- Tell us more about your background – how did you get started in the transportation industry?
My career path was never directly transportation related. However, looking back (way back of course) I was always part of the supply chain – working to do exactly what A. Duie Pyle continues to do today; moving goods from one point to another. In high school, I worked at a local lumber yard picking orders, loading the flatbeds and chaining down those loads. During college, I was presented with a few more opportunities to work in transportation. A unique experience was working on a union dock picking perishable food orders and loading the reefer trailers for a large east coast ‘high-end’ restaurant chain. The following year, I parlayed that experience and moved to a snack food manufacturer, working nights jockeying trailers and loading the vans with the next day deliveries. This experience working with a family-owned small business paved the way to my future. Before I graduated college, I was offered an opportunity to manage the entire plant with 65 employees. This plant manager role was the most rigorous learning experience of my career. I learned about people, people and more people. After a year of plant management, I moved to an office position with the same company, where I was able to leverage my full understanding of the manufacturing and distribution process to kick-start my software development career.
My position prior to accepting a developer role at A. Duie Pyle was again at a small, family owned and operated, manufacturer and distribution business. This operation included manufacturing, wholesale distribution and a retail store. I wore many hats in that position. I first developed a full, custom software application suite before becoming a controller. As a controller, I was responsible for purchasing business, health insurance and managing and preparing all the company’s financial reports.
My career background includes many diverse job roles, but there has always been a transportation or supply chain element along the way.
- What about Pyle made you want to work for this company?
After 13 years at my previous position, where I was the lone IT professional, I felt my skills were stagnating and began looking for a new opportunity where I could build my skill set and resume. I started looking for companies where there was a team of IT professionals and an opportunity to learn and grow professionally.
Before long, I had two job offers - one with a paint manufacturer and the other with Pyle. Pyle was a much longer commute, but I sensed during the interview process that Pyle was unique and had an environment where I could thrive. I did the research and found that Pyle was a family-owned and operated business, which was appealing to me. When I decided to accept the Pyle offer, I did not think at the time it would be a long term position, rather a good opportunity for me to learn. After my first few weeks in West Chester, getting to know the Pyle People and their culture, I knew I made the right decision and was in for the long haul. Eighteen years later, I can confirm that Pyle’s core values and dedicated family owners make Pyle a superior employer.
- Describe your role at Pyle.
My role as the CIO is the culmination of a management and software development career. While I had some experience in computer networking, system administration and system operations, my career path was always focused on system design and development. I am fortunate to have a dedicated staff of IT professionals that have helped me grow my IS technical portfolio. While I make the final decisions, every decision is a collaboration of input from each stakeholder or team member, who has the responsibility of maintaining those system choices.
Aligning the IT roadmap with the business initiatives is my primary responsibility. Having the technical experience is key, but I have found my financial management background to also be extremely helpful. Ensuring the cost/benefit analysis of IT related projects and expenditures is much more than just moving levers or pushing buttons. Building on industry relationships and networking with peers inside and outside of the trucking business helps to keep the wheels in motion.
- Since you started as a Programmer over 18 years ago, what advice do you have for young professionals looking to grow within the company?
Taking the time to learn the business is extremely important. Bits and bytes are what you learn at school but having knowledge of how they are going to be used by our end-users is most important. Get out of your comfort zone and take some time to make contacts outside of your department. If you are working on a dock management related project, ask your leader if you can observe how the application is currently being used by working a shift with them. Request a ride along with a driver if you are working on a P&D handheld assignment to understand how the drivers utilize the software. When an opportunity is presented to you, seize it, own it and provide the best solution available.
We work in an environment with a quick development cycle to production, which will allow you to see how your efforts directly impact the Pyle People. There are not many companies where you will see your efforts converted so quickly into usable functionality. This satisfaction is a hidden benefit of working at Pyle and is priceless.
- What new programs or technologies have you implemented at Pyle that resulted in streamlining the supply chain?
When I started at Pyle, the extent of the operational software was limited to printing delivery receipts, scanning barcodes and printing reports. This system had the capability to manage the entire process, with the built-in resiliency of committing all efforts to paper. It worked, and it worked well. My first assignment was to work with a third-party software supplier that would enable us to automatically create the most efficient delivery routes. The system would replace the upfront delivery receipt printing and route the freight electronically. During this process, I took it upon myself to create a backup system, which allowed leaders to continue to electronically route their deliveries in the event of a third-party system failure. This ‘back-up’ system became what is currently known as the route planning system or RPS.
Subsequently, my team and I have designed and developed a full, custom operations suite that includes all aspects of the LTL Operation – including outbound planning, line-haul planning and execution, route planning, dock management, dispatch and a handheld P&D workflow app for our drivers, which includes signature and BOL capture. The Pyle HUID/PRUID shipment identifiers are good examples of my team’s innovative approach to business solutions.
- In the last two years, Pyle has shown incredible resilience. What are some key lessons learned from last year’s cyberattack and this year’s COVID-19 pandemic?
The cyberattack of June 2019 displayed the IT’s team tireless approach to supporting the company’s infrastructure. While previous planning had us in a good place for recovery, no one could have anticipated the stress associated with the actual recovery process. The No. 1 reason for our survival through the recovery process was people. Not just IT people, ALL Pyle people. The ransomware event further proved that people, not technology, are most important.
The ransomware event tested our incident response program and has allowed us to substantially enhance our security posture moving forward. It also highlighted the need to add more systems resources to our team. Security awareness training for our employees was also made a priority. Cybersecurity awareness training and testing will continue for as long as there are bad actors out there that are trying to steal and/or lock up our information.
COVID-19 certainly changed the way IT serves the Pyle People. When many of our employees had to work remotely, we were once again placed in the spotlight, coordinating the remote work effort and ensuring Pyle’s ability to continue running efficiently and securely. With a considerable team effort, we were able to pull it off and provide an excellent level of full support to all our users.
The constant cat and mouse game of cybersecurity has us on a good path to be fully prepared for the future, but unfortunately, no one can predict the next incident. With the recent investments in infrastructure, security and people, I feel confident that we will continue to be prepared to handle any situation that is thrown our way.
- What achievement are you most proud of during your 18-year career with Pyle?
While I am proud of my own professional growth within the organization, nothing makes me prouder than the realization that programs that were incorporated in our department during my early years are continuing to pay dividends today. The original IT training program was established in 2005. Creating a mentoring process for newly graduated students with IT backgrounds paved the way for our current leadership in the department. Whether they were mentors or the early mentees, they are the current and future leaders of the IT department.
The program has most definitely changed over the years, but the results have consistently been the same - excellent graduates with the skills to move the company forward in all facets of technology. Throughout the years, we have continued to retain and enhance our development resources group with the best and brightest talent in the industry.
- What is the most valuable lesson you have learned as a leader?
Look into the mirror and tell yourself you are not the smartest person in the room. Listen to your peers. Listen to your teammates. Listen to your customers, and most importantly, hear what they are saying. If you can take this lesson and apply it to your role, you are on the launching pad to a successful and satisfying career.
It all comes down once again to people. Surround yourself with good people, follow the core values, and lead according to those core values. Make yourself a leading example of those core values.
- Any closing thoughts?
The exciting and ever changing world of technology and its impact to our business is paramount to my experience at Pyle. What I have seen in my first 18 years has been nothing short of remarkable. What I look forward to in my next 18 years is seeing how we are going to top our current technological milestones and continue to remain industry leaders in the technology of transportation.