Sure, absolutely. So, my first job coming out of the military, as I indicated before, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I was looking for logistics. And I was extraordinarily fortunate. My first job was with Target and a premier company, marquee in its industry and industry leader at the time. But what they were really known for back then was how they treated their employees or colleagues or associates. Back in the day, they called it fast, fun and friendly. I don’t know if they still use that term, but they were very employee centric and coming out of the military, it was absolutely essential for me to understand that transition. They would assign a peer, a sponsor to help you. And one day he came up to me, he says, I need to talk to you. I go, okay, what’s the problem. And he goes, I want you to go out and I want you to buy the most foo dress watch you can and get rid of that military one you wear upside down on your wrist.
I’m looking at it and thinking I had a G shock watch. It was waterproof. I had it all my life and so I never thought of it. I said, okay, why? He goes, look, you already stand up straighter than everybody else. You have a presence about you that intimidates people. But he said, you’ve got to soften your approach. I don’t know if I ever fully learned that, but I went out and bought the most fufu dress watch I could find, wore it correctly on the right wrist. And I really appreciated that feedback. So that was the kind of environment that they tried to create.
And it really helped me understand how to deal with people in a different environment where you’re not dealing necessarily from authority, you’re dealing from influence, you’re coaching. It was an incredible company to do a transition with. I don’t think I could have picked a better one.
The second thing it taught me was. One of my first managers was a former career Sergeant major. A great guy and very experienced supply chain guy. He taught me the mechanics of how to operate in a commercial environment. He taught me how slotting works in the building. He taught me the behind the scenes of the warehouse management system and kind of the technical side of that. And that really got me excited about the potential of a career. So that was outstanding.
So, this was on the West coast. I had aging parents and I needed to get back East, and there was no opportunity for me to go with Target to the East. So, I started looking and I found a company at the time, Lowe’s. And again, marquee company. I wish again, it was intentional. For me, it was a job close to where I needed to be. What I didn’t know was that they were on the verge of creating their distribution network. They were intentionally going out, looking for the people with big box retail background. Because they wanted to grow their distribution network. Their stores were growing at the time so fast. They couldn’t build a store big enough at the time. And they’re growing very rapidly. They had distribution. Their primary competitor at the time, Home Depot, did not have a distribution network and they recognize it as a strategic advantage, but they also knew that they knew nothing about it and what they had, wasn’t going to work.
So, they brought about five of us in, I was one of the five. And they basically gave us a blank check, not reality, but almost, and said, build us a network. Design us a building. How often do you get that opportunity? And I worked with some incredible industrial engineers. I had never done this before. I was an operator.
I knew people. I knew how to make things happen. They taught me how a building gets designed. We had our own warehouse management system and then they had to modify that. And I learned about warehouse management systems and working with IT people, I was an applied math major in school. And so, I knew how to talk engineering so I could learn things fast. And I knew math. I could talk and keep programmers honest, because I knew logic. And so, I could translate what I wanted the system to do into the logic, how to get there and understand whether it was in the realm of, could we really do it or couldn’t we, how much effort.
That put me in a unique position. So, I actually was at the ground level. I started as an operations manager there. I became what was called a planning manager. I was the first one and it was a job that grew out of anything that was screwed up in the building, they gave it to me. And I built my own position. And fortunately, I was able to get whatever was wrong, fixed, and that just gave them more opportunity to give me something else that was broken. And so that’s how I built that position. And as we expanded the network it gave me an opportunity to start a first building startup of a big multi-million square foot facility. We did it with only two of us from the company. And it taught me the challenge of creating a culture. When you started a building up, I got involved in site selection. I’d never done that before. So that was fascinating. And it allowed me to experience community relations because we tended to initially build our buildings in very remote areas for obvious economic reasons. We were the biggest game in town and we had a responsibility with that in the community. They expected us to be a good neighbor and building those relationships was incredibly important.
I was promoted to lead that building. And I had the opportunity to influence the design of, startup and run two more buildings for Lowe’s. And if you’re ever involved in being what we call a founder, the first group that opens a building anywhere is the hardest thing you will ever do, but is absolutely the most rewarding. Nobody can take that away from you. The culture you create, you own, you did it. It’s not something you inherited or it’s not anybody else’s, it’s all yours. And to this day, I can drive by the Lowe’s building in Texas, the Lowe’s building in Pottsville, Pennsylvania and Findlay, Ohio, and say, that’s my building with great pride. And that it’s still performing and it’s still running.
I did that for 10 years. You build a reputation and you work with a lot of people. And it’s really important for everybody to understand that because, you will build a professional reputation, both with suppliers you work with the people that work for you that work around you, that move on to other companies. And that can be a great asset for you. I was called up by a former boss that said, Hey, I’m working for this company and I need your help. I’m trying to do something new. And I need an outsider’s view of what I’m trying to do. McKesson is another marquise Fortune 50 company or oldest in the fortune 500, by the way. I don’t make the drugs, but get them from the people that do and give them to the people who need them at the pharmacies. And it was a unique business. I said, I don’t know anything about drugs. And he goes, you don’t need to. And he said, logistics, people, systems, I need your help.
And it was the first time that allowed me to have multiple location responsibility. So instead of just running a location, I now was responsible for a set of locations. And again, I was assigned as a vice president of distribution operations for a region. It was the most successful region and I had absolutely incredible people that I worked with. And again, it’s helping shape me and it taught me as a first time I ever experienced face to face with our customers. And actually got into customer negotiation. In the wholesale business, one of the things that we sell as logistics, so I got involved in that discussion and that sales cycle. I’ve never been involved in sales cycles before. It was fascinating to be able to have that kind of contact directly with the customer. In the past, all my customers had been stores. And internal customers. I never had a face-to-face with an external customer, and that was exciting to me. And it was an each business. Most of my experience had been in case logistics, what you did in those distribution centers at the time was case in case out. This was primarily each with just a little bit of case. Different environment. The business was also different in that the customer put their order in by 9:00 PM and they get it by 6:00 AM. And the value of the inventory was incredible. So, the economics of that business was upside down different. The economics was all about the inventory. Labor expense and productivity was important, but what drove the business was inventory. It was all about the employee.
I did that for five years and then I had the opportunity to leverage what I learned at Lowe’s. We were trying to expand, replace some buildings and do some consolidation, some network stuff. Because of my experience at Lowe’s, I was tagged to help do that at a national level. So, I became responsible for their distribution, US pharma, distribution capital plans, organizing them, executing them, warehouse design, and was able to bring in automation I think that they’re still using today and the platforms are still using today. So again, I was able to draw from experience. I was a little nervous because I knew nothing about the drug business. I gotta remember the region I came in was the highest performing region. Career-wise don’t ever do that, always go lower performing because it’s easier to show improvement.
But I was successful there because I listen. When you walk into a new job, I think there’s pressure. Everybody thinks I got to change something right away. I don’t do that. When I approach a new job, I’ll go into it and I want to observe, I want to listen and I want to learn, and that shows respect for the people that you work with and around, and appreciate that you’ve taken the time to understand something before you suggest to change. And to me that helps that change be adopted. You can build credibility because you’ve taken the time to understand it. And that’s, what’s been successful for me.
So, I did that for 10 years. Again, you build a reputation. I get a phone call and it’s from a fellow supervisor that I worked with at Target some 15 years ago. And he calls up and says, Hey, do you remember me? And I said, yeah, I remember who you are. We weren’t best of friends. We knew each other. We would work together. I said, you know your name’s in my book. And I go, what does that mean? In my book, I’ve written names of people that I’ve worked with and I followed their careers and I want them to work on my team. I’ve been following your career. I’d like you to come work for me. And I said where are you working now? And he said, Macy’s. Ah, back to retail. I said, what do you want me to do? And he said, this direct to consumer business.
I didn’t know anything about direct consumer and here we go. It’s McKesson all over again and going, Oh, what am I getting into? But I knew the individual. I trusted the individual. He said, look, you’ve got the skillset. You can help us. And you’d be good at. And I said at the time, nah. No, thank you. So, over a two-year period, I finally said yes and went to Macy’s. And again, I wish I could tell you, I planned this way, but I didn’t. And six years later, I’m now a senior vice president for the supply chain responsible for all the domestic operations in the company.
But again, it was not planned. But part of it is your reputation you build. And so, one of the things I would say to listeners is always keep that in mind, everything you do, you’re going to carry a reputation with you on how you did it, how well you do it, how fast you learn, what is your professionalism. Is he or she a nice guy to work with? And do I enjoy working with that person? And so, you carry that when you realize it or not carry that reputation and those relationships you build, not just internal to your company, but external to suppliers and to vendors who are extremely important.