Formula for Success: Education, Research, Networking, Internships
Matt Rogers, Senior Transportation Systems Manager at KeHE in Elkton, Florida, said, “My Dad taught me that there are three decisions that you can make: the right one, the wrong one, and none at all. “ This advice appears to have guided Matt’s career pathway in the Transportation and Logistics (T&L) industry. Through careful research, making decisions on the educational program most suited to his learning style and area of interest, and being open to industry opportunities and challenges, Matt has found success in the industry in Northeast Florida.
Matt works for KeHE, a national company with a location in St. John’s County. KeHE specializes in order fulfillment and distribution to 30,000 stores in North America with continuing acquisitions. With 550 trucks and 15 North American distribution centers, KeHE is able to provide fresh, natural, and organic specialty foods to companies such as Publix and Sprouts. They serve big box stores to smaller family-owned operations.
Matt’s current role will allow him to improve route visibility. This industry trend incorporates technology and is the result of “The Amazon Effect.” The expectation of knowing when delivery will take place is a customer service issue that also allows businesses to be more responsive. Due to the distance trucks travel to each their many locations, an estimated time of arrival may change depending on traffic, accidents, or a variety of other factors. Matt’s work will involve a device in trucks that provides customers with real-time data and a notification when the driver is 30 minutes away from his or her destination. He previously worked for other regional companies such as Shoreside Logistics, Interstate Distributor, and Interline Brands.
After relocating to Jacksonville in between his junior and senior years of high school, Matt obtained his Associate of Arts degree at FSCJ and attended University of Florida until his Junior year. Matt began investigating the program at the University of North Florida (UNF) and was attracted to the smaller class size. He also realized that he needed to distinguish himself from many other students pursuing a business degree. Matt also realized that his hometown of Jacksonville was a major site of T & L activity encompassing road, rail, sea and air.
In 2008, Matt graduated from UNF with a Bachelor of Business Administration, Logistics and Transportation with a minor in Economics. Studies in this degree track at UNF qualified Matt to register for free and bypass the exam for the Certification in Transportation and Logistics (CTL), an internationally recognized industry certification.
Matt finds the industry interesting because “It’s so broad. The general public doesn’t understand how T & L impacts everything. The goods that reach families have a supply chain behind it.” Also, the industry is fun because “It’s always different.” Technology changes lend excitement to the industry as well. For example, on the warehouse side, KeHE’s Pick-to-Light capacity means that a light guides a picker to carious aisles and rows that house goods needed for multiple bins. This replaces print-out sheets of the past. Also, voice-to-pick technology provides opportunity for ESL workers, as the system can read orders in their native language.
Working while in school was a key to Matt’s success. In high school, he worked at Publix and realized how close and vast their warehouses were to the region. While at UNF, Matt worked at Medtronic, an opportunity secured through networking. While there, he was able to learn many aspects of the business including warehousing, purchasing, and customer service. This provided valuable cross-training and exposure in the company.
Matt cites the primary characteristics of people who are successful in this industry include thriving in a non-repetitive working environment that is deadline and time sensitive. Someone must be able to pivot quickly and realize that despite planning and strategy, not everything goes according to plan. “You can’t take it personally despite being invested. If something doesn’t work out, learn from it and move on.”
When asked what kind of helpful advice he’d share with individuals seeking to get into this field, Matt said, “Networking is critical. In this industry, everyone knows everyone. You never know who will help you. Be open to opportunity and take on challenges.“ He would encourage students to “work while you’re finishing your degree or secure an internship. If you can reduce debt while in school by working or using Bright Futures, it will pay dividends down the road.”
Clearly, Matt has made many choices and taken specific actions to reach this juncture in his career pathway. Now, you have more information equipping you to do the same.