Sarah Amico, Executive Chairman with Jack Cooper Investments
Sarah Amico is the Executive Chairperson of Jack Cooper Holdings Corp., North America’s largest car haul company and a WBENC-certified Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE). As Executive Chairperson, Mrs. Amico oversees the Company’s Board, Strategy, Mergers & Acquisitions, and Human Capital Development. Prior to her appointment by the Board as Executive Chairperson, Mrs. Amico served as Vice Chairman of the Board. She has been a Director since 2011 and serves on the Board’s Nominating and Governance Committee.
Prior to joining Jack Cooper, Mrs. Amico worked as the Head of Strategic Planning at APA Talent and Literary Agency in Beverly Hills, where she also launched and led the company’s Entertainment Marketing & Brand Integration Department. During this time, she secured multi-party agreements amongst top content creators, marquis talent, large content distributors, and leading brands. Mrs. Amico began her tenure in media at the William Morris Agency in both Beverly Hills and New York across a variety of departments, including The Mailroom Fund, a seed capital fund raised in partnership with AT&T, Venrock and Accel Partners. During her time in the entertainment industry, Mrs. Amico worked on initiatives for some of the world’s largest and most recognizable brands, including Time Inc., Reader’s Digest, Amtrak, Harry & David, and Virgin America Airlines. Mrs. Amico received her B.A. in Politics magna cum laude from Washington & Lee University and her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Speaker1: [00:00:08] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for workplace wisdom sharing, insight, perspective and best practices for creating the planet’s best workplaces. Now here’s your host.
Speaker2: [00:00:31] Welcome to another exciting and informative edition of Workplace Wisdom Stone Payton with the Business RadioX network here, and you are in for a real treat. Please join me in welcoming to the broadcast with Jack Cooper Investments. Miss Sarah Riggs Amico. Good morning, Sarah.
Speaker3: [00:00:50] Good morning, stone. It’s great to be with you today.
Speaker2: [00:00:53] Well, it is a delight to have you join us on air and very interested in this conversation. Certainly timely and want to dove into some of the specific issues and topics that I know you are working with on on a daily basis. But before we go there, could you help our listeners out and me as well with a little bit of a primer, overview, mission purpose about what you, you guys are out there trying to do for folks?
Speaker3: [00:01:21] Yeah, absolutely. So Jack Cooper Transport is a ninety three year old business. We were founded in nineteen twenty eight just outside of Kansas City, Missouri, and in fact, we still operate today in that same location where we serve one of our largest customers, General Motors. In fact, we’ve been a supplier to General Motors for that entire ninety three year period, which if you think about it in a world where so many supplier and customer relationships are so transient, so temporary is really remarkable. So the company was founded, not surprisingly, by a gentleman named Jack Cooper, and three generations of the Cooper family ran the business. And for a long time, this has been this gold standard in the car business. So for your listeners, anyone who’s ever seen those double decker trucks full of cars, that is what we call a car haul rig. That’s what we do. And we usually in a normal year, twenty twenty one, for many, many reasons is not normal in the supply chain, as I’m sure many of your listeners have heard, but particularly for automotive. In a normal year, we move about three and a half to four million vehicles a year, which is about one out of every four cars in the North American market we will touch. So we operate across the U.S., Mexico and Canada with about thirty five terminal operations delivering to over twenty thousand points of delivery.
Speaker3: [00:02:51] And we are very proud to be family owned. We are a certified woman owned business. I’m very proud of that. We’re certified by the Wesbank agency, so we represent hundreds of millions of dollars in qualified diversity supplier spin for our largest customers like Ford and General Motors. The Cooper family ran the business until two thousand nine and at that time, Mr. Tim Cooper, the grandson of the founder, was the head of the business. And of course, we were in the midst of the Great Recession. My family had acquired a small business called Active Car Hall, which was about one hundred and twenty employees and about twenty eight million in revenue in two thousand eight. And the company was dying. And thanks largely to the work of my dad at the time, we were able to save that business and the Cooper family was really struggling with Jack Cooper. And one of our largest customers came to us and said, We know it’s unusual, but we’d like you to help save one of your competitors, Jack Cooper. They’re really important in the auto supply chain, and we’re worried they’re not going to make it. Remember, this is early twenty nine late two thousand eight, so it’s a very scary time right before the auto industry bailout. And we said, of course, and we worked out a plan with Mr.
Speaker3: [00:04:14] Cooper how we thought they could save their business. And he was an absolute gentleman, he said. You know, I believe this will work, but what I really want is another family to take care of our people the way my family has for three generations. And so he sold us his business and overnight we grew by tenfold. And you know, about a month after we bought Jack Cooper, two of our largest customers, General Motors and Chrysler both declared bankruptcy, and it was the kind of white knuckle turnaround work that you think you’ll only read about in the paper. And I can tell you, it’s a lot different when you’re experiencing it on the front lines. So we were very fortunate we not only survived the Great Recession, but the company actually grew. Today, we employ over two thousand five hundred people. About two thousand of those or Teamster truck drivers were very proud to be union. We’ve been Teamsters since, I believe the nineteen fifties. And we also have machinists and some of our auto mechanic shops or our mechanic shops. So it’s a great business. If you drive a car, it’s about a one in four chance. You have Jack Cooper to thank for transporting it at some point in time. And that’s a pretty extraordinary thing.
Speaker2: [00:05:29] What an inspired. Barring origin story, and I think I know for myself and I suspect this is true for a lot of laypeople, let’s say I, I tend to not dismiss but forget about or not fully acknowledge just how dependent we are on moving goods in and around this country until I go on a road trip and. And then it dawns on me, all of these folks, you know, hauling all of these things we need from from food to vehicles. It’s such an important part of the infrastructure of the country and the economic system. Now it strikes me that it might be and maybe this will sound old fashioned, but I’d like to get this validated. It seems to me like it would be a little bit unusual to to have a female in an executive level position in a in a trucking company. Am I just being old fashioned or is that actually still the case this day and age?
Speaker3: [00:06:33] You know, it is a little bit unusual, and I’ve told the story many times that for a long time at the business, I was the only woman on the management team at the senior level, so the only woman in the boardroom. But that has changed. I’ve been an owner since two thousand nine. I’ve been on the board since 2011 and I was elected executive chairman by our independent board in twenty fourteen. So I’ve been at this for a good long while now and I’m very proud to say at this point. Jack Cooper is actually a leader in having women in management. About 30 percent of our management throughout the company is female. We’re currently being considered for a major award in our industry for diversity, equity and inclusion. We believe that having a diversity of management and employees at all levels is important, not because it checks a box, but because it broadens your horizon. It broadens your point of view. It makes the discussions in the boardroom or the executive team or a department or a business unit more thoughtful, more inclusive. And we find that that produces better business results. And, you know, I think it’s a key component to Jack Cooper’s resilience. This is a really tough business. You mentioned how important trucking is, and I always like to joke, if you eat oranges in Idaho in the winter, you’re welcome. Thank you. Thank a trucker. You know, we have over three million kdl commercial driver’s license holders in this country. Truck drivers have been heroes on the front lines of this pandemic, making sure that the goods we need, the food we eat, the clothes we wear gets where it needs to go.
Speaker3: [00:08:18] Putting in long hours, particularly now as we look at some of the backups and the ports around the country and some of the supply chain disruption. But for anyone listening, if you’ll just take a look around the room you’re sitting in or the car you’re in, the clothes you’re wearing. Over 70 percent of it traveled on a truck for some good distance, and most things travel on a truck for what we call last mile. So you may be able to take the railroads for stretches of hundreds or thousands of miles, but at some point the railroad doesn’t stop at Walmart’s loading dock. And so trucking really is part of what keeps this country moving and fed and what keeps our economy humming. And so I think a big part of being resilient within that context is making sure that you’re connected to the communities where we live and work. So so yes, it might be a little odd in the traditional sense to have a female chief executive, although there are others, most notably, of course, here in Atlanta at UPS with Miss Tom and and I think this is certainly changing. But I can tell you what, Jack Cooper, it’s changing intentionally. We want a workplace that reflects the communities where we live and work. We want a management team that looks like the world around us, and we believe that we’ll deliver better business results for our customers, our investors and our team members.
Speaker2: [00:09:41] So you shared specifically the imagery you used was, you know, we didn’t just want to check a check a box, do some do a few strategies, tactics, I don’t know. Cultural guidelines come to mind that you guys are just actively trying to to practice some disciplines that you’ve employed to ensure that this this diversity equity inclusion really comes to comes to life for you guys.
Speaker3: [00:10:09] Yeah, absolutely. And I think it starts first and foremost with respecting the dignity of work, whether you are a custodian and one of our buildings. By the way, I have two of my four grandparents who worked as custodians. One of my grandmother on my mom’s side cleaned hotel rooms and hospital rooms and. She had to leave the workforce for Alzheimer’s, and my dad’s dad started as a janitor and his elementary school and later was a custodial worker, by the way, in a General Motors factory, which sort of began my family’s three generation love affair with the U.S. auto industry. And so I think respecting the dignity of work, whether you are the chief executive or the guy delivering the cars, the people who make the business happen is at the core of everything we do. But Jack Cooper is a values driven company, and we have those values printed on our business cards hanging in our locations. But most importantly, connected to our operations. So when we talk about excellence and operations, we mean it. We measure a variety, a wide variety of metrics every day and every week that filter all the way up to the chief executive and the board to check how we’re doing and to track what the business looks like, where the hot spots are, where there’s room for improvement and where there are the best practices that we need to take across the organization. When we talk about integrity, we mean it. There can be no progress and there can be no success in a business.
Speaker3: [00:11:49] Or I would argue in society if you don’t have a common set of facts. Meg Whitman, of course, was famous for saying, If you can measure it, you can manage it, but you got to be measuring stuff that actually exists. So integrity is at the core of what we do. And I think we are unique, probably among trucking companies, and that one of our core values is innovation and imagination. And I think that comes partly based on our family’s ethos. My dad and I are both fans of Star Trek movie called The Wrath of Khan that some of your listeners might have seen. Oh yeah, and it’s famous, right for this scene where Captain Kirk is talking about the Kobayashi Maru, which is a test for the, you know, the Starfleet captains coming out of the academy designed to teach them how to deal with the no win scenario. What happens when the ship is going to go down and everybody’s going to die? How do you lead in that moment? And of course, Captain Kirk sort of games the system and becomes the first cadet ever to beat the Kobayashi Maru and to win. And later in the movie, he’s stranded and some alien planet and a young cadet played by Kirstie Alley actually asks him What gives what? What happened? And he said, It’s very simple. I don’t believe in the no win scenario. And I think we’ve adopted that same sort of ethos.
Speaker3: [00:13:20] This is a tough business, and if you’re willing to fly the white flag every time it gets tough, you’re going to be out of here in six seconds. But it’s a great, yeah, it’s a great business. You just have to be creative. You know, we’ve we have bought businesses out of bankruptcy. We’ve restructured the company in a bankruptcy. We have merged and acquired. We have adapted our operating systems. We have had to be agile to survive. And so creativity, innovation, imagination. Those are really at the core of how we solve problems and probably one of the best examples of that. It always makes me giggle a lot of trucking networks because people deliver freight from, say, point A to B, but a lot of times have trouble getting what we call back haul freight. So that would be returning from point B to a right or routing through a network back to your point of origin. And when you make specialized freight like cars, for example, they’re not sort of just laying around on every street corner. It’s a pretty sophisticated logistics network. And we wanted to eliminate empty miles. We certainly wanted to lower fuel costs and idling and sort of the cost of the truck stay relatively static. Whether or not you’re higher, you’re hauling freight that produces revenue. But we couldn’t afford to go and get brand new technology for fuel efficiency. To replace our whole fleet would have cost hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. And this was right in the middle of the Great Recession or sort of coming out of it.
Speaker3: [00:14:57] And so we thought, Well, what else can we do? And we did what nerds do we? We use math. We came up with an algorithm that would more efficiently route our equipment and our drivers and those 40 to different permutations of tractor trailer combinations we had through the system. And it was a it was a pretty remarkable thing. We’ve taken our loaded miles percentage. If you go out full and you come back empty, that would be what we call 50 percent loaded miles. Average in our industry is probably somewhere in the mid fifties. I can’t think it’s much higher than that. Some people may get up in the sixties. We’re heading towards 70 percent and I’m confident we can hit seventy five. But it’s not because we had more. Money or better equipment? I would argue we do have better drivers. Of course, I love our Teamsters, but it’s because we were more creative so that innovation and imagination is at the core. And I think health and safety, you can’t run a transportation business without it. And longevity. This is a business that has been around for the better part of a century and as we approach our one hundredth birthday in twenty twenty eight. My job as the executive chairman is to chart the course for what the next century will look like. How can we survive and be competitive and not just survive but thrive, provide great service at a great price and a great working environment for our team.
Speaker3: [00:16:33] And I think part of how we do that is really envisioning what the industry could look like. I call it doing good and doing well. We have always tried to do right by our people, whether that’s investing and what we call Jack Cooper University, which is a continuous education program available for free to all of our employees. Whether that is supporting our union, their health, welfare and pension, it’s a great job. Many of our drivers make six figures a year, and that’s a good that’s a good way to provide for your family or whether it’s health care. We are unique in many ways our Jack Cooper transport team. We pay one hundred percent of the health insurance premiums for all of our employees and their families, and it’s good insurance. It’s the same insurance my family and I have. Our executives have we we’re all on team care, our Teamster insurance plan, and we didn’t do that because it’s the cheapest thing to do. And we certainly didn’t do it because it’s trendy. We did it because we believe that’s the right way to treat your people. And it’ll be a cold day in Hades before somebody who works for me is sick because they’re poor or poor, because they’re sick. I don’t believe in that. And so I think when we think about the next century and how do we continue that ethos of doing the right thing, trying to do good, but also do well, we’re thinking about how do we become a carbon neutral trucking fleet? How do we take our carbon emissions, not just down, but to zero? How do we expand that diversity, equity and inclusion so that it touches every part of our company, not just again, to check a box, but to do better, to be a better company with better ideas? How do we take care of our employees better? We think we do a really good job.
Speaker3: [00:18:22] We have paid leave, we’ve got unions, we’ve got paid health insurance, we treat people very fairly and we’re proud of it. But what else can we do? Those are the kinds of things I’m thinking about as I look to the next century, what is the kind of company I would want my daughters to work at? How would they treat my kids? And if it’s not good enough for my daughters, it shouldn’t be good enough for any of our employees. So I think it’s a very long winded way to answer what was a relatively straightforward question. But it’s not just about gender. This is about the values that we tell people we live by. And if you’re going to put them on your card, you’re going to put them on the wall in your office. You better be willing to put your money where your mouth is. And I’m proud to say at every turn that I can think of, we’ve done exactly that.
Speaker2: [00:19:11] Well, we can hear your passion, your pride, your commitment, even your resilience, just in your voice, I can only imagine what it must be like hanging out with you and being in it involved in this organization. With that, that theme and that ethos so firmly grounded and in the the work, the the integrity and the dignity of the work. Are you finding? Or have you discovered that COVID has kind of had a little bit of a Kobayashi Maru impact? Is it one of those?
Speaker3: [00:19:55] Yes. Yeah. Oh my gosh. What a great question. It is, right? And by the way, it’s not just COVID. We’ve been whipped a few years in a row in 20 19. General Motors, as I mentioned, 93 or customer of ours. And by the way, one of the companies I will admit to being just mildly in love with this is the company where my granddad had a job as a custodial worker. My while he was there, he noticed some young kids with short sleeve white shirts. You know, this is like the sixties, seventies and ties. And he said, Who are those kids? And somebody said, Those are the GMI students. Well, what’s I? And they said, that’s General Motors Institute. That’s a program where kids can work for six weeks in a GM factory or a GM office, and then they can go to college for six weeks, and that’s how they pay their way through. They go every six weeks between working and studying. And my granddad went right to HR and he found out how to get an application for my dad, and that’s how my dad afforded college. And that college still exists today. It’s called Kettering University. Very proud to still be in contact with them. I think we’ve done over one hundred and twenty scholarships for kids at the college, so we’ve definitely tried to pay it forward. But but that that love affair with GM is strong and I say that at the same time that, you know, they had a pretty rough strike in twenty nineteen.
Speaker3: [00:21:26] I want to say it was one hundred days since the first time since the seventies they’d had something like that. And that’s tough for a supplier like us. And then we had a restructuring and a Chapter 11, and it was it was a consensual restructuring. It took us about three months, which is lightning speed for restructuring. And we do turn around work, as I’ve said. So it wasn’t out of the realm, but it was a difficult year. So that was twenty nineteen. We get to twenty twenty and we’re all breathing a sigh of relief, thinking, Oh, finally, this is going to be our year and I’ll be darned if we didn’t get hit with a global pandemic and the whole industry shut down for four months. And, you know, had it not been for some very creative work on the part of the team and for programs like PPP, I don’t know that we would have made it or if we had not restructured the year before. I don’t know that we would have made it, but by the grace of God, we wouldn’t be here. And so twenty twenty, we have the COVID shutdowns. We finally got back up. We were operating at a great clip in September of twenty twenty. And right about that time it became very obvious that the semiconductor chip shortage was going to be devastating for our industry. And so right when we’re thinking, well, twenty twenty one will be hit, this is probably been the hardest of the three years we have had up until last week, not a single week in the year.
Speaker3: [00:22:50] Twenty twenty one were all of our locations were open at General Motors and Ford were shutting down critical plants. I mean, these are the plants that make the f one fifties. The SUVs that you like, the the Chevy’s you drive. I mean, these are iconic brands that consumers know and they’ve been idled. And when they’re not making cars, we’re not moving them. And so, you know, yeah, COVID whipped us, but it’s part of a three year tsunami for us where we had the GM strike. Our restructuring then covered in twenty twenty. And then the chip shortage in twenty twenty one. So what I can say is if I were going to bet on a management team, not just in trucking, but in any industry, I’d bet on mine because for those three years, these guys and gals have rolled with the punches. They have found ways to make it work and they’ve done it all without cutting it out of the backs of our people. They still prioritize doing the right thing for the people who make the business possible. And so if I’m proud of anything, it’s that that that this team has weathered some real choppy waters, some huge storms, and they’ve sort of come out of it still swinging the bat. I mean, what a remarkable group of people I get to work with.
Speaker2: [00:24:11] Well, it certainly is sobering to me, and I don’t really pretend to understand any of the intricacies, but it is, I guess that’s the best word, sobering to me. The way the dominos can fall and apparently have falling have fallen. When you have a shortage of something like semiconductors, I mean, that just impacts a lot of stuff, doesn’t it?
Speaker3: [00:24:33] Everything, right? Wait till Christmas. I mean, the semiconductors are just one part of what’s happening with supply chains in this country and really around the world. But the chip shortage for auto has been brutal. So to put it in perspective, if any of your listeners have tried to buy a car recently or even just been to a dealership lot, just look around. They’re parking the cars at angles, so they take up three spaces, so it doesn’t look as empty because they have no inventory. We have customers telling us that it’s going to take them three years and an incremental hundred plus days of production just to replenish the inventories of the dealerships. And that’s on top of the three shifts, seven days a week kind of operation that they’re going to have for the next few years. And that’s all because there are millions of cars. We estimate this pent up demand. People who wanted to buy a car but couldn’t has at minimum, a little over three million cars. And so, you know, the good news is when we get to the other side of this, it should be a really good few years for the company. The bad news is consumers right now don’t have a lot of options. If they want to buy a car, they. And remember, cars are one of those depreciable assets, right? Like the way they wear out, you have to replace them in some instances, but more to the point.
Speaker3: [00:26:02] Americans love to replace them, right? We love cars. This is part of our ethos and the open road and the highway system. And I think I think we’re in for for more disruptions through the rest of this year, probably through Q1. I’m hoping the semiconductor issue is is largely sorted out in the first half of next year. I think we’ll turn a corner probably early next year. But again, that’s one piece of the supply chain. You’re also looking at container ports that are backed up, warehouses that are full. The Biden administration, I think very smartly has started to move to 20 for seven operations that some of the most congested ports, like those on the West Coast. We’re certainly seeing that here in Savannah at the container port. And I think that that’s good, but we still need to do more right throughput, this is operations one on one throughput needs to consider everything that moves goods out of those ports and starts getting those containers back to Asia or to wherever their point of origin was so they can be replenished. That may mean we need to look at weight exemptions of a few thousand pounds for trucks. Trucks are limited to about 80 thousand pounds Class eight trucks.
Speaker3: [00:27:17] So what most of your listeners would think of as big rigs or or, you know, sort of heavy trucking? But we might want to consider giving them a five percent exemption four thousand pounds just for the first fifty or one hundred or one hundred and fifty miles out of the port so that they can increase throughput by five percent. And I think those are the kinds of solutions that we’re going to need to use. If it were up to me, I’d probably add incentive to that and say, if you’ll convert your fleet to zero emissions, whether that’s natural gas powered vehicles, electric trucks, I think fuel cells are coming along, but I’d probably allow those weight exemptions for for zero emissions vehicles more broadly because I think that’s a great way to start to transition our industry toward carbon neutrality. But but we’re going to have a lot to deal with, and I think consumers are going to be very aware of this as the holiday season approaches. It’s, you know, I’m glad I’m not a mom in the nineteen eighties looking for a Cabbage Patch doll. Right? You would not find it. Yeah, the supply chain issues are real. So shop early and I think manage expectations for the littles because this is going to be a rough one.
Speaker2: [00:28:36] Now, as I understand it, you have been all along and continue to be adamant, I guess, is the right word that there should not be another auto bailout. Is that accurate?
Speaker3: [00:28:50] Yeah, it is. And I can explain why. So first and foremost, I want to say that I became a Democrat in large part because of Barack Obama over the health care issue. But if I had to pick a second issue, I would say because of the auto bailout, there’s no question it saved our industry. It saved our company. It saved thousands of jobs just in my little business. And so I am grateful for what was done during the Great Recession with the auto industry bailout. But at this point, I think the automakers are going to be OK. I’m sure it’s not going to be their most comfortable years of margin. What I’m really worried about is the suppliers companies like Jack Cooper. You know, a lot of people don’t talk about this. But during the Great Recession, there were thousands of suppliers in our industry that went bankrupt. There were dozens just in my industry that no longer exists. I can think of a million companies of Pete’s being one of the biggest examples. I think they went straight into liquidation. There was Allied Systems Holdings based out of Atlanta. They went into bankruptcy. We bought them out of the bankruptcy. So we were able to save probably 12 hundred jobs there. But there were literally half a dozen a dozen companies just in my space, my little segment of car haul that disappeared. But there were thousands of suppliers to the industry that went under. And it’s usually disproportionately the small guys, the mom and pops. You know, people just kind of like doing their best to create something that’s theirs and to provide a good product at a good price. Those are the guys that get walloped.
Speaker3: [00:30:30] Most of the bigger companies will be OK. So if if there were going to be another bailout, I would certainly hope they look at the suppliers who can’t control whether or not there’s a shortage of semiconductor chips, right? We have two thousand five hundred employees and we’re based really entirely in North America. Delta COVID waves in Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam have massively disrupted semiconductor chip production, but there’s not a darn thing Jack Cooper can do about that. And I think about the companies that make everything from the interior of the vehicles, the materials they use, and there’s been a rubber shortage during COVID as well did not realize that, wow, OK. Yeah, there’s all kinds of little players, the people who make components of the parts that are supplied to the auto industry. So I’m always in favor of the U.S. investing in the sector. There are eight million jobs in this country directly tied to the automotive industry. If you look at dealerships, manufacturing, logistics, this is a job creation machine in America, so I’m in favor of investing. But if we were going to look at a bailout, they need to be looking. At the suppliers like Jack Cooper, like the smaller players, even who’s been hit by these through no fault of their own. And honestly, the one two punch of the COVID shutdowns last year and the chip shortage this year. I think that’s going to be fatal for a lot of these companies if they’re not given some assistance. So we’re very fortunate PPP. I think that a lot of companies through last year. But I do. I worry about some of the smaller players in particular and whether or not they’ll make it.
Speaker3: [00:32:20] We’ve been very lucky at Jack Cooper. Know this year there are a lot of moments where you felt like you were kind of holding it together with duct tape and chewing gum metaphorically. But you know, there have got to be people out there that are really struggling for cash. And I worry what happens to them. I think that the automakers are really doing well right now. All things considered, this is a brutal time, but they’re doing the best they can to navigate those waters. And what I love is that they’re continuing their mission, right? Mary Barra is talking about transitioning to an all electric product lineup by twenty thirty five. I mean, that’s extraordinary. She’s talking about introducing 30 new EV products by mid-decade this decade. And so they’re they’re continuing to move the ball down the field. They’re continuing to create really new and exciting products. I mean, look at the new Corvettes. I mean, my gosh, they’re beautiful. Yeah. Very proudly moved by Jack Cooper, by the way. I’m very proud of that. But, you know, the Broncos sold out the new Broncos. A lot of the new EV models are selling out within hours. You have the Mustang Mach-E being made down in Mexico and coming up here. There’s some great products, so I think the automakers are going to be fine. But I do worry about the supply chain and candidly, I’m not hearing a ton of rumbling about bailouts, but but if they do, I will be very loud that this should be directed at some of the companies that are kind of more on the margins of the of the supply chain.
Speaker2: [00:33:56] Well, it makes perfect sense to me and based on this conversation, I sure hope that the powers to be the administration will at least lean on and take and listen to experts in logistics and and and major players in the supply world and get that, you know, and try to get the benefit of that knowledge and experience base to influence these critical decisions that they’ll be making.
Speaker3: [00:34:26] Yeah, I mean, I think they do, and I think they try, right? It’s a big country. It’s a big industry, right? We talked about three million CD holders. Trucking is a big sector, but I think relying on expertize is really important. We don’t always have subject matter experts in government. We have a lot of them. But car haul, just as an example, what we do is a very small niche. There may be 15 20 thousand rigs total in the continent. I think it’s probably closer to 12, to be honest, and at least a couple of thousand of those are. So it’s it’s it’s a niche market. There’s plenty of specialized transportation niches where I would I would be very dubious that we happen to have an expert in car hall working on that problem. And I think if they can lean into the executives like like we are out in the field and the drivers also right there, they’re seeing a lot of these effects up front as well, up close and personal. So I hope they lean on us. They they seem to be listening, but I think we’re in a period of tremendous uncertainty right now and writing the supply chain. Overall, not just the chip shortage, we’re potentially looking at a couple of years of disruption still.
Speaker2: [00:35:53] Earlier in in the conversation, I think you mentioned something about Jack Cooper being a Witbank certified women owned business enterprise. Could you speak to that a little bit? The process, the value, your take on on on that, on that.
Speaker3: [00:36:11] Yeah, sure. I love this organization. So we’re probably on the larger side of certified businesses. We have to go through a little bit of a special process because of our size, but we’re very fortunate. My mom, my sisters and I control the company. And on the board, I think I outvote all of the other directors combined. So we’re very clearly owned and operated by women. And you know, I have two sisters and no brothers, so I’m not going to lie. We’re we’re very proud of that and it changes the way we operate too, right? I remember one of the first things when I was chairman was child care in this country is such a crisis for working parents, but for working mothers in particular. And we ended up just putting a daycare in Kennesaw at free to our employees because we could not crack that nut for our employees, and we knew it was limiting the number of working moms and parents we could get. We, of course, had men and women who use the service. Paid leave was another thing that I implemented getting paid leave. Whether you adopt a child or have a child or foster a child, foster parents also qualify for paid leave in our business, so being women-owned is something we’re proud of. We’re a little bit unique. We don’t do government contracting or anything like that. So we’re not, I think, a lot of companies, the certification is really important because there are set aside budgets for diversity suppliers in, for example, federal contracting. We don’t use it that way. For us, it’s more of a way to hang our hat, to hang our sign on the front door, so to speak, to say this is a company that that is investing in women and investing in in diversity, equity and inclusion.
Speaker3: [00:38:08] But I do think it’s important to some of our customers, the auto industry. A lot of your listeners may not be familiar with it, but they really are exemplary on this when it comes to supplier diversity, whether that’s women owned, disabled, veteran owned, minority owned. These companies have billions of dollars in commitments for supplier diversity spend. And so we’re very proud to contribute a part of that in in transportation and logistics. The process itself, the we bank agency, I can’t say enough good things. It is rigorous. So for any of your female entrepreneurs out there listening, I highly encourage you to seek certification for any of your listeners that are wondering whether it’s a real thing, right? Or if it’s just kind of an easy sticker and logo you can get. It is not. This is a tough certification. They tour your sites, they talk to your team. I had to explain business units two or three levels down the organization, down to the granular nature of their operations. For example, in Southfield, Michigan, we have an office that stores keys and titles for rental car companies and actually had to explain what the physical vault was for those products. So it’s it is a very granular and you know, of course, that those are all things I’m very familiar with, but I spend most of my work in capital markets strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions. And you know, if you were not somebody who was very involved in the operation of the business, I I don’t think you would pass muster on the screen.
Speaker3: [00:39:48] It is a rigorous long term, lots of paperwork, lots of legal structure, review process. And it should be right because people shouldn’t be able to get this certification if they’re not actually run by women. And so I felt very good about the process. I think the women there, even now, they’ve known us for years, right? They still hit me with the tough questions every every year when we get certified. And you know, and they know, I know the answers, but but I appreciate it. And I think for a lot of smaller companies, the networking value meeting other women who own and operate businesses has a tough thing. Anybody who’s ever had to make a payroll knows it. This is not easy. And so I think having that network is a wonderful resource. But for us, it’s a statement of values, and I think that’s a consistent theme. As we’ve talked about today, for us, it is finding, how can we tell the world that we don’t just claim values, but we lift them that you? And trace, everything we tell you about who we are to the way we operate that business. And by the way, you’re going to make mistakes along the way. Something’s not going to go right, especially when we have thousands of employees. But the commitment has to be to go in and fix it to to be committed to that constant, consistent work of improving the environment and and advancing those goals and those values.
Speaker2: [00:41:18] Let’s leave our listeners, if we can, with some some points of contact, some some coordinates, if they would like to dove in and learn more about any of these topics. Of course, it wouldn’t surprise me if we’ve got listeners that want to see if there’s any way at all they could come work with Sarah Riggs Amico and Jake Cooper. You know, whatever’s appropriate a, you know, a website, a LinkedIn, whatever contact information or resources. And yes, I too would encourage them to kind of look into this, this Witbank organization. Full disclosure We for our listeners here at the Business RadioX network, we’ve had the distinct pleasure for the last couple of years of co-producing a radio show series with the Greater Women’s Business Council here in the in the region. And so I’ve been on the periphery of some of these conversations around we bank certification and have had the pleasure of interviewing. We have several of those of those members, but at any rate, if you if you would. Sarah, let’s let’s do leave our listeners with, you know, a place to go and learn more and continue the conversation if they can.
Speaker3: [00:42:29] Yeah, absolutely. So you can follow us on Twitter at Drive Jack Cooper, you can go to our website, Jack Cooper. You can. You can follow me on Twitter at Sarah Riggs Amico. I’m constantly talking about the business. I can’t share a ton right now, but I will be able to soon. I am heading out of the country tomorrow to go to a pretty exciting summit with a lot of heads of state, a few chief executives talking about how we can achieve carbon neutrality and how we can advance women in these industries. So I am super excited about that. But I’m at Sarah Riggs Amico and call us, email us. My DMs are usually open and I am always willing to to meet smart folks who want to be a part of finished vehicle logistics. It’s it is a tough but really rewarding industry, and I’ll just close with this. If you think about it in the time that we’ve been in this business, our family, we have been through the stock market crash in two thousand eight, the Great Recession, the bankruptcies of two of our largest customers. One of the largest strikes in our industry in decades. Our own restructuring in Chapter 11, a global pandemic and now a global supply chain. Disruption and semiconductor chip shortage. This is not the place you come to hang out in the coast, but if you are an innovative problem solver who likes dynamic industries and really dynamic, amazing teams, we’re a great fit for you. So when we went through one of our big transactions a few years ago, I got the chance to do the thank you’s for our team that led that effort. And if you know the story of Ernest Shackleton, a famous early 20th century explorer whose ship was stuck in Antarctica for a year and he managed somehow back before there were even things like crampons for the ice, gripping shoes to save every single life of the I think it was twenty six men or so in his care who survived in Antarctica for a year under his leadership.
Speaker3: [00:44:54] And if you’ve never read it, a Shackleton is a great. I think the book is called The Endurance, which was the name of their ship, but he had a very famous advertisement for his crew before they set sail. And when I gave the awards to our team for leading some through some of these really difficult times, I gave them a copy of this poster and his poster said men wanted for hazardous journey small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return, doubtful honor and recognition in case of success. And you know, if you think about it, it’s no wonder they all survived. It was a self-selected group of people who wanted to go out and make the world better to take human knowledge further than it had been. And they understood the hazards, and certainly in our case, I wouldn’t say small wages. We try to we try to be on market there, but that’s the kind of ethos I’m looking for the people who look at the horizon and the world we don’t yet know or how to do things better in a way we don’t yet understand. Those are the people that I want on my team who can navigate those tough waters and come out of it on the better side, the other side better for it. What’s the old saying? The smooth seas never made for a fine sailor.
Speaker2: [00:46:17] What a marvelous way to wrap this inspiring and informative conversation. Sarah, it has been an absolute delight having you on the show, and I hope you’ll seriously consider joining us again sometime updating us because this story is going to continue to unfold. Your story is going to continue to unfold, and I think it will provide so much marvelous benefit to the folks that we’re all trying to serve out there. I can’t thank you enough for investing the time and energy to visit with us this morning.
Speaker3: [00:46:51] Well, stone, it’s been such an honor and I’m so grateful you’re taking the time to let me brag on some of the folks I get to work with and and to highlight the trucking industry. This has been an absolute pleasure and I hope we’ll get a chance to talk again soon.
Speaker2: [00:47:05] All right, this is Stone Payton for our guest today, Sarah Riggs, Amico with Jack Cooper Investments and everyone here at the Business RadioX family saying, we’ll see you next time on workplace wisdom.