Warehousing Trends and Podcast Marketing with Kevin Lawton
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Kevin Lawton of The New Warehouse podcast shares his origin story from warehouse manager to podcaster. He discusses the growth of robotics in warehousing, overcoming employee skepticism, marketing tips like leveraging conferences, and building your personal brand through podcasting. Listen to gain insight on warehouses and podcasting.




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Show Transcript

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Blythe Brumleve: 0:00

Welcome into another episode of Everything is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight. We are proudly presented by SPI logistics and I am your host, Blythe Brumleve. Today, I am happy to welcome in Kevin Lawton. He is the founder and host of The New Warehouse podcast and we're gonna be talking about well, you guessed it, we're gonna be talking about warehouses, and they were also gonna be talking about content, the content creation process and kind of the growth of content creation within the logistics industry as a whole, which has been super fascinating to watch over the last few years. So, Kevin, welcome to the show.

Kevin Lawton: 0:36

Yes, Blythe, happy to be on the show and happy to finally connect with you to them been going back and forth for a while and I feel like I know you very well from listening to your show. So it's great to be a guest on and definitely happy to be on, I guess the other side of the mic here a little bit too as well.

Blythe Brumleve: 0:56

Heck yeah, is this your first like other side of the coin interview?

Kevin Lawton: 1:01

No, no, I've done a couple other ones, but I just kind of started trying to do that in the past year or so as, like, I've kind of figured out my podcast and got it in a bit of a system and now, like you know, trying to get on other people's podcast, and especially more to, as, like, more and more podcast in our space have been coming out as well, like there's been more opportunity to do that, I think.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:29

Yeah, you definitely coming in with the branded merch here. For those who are just listening, you got the the new warehouse shirt on and then you also have a really cool sign in the background. It was like it was made out of, like metal works or something.

Kevin Lawton: 1:43

Yeah, actually that's part of our booth that we take to conferences. It's like a sign, and here in New Jersey there's a local artist that made the whole booth for me and he did that. It is metal off of which has been like plasma cut and and then he built this sign kind of behind that to be pallet-esque. I guess we could call it yes, or pallet chic maybe.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:12

No, that's definitely keeping it on brand for sure, because I noticed the metal part, but I didn't notice the pallet part until you just mentioned it. So yeah, very industrial chic.

Kevin Lawton: 2:23

Yes, definitely a little subtle pallet hint there.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:28

Now for folks who may not have listened to your show. I think your show is fantastic. It's one of that's made it into my regular rotation, especially when it comes to logistics industry podcast. But for folks who may not be aware of, like you, your origin story, give us a sense of how you got into the logistics industry as a whole.

Kevin Lawton: 2:49

Sure, definitely. I mean I think, like most people, I found my way into logistics industry not on purpose. I didn't, like, you know, grow up or anything trying to, you know, pack boxes or anything like that. That wasn't. I wasn't doing that on the playground pretending that I was in the warehouse or anything I went to school for for entrepreneurial studies, and then, yeah, I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I knew at one point I wanted to have my own business and but then I graduated and you know I needed a job, I needed to work. So through somebody I knew there was an attempt position as an inventory control specialist at a book publisher here in New Jersey At their distribution facility. So I took that role quickly, got offered a full time position, so really started in the inventory control arena of logistics and warehousing and then kind of enjoyed that, took to that like with the numbers and everything, and then, you know, spending time kind of really harnessing and developing my Excel skills and working in Microsoft access, kind of data mining and then translating that into the physical processes of the warehouse itself too. So I spent some time there and then moved on to another company where I got more involved in the warehouse operations side and then eventually became warehouse operations manager, inventory control manager, plant manager for a while as well, but somewhere along the line because at first I was like this isn't my career, right, this isn't my career, I'm going to do something else and do something else in the back of my head. And then at some point I was like, let me embrace this a little bit, right? So then I went and I was like how do I learn more about this industry? And I was like my late 20s at that point. So you know, I was looking for something interesting. I think this was like 2017, 2018, like that I could digest. And I had been like very into blogs when I was younger. I was big into like sneaker collecting in high school, early college, so all the information I would get from blogs and things like that. So my first thought is like Let me find some cool blogs that are talking about warehousing logistics. Right, at that time it's pretty much non existent, right? It was like you take like an old trade publication and just regurgitated online and in digital form and I was like, oh, this isn't like not interesting, like I'm not, I'm not enjoying it out of trying to find this so, so funny enough. Like I had a friend college roommate who was working for a company called auto blog which was, I think I think, a Yahoo company or something like a blog. They ran about cars and things like that and he was doing part of their social media stuff and I was looking at that and thinking like oh, how come there's Like not something like this for for industry side, like how do we take this kind of idea and make some interesting content around that side of things? So so my initial thought was I'll start a blog about warehousing and I quickly realized like I don't have time to sit down and write and then edit and figure out the distribution. And you know, I was working full time as a operations manager and we had just started a new facility and we're putting all this automation in. It was like super long days trying to get everything up and running and fix issues go live. So I was like I don't have time for this, and me and my boss who actually we worked together for a long time and he's actually his guest on episode two of the podcast actually oh yeah, he brought me along with him for like three different jobs, actually three different companies. So we had a very good relationship and I had been Talking to him about this idea. He's the one that was like, why don't you do a podcast? Like I hear podcasts are getting big right and they're taking off and all these things. This is like, I guess, like late 2018. So I thought about him like hmm, okay, like that could be easier, right, sit down talking to a microphone instead of having to sit down and write and then edit, to like not to edit too much with the podcast, right? So, so, yeah, so I decided to try it. And then in 2019 that's when we we launched the first episode, the new warehouse podcast, and it's kind of just taken off from there. But yeah, my background is very much rooted in what I talk about on the podcast warehousing.

Blythe Brumleve: 7:40

So so how long did it, did it take you to go from the idea being suggested to you to the first episode being launched?

Kevin Lawton: 7:51

I think it was a couple months, I would say so I guess part of my background to is that I was working part time in real estate as well and through that at my alma mater writer university, there was an opportunity there to do a real estate radio show. So I had done that in the past. So I had some like experience on the mic right, but none of the behind the scenes thing there was, like student producers like I would you know, roll in for an hour once a week, do my thing, student producer, take care of it.

Blythe Brumleve: 8:33

Oh, that's the best.

Kevin Lawton: 8:34

Yeah so. So I had like that experience on the mic and, to be honest with you, like you know, very comfortable now speaking on the mic, you know, networking with people, going to conferences and all this stuff. But but prior to that I was not very good at that like I would be, you know, very kind of anxious. And group settings or networking opportunities, trying to talk to people and doing that original radio show was a way for me to step outside of my comfort zone and push me to that, because I thought, like, like I talked to the microphone, it's not really like I'm talking to people, but I am in a way, I guess. So I built up my comfort level through that. So then, yeah, so then it took me a couple months to kind of, you know, I guess, convince myself that I do want to do the podcast. I guess, like you know, is this a project I want to take on. And so I figured it out and I got like a mic. And then, you know, I tried to figure out the tech side of it which, like I say, like I'm not very good at that audio tech and everything like that. So I ended up, luckily, I needed like a quiet space to record in. And at the time my son was like I want to say he was 2019, so he was like five, six, so he really didn't understand that. Like hey, dad's in the basement like can't be like running around upstairs because he's trying to record something right. You didn't get it right. So so I'm like I need a quiet space. So I found a co-working space locally and it just so happened when I was registering for the co-working space, the manager there was like oh, you shouldn't meet this guy. He's he does podcast too. So I met him and he kind of really showed me how to do everything he set me up with, like how to create an RSS feed and, you know, come up with all the distribution, and he had like his own kind of independent hosting platform at the time. So I went through him initially and he kind of really showed me all the ropes and all that stuff and that kind of. That kind of made it a little easier for me. And then, yeah, and then from there it was kind of I guess it just kept going and going and going. And you know, here we are, like four years later, 400 plus episodes later, and it's been a pretty wild ride. I never thought like it would go this far, but it keeps going.

Blythe Brumleve: 11:03

So is it like I don't want to say because I call myself like a full time podcaster now but it doesn't take up. I guess traditional, like full time, you know, a traditional like 8 to 5, you know Monday through Friday, it's a lot of weekends, it's a lot of nights, it's varying hours, it's a lot of travel to conferences is are you managing like other roles because I know that you're also a professor too, right? So are you managing those roles on top of the podcast as well?

Kevin Lawton: 11:37

Yes, yeah. So for the first three years of the podcast I was still working the nine to five as a warehouse manager and then, like I would be done at like four o'clock and I would like bolt home and record like a podcast at like four, 30, five o'clock and I would do that maybe like three or four nights a week to do that, and then I would spend time, family time, do whatever I needed to do and then, like you said, late nights like stay up trying to get things together, do the blog post that goes with the episode. And I did find actually a student I was able to hire, initially as an intern. He was able to get credits to do like the audio production editing for me and actually he still works for me now like as a contractor all this time and he does all the editing and everything for the audio and so that was helpful, definitely kind of like delegating that piece, because I tried in the beginning to figure out the audio editing and I was just like this is not for me, like I don't have the patience for this and I'm a pretty patient guy. But I was like this is not lining up with this and like I got to get somebody to do this for me. So yeah, for a very long time I was managing that, and then I started teaching as well. So I was managing that additionally, but then, as of last year in March, I went full time with the new warehouse. So I do the podcast through the new warehouse. I do teach as well, as you mentioned, as an adjunct professor. I teach one course in person, one virtually, but actually this semester I'll be teaching two in person, one virtually, at Ryder University, supply chain courses, and yeah, and then we also, at the same time that I went, left my, I guess, corporate gig, you could say and went full time like entrepreneur. We also launched a fulfillment center under the new warehouse brand too as well. So, yeah, so it's managing all of that at the same time. So, yeah, it's like a nonstop kind of thing, but it's all over the place. I mean, it's organized in a way what you could say is like organized chaos.

Blythe Brumleve: 14:13

So a little bit from time to time. That's logistics in a nutshell, I think.

Kevin Lawton: 14:18

Yeah, yeah, I mean it's very, very similar to the actuality of what we're talking about.

Blythe Brumleve: 14:25

So the podcast is called the new warehouse, so why new in the name?

Kevin Lawton: 14:31

Sure. So, yeah, it's pretty interesting because I was trying to figure out what do I call this right? And I was starting to look around more in the industry and I think one thing too that I quickly realized when I was getting this started is that a lot of people they work for the same company for a long time, multiple years, and they only get necessarily exposure to the technology and things that are happening that their company is interested in or willing to invest in, right? So I started seeing like, oh, there's a lot more technology happening in our space than I really even realized as just someone that was working in the space, right. So I started to think like, oh, I kind of want to highlight more of that. So it was the idea, I think in the first we were talking about like the modern warehouse or something like that. And then I think one of my friends was like well, what about like new warehouse or something like that? And so it's really the idea of like what does that new warehouse look like? What's the newest thing that's coming out, and how is technology playing a role within the warehouse environment? So it's really that newness of the tech around that and kind of what's happening within the space.

Blythe Brumleve: 16:00

And so, as you're talking about launching this show, or you're not launching the show, but you've launched it in 2019 and now you're at a point where it is a full-time focus for you, so what does sort of I guess, your cadence look like, or a typical work week look like? You said that you're teaching classes two in person, one virtually but how do you fit in, like the podcast, in between all of that? Like, what does a typical work week look like for you, if that exists?

Kevin Lawton: 16:32

Yeah, typical. It's funny, I do have a virtual assistant that helps me now that I've hired this year, and we actually had a meeting yesterday talking about this. Because she's like you need to like get a schedule going, because you're just like taking meetings left and right and then you're here and then you're there. It's like you need to kind of say like, okay, these are one of my meetings.

Blythe Brumleve: 16:57

The BA is having an intervention.

Kevin Lawton: 16:59

Yeah, yeah, and I told her too, I'm like, yeah, you need to just like take the calendar over, and this is like, like, is that for me? But no, I mean it is like a lot of bouncing around. But what I've been able to figure out and why I've been able to take on like additional projects, like the teaching and like the fulfillment business as well, is because over time kind of take you know, from very into and still very into standardization within operations and warehousing and standard work. And I actually maybe this makes me like crazy nerd but actually really like creating standard works and standard operating procedures. So I kind of, at some point, it kind of like clicked. I'm like, well, why don't I, you know, take that kind of systemization and systematic kind of belief and apply it to the podcast too? Right, like, why don't I these things that I'm doing, you know, repetitively? Like why don't I just figure out? Okay, like if I'm doing this all the time, like let me create either, like you know, a document that I can use every time. And you know how do I organize this in that way? So it's like the same steps, same processes every time. So I've been able to do that and then also leaving the nine to five typical nine to five job, that's also allowed me to have these kind of batch recording sessions. So for me, when I do podcast, typically, like I will take one or two days a month and on those two days all I will do is just record episodes. So I'll schedule people, sometimes two or three months, and advanced with them, and then that day, like I'll do five or six episodes in one day, like I just sit right here and I'm like all day and that's it and then, like I'm good for a while because we do an episode every Monday and Wednesday, so that covers me for a while. So like, so as of right now, recording this like in the beginning of August, like I'm good through pretty much the end of October right now. So I learned at one point cause there was too many times I was scrambling like last minute, trying to hit like the release schedule Like it was like like if you go like way back in the library like there's pretty much every episode I have, there's a guest, I think maybe there's four that is just me solo, and those were like we were releasing episodes in the beginning just on Mondays and those are like recorded probably at like midnight on Sunday, like I need an episode, so like let me just come up with something and just improv here. So so yeah, I learned that like I don't like the scramble part, so I'm like how do I address that? And that's really where that kind of batch recording idea came from. So I do that and then like a weekly cadence. I mean I have been able to kind of hire some contractors and have like a small team as well. That helped me out, so I have somebody so kind of the things that I was seeing that were time consuming and not necessarily the most enjoyable part. I mean, the most enjoyable part for me is talking to the people right. I mean that's what I like to do. I like to have the conversation and learn within the podcast. So so, like the writing of the blog post, like I have someone that does that for me now the audio production I mentioned I have someone that does that and then my VA she kind of coordinates all that and does the project management side of that. So that's really helped to kind of thin out my days a little bit. But I still, you know, like on Sunday, sunday night, usually before we released the episode on Monday, like I'm going through and I'm reading the blog post, making some tweaks here and there, and then same thing Tuesday, before the Wednesday episode, and then really now for the podcast side, there's more focus on we started a video series on Fridays. So it's more focus on trying to figure out how to get that more, which we've been pretty good at having it almost every Friday, just trying to build up that content and get that going and get that to a point where it's something in addition to the audio podcast that people are interested in. So my typical week, aside from the podcasting stuff, like I'm in and out of our warehouse helping out there picking packing orders, especially the summer and summer is good. I'm not teaching in the summer so I have a little extra time. But past couple of weeks has been crazy because we just moved into a new warehouse actually ironically there, but so that's been a little crazy moving from the old space and getting that up and running. But yeah, typically I'll either set up meetings like in the morning and then I'll pop into the warehouse for a couple of hours and maybe might do some meetings from there, might be on the floor picking and packing, doing some process improvement and then, yeah, and then really the podcast is kind of almost on I wouldn't say fully autopilot, but it is at a point where it's very like systematic in that process. So there is like more time now where we're focusing on trying to see what other opportunities are there for the podcast in terms of like working with companies, whether it's sponsorship or figuring out how do we do something creative by like getting on site with them and really kind of showcasing a little more through video. So there's more focus on like building in different ways than like actually kind of getting that audio podcast done, cause it is at the point now it's like, oh, I sit down and do the conversation and then upload the file and the team takes it away basically. So I don't know if that really gives any idea into what my week looks like, but that's kind of like the balance in between everything. And then when I'm teaching, I teach on Monday and Wednesday. So I kind of focus like Monday before teaching and like I'll be in the warehouse cause I'm in. You know, I have like half a day, so I'm like, oh, let me spend time there. Wednesday the same thing, and then yeah, then I go and teach and figure out the rest in between.

Blythe Brumleve: 23:48

Do you find that your, since you know COVID and like sort of I guess, general supply chain awareness has increased since, especially since that you know the Ever Given got stuck in the Suez Canal? Do you find that, like your, students are more interested in just supply chain in general?

Kevin Lawton: 24:06

Yeah, I think absolutely. It's interesting because the one class that I've been teaching and the second class I'm gonna be teaching this semester is new to me to teach, but it the one that I've been teaching is a mix of it's a supply chain focus course, but it's a mix of regular business students and supply chain majors. So it's been interesting to see and I started 2021 was my first semester, so like, right, it was the first semester that they were back in person actually. So it is interesting to see, over those couple semesters, like how the regular business students, their awareness has certainly, I think, increased in supply chain and also, you know, some of the things that they're interested in knowing about. Like there's, you know, in the beginning, like it was kind of like oh, do you guys know that? You know we use robots and automation and all these things in supply chain, and you know it was like not that awareness. And now it's people are like, oh, are we gonna, you know, learn anything about robots or automation in this class? Right, so it's definitely like more awareness, I think, overall, and even like, even I say like just in general, like people, like in the general public too, like I think there's just more awareness too. Like when I started the podcast and telling friends and family, they're like you're gonna do a podcast about what? Like listen to that right now. They're like now they're like, oh, like my, like my friends from college group chat, and like when some of that stuff was happening they're like. They're like, oh, what are you going to do about this? Like I didn't cause the problem, right, right, yeah, but certainly certainly an increased awareness around that, and I think we're seeing to like as a supply chain department at the university, like more interest in incoming freshmen wanting to pick that as a major, whereas previously it was like business majors were switching over sophomore junior year because they chose to take intro to supply chain as a like an elective or something like that.

Blythe Brumleve: 26:22

Yeah, that's super interesting and it's been awesome watching just the growth of, like, I guess, sort of the younger millennial, like Gen Z, interest in supply chain because even like posting like certain content to Tiktok like retail majors I did a story on like the logistics of lipstick and the retail majors that were watching that video and then sharing it with their colleagues, just they didn't have any idea about that side of the process and so I think it's just it's one of those things that you don't realize. It's almost like the CIA where you don't realize you know it's a route supply chain is around until something messes up.

Kevin Lawton: 27:03

Yeah, yeah, definitely. I mean I think it's, it's pretty wild. I mean, you see, I'm not having ventured into the Tiktok side yet, but you should, robotics would kill it on there. Yeah, I mean, I've been thinking, we've been trying to, we've been like really focused in on LinkedIn and we're just now kind of looking at like how do we because we've been getting like more video content now so now we're trying to see like, okay, how do we like disseminate that in different ways, whether it's, you know, instagram reels or Tiktok potentially? But yeah, but like, even personally, like I'm not on Tiktok either, so I'm like very like not familiar with it, but yeah, I mean, it's pretty wild to see that and how some of these things that are involved in our space are getting picked up like from, I guess you could say, a mainstream perspective as well. I think it's pretty fascinating, like even like Corey Connors right, like he's has like a big Tiktok thing going on around like a sustainable packaging. Yeah, corrugated, I think he's caught on there and it's like, yeah, I mean it's crazy, like who would think that you know some like packaging stuff would just like catch someone much attention and blow up. But it's pretty fascinating, like what the newer generations are like really interested in. That. It's pretty, pretty amazing, I think.

Blythe Brumleve: 28:22

So when you're thinking about, I guess, the, I guess from the lens of a warehouse operator, what does the state of warehousing sort of look like right now? Is it a lot like trucking, where you have some companies who are, you know, diving headfirst into technology and then other companies are just resisting? Is it similar, or is it safe to say that that's kind of happening in warehousing too?

Kevin Lawton: 28:49

Oh yeah, I would say it's very similar because I think you know warehousing for a long time and traditionally, like when you look at the small to medium size warehouse company, small to medium size shipper, you know that's very traditional, in a sense you could say, and pretty old school. Like you know, they've been around for a long time and they've always done things this way, which is, you know a terrible phrase to say. I will say that directly to the camera, but you know, I think it's like you know well, you know we've been running our business this way for, you know, 20 years. Like you know, why do we need to bring in robots? Or why do we need to bring in automation? Or, you know, systems, or like why do we even need to get rid of our spreadsheets and get a WMS or something like that? Right, I think it's. It definitely is that contrast, but definitely, you see, like tons of companies that are diving in, like you said, headfirst into the automation and robotics. But I think we are at sort of a pivot, a little bit, where these small and medium sized businesses are starting to look and say like hey, like I think I do need to figure this out and I do need to put this in my roadmap and I think part of that too is if you look at some of the barriers of entry. You know, in the past couple of years there were certainly like huge operational, huge capex investments in that, which the robotics companies, I think, have taken notice certainly, and they've, you know, moved to more pricing models that are like robotics as a service, which is essentially like leasing the robot, or even some companies are now doing like pay per pick and all these different things. So so I think, like those are pushing people more toward that. And I think, even if you look at some of the conferences too, I mean, you know, the first conference I went to was 2019, shortly after I started the podcast, actually and there was like a couple companies with robots. And now, like I went to ProMat this year in March and yeah, it was like every other booth, if not every booth, had like some kind of robot in it. So it's like you can't escape it. But I think that, yeah, I think definitely there's that pivot happening and I think a lot of it too is because more of the, I think at first, like there was a little fricking thing, there was a little friction contrast because, like the robotics, high tech side of the warehousing industry was like coming from like like a startup, you know Silicon Valley type right, who who maybe necessarily had the idea for the tech but then found the practical application within our world, the warehousing world, logistics world but never really spent time in a warehouse or had that kind of background. But now you're seeing where, like, that's being embraced and and they're really starting to understand like, okay, how do these really apply in here and how can they work for these shippers to start to implement them and, and you know, augment their facilities to be ready for, like, the future?

Blythe Brumleve: 32:12

Yeah, I think you made a great point about sort of the the conference landscape and how robotics has kind of just taken over. Because, you know, I got my start in freight working at an asset based trucking company, so I didn't even really know about the maritime silo or the warehousing silo or the intermodal silo, and using this podcast is kind of like a way for me to explore those different silos and how they're all interconnected into logistics and just sort of the greater, you know overall supply chain. But I wasn't. I didn't know, I guess, the the coolness factor of robotics until I went to the first manifest conference in out in Vegas where they had a true sort of expo floor where you could see these demos you could see wrote, you know robotics with like the picking and the packing and the sorting and you know, I think even you know this year's conference they had spot, you know, from Boston Dynamics, you know, even though I don't know that they have really anything to do with like warehousing or you know traditional warehouse robotics, but it was just cool to see that growth of that sector and part of I think maybe why the sector hasn't grown faster than it should is definitely reasons that that you just listed. But I also think, from like a psychological level, like I've heard of like a Six River Systems that they host regular webinars. It's a warehouse robotics company and they were talking about how part of their onboarding includes the psychological component of training the employees to look at the robots as helpers and not someone that's going to take their jobs. Do you see that as still like that psychological barrier still existing, or do you see it kind of you know that that's a worry of kind of yesterday?

Kevin Lawton: 34:03

Yeah, absolutely. I mean I think that, like you said, like the, the robots that grab your attention and you know they're very cool, definitely, and it's cool to be, I think, working in industry that's able to see that kind of technology in a practical application. But certainly there is that huge change management aspect to it and I think that's a very, very important thing to be focused on as an operator that's going to be bringing in robotics and automation and being able to explain that to the employees. Because I would say, from my experience and actually the in the position that I left to go, you know, full entrepreneur mode, we were looking at some robotics to bring in and we had brought one in just as a demo and like, almost immediately, like one guy on the forklift drove up and he's like, oh, you're bringing in that thing to take my job right away, and this was, you know, this was only a year or so ago. So I mean, I think there's still definitely that skepticism, but I think from the point of view of like a leadership level, I think the skepticism is gone in that aspect, but I think it is the employee that's on the floor doing that day to day work that a robot or automation solution is going to either like augment their job in some way or change what their job looks like. That is skeptical, but it's really really important to, as you develop that plan, to bring that in, include change management within that. Like, how are you going to explain to your employees why you're doing this right? And the reality is that you know, I think, if we look at it, there's very few, I think, cases where you know they're completely like taking people out of the warehouse, right. It's more in the sense of you know they're making people more productive because it's assisting them with travel time or the pick time. It's taking away repetitive tasks, things that you know traditionally people don't even really want to do anyway. So you know it's really important to come in and explain that before you just, you know, just plop a robot on the floor and say, oh, that's in the way we're working right, because then you're gonna you're gonna get met with some some friction. Definitely because people are gonna, you know, be thinking like, hmm, like once this thing is up and running, like am I out of here in like a month, or something like that, which I think is, you know, pretty most of the time is not, not the case. But it is important to set that precedent and explain, you know, why are we going this route, like, why are we starting to use these different types of tools that you know, maybe change what you do a little differently.

Blythe Brumleve: 37:01

With all the conversations that you've had on your show and then also from the experience of managing a warehouse, what do you think sort of the next, what maybe the next five years, or maybe the ideal relationship between you know, automation and AI and a warehouse worker? What does that sort of perfect marriage look like?

Kevin Lawton: 37:23

Ooh, the perfect marriage.

Blythe Brumleve: 37:25

If that exists, well, what does the Disney warehouse look like?

Kevin Lawton: 37:31

The Disney warehouse. There's lots of fairy dust and things floating around.

Blythe Brumleve: 37:35

Sign me up.

Kevin Lawton: 37:36

Yeah, so, yeah, I mean the, I think the the perfect marriage there is really where you're figuring out how to kind of get your, your core team, in there, like your top performers, and then how do you make their job better, right, and then how do you also you mentioned AI in there like, how do you also, you know, make better decisions faster, right, so, so you're bringing the robotics in to help, you know, replace those jobs and tasks that, like I said, people you don't really like doing. Anyway, I think the, the industry says the dull, dirty and dangerous, right, is, you know, getting rid of those types of tasks and allowing them to kind of elevate a little bit in their role. And I think you know we see, over the past couple years, there's there's so much discussion about, you know, shortage of labor, you know, getting people to even want to work in warehouses, right, so, and I think that's going to become, you know, even bigger and bigger because there's more opportunities out there, there's different types of flexibility that people can have. And you know, going to, you know, stand on a concrete floor and then pick or pack orders all day long is, you know, becoming less and less appealing, right, so, so that you have your top performers and you know, if you have them understanding the robotics or the automation that you've put in place and how they can work with that and become you know, you know however much more productive. I think that you're seeing probably a a leaner team with that and a team that you know sees the value in there and really enjoys that work, augmenting their job so that they feel more comfortable in the workplace right there, you know, not working or not walking miles and miles a day within a warehouse, just doing so many steps through, picking or whatever tasks they're doing, and I think that's kind of where the robotics comes into play there. And then on the other side, kind of the back end, that AI, where AI comes into this, this marriage here, as you mentioned, you know, ai kind of comes into play, I think, to really be able to make those decisions about what's happening in the operation in a much faster way, in a much proactive way. Right, I think that you know, and being a warehouse manager, you know you can be like running around like crazy. Like you know, it's just like you have these days where it just seems like everything that wants to go wrong goes wrong. Right, like you know, maybe you have, you know, an issue with an employee or you know maybe the system goes down or you know somebody drops a pallet off the forklift, you know it. Just you know random things can happen. So so getting time to to sit down and, you know, look at data and make database decisions, oftentimes like that gets pushed and it gets pushed and it gets pushed it's like, oh well, this is a project like so you know I can look at it, like tomorrow, yeah. And then it's like tomorrow, and then all of a sudden it's, you know, four or five weeks later and you know you still haven't looked at it. But if you had the time to do that like you could have made a decision that you know for those four or five weeks could have potentially dramatically impacted your operation in a positive way. And that's where I think AI is going to come into play, to be able to give that kind of warehouse manager, supervisor more power to be able to harness data and understand that. Because I think too, in my experience, you know, a lot of times there's not that data analysis background for for a warehouse supervisor or warehouse manager either, and you know I've managed supervisors and managers that are like, oh, like, I hate data or I hate Excel, like, don't show me Excel, you know it's like. And I think, like you know, in that sense, like I mean I do like Excel, I do like data you know I'm totally having myself as a nerd here on this podcast with you but, um, it's uh, yeah, I mean you have that balance and and I think it takes away like all of that because it takes time to do that data analysis. But with AI, I mean you can do it incredibly quickly and you can even get to like what is that decision point? And I think more and more companies like WMS companies are putting that into play and figuring out other ways to to do things with AI. So being able to kind of make those decisions quicker, um, to also then benefit the employee. I think like that's where you get that win-win, where you know the employee themselves the worker on the floor is is happier because you know they're, the job is becoming less strenuous, they're getting more productive, so you know they feel better about themselves and then also the management is able to make better decisions faster to also continue to make that work environment better for them and and be more efficient in the operation. I think that's kind of like where where that perfect marriage aligns in the the next five years, as you mentioned.

Blythe Brumleve: 42:35

So it kind of sounds like with introducing AI, automation, robotics into warehousing. It sounds pretty similar to almost the I guess the light bulb moments and the the fearful moments that's happening with AI and, like content and writing and marketing, it feels very similar where folks are feeling stressed out that they're going to lose their jobs, but it, in a lot of ways, ai is. I mean, I, anecdotally is definitely helping me do my job faster on the content creation side of things. Is that a fair comparison where it's almost like the? The same psychological things that are going on with robotics and automation and warehousing is the same thing that's going on with AI and content writers and just creatives in general?

Kevin Lawton: 43:22

Yeah, I would say so because I think, you know, even if I look back, when I started the podcast and started initially learning about this robotics automation side and very much the conversation was, you know, going to the dark warehouse right where, like you know, there's maybe only a handful of people within the warehouse and is that what it's called a dark warehouse. Yeah, yeah, like lights out warehouse basically right, like you don't need to have the lights on because nobody no people are in there essentially Wow, creepy. So I mean that was like a lot of the conversation in the beginning, but I think, like that idea of the light, sound, dark warehouse is pretty much, I mean it's still there. There's still companies that are like pushing towards that and working towards that, but that overall narrative and conversation has kind of died down a lot and it's more on the collaborative side. Right, like you know, you look at like Locust Robotics probably the biggest one or Six River, you know they're notably known for having what they call a collaborative robot, where you know the robot is collaborating with the human to be able to to move things and take away some of those, the travel time and and do things like that. That the human you know essentially was kind of wasting time doing right where they could be, you know, grabbing items or doing something where you know they need to think. So yeah, I mean I think that it is similar in that regard where you know a couple years ago, when you're seeing robots, people like we're like, oh, this is going to take my job, and stuff like that. But I think that conversation has certainly died down. I mean, obviously, I think there's still some skepticism out there, as I said before. But yeah, I mean I think it is very, very similar to that as, like you see more and more applications of collaborative efforts where people are realizing like, oh, okay, like this is how they can help my operation get better, without you know going in a totally kind of I don't know dystopian route or anything like that and you know going like full lights out and you know like kicking people out and all those types of things. So so yeah, I mean I think there is definitely some, some parallels there in terms of the overall kind of cultural reaction I guess you could say.

Blythe Brumleve: 45:43

And so when I guess for a lot of warehouses it's very much maybe like a strong mix between those who have adopted, you know, new technology for warehouses in general, what is the table stakes? Is it just a WMS and I say just you know kind of hyperbolic here just because of the fact that WMSs can be just so intricate, but is that sort of the only table stakes that exists in warehousing? Or is there other software that you kind of you can't just like jump into? You know buying a warehouse and you know opening one up, or is it that easy?

Kevin Lawton: 46:24

You could. I wouldn't advise it. But I mean, believe it or not, there are still operations out there that just kind of strictly run out of Excel and you know, just utilize spreadsheets. And for some operations I would say that, you know, while I don't think it's a smart thing to do, because it is certainly opening yourself up to some risk, and you know data loss and errors and things like that but I mean, for some operations I mean it's straightforward enough where you could easily manage it in a spreadsheet. Like we had one company I worked for, we subleased for the summer we subleased like part of our warehouse to a water company and I think they had like three SKUs and they loaded it up twice and moved it out twice and you know you don't really need a WMS to do that. Like you can do that through a spreadsheet so I might tell you what to ship, when to ship it. You know you just pull that stuff. But more and more I think the operations that we're seeing, especially as we have, you know, more e-commerce coming into play, more omni-channel fulfillment, you definitely need to have that foundational software to help make that run and manage that. And yeah, I mean certainly the WMS is kind of the starting point for that, and then I think it starts to branch out. I mean, there's a lot from a tech standpoint that you can do before you get to the point of getting a robot Like and you should do too, like you. I think one of my, one of my favorite quotes from my podcast was from Mike Field. He's the CEO of Raymond Corporation, his big forklift company, and he said that you need to optimize before you automate, basically, right, so, and basically he said that. I don't remember the quote verbatim, it was a long time ago, but he basically said that, like, if you're taking a process that you're doing and the process is not optimized yet and it's not a great process yet, and then you go to automate it, like you're just automating a bad process, like you're not really gonna get the results you're expecting from automation. So there's a lot of steps in between there. But, yeah, definitely that foundational component is is the WMS and you need to understand, like, what are the capabilities of that WMS and how can that WMS grow and expand with you. So you see, now there's a lot of cloud-based WMSs where you can add different components to the WMS as you need them, right. So like one of the big ones is Manhattan and I was just at their user conference a couple of months ago and they've since moved to cloud within the past couple of years cloud-based system and they have multiple components. So like they have like the core WMS, but then you can just turn on certain aspects of the WMS because it's cloud-based and then if you get bigger, then, like you can also tie in their TMS component and you can also tie in their YMS component. They have the LMS component too as well and as you start to grow, like you can scale through that. And there's multiple others too that are doing similar things. But that definitely is like that core foundation. Like get that WMS in there and then understand what can you do from there. Because if you just get a warehouse and you're like, oh, I'm gonna put some robots on the floor, like you know, the robots also need to like communicate with something which is that system, and then you'd understand like where are the orders and you know where do I go for the orders and your WMS is kind of gonna guide that. And some robotics companies have like built-in WMSes as well or different types of systems that will navigate that. But just starting out like, yeah, you certainly need to get some kind of foundational system in place.

Blythe Brumleve: 50:31

What does if someone says like, oh, I want to add I'm sure it's a much more complicated or intricate conversation than I just you know, I wanna add robots to my warehouse. What does that, I guess? What does the cost look like for something like that?

Kevin Lawton: 50:46

Ooh, the cost. I think that's hard to say because the cost is, I would say, all over the place, like there's so this really depends on your operation. Yeah, I mean, it depends on your operation, it depends on what process you wanna use robots for. So like, if you look at like a picking process, like I think, well, I think like palette movement, you know, just moving palettes from like point A to point B was really kind of like that initial thing that got perfected, I would say, and then picking was really kind of the big next focus and I think that you know companies have kind of perfected what does that look like? So like those ones that have been around for a while, like it's probably gonna be easier to enter on those right from a cost perspective. But then like some of the newer automation robotics that are coming out, like at ProMap, one of the big things was that there was multiple companies for the first time showing truck-unloading robots where they're unloading cartons from either floor-loaded containers or floor-loaded trailers, which has been always like a very challenging task. I would argue one of the worst tasks to do in the warehouse is unload a floor-loaded container from overseas. It's just a nightmare because they stuff it like to the brim to maximize the cube and you know, especially like if it's the winter, if it's the summer, it's like hot in the container, it's cold in the container. You know I don't envy those guys that have to do that. So, very long overdue automated, I will say that. So I'm far there. But yeah, I think it depends on where you're looking to automate and at what level. So, like you have where you would get, maybe like an auto store, which is an ASRS automated shuttle retrieval system, where you know you could be talking hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions of dollars potentially, depending on how big you go, whereas you know you're looking at, like I mentioned, locusts and you know they have a robots as a service model where you're paying just like a monthly fee on that robot and then you're able to scale up and down depending on how many robots you need. So like, if you're going through peaks, like you could get an extra, you know 20 robots in because you're gonna have more volume, and then, after peak is over, like you can send them back and those prices vary too as well. But yeah, I mean I think it's all across the board to be honest with you, but like minimum, probably 500,000. Well, no, if you're looking at like the robots as a service type of model, I think like some of them are in the hundreds per month or low thousands per month for one robot. But then you know you're limited to what can that robot do too. So I think, like really to understand pricing, like you got a pinpoint, like okay, what process do we wanna focus on? And then figure out, like what are the companies we're gonna go with and what are their pricing models, because they've come up with so many different things, like even like I mentioned the auto store. Like they you know it's pretty inaccessible for like a small shipper, medium sized shipper maybe even to make that type of investment in an auto store. So they've actually come out with an offshoot company called PO which uses the same technology, but the price structure is way different. Like you're not paying for this full on build out and then they have like a paper pick model as well, which is pretty interesting approach to it and it really lowers like that initial cost of trying to get into it and then, as your business grows, and you can essentially graduate from that to a full on auto store system. So it's pretty, yeah, it's pretty interesting and it's definitely a wide range of pricing structures and numbers as well.

Blythe Brumleve: 54:58

And it sounds like, too, there's more flexible options as well, because I just had somebody from Nimble on the podcast, jonathan Briggs, and he was talking about how they are just building their own warehouses, fully automatic, and if you want to try out you as a shipper, you want to try out automation you can just ship your products to them and they will do it for you in their warehouse, versus you getting the space and setting it up yourself, and so I thought that that was a unique model too. So it sounds like there's a bunch of different options depending on the level of where in the commitments probably the real estate commitments that you're already maybe you have or maybe you don't want to get. Considering the market is so challenging right now.

Kevin Lawton: 55:45

Yeah, absolutely, and I think there's a lot of different models like the one you mentioned. But for the real estate perspective, I think one of the interesting things about the automation and robotics too, is there's a big focus on maximizing cube and space, like the auto store I mentioned mentioning them a lot but they can fit so much more products in a square footage aspect versus if you were gonna take that same square footage and put racking in with pallets or shelving or something like that. Like it's pretty astounding like how much they could fit per square foot versus what you could fit in like a traditional rack or something like that. So oftentimes, even though maybe your process is okay, but you don't want to move to another building, so you need more space, like you might lean towards automation to be able to maximize your cube better. So some of the solutions are not only focused on being more productive but also helping you with utilizing your space in a better way and kind of maximizing that.

Blythe Brumleve: 56:59

Going back to your podcast for a minute, do you have a favorite story that you told or a favorite interview? I'm sure they're all your favorite children, but which ones stick out the most?

Kevin Lawton: 57:10

I love them all. I have to say I don't know, I mean I think maybe it's. My friends say I'm very nostalgic, but I have to say, like my first episode I definitely was, like you know, one of my favorites. It was with Bruce Welty who at the time, like I really hadn't I mean when I started the podcast like it really was not very familiar with industry at all. I mean it was kind of self-serving in a way to learn more about the industry, yeah. So I mean I was just kind of like trying to think what would be an interesting first episode, like what would get people's attention. So I thought like, oh, robots, right, like robots would get people's attention, right. So I just searched on LinkedIn and I cold emailed or LinkedIn message, whatever you call it Bruce to see if he wanted to be a guest and he said yeah, wow, the rare cold DM on LinkedIn working. Yeah, yeah, especially with someone with no like pedigree or nothing. So yeah and like, and so he talked about Locust Robotics he's actually one of the original founders of Locust Robotics and at the time, like I thought that was cool or whatever. And then you know, fast forward to now. Like I mean, locust is like a unicorn in the space you know, valued at over a billion dollars, and they're just kind of exploded and taken over like that robotic space. So I really didn't even realize, like you know, how good of a get that was for a guest at the time. So I look back on that and say like, oh wow, like that was like really cool, yeah. And I think it's just like that moment of you know what started it all is definitely leans it towards my favorite as well.

Blythe Brumleve: 59:10

Do you have any other cause? Marketing is a big part, whether we like it or not. Marketing is a big part of podcast, I guess distribution Do you have sort of maybe like a light bulb moment for you that you were like this is actually working, like this is resonating.

Kevin Lawton: 59:30

Yes, yes, yes. So first light bulb moment with the podcast was as we were talking about the conferences and stuff before we started recording. But so when I started in 2019, I think it was like first week of March or something we released the first episode and I say well, I say we now, cause I have a team now, but then it was just me, like I released the first episode, but how far we have come, right. But the I was talking to somebody either somebody I had that it's like an interview on the podcast, or just, you know, talking back and forth trying to get them to be a guest. They mentioned like, oh, are you going to go to a pro mat, right. And and honestly, like at that point, like I had never heard of of pro mat. But you know, trying to be, you know, cool with it, I was like, oh, I'm not sure yet, right. And then you know we get up to call quickly, like jump on Google, like pro mat is pro mat Right. So so, yeah, so I found it and you know it's like a huge conference for people that are familiar, all focused on material handling, forklifts, robotics, wms, you know anything that would you know be around or in the warehouse, like it is pretty much there, and that's like kind of the conference to be at if you have some type of solution that involves material handling or warehousing. And huge too, very, very big. So I'm like, oh, wow, like this, this is where I need to be All right, like this is, like you know, my mecca or whatever Right, like this is like the warehouse spot. So so, yeah, I looked at it and I'm like, oh, like, like, should I go? Like you know, how can I figure out how to go to this? And then I kind of like looking around and I saw like, oh, they have a press, right. So I'm like, oh, like, technically I'm press now, I guess Right. And I'm thinking like, oh, maybe I'm pressed. So I like, let me sign up. So I signed up as press and, yeah, like, when I did that, I guess I got put on press lists, whatever they do. And, man, like, my inbox just exploded, like with press releases, people saying like, oh, like, you know, how can we get on to interview and all these things. And I'm like, oh, like, this is something Right. So I'm like, oh, this is actually going to be like more than I expected. Like I thought, like I would go out there and maybe I would have luck to talk to a couple of people. And then, all of a sudden, like I'm lining up like all these interviews, and then I'm like, oh, man, like, what am I going to do? Cause I'm not going to have any time to even like promote the podcast. I mean, we're talking so many people, so I hired two people off Craigslist. Like to walk around with shirts on that said the new warehouse and out like postcards. And then I was like, oh, like, and they were two younger girls, actually in college I think, and they had they've been doing like trade show kind of work, part time, and I'm like, I'm like, yeah, so they like.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:02:38

It's a whole economy.

Kevin Lawton: 1:02:39

Yeah, it was in Chicago, right. So they like McCormick Place, you know, there's like huge conference scene there, I guess, or whatever you would call it. So they, you know they would work booths and stuff like that, like part time while they're going through school.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:02:52

A booth babe for logistics conferences.

Kevin Lawton: 1:02:56

Yeah, well, they work all kinds of conferences. They really didn't know what was going on in logistics world. But I was like, oh, you know what Like do you guys use Instagram? And they're like, yeah, of course, like duh, you know they go. So I'm like here, just log into the New Warehouse Instagram account, which was like new, and I'm like, just do whatever you want to do. So they went and handled all that and I just did interview after interview after interview, I think in three days I did like 40. I think I did like 40 some interviews in three days like just wilds and yeah, and when I did that that was kind of like a big light bulb moment, that like, oh, if I can tap into these conferences, trade shows, like on the press side, then I can get some credibility. But I can also get a lot of inbound too, like people interested because they want to talk about their thing and they want different outlets to do their thing. So that was like big time light bulb there, like kind of in the beginning. And since then, since I've been to multiple conferences and after that pro-mat I was running around with a little handheld recorder Actually I have it right here. This was me, nice, running booth to booth to booth to booth, right All my feet, like all three days, like all day long. And then after that I was able to develop a relationship with MHI, who are the organizers and they've set me up with a booth for pro-mat and modex and stuff to sit down and have interviews and things like that. So that was certainly a big time light bulb moment, I would say in the beginning there from like a marketing outreach, not only creating awareness but then also getting guests too. Additionally, and I think, since that has happened, it's pretty rare that I reach directly out to someone to come on the podcast.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:04:57

Actually, that's awesome. It's kind of full circle, Like we started off the show talking about the conference sign in the background and then how the conference has been the big light bulb moment for you, yeah yeah, absolutely.

Kevin Lawton: 1:05:10

And since then and in the last year, getting to go to more conferences, I mean it's just kind of it's just helped grow a lot because there's a lot more networking and being able to talk to people. And I'm sure you probably see this too. Like the podcast, it's kind of like a gateway to introductions, right. It's kind of it's very interesting. And I mentioned this the other day to, I think, nate, nate Shoeps. Yeah, we were talking the other day. We were talking about podcasting as well in a little shop talk and I was like one thing I heard kind of towards the beginning, because I was watching, I was trying to figure out how do I market this and all these things. I'm watching a lot of Gary Vee at that time. I really don't do that much anymore, but at the time and I remember the one thing he said to me was like if you create a podcast or you create a video series, something like that, all of a sudden you become that kid in high school that had the house where you could have parties at. It's like everybody wants to be your friend, everybody wants to talk to you, everybody wants to come to the party, so to speak. So I think once that realization kind of happened, like that was really a big springboard to like, oh OK, I can approach some people now that maybe if I was just Kevin, like just the regular guy, no podcast. They would be like who are you, why do you want to talk to me? But now there's that thing that kind of greases the wheels a little bit from a marketing perspective and I think that helps things go even further than I thought it would ever go.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:06:54

For sure I think podcasts are. I heard someone say it recently and I can't remember who, but they said podcasting is building relationships at scale and I think that that is just such a unique way to connect with other people. It's such a unique way to connect with your audience because they've got your show in their ears and their back time to the kids, or they're cooking dinner, cleaning the house or laundry and you're in their ears. It's such a unique and intimate medium versus, say, like a TikTok, for example, where you're just like a zombie looking at it for however many hours until you get the warning from the TikTok people that say you've been scrolling for too long, like you come out of the trance and it's like OK. But podcasting very much complements people's lives instead of interrupts it, which is the part of the original reason of why I fell in love with it. But as I've got you because I've got just a couple more rapid fire questions that I wanted to ask you, sure, let's do it. These are questions that I've started asking, especially over the last month. I've started asking each guest, so it's been really interesting to hear each of their answers. So first up is how do you think about marketing your podcast versus marketing yourself.

Kevin Lawton: 1:08:13

Ooh, that is a very interesting one, because I have been especially as I said, I think I mentioned earlier like been really focused on LinkedIn and trying to get the podcast growing on there, and it's kind of like there is that balance a little bit between what do I post as myself or what do I post as the new warehouse. But I think that I've come to a point where it's like, ok, I'm molding the two together. It's just one overall brand, but I do definitely pick and choose. What kind of messaging do I want to put out as me versus OK, this is going to be a post on my profile versus OK, this is going to be a post through the new warehouse profile or new warehouse page? So, yes, it's difficult, but it's always like, I think, if I intro to somebody, I think it's always like podcast first, right, and then it's like, oh, and then I do these other things too, but right now it's like podcast first, and then I kind of, I guess, benefit a little bit personally off of that from the personal brand perspective. But it's very much focused on pretty much the new warehouse, I would say like 85% of the time.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:09:42

It's like the Superman shirt under the clark can't get up. It's like at some point it just merges together and you've got to play both sides.

Kevin Lawton: 1:09:51

Yeah, yeah, I can't hide it anymore.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:09:53

OK, next one favorite social media platform, and why.

Kevin Lawton: 1:09:59

LinkedIn definitely is my favorite. I think that it's just been so interesting and I think it's just such an interesting way to connect with people, because it's very, I think LinkedIn. I find it it's very easy to find people that are in the same arena as you, so it's been very cool to find that. And then I think people post some. Really there's certainly some stuff on there now that's like OK, and there's certainly a lot of very insightful stuff on there too that some people post about not only just our arena logistics, warehousing but then from a branding, marketing perspective too, which to you and I is very important as well, as we just mentioned that question. But yeah, I mean, I think it's definitely LinkedIn, because I've met a lot of people through LinkedIn, like virtually, and then met them in person, like at conferences and things, and it's like, oh, it is like we're the best of friends. It's really been a lot for me to initially figure out LinkedIn, like how to use it in that way, but I really enjoy kind of being on that platform and just kind of the opportunities not only to connect but also to learn from there as well.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:11:27

For sure. I think I've always called it the digital handshake that turns into real world connections, and so we'll actually. We talked before we started recording that we'll actually get to meet each other for the first time at CSCMP. It's coming up in Orlando and then also Manifest. So Manifest end of January, early February. So quick plug for the both of those conferences that we'll be at.

Kevin Lawton: 1:11:50

Yeah, so when Blythe is there, we're going to get her on our live stream at CSCMP Edge in October, so definitely tune in for that.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:11:59

Heck. Yes, already signing up for that. So OK, final one. Oh wait, no, I lied, I had two more Favorite social account to follow, and why it can be in the industry or outside of the industry.

Kevin Lawton: 1:12:13

Oh man, that's hard.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:12:15

You have to pick favorite this time.

Kevin Lawton: 1:12:17

Yeah, I will say on LinkedIn I was a big I mean I guess I'm still a fan. But I was really into Justin Welsh for a while his account, especially when I decided to leave my previous job and do the entrepreneur thing. His whole concept of solo preneur was very interesting, some of the ways that he's not only talking about how to manage it but then also having that balance with life. So that was definitely a big favorite follow. And then within the, I think within our arena, I really like following the Ecom Logistics podcast. Guys like Harshita and Dan and the nod from Fulfillment IQ Like I think they have a great podcast too and but on LinkedIn like they really post, like really some really kind of insightful posts from like a supply chain perspective. That I think is really, really interesting.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:13:27

Super cool. I hadn't heard of them. So I've heard of the Fulfillment IQ, but I didn't know the names behind it, so I'm going to make a note to check them out afterwards.

Kevin Lawton: 1:13:35

Oh, definitely yeah, I'll intro to you. I know them all.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:13:38

And then a final rapid fire question Favorite SaaS tool that you can't live without?

Kevin Lawton: 1:13:44

Favorite SaaS tool. I can't live without.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:13:48

Can't be your own. Can't be my own, unless you guys have like a WM master or anything.

Kevin Lawton: 1:13:54

No, we don't have our own, so it's not that I would say I guess Calendly would Calendly be a SaaS product, right? Yeah, I would say that for all the podcast scheduling, because in the beginning, before Calendly, it was so much back and forth emails and now I'm like here's the link, right.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:14:19


Kevin Lawton: 1:14:21

Yeah, I mean that certainly is probably the best one, and then we use I would probably say close second, if not tied would just be the Google workspace suite in general, like I live by my Google calendar. So, yeah, that's definitely up there.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:14:43

All right, and then I guess, second to last question, what else is going on in either your world of podcasting, warehouse management, warehouse operations? What's going on in your world that you feel like is important to mention, that we haven't already talked about?

Kevin Lawton: 1:15:01

Sure, yeah, I mean we briefly talked about the fulfillment center and the 3PL services, but, as I mentioned, we moved into a new space here in New Jersey and we have a lot of space. Actually, we've partnered with another 3PL called Experior Global, which has allowed us to offer a lot more services from a transportation perspective, b2b distribution, and really gives us a lot more bandwidth to do things within those fulfillment 3PL services. So, yeah, so if anybody's looking for a 3PL or a fulfillment center to operate for them, we could definitely handle that and do that now. So reach out if you're interested in that.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:15:48

Absolutely, and I'll make sure to put a link in the show notes so folks can check that out if they're interested. But I lied about second to last question because now I have another one what, outside of the big retailers, like a Walmart or Amazon target, who is taking up the most warehouse space in North America? That's a good question actually, so like car makers, or I don't know if they actually store cars and warehouses, though I don't think they do.

Kevin Lawton: 1:16:18

No, I mean cars themselves, no, but parts definitely would take up a lot of space. But I think if I had to say and don't quote me on this, I don't have the data in front of me or anything like that but I would have to say just 3PL is like e-commerce fulfillment, probably consumer CPG stuff, just because the sheer volume of e-commerce volume that's going on now and there is so many 3PLs out there. I mean we hear about the big ones like DHL and all that stuff, but there's so many small, medium-sized ones and yeah, I mean I would say definitely those product mixes are probably taking up the most space, I would say in the country right now and then most densely packed and in demand is on the cold side, refrigerated, frozen side, because there's just such a lack of space for those things, especially with the rise of the grocery fulfillment and things like that. So that's where I would say but I can't say that that is the 100% truth to the data point.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:17:33

Well, it sounds believable, so I'm buying it.

Kevin Lawton: 1:17:36

I convinced you OK, that's good.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:17:37

Yes, I'm like, yeah, that sounds right. All right, kevin, this has been an awesome discussion. Working folks, I mean, I'll be sure to link to it, of course, but for the sake of folks who are listening and watching, where can they follow your work? Subscribe to the podcast, Check out your fulfillment services, get some warehouse space. Where can they find you?

Kevin Lawton: 1:17:58

Yeah, I mean LinkedIn. Definitely, as I mentioned, you can find me on LinkedIn either under Kevin Lawton or the new warehouse, and then you could just head to thenewwarehousecom for all things, the new warehouse and through the podcast. Anywhere you can listen to a podcast, we are, and I always tell people if you listen to podcasts somewhere and we are not there, please tell me, because we will get there.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:18:24

Oh, this is great, this is awesome. We covered a lot of ground in this conversation. We talked about the state of warehousing. We talked about content creation, podcasting, of course, conferences, robotics. We covered a lot of grounds, so I'm happy that this conversation finally got started.

Kevin Lawton: 1:18:40

Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much, blake, for having me on and definitely thank you for putting out the content that you do too. I listen to your podcasts all the time. It's in my ongoing rotation and really some great conversations, and I love the perspective from what's going on in the industry and then also from the marketing perspective. We've done there, too as well. I think it's a really unique mix and something that the industry needs, so definitely appreciate you putting it out.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:19:08

Thank you so much. The check is in the mail as soon as the show is over.

Kevin Lawton: 1:19:11

All right, ready to cash it.

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.