really got ALAN off the ground, and there's at this point there's too many for me to name, but what I would encourage your audiences to do is go to our website, because we have an industry association page where you can actually see all of the associations who were with us from our founding and who are with us to this day.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:54

Oh, wow, so it's good that it was so all those groups came together and they stayed together, which is, I guess, a testament to the mission that's at hand. And so I guess, to segue into, I guess sort of the description which I love, the description of ALAN. It says on a mission to save lives and reduce suffering for two disaster survivors in the United States by engaging industry to supplement nonprofit organizations logistics capabilities. They serve by coordinating logistics, providing education and building cross sector relationships before, during and after disasters. Can you kind of walk us through, I guess, those different steps of you? Know, maybe like a hurricane is probably the only one that maybe you can pre-plan for what kind of, I guess, pre-planning goes into disaster relief?

Emilee Martichenko: 5:43

Yeah, absolutely so. ALAN functions at all stages of the disaster life cycle, the first one being, if you look at it as kind of like a loop. The first one being that preparation stage and preparation isn't just hurricane specific you can prepare in various ways for all kinds of disasters From the ALAN side. A lot of that preparation involves us interfacing with our industry partners and our nonprofit partners. To understand, you know, if it is hurricane specific and we have an idea of where this hurricane is making landfall, who is mobilized and is staging relief supplies? What are the anticipated needs for after the hurricane makes landfall? Is there, are there the resources and the logistics, services and infrastructure in place to move these supplies to where they need to be after the hurricane makes landfall? You know we another important component of this preparation is amplifying and getting as much visibility on important information as possible. So going to going to social media accounts like the National Hurricane Center and resharing those and trying to just get that information out there so people can be as prepared themselves as possible, so they can plan evacuation routes. We always encourage people to register for our supply chain intelligence center, which is a free to use GIS tool which we developed in tandem with our one of our partners, everstream Analytics. We love them. Thank you, everstream. But it's a free to use GIS tool that brings updates on the charted path of hurricanes and tropical storms and will also give updates on supply chain impacts before, during and after disasters. So it's kind of your one stop shop tool if your government, nonprofit industry and looking to understand how these disasters are impacting critical infrastructure and supply chains.

Blythe Brumleve: 7:43

That's interesting. I just signed up for it this morning, so I'm I'm waiting on access for it, but I watched a couple of the demo videos and it was great. It was one of those things that I'm like how has this not been thought of before? So it really sounds like it's almost with you being the communications manager. So are you in charge of managing these communications? Is it a bunch of people coming together? I guess? What does it look like during the process, during a disaster? So we kind of covered what happens before, but what about like during? Because it feels so chaotic. I think for folks who, you know, I'm a Florida resident and at times it does feel like okay, where can I get the most the latest information? And that feels like a bottleneck. But you're you're saying that there are resources out there that we could be checking in order to get those up to date communications of what's going on. Yes, absolutely.

Emilee Martichenko: 8:37

So you know, when a disaster hits and Alan mobilizes and we go into our immediate response phase. The Alan team were we kind of mobilize in our specific sectors. So I'm communications. I'm here to make sure that the Alan website is up to date and that we are talking with talking with the media and getting critical information about what Alan is doing and how Alan is responding, getting as many eyes on that as possible so people are informed. The best place to check for this updated information is our disaster micro site, which is housed on our website. So you go to alanadeorg slash operations and after a disaster hits, that is your point page for where, for where to find out what activities were engaged in. From an operations side, we are coordinating efforts with our nonprofit partners and engaging industry to help relief supplies get to where they need to be to help survivors as efficiently and as cost effectively as possible. So we have an operations coordinator, lexi who's, who came on full time to Alan the same time I did. She's absolutely wonderful. So you have her doing operations, you have me doing communications, you have our wonderful executive director, kathy Fulton, uniting us in these efforts and helping to guide the Alan team to, you know, engage in these response activities and unite these networks you know, the nonprofit partners with the industry partners and streamline that communication to avoid any deduplication of response efforts.

Blythe Brumleve: 10:15

What are some of those I guess immediate needs when a disaster strikes, is it as simple as food and water, shelter? What kind of needs I guess are immediate versus maybe some of the longer term needs?

Emilee Martichenko: 10:31

Yeah, so disasters are unpredictable and no matter you know how many hurricanes we have or how many wildfires we have, and unfortunately it looks like it's sadly, I hate to say this been a busy year or a busy summer for disasters, but so they're unique and no one is the same. So it's it's impossible to say, in the event of this or in the event of that, you always need this or you always need that. But you can kind of get, you can kind of get a sense, especially during the preparation phase, when we're liaisoning and trying to understand what's being staged, what you might need. So in the case of let's take Maui, for example, because that was a very, very devastating and very tragic disaster that were still immersed in trying to provide response and recovery, for Maui happens, and what made it extra tricky was that it's an island. So suddenly getting relief supplies from point A to point B becomes, you know, exponentially trickier. You have to understand. You have to understand the transportation and the freight, the freight requirements. You have federal and state efforts overlapping and there's this huge, huge influx of donations Because people, well, their hearts are in the right place, they want to be helpful, but they just send stuff over without an idea of what the immediate need is or you know, even if there's a plan for distribution in place. So where Alan comes in, is we engage the, is we engage nonprofits in the US, in the US mainland and over in Maui and on neighboring Hawaiian islands, and we say, hey, what are the most immediate needs? And we get a sense for that and can we match these needs with a partner who has the capacity to make them happen. And so one case that being that was a result of this that we ended up fulfilling was we helped move a lot of telecommunications equipment from mainland. USA over to Maui, because these fires knocked out a lot of. They hindered a lot of ability to even understand and facilitate communication throughout the island. So we learned quickly that telecommunication and getting Wi-Fi working and even getting communication flowing to understand what other relief supplies are needed became an imperative. So then one of our nonprofit partners, the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center, reached out to us and they said, hey, we have point to point gear and we have. We have point to point gear sitting in the mainland USA and we need help moving it. Can you help us move it? And then we go out into our partner base and we say, hey, this is an immediate need. Can someone donate the transportation and help us move it to Maui? And that's an example of an island case that we got filled. That was kind of a long winded answer, but no, I love it. It's a good example of you know, in the case of a disaster, yes, you need water, yes, you need food, yes, you need medical supplies, but you might not realize. Hey, telecommunications, absolutely critical, but because of the tricky nature, the obstacle of moving supplies that distance, and across water or across air, it becomes just as important.

Blythe Brumleve: 13:59

I've had a previous guest on the podcast, admiral Craig Foller, and he has led disaster relief efforts in Haiti and also in Indonesia and then also was speaking about the disaster recovery relief efforts in Syria and Turkey after they had those just devastating sort of back to back, really bad earthquakes over in that region, and he said that, you know, while he sort of echoed you know, some of what you were saying is that, you know, while people's hearts are in the right place, he's like we need to, from a port supply perspective, we need to prioritize the freight that is going to directly help people versus something like a teddy bear, for example, where that's, you know, an emotional thing that somebody is sending and it's great. But at the same time, they need communication devices, and you had mentioned a couple times about different phases. Is, I guess, communications, I would imagine as part of maybe that initial response phase, or there are different kinds of phases that you guys approach different disasters with.

Emilee Martichenko: 14:59

Yeah. So you know my job as communications coordinators to really help our is to really help our networks understand what needs we're servicing at different phases of the disaster life cycle. So in this response phase, the ALAN team is getting together and we are hard at work trying to figure out what the most immediate needs are. But then, you know, as time goes by, maybe the media cycles drop, stop reporting on certain disasters because unfortunately, as we've seen, hurricanes and tropical storms are, they're not in short supply this year or in past years. That's when we transition to our recovery phase and we start looking at what are the long term needs that these communities need to A rebuild and B install in order to become more resilient in the face of future disasters. So what our communications try and articulate as we transition from response to recovery is we try to keep focus within our networks and also with our audiences, on the, despite the fact that the media may have stopped reporting on it and moved on to other things, or maybe, even though you hear about it less, this community is still rebuilding and they're still in dire need of help. And so what we see we see kind of a transition of needs and we try and articulate that and we try and engage industry to say, hey, we know this disaster has passed out of the immediate public consciousness, but there is still a need to move. There's still a need for material handling equipment, let's say to help warehouse operations move more efficiently as rebuilding materials are distributed.

Blythe Brumleve: 16:45

Are you in freight sales with a book of business looking for a new home? Or perhaps you're a freight agent in need of a better partnership? These are the kinds of conversations we're exploring in our podcast interview series called the Freight Agent Trenches, sponsored by SPI Logistics. Now I can tell you all day that SPI is one of the most successful logistics firms in North America, who helps their agents with back office operations, such as admin, finance, IT and sales. But I would much rather you hear it directly from SPI's freight agents themselves. I want better way to do that than by listening to the experienced freight agents tell their stories behind the how and the why they joined SPI. Hit the freight agent link in our show notes to listen to these conversations or, if you're ready to make the jump, visit spi3plcom. And so when you, I guess, sticking with the Maui example, it's a good time to sort of, I guess, not revisit it, but it feels like you're revisiting it because it was just dominating the news for a couple of weeks and, like you said, it just falls out of the news cycle and falls out of the, I guess, just general consciousness for folks who are outside of those impacted. And so when you, what is, I guess? Do you know the right time to stop disaster relief or disaster recovery? Or does it move into sort of like a different phase where different organizations and nonprofits are handling those long issues that are going to be around for a long time?

Emilee Martichenko: 18:21

Yeah. So for ALAN we're engaged 365 days of the year on what we can do to prepare people in communities to help them with short and long term recovery. And we are taking in and you know a huge part of this involves taking in cases as they come. So we work with a network of nonprofit partners and they come to us and they say, hey, this is a need that we have and they register that as a case and that's posted, as I mentioned before on the disaster, on our disaster micro site, very, very important section of our website. So that kind of I would say that's kind of one element that drives our work is because we're always trying to focus on what is the immediate need or what capacity needs to be built. So, that being said, sometimes disasters it takes years or even decades to rebuild from them. So we could get we just got a recent case, a transportation case for a COVID-19 outbreak, which I know everybody is sick and tired of hearing about. But so things come and go, but it serves as an important reminder that you might be doing, you might be heavily engaged in response for a little bit and then you might be heavily engaged in response for something else and they might overlap on that response timeline and then, as these communities rebuild and they start reassessing what else is important for the long-term recovery, then they might have to circle back to Alan.

Blythe Brumleve: 20:05

And so you had mentioned a couple times about the case numbers on the site, or the cases that are on the site, and you have them listed out by numbers, which is and it's very specific needs, you know warehouse requests, equipment requests, expertise requests, transportation requests, all of these different things. That I think is incredible. So what does that process look like? I would imagine that you're listing these cases on your website and then going. It almost sounds like you're a broker, like you're the broker, like coordinating between the needs and the customer who actually needs, you know, those supplies or those relief efforts. Is that a conscious? I imagine it's a conscious effort with the case numbers on there? But what happens after? I guess that you list the case requests on the website? Are organizations reaching out to you? Are you coordinating them kind of like a broker does, like how does that process work?

Emilee Martichenko: 21:00

Yeah, brokers. Actually it's an interesting word that when I always default to his facilitator. I like that too, yeah same. Although I will say, one of the absolutely fabulous things about Alan is we can do all of this and provide these services for our non-profit partners absolutely free of charge, which you know makes, as we're a non-profit ourselves so it makes our work extra special. But a non-profit has a need that they register with us and it gets put on our website in some cases. In other cases we do direct outreach, but you know, let's use the website as an example. It gets posted on our website and we, a lot of the times you know are including with our direct outreach. Our industry partners will come to us and say, hey, we either saw this case on your website or we heard from you directly and we believe that our capacity matches this need and we would like to donate the service. And then our operations coordinator, lexi, who I mentioned earlier, works to essentially facilitate the execution of that donation. So you know, alan puts the donor in touch with the non-profit and they work to gather all of the important information. If it's transportation, you know you need origin, destination, you need pallet count, you need weight dimensions, all of that, and we essentially just kind of act as that guide to make sure that whatever needs to be moved gets from point A to point B.

Blythe Brumleve: 22:36

Are there, I guess, different modes, like obviously with Maui you needed cargo ships or air freight or planes to haul the freight over. Are there different? I guess a typical and you said no disaster is the same, but I guess maybe for a fire versus a hurricane versus maybe a tornado are there usually, you know, transportation or logistics needs based on the type of disaster, if that makes sense.

Emilee Martichenko: 23:06

Yeah, so are there overlapping or common logistics needs per disaster? So I would say that I would say, out of all the logistics needs, the one that we get the most requests for is transportation, because if there is a hurricane or a wildfire or a flood, that means there's relief supplies usually staged nearby or not nearby in some cases. We've helped transport supplies across the country in a lot of cases, but anyway, point being is that it needs to get moved to the disaster site in order to be distributed. So we get a lot of transportation requests would be our most common. But material handling equipment. We mentioned association partners at the beginning of this call. We receive a lot of support from the from Mejida. We love Mejida, they're wonderful to us. They've been heavily involved in helping us fill cases by putting material handling equipment requests out to their network and that's another form of outreach that our network helps us with. And then a lot of the times their members come back and they say, hey, we see there's a need for a forklift or a pallet jack, which even one pallet jack or one forklift can just spell a world of difference, because it means that the relief supplies that have been staged in a warehouse maybe not too far from the disaster site. Suddenly their operations can move and be executed much more efficiently.

Blythe Brumleve: 24:47

And so I guess, when you have these partners, what about from the, I guess, the lens of working in logistics? Over the last couple of years we've heard these excess inventory and all of these different retailers are having to buy up warehouse space all over the country because they have too much inventory. So what happens, I guess, during a disaster, if there's not any space to store the goods, what happens in that case?

Emilee Martichenko: 25:13

Yeah, and this is where I give my spiel on behalf of Alan about not donating to product collection drives, because that had happened with Maui. They received an influx of donations and there was not enough. In the case of Maui, there wasn't enough container space or warehouse space on the island to store everything. Because people are generous and people's hearts are always in the right place because they want to help, and that's amazing. A lot of the times what people do is they donate to product collection drives and then these donations pile up, and pile up, and pile up and they clog ports and they clog supply chains, and then they're all of a sudden. And then they're all of a sudden. Art isn't the infrastructure in place to help distribute what's piled up? And then the response efforts becomes a case of not only trying to get critical materials to disaster site but also trying to deal with what's arrived that isn't critical. So at Alan we say, as a solution to that, in the event of a disaster, instead of donating to a product collection drive, make a financial donation, which I know it doesn't give that kind of rush of doing good that we all want when we give a physical donation, but it means that the non-profits who have been doing this for years and know what they're doing in order to get these supplies to disaster sites. It means that you're helping fortify their operations with your financial donation.

Blythe Brumleve: 26:45

That's great tips.

Emilee Martichenko: 26:47

It spells a world of difference, especially because, alan, we have an amazing network of very generous partners and very generous donors, but we are, in terms of full-time staff, we're a team of three, wow.

Blythe Brumleve: 27:01

So you're doing a lot of work a lot of coordination. Yeah, A lot of communications. Speaking of communications, I was looking at the Alan Twitter feed this morning and noticed that there's some organizational efforts going on for the earthquake victims in Morocco. How global is Alan? Maybe starting to get more global? Or how does the maybe disaster relief work in the US versus outside of the US?

Emilee Martichenko: 27:29

Yeah, so how global is Alan? Alan does a lot of first-mile transportation when it comes to global relief efforts. So we have helped a lot in Haiti over the past few years with the earthquake and also with cholera outbreaks at various times. So a lot of our work just involves when it comes to international deployment of relief materials. We're doing that first-mile move just to various ports throughout the US in tandem with our non-profit and industry partners, and so, oh, go ahead, I don't know, go ahead, I'm sorry.

Blythe Brumleve: 28:04

Well. So I'm wondering too does intermodal, does rail lines, do those play a role in disaster recovery as well?

Emilee Martichenko: 28:15

So Alan actually doesn't. We are not heavily involved with the rail community in our work, so I am not yet as well versus I would like to be to speak about that, not yet. Not yet.

Blythe Brumleve: 28:29

So if the intermodal company is out there with a generous heart, then you guys need to get linked up. So I guess, with your time on the job you've been there since 2020. I mean, obviously you saw everything that happened with COVID sort of first-line defense or offense, I guess, depending on the time of the year but I wonder, has there been any moments during this role for you that have really been impactful? I'm sure there's been a ton, but do any of them sort of stick out to you of? This is why I do this job.

Emilee Martichenko: 29:05

Yeah, you know, 2023 has been a big year for Alan, and part because, at the beginning of the year, we received a grant from the Walmart Foundation in order to kickstart a long-term project that aims to help build capacity logistics capacity specifically for small and medium-sized nonprofits specializing in disaster relief, and so we started. It has different work streams and we're currently in a work stream that involves planning and executing what we call logistics coordination calls, which are aimed at gathering this nonprofit community that we've been working with and building over the years together, both during disasters and in what we call blue skies, which is a non-disaster time, and essentially trying to facilitate the flow of information through collaborative discussion, through seminars, through guest speakers and just through, yeah, through this joint collaboration in order to build capacity and also equip nonprofits with the knowledge and experience and further experience of supply chains, so that they can help improve their disaster relief efforts in a more cost-effective manner. Because, you know, a lot of the times, nonprofits they can have so much information and so much experience when it comes to and be in the business for years and years and years, but because they're given the, you know, strained budgets that nonprofits operate off of, particularly, at least the small and medium-sized ones, they there's still, no matter how much knowledge they have, stretching their budgets thin. So, that being said, because I'm circling back to your point, I tend to go off on these long, long-term.

Blythe Brumleve: 30:54

Oh, no worries, I love hearing it.

Emilee Martichenko: 30:56

So we've gathered, we've started this year, gathering these nonprofits together and these logistics coordination calls in order to facilitate this capacity building, and we had our first one in August and then our and then the Maui wildfires hit and we pivoted to hosting them twice a week and making them Maui specific, and that was just a really, really remarkable. It was a remarkable time to be a part of ALAN, because not only were we engaged in this new work stream, in this long-term project that we have to, you know, really try and systemically improve disaster relief efforts from a logistics standpoint, but suddenly we were doing it in a very, very important and high stakes environment and we found that it was helping make a difference from the feedback that we received.

Blythe Brumleve: 31:45

So that was-. I was gonna say it's gotta definitely be, maybe not in the exact moment of when everything is going on, but after the fact being like, wow, maybe we really learned a lot of really good things from a collaboration standpoint to be able to help you know the next disaster a little bit better, even if it's just a microcosm.

Emilee Martichenko: 32:07

Exactly exactly. And you know in engaging the community together to understand what worked and what didn't. So you know, next time we unite everybody in one of these calls, how can we coordinate better and how can we be a better facilitator. Those are huge takeaways.

Blythe Brumleve: 32:21

I am curious with Maui in particular. You know native like Hawaiians are very protective of you, know their land and you know for a while there was even, like Jason Momoa and the rock, telling people don't come, don't send anything, don't visit our island. We wanna handle this. Is that common, I guess, among disaster, that the community wants to handle it and that they don't want the outsider help? Or is it more of just allowing them to trust you and to build that relationship internally first?

Emilee Martichenko: 32:57

So I think I'll answer this kind of twofold. So something that's important to know about Alan is that we do not send any relief supplies to a disaster site unless there is a very specific plan for distribution. So if a non-profit comes to us and they say, hey, we have all these pallets of water and we just wanna get it there, but nobody at the disaster site has told us we want this water, we say hey, you need to wait until you know the state, until a state agency or a local agency is saying we need this water. So that's something that Alan always takes a lot of care to do. The second part of this and I apologize for the sirens in the background- no worries, it's kind of, I guess, conducive to the conversation Exactly. But the second part of this being is that, when it comes to disaster response and recovery, rebuilding local economies is key to long-term recovery efforts. So we want to get in the immediate, immediate aftermath. We wanna get critical relief supplies there and we wanna meet these immediate needs. But we also wanna make sure that local businesses have what they need to reopen as soon as possible so people can get back into grocery stores and grocery stores can start distributing again and because that way local currency is pouring back into the economy. So part of Alan's work is helping get supplies that need to get there in order to get people back on their feet, so that local business and local enterprise can get back on its feet as fast as possible.

Blythe Brumleve: 34:45

I love that approach because it really I didn't even think about it from that lens you want the buildings and the established folks that are in the area to get up to speed the fastest, because then they're gonna help. It's almost like being on an airplane when they tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first before you start helping out other people. Let's help these key locations first, and it's interesting that you identify like a grocery store, for example, to keep the money flowing within the community, and so then that way it's the community building each other up, which is probably where it should start and end, I would imagine, with help, of course, from outsiders when they wanted, which I think was super interesting to watch, just given the history of Hawaii and I guess the I'll call it complications there with wanting outside help and outsider help. So I love that you guys do that and you prioritize what they need first to sort of hold back the people who want to help. But you might be hurting the entire process with your help. So it's almost like you're creating a distribution system for help. Almost you definitely are Now with, as I close out this round of questions before we get into the last round of questions which is a little bit more like a beat and more fun. Is there anything else with it or anything more? I guess, within disaster relief, recovery, that you feel like we're not strong enough yet, I guess as a nation, to provide or what kind of areas of improvements. How could people help all that good stuff, helping a good way?

Emilee Martichenko: 36:22

Yeah, so you know just, the overarching theme of this conversation is logistics, and I will say that improving knowledge and execution of logistics during disaster relief, that's our Alana's on a mission to just improve and improve and improve and make logistics so much more of a focal point when it comes to disaster relief efforts. You know, a metric that we like to share with people, that a lot of people don't realize and that I didn't realize when I started it, alan is that as much as 80% of humanitarian spending on disaster relief is directed towards logistics. Oh, wow. And of that, 80%, as much as 40% of that spending ends up being waste. So logistics and you know logistics and supply chain, we're so familiar with it, but it's something that, because of COVID, has really come into the public consciousness in the past few years, so so many people don't even know what it means when we say that, when we use that terminology. And so Alan would, and, like I said, we're on a mission to center logistics as not just a periphery element that helps disaster relief, it is a driving force for better disaster relief efforts.

Blythe Brumleve: 37:42

And so for companies who maybe wanna get involved, they wanna volunteer their services within the logistics realm. How do they get set up? What does that set up process look like?

Emilee Martichenko: 37:51

Yeah, absolutely so. You can donate to Alan. You can make a financial donation via our website or we talk to directly to us at info at alanaidorg and I'm happy to talk about our various sponsorship levels. If a logistics organization wants to donate logistics services or equipment, once again you can reach out directly to us. And we also always encourage organizations to pre-register on our website or make a pre-offer. And so what you do is you go onto our website and you fill out our pre-offer form, just giving a little bit of information about who you are and what kind of services that you would potentially wanna provide. It's not obligatory. You are in no way signing on as you're in no way obligated to donate to us. Pardon me, but what it does is it puts you in our database so that in the event of a disaster, when we start getting that influx of cases in the response phase, we can go back into our database and we say, hey, this company pre-registered with us and they said we are potentially interested in offering a forklift or donated warehouse space. And we know to reach out to you because when we have a case that we believe might match your capacity.

Blythe Brumleve: 39:11

I love that. I mean the website's great. It has so many different resources on it. So for folks who wanna check it out, I will be sure to list it in the show notes just to make it easy for everyone. But, rounding out this conversation, I like to affectionately call this segment the relatable eight, and it feels a little weird to talk about some fun topics in addition to the seriousness of disaster relief and recovery, of course. But the relatable eight is essentially a set of questions about marketing and sales and just general. So for folks who get to know you a little bit more, get to know the organization a little bit more. So first up on this list of questions is and this is probably this is perfect for you how do you think about marketing when it comes to you and your company?

Emilee Martichenko: 39:57

Yes, this is a conversation that that me and our communications director, laurie, have often, because the thing about Alan is that we're Alan is the behind the scenes organization. You know, we're the facilitator, we are happy, we love what we do, and because it all takes place behind that curtain and it makes us very proud, the only thing that is not conducive to is excellent visual imagery for what we do as a company. So when I, when I go to work and I think about oh, how can I, you know, spell out for audiences what we do and who we are and why it's so important, I'm always trying to think of creative ways to tell stories, whether that's through blogs or case studies or social media posts, and even get creative with graphic design.

Blythe Brumleve: 40:50

Yeah, I imagine you have to tow like a fine line between, like the case studies and you know, I guess, reporting on these things, but you know it, telling the stories of it, I guess, without sharing too much, which is a fine line that I'm sure that y'all, y'all have to walk. But you're doing a great job on social media so it makes people care and it makes people have, you know, some kind of an information source about events that people care about. So great work on there and, you know, related to that question is what's your favorite social media platform and why?

Emilee Martichenko: 41:24

Ooh, you know, for organization of visual content, instagram is great, but I would have to go with LinkedIn. I found that most of most of the industry that engages with us is on LinkedIn and it's where we get the most visibility on our messaging. And it's been really fun since I started at ALAN to watch our engagement increase through LinkedIn.

Blythe Brumleve: 41:43

Yeah, for sure, there's definitely a very strong logistics LinkedIn community on there. All right, next question what is your favorite SaaS tool that you use every day? Can't live without, but it can't be your own? Yeah, canva. Yeah, that makes sense.

Emilee Martichenko: 42:01

There's not a day of my life that goes by in which I don't use Canva. I am dependent on Canva for everything, and it's a great tool.

Blythe Brumleve: 42:09

It's a great tool. It's a great story to female founder led. I think they just IPO'd as well Recently, or they're going to IPO one of the two, but it's really incredible to watch that company grow and then make graphic design, make these sort of things approachable and attainable for normies like myself that never went to school for, you know, for graphic design and just try to put some things together.

Emilee Martichenko: 42:31

I didn't know, Okay next one Favorite freight business that isn't your own.

Blythe Brumleve: 42:40

So I'm going to be.

Emilee Martichenko: 42:42

I'm going to be a cop out on this one, because at ALAN we really don't play favorites. Yeah, you kind of can't.

Blythe Brumleve: 42:48

You know when you. The more you get to know about our network, the more your mind will just be blown about how generous they are.

Emilee Martichenko: 42:56

Truly, everybody has to be a favorite to every. Every one is a favorite, and every one is a favorite, and everyone has been so supportive of our mission. I will say, though, that if audiences want to learn about some of the and like disaster relief initiatives and community development initiatives that are unique to industry members, go on our website and read about our past humanitarian logistics award winners. We, you know, open these nominations up every year, and we're actually two weeks away, on this very date, from announcing our 2023 winners, and it's they were just started to recognize some of the incredible achievements that our industry is doing in the context of disaster relief, and it's amazing that isn't necessarily publicized very much. Yeah, I didn't even think about it from that lens, and so hopefully we'll be able to see that in the future.

Blythe Brumleve: 43:48

I didn't even think about it from that lens, and so hopefully, by the time this episode drops, though, that list of winners will be released, and so I encourage everybody to go and check that out, because I wouldn't have even thought about, you know, the recognition part of it, and you're right, there's so many folks that are, you know, passionate about these things, and so giving a little bit of recognition probably goes a long way. Okay, next question, and I don't I mean, this is kind of a tough one, I think, for folks to answer, but what's one task in your current job that you can't stand doing?

Emilee Martichenko: 44:20

Um, I can't stand as a in this kind in this case is a strong phrase, because I love the people I work with and I love my job and I truly do. I love all elements of it. Uh, I guess, if we're going to get very, very technical about it, I you know, I maintain Alan's website and I'm entirely self taught when it comes to the web design, thank you. So I have most of the time I'm just, you know, surprising myself with what I can do. But every now and then I go to make an update or I go to make a change and, you know, word pressed us something and I'm like I don't know exactly what you're telling me. Who?

Blythe Brumleve: 45:00

are you telling?

Emilee Martichenko: 45:03

So I would say you know, it's too, it's too full. It's fun to. It's fun to have a challenge and fun to conquer, but every now and then the technical stuff it feels like it's coming out on top.

Blythe Brumleve: 45:14

Yeah, I love and hate at times word press. We host, more than you know, 30 freight websites on our digital dispatch platform, and so sometimes you make one update on one site and then the other site doesn't like it and it screws everything up and it's back to the drawing board. You got to call in the reserves of the tech team and get them to fix it, and the waiting game of getting it fixed is annoying. So, yeah, I definitely share that sentiment. I would echo that that sentiment too. I can't stand it. I can't. I like making updates to the site, but I can't stand when it breaks when I try to make the quick update.

Emilee Martichenko: 45:50

I'm like I just needed to go.

Blythe Brumleve: 45:51

Well Right, it's just like it's usually the quick updates that screw everything up, that you know it turns into a very long update after that. Okay, Next question If you didn't have to worry about money, what would you do for the rest of your life? I would be an actor, oh nice. Have you, have you tried, or yeah?

Emilee Martichenko: 46:09

absolutely, yeah, I am. It's an industry that I love. It's an industry that's going through a lot of strife right now and that I hope changes much, much more for the better, and I love it. I think it's an absolutely extraordinary art.

Blythe Brumleve: 46:23

Well, for folks who haven't you know, I guess they were to listen to the background and gotten that cue. You're based in Manhattan, so that makes a lot of sense from the actor perspective. Okay, next question, Second to last one what's something you believe in that most people don't?

Emilee Martichenko: 46:39

So I'm not sure. I don't know what the ratio of believers to nonbelievers on this point would be. I hope there's a lot of believers, but you know I am. I believe we're living in since we're living in a time of rapid technological development that when it comes to innovation, that people, their well-being, their likeness, their privacy and how new advancements impact their social and economic welfare should always be prioritized first and foremost. That's something that's kind of been on my mind a little bit recently. Is is just, and you know, and we work in disaster relief, so we're always thinking First and foremost about the survivors and about how we can uplift individuals and communities alike. So I'm just thinking this time, when we're having a lot of rapid development, that we should, we should think about people and always put them first.

Blythe Brumleve: 47:31

Yeah, very well said. And then, last one on the list, what is your favorite supply chain or logistics? Back to give a really great one, or earlier, about the I am.

Emilee Martichenko: 47:42

I snuck it in. I snuck it in early by accident, but it was just too good that is. That is a really powerful stat which you know all of you don't mind me repeating it, because I do find it so powerful Is that a lot of people don't realize as much as 80% of humanitarian spending on disaster relief is directed towards logistics and of that 80%, as much as 40% of the spending ends up going to waste. It makes you think about not only how important logistics is and what Alan does is but how timely it is, as well, 100%.

Blythe Brumleve: 48:15

I mean that that really is such a powerful stat that it deserves to be repeated several times over, because I think it kind of goes back to your, your earlier point of if you're, if you want to donate, if you want to help, you know, get involved with the nonprofits that are already established and experienced, but also consider a financial donation as well, and so that money can be put towards things that are in immediate or long term needs, and and let the nonprofits figure it out.

Emilee Martichenko: 48:42

Yeah, and they're the ones with boots on the ground and with the expertise so Exactly and they know what they're doing and they're so passionate they're wonderful to work with, exactly and so.

Blythe Brumleve: 48:52

So, emily, where can folks follow more of your work? Follow Alan's work. You know all that good stuff.

Emilee Martichenko: 48:57

Yeah, so go to our website, alan aorg. Go to our disaster micro site to learn about our disaster response activities. You can make a donation on this website. You can pre offer services. You can follow Alan on Twitter, linkedin, facebook and Instagram. Our handle is Alan aid and I encourage everyone to reach out to us directly at info at Alan aorg, if you want to get registered, and I'll make sure you get registered with Alan supply chain intelligence center and we're just. If you would like an introduction to you know some of our team. If you're interested in learning more about operations, I would so love to connect everyone with our operations coordinator and with our executive director. They're wonderful, hardworking and passionate people.

Blythe Brumleve: 49:44

Heck yeah. So we got a lot of little logistics books. I would hope you know, with everything is logistics podcast, that we would have a lot of logistics folks listening to this episode. So reach out, get involved. You're looking for a place to help. This sounds like the perfect opportunity to be able to offer those resources which you know logistics providers are already an expert in hand over your expertise to another company. That's expertise. That is a long way of saying that. Thank you for you know, sharing this insight, sharing this conversation and sharing the mission of Alan, because it really it's a fascinating topic, because I think that it's always evolving and there's always ways to improve. You know relief and recovery efforts and we can't do much about, you know I mean, you can't do much about, you know natural disasters, at least in our current capacity. So, with what you can do, be able to offer help to organizations and nonprofits that need it. So thank you again. This was great. Thank you so much for having me.

Emilee Martichenko: 50:41

I really appreciate it Absolutely.

Blythe Brumleve: 50:48

I hope you enjoyed this episode of everything is logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight, telling the stories behind how your favorite stuff and people get from point A to B. Subscribe to the show, sign up for our newsletter and follow our socials over at everything is logistics dot com. And in addition to the podcast, I also wanted to let you know about another company I operate, and that's digital dispatch, where we help you build a better website. Now, a lot of the times, we hand this task of building a new website or refreshing a current one off to a co-worker's child, a neighbor down the street or stranger around the world, where you probably spend more time explaining the freight industry than it takes to actually build the dang website. Well, that doesn't happen at digital dispatch. We've been building online since 2009, but we're also early adopters of AI automation and other website tactics that help your company to be a central place to pull in all of your social media posts, recruit new employees and get potential customers a glimpse into how you operate your business. Our new website builds start as low as $1500, along with ongoing website management, maintenance and updates starting at $90 a month, plus some bonus, freight marketing and sales content similar to what you hear on the podcast. You can watch a quick explainer video over on digital dispatch dot IO. Just check out the pricing page once you arrive and you can see how we can build your digital ecosystem on a strong foundation. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this episode. I'll see you all real soon and go Jags.

About the Author

Blythe Brumleve
Blythe Brumleve
Creative entrepreneur in freight. Founder of Digital Dispatch and host of Everything is Logistics. Co-Founder at Jax Podcasters Unite. Board member of Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. Freightwaves on-air personality. Annoying Jaguars fan. test

To read more about Blythe, check out her full bio here.