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Creating a Culture of Sustainable Success: Partnership & Community Service With Chris Murphy

Updated: Oct 4, 2022

Mark Hiddleson

Chris Murphy is the CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group (SPWG), a BRC Certified Central California warehousing and logistics company. SPWG offers frozen, refrigerated, and ambient temperature facilities and has been family-owned since 1987. Accuracy, expediency, and quality with friendly customer service are the guiding principles behind the company.

Chris has a background in global marketing and serves on many nonprofits in the Modesto area for arts, music, history, and culture. He founded ModestoView, a monthly publication that promotes civic pride and a sense of community in the Central Valley. He also works at Graffiti USA Museum to showcase Modesto's American Graffiti experience.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Chris Murphy talks about his Third Party band — and the value of networking

  • The business lessons Chris learned from being a professional athlete

  • The value of hiring quality employees and building good partnerships

  • Chris talks about the growth of direct-to-consumer sales, tips for inventory management, and what you can learn from networking

  • How Chris drives leads for Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group

  • Chris talks about supporting his community and family — and bringing people together

  • The evolution of the logistics industry and the value of learning from other cultures

  • What Chris is most proud of at Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group

In this episode…

No one is an expert in everything. There is always room to learn from others and keep your company current, nimble, and able to pivot. If you don’t evolve, innovate, and stay relevant in the industry, it can be the death of your business. What is something you can do to prevent that from happening?

People are your #1 asset, whether it’s your employees, business relationships, or the brands you work alongside. We learn from our customers and casual conversations. There’s no substitute for relationships. Networking is a fantastic tool to take advantage of because it helps bring people together and provides an opportunity to learn new skills and expertise. Company leaders and employees in the warehouse and logistics industry who join networking groups benefit from collaborating with people from other companies, including competitors. It’s valuable to know what other businesses are facing and how they deal with those challenges. Networking provides the opportunity to learn best practices for the industry, build new relationships, and learn skills that help to provide better service to clients and benefit the business as a whole.

Chris Murphy, the CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group, joins Mark Hiddleson in this episode of The Tao of Pizza Podcast to talk about the importance of networking and building relationships and partnerships. They also discuss the benefits of hiring quality employees, the evolution of the logistics industry, the growth of direct-to-consumer sales, and much more.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode...

This episode is brought to you by Specialized Storage Solutions Inc.


I have been in the logistics and storage industry for several decades. I know I don’t look that old, but it's true..

We provide industry-leading warehouse storage solutions nationwide.

So basically if you have a warehouse that needs Rack, Shelving, Carts, Conveyors or Mezzanines we help engineering, installations, inspections, and repairs to help clients optimize their logistics operations.

Sometimes people don’t even realize that we can actually help with permit acquisition services.

We take a look holistic at your entire business supply chain ecosystem to develop the resources for continually improving your operation.

To learn more, visit or give us a call at (707) 732-3892. One of the best ways to learn more about our products and services is to follow us on instagram. And there’s a link on our website to do that.

I will even give you my personal email address for podcast listeners so email me at if you’re ready to take your warehouse storage and retrieval systems to the next level.

Episode Transcript:

Intro 0:01

Welcome to The Tao of Pizza, where we feature top logistics leaders, entrepreneurs and supply chain innovators and share their inspiring stories with a holistic twist.

Mark Hiddleson 0:17

Mark Hiddleson here, hosting The Tao of Pizza Podcast where I talk with top industry innovators in the warehousing, logistics, and supply chain business with a holistic twist. This episode is brought to you by Specialized Storage Solutions. Listen, I've been in the logistics and storage industry for several decades and I know I don't want to look that old but it's true. We provide industry leading warehouse storage solutions nationwide. So basically, if you have a warehouse that needs rack, shelving, carts, conveyors, or mezzanines, we help with design engineering installations, inspections and repairs, help clients optimize their logistics operations. You know, it's funny, Chris, sometimes people don't even realize that we actually help with permit acquisition service to take a holistic look at your entire business supply chain ecosystem to develop the resources for continually improving your operations. To learn more, visit or give us a call at 707-732-3892. I will even give my personal email out for podcast listeners. So email me at if you're ready to take your warehouse storage and retrieval systems to the next level. All right, we got Chris Murphy, he is the CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group, which offers BRC organic certified warehousing and logistics in Central California for frozen, refrigerated and ambient food products. Since 1987, Sierra Pacific has been a family-owned business operating with leading food companies in the world as well as new startups. Accuracy, expediency, and quality with friendly customer service are the guiding principles behind Sierra Pacific. Chris has a background in global marketing in the cycle industry and serves on many nonprofits in the Modesto area for arts, music, and history and culture. He's currently working to build a museum of Modesto, his American Graffiti experience, Chris believes that local companies need to get involved and make a positive difference where they can. That's one of the reasons why he also founded ModestoView, a monthly publication that promotes civic pride and a sense of community in the Central Valley. Chris is a great example of how a local family-owned business can be as valuable or more valuable and efficient to a customer than a big national company. Chris, welcome to The Tao of Pizza.

Chris Murphy 2:32

Hey, it's good to be here at The Tao of Pizza. I think I remember being on a flight. We were flying to Chicago, I think the chromatic when we were cooking this idea. I mean, it was it was it's great. It's great to have been there. I mean, you and I have known each other for a long time, done some crazy projects, you know, travel the planet together. And it's it's amazing how all this stuff connects. And then friendships go far beyond business. And relationships are really important. And that's, you know, even more now important than it was before. I think, you know, everyone's gotten so used to being on Zoom calls or being on remote meetings. You know, it's it. Yeah, it has. It's great to have these long standing relationships in the community. And I'm thankful that you're offering to have me here today.

Mark Hiddleson 3:15

Yeah, it's great to have you. And the relationship is funny with us. I mean, we've been business associates for over like, so we've neither one of us look that old. But it's like the late 90s. And, I mean, there's a lot of stuff I want to get into.

Chris Murphy 3:34

Yeah, I think that first project was a big giant, you know, what, 200,000 square feet a rack for the Cisco project? You know, yeah.

Mark Hiddleson 3:40

it was my first big project. And I mean, I looked at walk into your office, and it's just like, Man, this guy has a ton of energy. And I looked at, you know, what you were up to? And one of the big things I like to study is people's worldview. And it's really like, what do you think it's possible. And I just remember looking at the way your office was set up and the projects you were involved, I think you just started ModestoView, and not much has changed.

Chris Murphy 4:06

It's still kind of a rite of extracurricular activities, you know.

Mark Hiddleson 4:14

And so I didn't even you know, I've had a lot of rock stars on the show, rock star, the metaphor, but you are actual rock star. And I didn't have it in your intro. But, um, talk a little bit about your third party and why you why you started that probably the name you gotta love the name.

Chris Murphy 4:35

Our band is named third party. We've been at this now for 27 years with a bunch of friends. We connected in our neighborhood, which is again, strengthening, you know, how neighborhoods are important. It's everything and we're still playing together after all this time. And are we rocking last night for national night out? I mean, it's great if you haven't been a part of this. You know, I'm a big believer of being a part of your neighborhood and the community whether it's the cup any year through just friends, but it's a great way to get together with the police, Sheriff, Ohio patrol, local vendors, local health care. And our band's been playing this national night out. Just a way to get neighbors and families together had kids out there dancing and, and it's a great way to put some, you know, I'm, you know, I love I've always been in a band of one form or another since I've been a kid and not junior high or something like that. But anyway, I think it's a great way to bring people together music does that has a wonderful way of of knocking down a bunch of barriers, you know, there's, you know, yeah, you may be a Beatles fan or a stones fan. But you know, the everyone listens to the same music and most cases, and so I really appreciate what music does for my life and for the community as well. It's just a whole lot of fun place we get to play this stuff we love like we did the entire album of Abbey Road last night. It's not a normal undertaking, because Abbey Road is kind of complicated. You know, we did skip because in Sun King, so just full disclosure, I mean, yeah, you know, I think it kind of just sets the foundation of how you operate, you know, you and I hit it off early on, just because we have, like, a, it's bigger than both of us, where we don't succeed unless others succeed. And I think that's been kind of how I've operated my whole life, you know, when running, whether running global marketing for specialized bicycles, or, you know, working with the, you know, I work for a Japanese company, kind of teaching them about USA marketing, you know, and I did succeed, unless they understood it. And if they weren't successful, I would be successful. And I think that that truly underscores kind of what we know, the whole idea of win win. It really is possible. But you know, it's frustrating. Sometimes you see, there's a lot of win lose, you know, conversations that people are having, right?

Mark Hiddleson 6:45

Yeah, I just, we have a project that we're working with a landlord. And for us, usually, the landlord is kind of like a third party that we just need them to sign off on paperwork that we can do projects. And they sent a lot of letters with like detail, you should have read it was telling my client, you should have read section 2.4 point three year contract. And I was like, does anyone read section 2.4? And then the end of the email 3.3. But in their email said, I want to do anything I can do to help you. So I had a phone call. And I said, Well, sir, could you send me something that somebody did in the past? You can show me she goes look at I'm not going to do your work? Like he just said he would do anything? No. So yeah, you're right. It's not. And you were the opposite of that. I remember, early in my career, you really your company wanted to buy used equipment, for a lot of reasons. I mean, at that time, it was a real price advantage. But it's available while we're still doing business together as I love using equipment. Yeah. And there was a product he was driving racking, which is a little it's a lot more complicated than just regular racking in the company I worked for at the time, my boss said, Well, there's really no way to sell those systems used because they're specific applications, a specific design engineering. And I went to your office, I told you that and you said, Come here for a second, you had me come around to your side of the desk, and you showed me the inner the interwebs. And back then we had the internet. But we I wasn't really using it for business. And you pulled up you're like look at there's this company in Minnesota that does, they've got it right here, and you kind of showed me their website. And it was like, wow, they can do it. So that was to me, it was like you were given me an opportunity to do my homework. And then that's actually ended up I ended up creating, that's really that's what started me creating my own company, because the company I was working for, really didn't want to do to systems, and you gave me that opportunity. And I really appreciate that all this all these years that it's it. That's what a win win looks like instead of being, you know, keeping your suppliers at arms length, it's like, let's work together.

Chris Murphy 8:55

So yeah, that's exactly I mean, I feel the same way that that nobody's a real expert, in my opinion. I mean, that's why that's what's awkward about some of these conferences, Zoom calls, you know, it's like, I see so many people that think they just know the answer of everything, you know, and I, I've been around for a while I, the more I know, the less I know, and so there's always ways to do something different than I did it yesterday. And if I can take advantage of of a piece of a piece of equipment you may have, well, I'd rather spend the time find out a way to make it work than just say I can't figure it out. Let's buy a new out of the box. And you know, as a small company, I don't have that. I don't have that ability. I don't have monster capital or some New York office sitting behind me singularity up 20 million bucks to make this expansion. I just don't have it. So we have to be smarter with what we have and rely on the people, our suppliers and contractors to say, Oh, we're going to collaboratively flick your finger this out, you know, and I guess the only way really to move forward and that's only way actually related ways to be staying nimble. You know, if you just think you know everything and you stop listening, you know, you're toast because The next wave is gonna come through and they're gonna jerk the carpet out from underneath you.

Mark Hiddleson 10:03

It is and I work with bigger companies and a lot of them have engineering groups that you look at some industries and one company can have a complete engineering group and it actually kind of slows them down. Rather than, you know, a lot of times I'm fitting in a lot of a lot of I'm dealing with founders or owners or the president of the company, and they don't have an engineering group. So they're counting on me to kind of run it as if I was there. Many internal engineering group Yeah,

Chris Murphy 10:29

no, don't get me wrong. I'm a big believer in expertise. You know, like, when I come to you, I said, I have, I want to know exactly how much this gonna hold it, how many pallet positions you are, that you are truly an expert, and then you do know, all you need to know about that particular thing. You know, I'm just gonna, like, I don't want to be good at being the Sphinx, you know.

Mark Hiddleson 10:52

Delphi, know thyself, right?

Chris Murphy 10:54

You know, when you can take these stones out of my hand, grasshopper?

Mark Hiddleson 11:02

Yeah, well, that's what I that's why I say I don't want to be a philosopher. I like to dabble in philosophy. I don't want to be a philosopher, because I don't want to make the same commitment that Socrates did, and put my life on the law, so that I can keep studying it. But, uh, but yeah, I do. I'm an expert in racking and because of clients like you, we're still having a lot of fun.

Chris Murphy 11:25

Well, yeah, I mean, I remember we went through that conversation during that rack project, we did that drive and project once you started specialized rack solutions. You know, I remember being your house over a couple of good bottles of wine. And we built your website that night, you know, I mean, it was Nachi online. And it was it was it was fun. You know, I had a little bit of knowledge that you needed, you had a, you had a company possibility that made a lot of sense. And I knew that if I had one thing I didn't know, if I knew that the more successful you were, the better. And the more beneficial would be to my company, because you would have access to a wider range of ideas and solutions. And I think that's proven true. I mean, you've truly become an expert in the networking, you've done in the industry has really positioned you I can come at you with anything. And you will have seen it somewhere else. And it's, you know, I kind of like it's the best thing. It's r&d. It's not It's rip off and duplicate. You know, I mean, there's a great idea somewhere, I'm, I'm all about it.

Mark Hiddleson 12:22

Yeah, let's rip it off and duplicate. Yeah, that night,

Chris Murphy 12:26

was not invented here, kind of mindset, you know.

Mark Hiddleson 12:29

So we, we part of our career we were involved in. We were on the roundtable, Northern California roundtable for the warehousing Education and Research Council. And the day I started my company, it was kind of like the sun, the moon and the stars aligned, we always plan on doing a tour. That's a lot of how we've built our career over the years doing warehouse tours or leading them, you know, volunteering to put them on to host the luncheon. And we had that tour in Reno setup was April 15 2005. And we already had planned like you were coming to go with me we were going to that just because we were on the board together. And when he got the front door, I said Chris, I got great news. I started my own company today. And he just he said, Well, do you have a website and no one before he even got in the door. He had your laptop out of the bag, and you're like, Where can I sit down and set it up in that night. I mean, that was the day I started my company. So I hadn't really told anyone because I felt like it was ethical, you know, to wait until I quit. And that was a day I quit. And I started the same day.

Chris Murphy 13:30

I'm hopeful there's still that openness, one bottle of wine sitting around your house somewhere a week.

Mark Hiddleson 13:35

We drink that a lot. Yeah, that we probably drink that. Oh, thank you might have even been there when we open that bottlw.

Chris Murphy 13:48

Yeah. It sounds crazy.

Mark Hiddleson 13:51

I wanted to ask you to because I know wasn't in your bio. But I know you were professional athlete professional cyclists. And I was curious about I've never asked anything about this before. But what are some of the principles that you learned as I mean, if you're a professional athlete, you're training I mean, you're coaching what are some of the principles inherent took you into business that you use that you still use?

Chris Murphy 14:15

You know, I've learned a lot I built a fleet I built the factory helped build a factory for Raleigh bikes up in Seattle back in the mid 80s. And then I worked for a Japanese company that was trying to sell the United States market. And you know, what you learned from all of that is is it was specialized, the message was simple. It was innovate or die. You know, that was that was the mindset and the mantra of product development you know, at at our company if you didn't innovate you're you're gonna get knocked off or if you're not thinking about your customers next move or what your customers next need or want more and as an athlete where the where the race is going to go who's going to attack where's your because I was a cyclist. And so you know, if you didn't know where you were, you know how to make yourself better. As an athlete, and then know where your your competitors are going to either fall off or where their weaknesses were when to attack. I mean, those are things that are just kind of they, across industries, I mean, you know, the same mindset as an athlete of staying fit, staying up to date, staying in good training, staying healthy, staying aware of your equipment, the industry, that people around you, you know, I think that's no different than being in business, at least for our company, you know, we have no choice, but to be nimble, because, you know, we've got large companies out there that can sell a national solution, you know, and so we've got to go at it looking like if we don't innovate today, you know, that's what is gonna keep us in business five years from now. And we invested early with EDI, and we invested early with being BRC and GSSI, foodgrade. And so it's really kind of knowing when to take those opportunities, you know, and, and, you know, then leap frogging that to team up with, you know, basically global national food companies, because they make you better. And that's how you look at it, your trainer makes you better, your competition makes you better, you know, the equipment that you have in your mindset makes you better. And so if you start acquiring those tools, you're more valuable to somebody else. And then in turn, you make them better. I think it's kind of a hokey thing. But, you know, it is really, truly a circular chain. Yeah, once you step off, you can cause damage to your company, your employees, you know, we have, you know, nearly 200 employees here, and so, I don't come to work for me every day, I come to work for them, you know, it was my job to have something on deck for three years from now, something on deck for five years now. Because we have a lot of people depending on us as a family to keep it going. And it's no different than your your your ability or fitness for race, you know, you've got to be ready for the 100 mile, you know, road races, as well as the 40 mile flat rectangular criteria. Yeah.

Mark Hiddleson 16:57

Yeah, the athletes range so they can run the race. Yeah, exactly.

Chris Murphy 17:00

You got to be ready for anything, because you know, what's gonna get thrown at you. So, you know, that's what's kind of, you know, I believe is given us over the edge. You know, we've had some really great connections with large companies, we've also lost, you know, big relationships with companies, you know, with, with growth, that the growth and success comes failure and departure. I mean, so, yeah, only so much you can control about your relationship. And you know, you get some new some new VP of logistics and they want to decentralize. Next guy comes in, they want to centralize,

Mark Hiddleson 17:30

and that's one of the things that's checked us in business is people will go, oh, we need to outsource this and go with third party logistics. And then five years later, they go, oh, we need to bring this in house. Right. So then every time we set up the racking for the third party, we'll

Chris Murphy 17:47

get it on the take. Yeah, yeah.

Mark Hiddleson 17:53

Well, that's great about about the athlete and, and you mentioned your employees. I mean, I've worked with your company. That's one of the things I look at the people the quality, I mean, you have the highest quality people at every position. I mean, Bernie Rodriguez runs your Paterson plan. I've know I went to high school with him solid Kenny Saul's, I mean, every person up to your your CFO. And it's funny, like one of my rules of business is like get to know the CFO, because they write the checks, right? It's important in business. And you've always whenever I've asked you, if I saw, you know, things about employees or tracking data, please always said we have top notch. One of the reasons or attract those kind of people is because we offer the best, you might say in something screwed.

Chris Murphy 18:43

Without our best people, I mean, period. I mean, you cannot, if you have a busy day, you have 100 trucks on your schedule, you know, there's there's no way you can, you know, one person can save the day. That is just a fundamental truth of time and space. That hours left you. And if your team isn't there, we basically, you fail, you turn the lights on. And so, yeah, bird and can't hear us guys and Michelle, have done a dynamite job and to really take it to the next level. And now, you know, my father in law, Mike started the company back in the late 80s. And he was an industry veteran for years since the 60s and cold storage. I mean, he ran merchants refrigerate, refrigerating and then which became, you know, Christian salicin. You know, so he brought his experience to start our company like you did. And then, you know, we came in and took it to a new level that I think is fits with the way we want to run it. And now we've got my kids in so I think, you know, we're setting it up so that we've really got a good family, you know, transition here, you know, and it's 100% about the people, and especially the last two years spent the last few years it's been a crap show. I mean, there's no other way to put it just flat out sucked, you know, I remember St. Patty's Day Two years ago, we're sitting there enjoying a pipe down a few experts. And all of a sudden the doors are closing on COVID. And it shut down that night. And I went to work the next morning going, what do we do with all these people? Not and then our customers were just like, you're still open, right?

Mark Hiddleson 20:19

Yes, we are, it's food, right, the show must go on, to figure it out.

Chris Murphy 20:23

And so, without that team, we could have easily cratered in those early few months of COVID. You know, we immediately put in a precautions, divide up the warehouse implemented, that we call our clean team. And all they did was walk around and sanitizing and keeping everyone safe, make sure their masks are on. I mean, and that's essentially how we survived. And we only survived, because of the cooperation of our employee. You know, if you listen to the outside world, you were everyone is getting different information from every political side, right. But our employees had to believe in what we were. And our goal was to keep them safe. And so that's where, for me, that's where the rubber hits the road, you know, may 17, you know, 2020, you know, that's all of your prep and homework mattered on that next day. And the subsequent months as people tested positive, quarantined out, you're running them on a thin, thin crew, and then also just leveling with your customers and saying, here's where we're at.

I mean, here's what we can accomplish this week. And, you know, I think that dialogue and understanding made it work and us to make it through I mean, we're not it's not out of the woods yet. But basically, you know, we've survived, you know, the big pandemic, especially in a food world where our business never stop it. Right. And our business increased, just despite our ability to run it like with a broken leg, you know, and, you know, kudos to the team that we made sure we recognize them through the year. Yeah, both financially and, you know, just intrinsically fed them lunches. And, you know, that's, and you're yours, you're so spot on about the people. Yeah, they really mean a lot. And they are in a family business, they are family, they are not just a productivity number to me. You know, some people have higher performance levels are lower performance level, but they offer something different in terms of, you know, technology or bill to use our WMS, you know, great pickers, and they're great loaders. So we've learned a lot about who everyone was during the pandemic, I think I feel we've come out stronger, post COVID, as a company, and as a kind of a unit. Now, we've had the decisions of customers to keep working with to you.

Mark Hiddleson 22:47

Yeah, because I remember I was talking to you, there was some very, very low points in that. And when you have that many employees, it just a numbers game, it was bound to happen. And I remember thinking, and it's, it's funny, I'm always reading stuff online, and I just found out there's something that's called a toxic positivity, I was like, oh, no, I'm a, I'm a toxic positivist because I'm like a cloud, there's a cloud in the silver liner, they were saying, like, failure is not an option, which you brought up some of the failures. And the thing is, you know, I'm a failure is not an option guy, but I also had tons of failures and learn from it. So so it isn't, it's not an option, but it's a given. If you're gonna it's gonna happen, like he's not gonna take that option. Yeah. So it's funny, I saw this toxic positivity. I'm like, man, like, just they had to do like to call it something. But in the same thing, like I know, that type of person you are, and I know what that low was like, Well, I wonder what silverline is going to come out of this? Because I know Chris is going to turn it into a positive. So if you don't mind, I mean, I know it was a low point, but just share he started to talk about you stronger. Now. Yeah,

Chris Murphy 23:58

because we we really learned about how, how deep our team loyalty was, during this time, we there was a time when I was out, my two managers were out my kids were out because we took each other out the downsides of the family business is that when and you and you have to get on the phone and level with your clients to say, here's where we're at, here's what we cannot do, we can't and then work on solutions, we actually sent our team up to another warehouse in Oregon, to help fulfill the needs of our customer because we didn't have the manpower. You know, I'm sharing that, you know, with me, I'm free to share that. But that's the length that we went to, to take care of our customer when our team fell short. And this isn't a dark days of the end of December 2020 When it was out of control. And your your choice. You can't stop serving, but you can make the best of what it was. Keep your customer and some of our customers you know We appreciated the way we handled it. And we got some good relationships out of that, we, they saw how hard we were trying to make it still work for them. And then the thing is, it was interesting, during the pandemic, it's everyone had the same problem. So I think everyone got a lot less, less tough. Some people like to be tough and tell you how to do, you will do this and blah, blah, blah, you know, and you kind of go Sure, yeah, whatever, you know, but at the same time, they're in the same boat, and half of their team's gone, and half of their teams working. And I think that, you know, that that we're all in this together, which we were helped see some understanding about how it exposed the supply chain, and it exposed where the holes were. And it was where the containers are backing up and Oakland, or there's not enough drivers, you know, and we're making, we're giving sandwiches to the drivers just to make sure that they would continue to come to our warehouse. And we did that in concert with our customers, because they knew we had to keep it running. So, you know, you know, lots lots of lessons learned, it was a pretty gruesome time for I think most all of us in our industry, especially in the food side of the world, you know, a lot of the other stuff shut down. And I mean, you know, fortunately for all of us, you know, we've made the decision years and years ago to stay in the food space. And I really, I like being a part of the food supply chain, I feel our role in feeding the planet is pretty valuable. And our employees even see that when they see the products that roll through here, during tomato harvest, or wherever it is, and knowing that all that stuff, you know, reaches out to everywhere. I mean, I think you see your space, it's like this, you are here thing, right? When you do Google Earth, you're here, you know, you're what you're doing is going here, and that's coming from here. And when you connect, when you see it like that, I think you understand kind of better what your part is.

Mark Hiddleson 26:46

And partnerships. Were a lot of you mentioned Mike, the founder of Sierra Pacific Mike Mcnulty, he, I remember one of the things, but really look up to him, he's a super, super person, for the minute you shake his add new hold on his and they're like, Well, I've got a hold of something special. But he was partnership mindset to me in business, and that a lot of things you could accomplish with a good partner that you couldn't accomplish on your own? Is that Is that still true is that's what you're talking about?

Chris Murphy 27:19

You know, they see it is the elusive when when you know what we offer, our customers should be a benefit to them, and make their company run better. And it should make us better and allow us to be profitable. I mean, if I'm not profitable than it, then you can't make that up by more volume. It's like, more for less. And so I think without that partnership, I'm just laying it out, you know, we're kind of an open book, you know, we'll do Oh, we'll do cost plus programs that people and it's like, what we're doing isn't complicated. You know, it's, it's, it's can be difficult and can be detail oriented, but the movement of goods, it's it's pretty straightforward, what you're trying to accomplish, you know, getting it right on the inbound, getting it right on the outbound and storing it accurately and not losing product and making sure you're tracking batches. It's not rocket science, I'm not putting, trying to put something dropping on the planet, you know, 600,000 miles from here,

Mark Hiddleson 28:18

maybe in five to 10 years. That's where the puck is go. Your Wayne Gretzky me. But to your point, though,

Chris Murphy 28:28

it seems like that it seems like that partnership is really key. And, you know, I look at some of these words, we go into some of these relationships, right? They all we all about collaboration, really, what does that mean? You know, is it you shaking me down for the last nickel on the decimal point? Because if that's the goal, then we're probably not the right part. I'm 100% Sure, I will never be the least expensive warehouse because of our team, because of our sanitation, security, you know, commitment to quality. And so I'm good with that, you know, if someone's gonna give it to you for cheaper and you don't get X, Y and Z? Well, you know, that that's a philosophical parting of ways. You know, in many cases,

Mark Hiddleson 29:09

it is and those you know, in our business, it's a race to the bottom, when you start doing that, if it's if it's who can get in first, it's a race to the bottom, I tried to get out of that. But you've you've started before the pandemic, there was already a trend of direct to consumer. And you kind of started a pivot or a shift into that. And then the March of 2020 all those companies, especially in the food industry, that we're going direct to consumer, we're seeing massive growth or you can't go out so people were ordering in you were pretty much ready for I would, I would think right yeah, I

Chris Murphy 29:48

mean, it was something we had gotten pretty good at. We have customers in the in the direct to consumer spaces, you know, some national brands, you know, the things that things that people didn't think about is when you will stop driving their cars, they bought less gasoline, gasoline, you're not refining. And refining is where you get co2 that makes dry spots. So you'd never think for a million years that the fact that people stopped driving would create a shortage of dry ice as the market is. So that was that was an example of what do you do now? And that's where your supplier relationships came in is like, who's gonna get the dry eyes? Yeah. And you have to manage that. So that's an unforeseen byproduct and the direct consumer space. And then I think I think what it did is it cemented the direct consumer model in the marketplace as as as as a given, whether it's Instacart DoorDash. You know, a direct consumer, you know, company fulfilled three PL fulfilled, you know, people just used to get a pile of stuff at their door everyday. So, I go home in my house, somebody and I shake my head.

Mark Hiddleson 30:59

It's so dumped.

Chris Murphy 31:00

A truck, a pallet of box cardboard boxes online.

Mark Hiddleson 31:05

Are you hungry? Yeah.

Chris Murphy 31:09

No, but I think the DTC thing is here to stay, you know, and but I'm curious, I'm curious, as a just a student of all of this, to see what is going to what its gonna look like one or two years from now. Because a lot of the superfluous stuff that you you know, if you're buying specialty desserts, or something, you know, you may not be doing that anymore, because you can go by the bakery or make your own cake to take it to Grandma's house for Thanksgiving. I know, it'd be interesting to see what what remains? I don't know, I don't have the answer yet. I don't think any of us have that answer yet. But, you know, it's a fascinating models look at what is going to be the consumer preferences for home delivery. You know, and I think a lot of it's kind of getting back to the grocery store delivery, you know, the retail delivery, you know, its target Ace Hardware, and all these people that are doing their own direct consumer, which then pushes back to all of us and the 3PLs because it makes inventory management in their warehouses that much more important. So they're living off of scan outs, and that changes the order pic profile, even in our regular three PL business because the orders get pickier and the number of line items for order get longer. Because we're fulfilling to you know, what any retailer that's fulfilling their direct consumer business. So you can see how even though it's still it might be handled by different people who actually touch that consumer door, you know, for us and the three PL world it's going to change the order profile, you know, of how he gets it. In my opinion. I mean, that's that's kind of how I see it evolving. As I think a lot of people wouldn't whoa, wait a minute, someone all these people, these wrecks consumer that took all our business, I think a lot of people are starting to fight back and say, Oh, we should be doing our own. So it's it's a, you know, to stay tuned to that page, because I'm really curious to see how it goes.

Mark Hiddleson 33:00

the boat this is called bogus

Chris Murphy 33:03

Yes, like a psychology project, you know, what are you going to keep, you know, ordering every week? Or? Yeah, it's like, it's like meal kits, we don't really do any of the meal kit business, you know, and it's because it's the retention rates so low, people get all jacked up on a computer to a certain line. And then three months later, they've got you know, 20 meals packed up, and they're free for ages that never made. Right, you know, so I'm just curious, just to see where it's gonna shake out

Mark Hiddleson 33:30

where this trend goes, ya know, it's

Chris Murphy 33:32

interesting, because it's, it's, it's ingrained in our culture now. But how does our industry in the three PL, I mean, you're probably seeing it, you were changing racking profiles, you know, it's, you know, it's, it's left fewer and fewer deeps and more selective, which is worse on your warehouse utilization. So it's all it's all a big math problem. Right?

Mark Hiddleson 33:53

It is. And and they mentioned inventory. So for probably 20 years, I was in the business, everyone was it, the trend was to get as little supply chain was so efficient, and you could get stuff. So quickly. Inventories got really down because inventory costs money, right? I was thinking about though, they actually made me nervous to think about how much inventory you have, and how much that money costs each year. And like if you have a million dollars with the inventory. Last time I checked, that's like five to $10,000 a month, just carry the cost of that million or

Chris Murphy 34:24

steal your inventory is my worth to me.

Mark Hiddleson 34:28

It's yeah, if you can sell it, but what I was saying everybody got their inventory as low as possible to get just in time, but now because of supply chain inventories are going back up because people are going ahead. We can't get this stuff. It's gonna be a nine week. Wait. So inventories are going up.

Chris Murphy 34:42

Yeah, I think in our industry right now, I think you it's mindful for everyone to look at throughput versus inventory. You know, you got to look at what is still moving and then what's not. And that's where I think the granular math is going to Yeah, because, you know, the ports haven't cleared up. Yeah, you know, we haven't gotten, you know, the container backlog through, which is going to have a huge impact for all of us here in California. You know, it's, it's, you know, when you when you're dealing with the Port of Oakland or Port of Long Beach, and people are struggling to export or import in any way they can, people do get really creative. And that creativity will disrupt the chain in the long term. So, you know, this is a, this is, I mean, I, I think we're walking across some ice field, and some of the ice fields kind of melting, you know, but some of it's getting thicker, you know, I mean, I use that metaphor, it's I just got back from Alaska, watching the glaciers and glacial retreat is frightening. Yeah, and, you know, so I think that's kind of where we are, right? It's like, I think it's an uneasy footing, you know, all the stuff you took for granted back in the early days, uh, you know, I'm hoping my customers, and it's, and it's our goal to check in with them to make sure we are doing that, because we don't check in and it's like a relationship, you don't make sure each one of you are doing well along the way. You know, it's like, everyone has their different pinch points for what happened through the last couple of years. And, and the Import Export has affected pretty much everybody. If you wrote tomato, or an almond, here in California, you're having a tough time get containers to get it out of here. So, so nothing's the same at all. And whether you know, we how we look at our floor, our inventory, our throughput, our velocity reports, you know, we got to look at all that stuff right now. And it's because you don't want inventory to backup. And that's when you start seeing warning signs on the economy. And we saw that back in 2008 2007, a lot of the specialty foods stopped selling, you know, the inventories that stuff, the commodity stuff started rolling through, because you can kind of see the canary in the coal mine of Wait a minute, these really fringe products that are in the specialty, organics stopped selling, and that you can tell the people were starting to pull back, you know, as a consumer. And so that's kind of my, you know, back of the cocktail napkin math on looking at, you know, throughput versus inventory. You know, it's not rocket science, but it just says, you know, it's like, you know, as long as we see the products in our region, continuing to flow, you know, that's how you can kind of have an idea that, yeah, there's still a good demand economy out there. And we're starting just now to see no more labor available. It's been really, really hard. And so you know, the feet, the footings, getting a little bit more stable, you know?

Mark Hiddleson 37:41

So one of the best ways we've kind of and this is one of the reasons I think we're people a lot of times when people see us together, they asked if we're brothers. But I'm a lifelong learner. I think you're the same way. A lot of the reasons we clicked is we like going to events where they're talking about leading edge. I mean, I remember when Walmart was driving the RFID mandate back in Africa, there was a late 90s or early 2000s, probably. And we were at meetings, but people discussing these things, not just at the roundtables or the sanctioned events, but at the swimming pool at the bar, getting in a group. We do things I was poolside we hadn't. I hosted Michael Mikitka a couple of weeks ago just came out a great interview with Michael Mikitka. He didn't know about the logistics 101, but he said that we're gonna put it on the man on the narwhal.

Chris Murphy 38:39

Now, you gotta it's like a speakeasy.

Mark Hiddleson 38:43

Yeah, if if it's on the agenda.

Chris Murphy 38:48

Or oh, Mike, don't do it if you're watching this.

Mark Hiddleson 38:52

Yeah, or food shipper.

Chris Murphy 38:54

I mean, it is important to network. I mean, Sierra Pacific has always believed in networking, we learn from our customers, we learn from casual conversations, I'll learn something from somebody that's not even my customer. I'm just up there dealing with and it's something I can put into place here at our company, just because we're facing some of the same issues. And I think our industry needs to do a better job of kind of letting their guard down a little bit, because we're all collectively in the same boat kind of going the same way. And there's a lot of stuff that isn't necessarily trade secret that will all help us manage our companies better. And I think that's the value of a cscmp WRC, you know, IW LA, you know, GCCA I mean, we're actively members of these groups and to go to like to the operating meetings at the GCCA is really valuable. I mean, we have a warehouse that ammonia refrigeration rules and regulations are changing. And there's other warehouses that have done stuff differently. And so as an owner like you are if we don't stay up on the regulations Rules coming around the corner, you're going to wake up some day and find out what you're doing is either illegal or you can't do it anymore, or you didn't invest in the right equipment or, you know, the right what's happening right now with the refrigerated trailer, you know, the reefer, you, you know if you don't stay up to speed on that, because that's been very much regulated state of California. And you either have to be ready for it or not. So be ready

Mark Hiddleson 40:25

Right. People who don't know what GCCA is, that's global, its Global Cold Chain Alliance, right, is that part of AFI American frozen food Institute,

Chris Murphy 40:34

American frozen foods is more of a food food grower affiliates, suppliers and producers sign and the American frozen foods Institute works closely with the GCCA. So roughly half of our business is frozen and half of our businesses Ambien refrigerated. And so we definitely, you know, work with both both sides of the temperature wall here, you know, in taking care of our customers, you know, so makes it interesting. Yeah, yeah,

Mark Hiddleson 41:00

it's in going all those meetings, the people is the relationships and you're right, it's, there's something there's something magic in North ski is kind of the same way. So North ski is an event that it's a. And I go to another event with the engineering group, it's the seismic sizzle, which is a lot of people from our industry, but kind of the number one rule is we don't talk business. And so you still get into conversations, because everybody's in that business. So you're not there to pitch or do any kind of, you know, prospecting or anything like that. But people are sharing ideas. They're sharing what they're up against. They're sharing, you know, their personal like, what are you up at two o'clock in the morning?

Chris Murphy 41:44

Anyone who is the leader in their company and understands antitrust stuff, easily, it's it's pretty simple to get on that stuff. But I agree, a social setting the time compare ideas and talk about, you know, frustrations, opportunities, I mean, it's always valuable. It's like, you know, a lot of these things like going to a therapist, this person than you, it's like, you sit around people, and you know, all sit it out, you know, I've sat at the bar a couple of times, it's like, man, you're dealing with that, too. Oh, sorry, I don't feel so bad. I said, I thought it was bearing all that weight on myself, it turns out that that your issue is a common issue. And I think that that's helpful to know that we're in this bigger boat. And our company has benefited from these organizations. And we try to stay smarter and stronger from it. And, and most importantly, you know, what do you do with that information? You know, there's a lot of stuff that you go and learn about, it's like, you got it, it's up to us to come back to put it into action, and tell our team about it and teach our people, this is a different way to do it. This is how we can do it. A lot of people don't like change, but this is the benefit for you if we change. And I think that's where we lead in our industry is bringing those ideas back. And it's quicker here more nimble all digesting it down. So that it's relevant to the people out there picking cases every day and loading trucks, you know, they're going to come out out of ice, oh, we're going to do this thing. And if it doesn't make sense, they're going to, you know, I don't know how to load a truck as good as my league guys out here. Do they're amazing. And I would never pretend to tell them how to do it better. But there's things we can do with labeling, you know, wrapping and all this stuff that make the process of loading better. And and everyone can add to the equation, you know, regardless of ability, in some ways, and so much, you know, so I think that's a big opportunity. But it's like, it serves no purpose to go to a convention, and then don't bring that information home to your team. And why bother me? It's not just a boondoggle, you know,

Mark Hiddleson 43:38

although it is well so normally I do want to put into good plug for nursing because it is it's a ton of fun is fruitless, mostly focused on scheme. The main reason I go is because you break out your guitar after dinner and and you

Chris Murphy 43:59

I remember asking you to request lines are now open.

Mark Hiddleson 44:02

Yeah, I remember asking you if, if you ever get nervous, because you're playing, you know, playing all the times, and I've heard that people like no matter how many times you go up there, you get nervous and you go, you go, Oh, good, I do get nervous. But then I go, I know 85 songs, and on the pool disclaimer, you know, 85 songs, plus any song I've ever heard anybody ever request, even though

Chris Murphy 44:28

it's couple 100 songs, you know, but the point is, I know the first verse of everything. Yeah, I can usually make it through a bit. And, and even when we play I mean, I forget the words on the songs a lot, you know, but you know that as three verses you know, the first verse and the second verse, and most people that you're that you're that are that are seeing you. They probably don't know the third verse either. You can just sing the first verse over again, put another guitar so it's good. It all works.

Mark Hiddleson 44:58

So before or I got a couple, I'm gonna get more personal and give you a warning. But before that how I know. So you're real. Anyone from from existing, you know, bigger, larger national companies but also startups. How do you people I remember being on an airplane one time we were flying to Chicago and I'm reading an Ink Magazine like, Oh, this is cool company, they're doing sustainable some kind of sustainable food. And I knew that you were organic certified, and you're into sustainability, I'd like he should be doing business with these guys. And like, actually, we are. How do people find out about you? Like, how did?

Chris Murphy 45:38

Well, I mean, you know, for in our industry, word of mouth means a lot, you know, we get a lot of our leads from someone, especially right now in this in this weird overcapacity world we live in right now. I mean, where people are saying that we heard somebody say something about you from another person. And that's the best thing that can happen in our industry that someone else recommends you. But being visible at these events being visible as part of these trades, you know, having your company on the directories, you know, having your website up and running, looking good showing your services, I mean, the having a good website is key to showing your professionalism. And then and then you know, a way to get a good way to communicate back. And so, you know, you got to look at it, you know, there's some people that say, you know, will you trade free warehousing for a part of our company, it's like, probably not, if you don't have enough, if you don't have enough confidence in your own company, to put the resources behind it, we're probably not a good part, right, you know, then you couldn't get out they've received first round financing, or what kind of space they are. Right in. But I but I think that we've had so many customers, and that's what makes Sierra Pacific kind of unique is that we found some of these cool companies are starting up, and then watch them get big, and then watch them become really successful. And then our job beyond that is when they stop becoming a boutique company, you know, once they get into 30 or $40 million, with the sales, you know, their needs have changed, or they're either building it up to sell it, well, are we positioned in gate in the event that they sell their company? Well, you know, well, the new company, you know, so there are a lot of things that happen through that stage. And we're fortunate, we've had a couple of companies that have gone through that whole lifecycle with us, you know, some we've had that got bought by a big multinational, and they moved it to LA or something, you know, that's, you know, well, the good side is you helped the company grow. The bad side is, as you know, the next move wasn't your move, but it opens the door to work with somebody else. So I think I think a lot of people, you know, we we try to work with the folks that have a good mind set, and you'll find just like meeting people, you're gonna know if they're good people or not, they have the right goals in mind. They're, you know, if they really don't know what they're doing and expecting you to figure out, well, we will just, it's just not as cheap. You know, you've got to basically say, alright, we can be consultants for you guys, but it changes the way it works. And then, and then and then then that all that translate is that we've got to be heads up on top of our game, tip of the bleeding knife or edge or whatever, on technology, EDI, you know, standards, food safety for the larger companies, because the because, you know, the global food companies can't afford the 10 acre rents. And those guys who are managing these programs can't be on the hook for sloppy warehousing. So you really think the other work we do for these large companies has made us a better advocate for some of the smaller companies. Because you really do want to succeed, I mean, you and I've walked the aisles many times and fancy foods show, and you kind of look to go with these, I'll say, hey, they're gonna make it from the water to land, you know, these people will evolve. And you start to see how so many of they out they've grown, you know, and some of our bigger companies still act like small startup companies, which means they're healthy, and they're innovative. You know, it's a really good cultural, you know, Zeitgeist to see these shows and see who keeps on going back and what the, you know, buzzword like one year, it's like mango sauces, the next year, it's much, you know, and every year, you know, there's a thing that that everyone is into, you know, it's kind of fun to watch that. Then, you know, when you're when you're out there shipping products out there, our employees see it, hey, we're a part of this, you know, we're shipping this Oh, they feel they feel proud. Our teams feel proud about the brands that we work with. Yeah. And they're, they're packing the orders when it's a busy day. I mean, they know they're part of this company, and they see ads on TV or whatever. It's like, hey, they tell their friends worshipping this stuff. And I think it means a lot to remarket that back down to your team as like, you know, you can you can tell them all the stuff but you say Do you realize, here's what you're doing, here's what you're packing, and this is doing this for our customer, and, you know, we are helping them grow because that's another opportunity for us. I mean, no, I think you have to show the possibilities to anybody whether or it's you know, your in house team or kids, if you get good grades in school and have a lot of extra credit, you can go to a good college. I mean, it's the same thing, that if we do a good job for a company and they grow, you know, we become more, it's not much different, you know, in terms of guidance really, right. Yeah, you know, because you got your kids and your business too, you know. And

Mark Hiddleson 50:18

so, it was one of the things I was going to ask you, and it was everything you're doing. One of the things I've admired you from the beginning, I remember watching you as a father and thanking this guy, even with everything going, it's been family, family first, with you. You might say something about that. I know, it's kind of personal, but I'm the same way. It's like, I'm going to spend time with my family and go to work every minute.

Chris Murphy 50:46

I can. Yeah, you know, and that's one of the reasons I started you know, this, you know, ModestoView here, you know, is a local publication. I just started because, you know, I live in Modesto, California when I lived when I moved back to town, it was all Scott Peterson the samedi, hitchhikers. Gary Condit, you know, I mean, and then so we there was just a bunch of trash talk about our city. And just, you know, at the same time, George Lucas was born here, Star Wars was basically written here. I mean, American Graffiti was made about our town I, my initial knee jerk was, Why on earth are we telling people about this, because it goes back to your kids and your family. If people realize the community live is pretty cool. You know, we are the home of George Lucas for the home American feeding by that extension, we're the homeless Star Wars, we have one of the first May the fourth day celebrations because of our position in Star Wars. So that appeals to all ages and genres. So that's where as a company, you need to stay involve your community, and then provide opportunity for those next loop of young professionals to come back and return to the community. But they won't come back to your community, unless you've created an ambiance or a culture around your community that says, hey, it's a pretty cool place to live. Otherwise, we'll lose our kids to San Francisco, Portland or wherever. And, and that was my job is I figure I'm gonna do nothing but talk about good stuff about our community. And now here, we are starting to back in 1998. We're still publishing the magazine. That's 100% Good news. And we become one of the largest magazines and media outlets in Northern California. And it's a side side hustle. Yeah. Yeah. You know, so, but, but it's become important to our company's culture, because this is kind of what we do. And we get our employees to go back and get involved in being, you know, the fun runs and the charity stuff and the food bank, so we encourage our customers to donate to the food banks, you know, as with age product, you know, it's all about you know, the gets back the food way. So, that very long story, right, there is all thing about, it's all about your family, because the more time you spend with them, the more time you know, oh, more time those experiences. You know, I'm a big believer, I don't like to collect stuff. I like to collect stuff, obviously. But these are just tell tall tales of my travels, right? And you know, our family, we are a big believer in creating experiences, because it's the experience that brings you together. It's not the Sony and X Box or why don't Sony

PlayStation whatever.

Mark Hiddleson 53:16

The Nintendo, whatever it is, well, I'm not playing.

Chris Murphy 53:20

I have a functional Nintendo 64 with Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt. So

Mark Hiddleson 53:27

take it Can I Can I borrow your cartridge

Chris Murphy 53:31

programs? You know.

But yeah, I mean, I mean, one of my hall of fame experiences is my daughter and I Abby, we're sitting in a cafe in Paris, and we're sitting there who comes out of the metro subway was Hiddleston with his big luggage.

Mark Hiddleson 53:49

So that that is a story that I wanted to. I wanted to, I mean, we've had a lot of ton of Hall of Fame moments, but that one of my principles that I've worked in, I always try to find out who the owner of a company is, thank you probably the same way because you know, whoever I'm dealing with, and then you and I, over the years have developed a relationship. But a lot of the projects we do, I'm working with other people, and your staff and you have a fantastic staff. And then never, you know, things happen. You have to always believe you have to work things out with the individuals not like Well, I'm gonna call Chris Murphy. He's my buddy. You know, I've never done that, except for there was one time I sent you in, or I called you and I was like, Chris, you know, something happened. I don't agree with it. It wasn't the right thing. And you agreed with me. He said, You know what? You said, You're right. I saw that. I have to backup my employee. And it's kind of when you're a parent and you tell the teacher the principal has to sit down like I know that's what it is. I'm no I'm like, You know what? I will go down or meet with you right now. But I'm in London. And you go, well, it just so happens. I'm going to be in Paris, in a couple of days and

Chris Murphy 54:58

in Paris. Uh, so what are you doing?

Mark Hiddleson 55:04