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Understanding What Makes Warehouses Sexy With Kevin Lawton


Kevin Lawton is the host and Founder of The New Warehouse podcast, where he champions the belief that warehouses are downright sexy. The podcast provides insights and ideas from the distribution, transportation, and logistics industry, offering a unique blend of industry expertise and an infectious passion for innovation. With hands-on experience navigating through systems like Manhattan SAP, Oracle, and the IQ Prelude, along with various automation technologies including voice picking and GTP picking, Kevin's journey is all about continuous learning and knowledge sharing.

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

  • How Kevin Lawton got started in the business of warehousing

  • What’s Kevin working on besides his podcast?

  • Understanding how Kevin started The New Warehouse podcast

  • Who is Kevin’s ideal client?

  • What is GTP, and how does it make warehousing sexy?

  • Understanding how Locus Robotics got started

  • How Kevin chose his first podcast guest

  • What technologies make a warehouse sexy?

In this episode…

Warehousing and logistics play a pivotal role in our daily lives, quietly facilitating the smooth flow of goods from production to consumption. From the groceries on our shelves to the packages arriving at our doorsteps, efficient warehousing ensures timely delivery and availability of essential items. But have you ever stopped to consider the intricate network of operations behind each product's journey and the profound impact it has on our interconnected world?

Warehousing enthusiast Kevin Lawton believes that the whole idea of warehousing is sexy. Kevin highlights that the true allure of a warehouse lies in its meticulous organization and seamless processes. However, amidst the visual appeal, he points out a significant trend: the focus on addressing the often-overlooked tasks within warehouses, such as trailer loading and unloading. This shift towards automating these challenging tasks not only enhances efficiency but also reduces the risk of injuries. Kevin's observation underscores the importance of embracing technological solutions that optimize every aspect of warehouse operations, reminding us that true innovation lies in tackling the small but crucial details.

In this episode of The Tao of Pizza Podcast, Mark Hiddleson speaks with Kevin Lawton, host and Founder of The New Warehouse podcast, about what makes warehousing sexy. Kevin discusses how he got into the warehousing business, explains who his ideal client is, and takes a deep dive into GTP.

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 holistic look 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 0:16

Mark Hiddleston here, host of The Tao of Pizza podcast where I talk with top industry innovators in the warehousing logistics and supply chain business with a holistic twist. Today we're joined by Kevin Lawton, host of The New Warehouse podcast and we're going to be discussing and sharing our best ideas about innovation and what makes warehouses sexy. Before I introduce Kevin, this episode is brought to you by specialized storage solutions. 

And, look, I've been in the logistics and storage industry for several decades. And I know I don't look that old, but people are telling me it's true. We provide industry-leading warehouse storage solutions nationwide. So basically, we have a warehouse that needs racks, shelving carts, conveyors or mezzanines. We help with the design engineering installation inspections and repairs to help our clients optimize their logistics operations. And Kevin it's funny sometimes people don't even realize we can actually help with permit acquisition services. We take a holistic look at your entire business supply chain ecosystem to help develop the resources or continue improving your operation. 

To learn more, visit special Or give us a call at 707-732-3892 and even give my personal email out to the podcast listeners. It's Send me an email if you're ready to take your warehouse storage and retrieval systems to the next level. I also wanted to give a few shout-outs before introducing today's guest, who recently hosted Paul Jarrett of the Bulu group. They specialize in the tricky ship. We had a great conversation about nonlinear fulfillment systems, so you can check out that episode. 

And Paul It also introduced me to Joey Spanjers who shared some great insights on performance accounting for CPG brands. That's another episode to check out. Kevin Lawton is joining us today he is the host and founder of the new warehouse podcast and a firm believer that warehouses are sexy. Kevin's podcast is a resource generated from industry expert blogs, videos, and podcast interviews that deliver insight into innovative technologies and best practices. 

When it comes to video, think Car and Driver test drives but for forklifts and warehouse robots, and Kevin gets really excited about the robots. His passion is all about education and being a resource for the industry. He has experience dealing with Manhattan SAP, Oracle, and the IQ Prelude in various types of automation, such as voice picking, and GTP picking his passions, continuously learning and sharing his knowledge, which led him to the creation of the new warehouse podcast. He's a supply chain professor and an all-around warehouse nerd. Kevin, welcome to The Tao of Pizza. 


Kevin Lawton 3:01

Thank you, Mark, thanks for having me here. It's exciting to be on here and be a guest on your podcast


Mark Hiddleson 3:07

Is it different being on the guest end versus the interview end?


Kevin Lawton 3:14

Yeah, it's definitely different to be on the other side of the mic, and, you know, being a guest versus the host definitely has to change my mindset a little more. But yeah, definitely happy to be on here you have a good podcast as well, and was taking a listen this morning actually too. And so I'm very excited to be here.


Mark Hiddleson 3:41

And you mentioned the Paul Jarrett episode that you checked out. I had seen that he mentioned you and one of his posts on LinkedIn and that's when I'd been wanting to connect with you. I've seen your booth at ProMat, and we didn't stop until this year and Moto X is coming up. I'm definitely making an appointment after the podcast. Yeah,


Kevin Lawton 4:03

absolutely. Come by. Yeah, we'll be in the booth. A 10136. I've been engraved that into my head for the next two weeks here to remind people but yeah, we'll be there we'll be doing a podcast livestream right there in the booth. And we'll have some warehouses or sexy swag that we'll be giving out so be sure to come by and see what we got.


Mark Hiddleson 4:30

We're gonna get into the warehouses. They are sexy and we share that passion. I know it's sometimes people look at me when I'm crazy. I get so excited about racking shelving work conveyor systems. And how did you get into this business? How did you get started? What brought you this business?


Kevin Lawton 4:50

Sure. You know, I think like, like most people in the business, you know, I I grew up with a passion of wanting to be in the warehouse. Just kidding, I don't think I don't think most people have that desire.


Mark Hiddleson 5:06

Astronaut, Fireman warehousing logistics. 


Kevin Lawton 5:10

Yeah, that's pretty much the order. I think it goes, right. So, and I was free to fire so that one didn't work out and, you know, just wasn't good enough for an astronaut. So here I am right. But no, I think that I mean after school. Yeah, I kind of didn't necessarily know what I wanted to do. I went to school for Entrepreneurial Studies. And I don't know, I felt like I didn't quite have an idea for business yet. So I was like, oh, I need to get a job, though. 

And I had a connection that happened to be just a temp position available for inventory control. Specialists at the time didn't really know much about what that meant, or anything like that. But it was a job. So. So yeah, I started out and I guess I was pretty good at it. Because they quickly offered me the full-time position. And yeah, and I stuck with them for a couple of years as inventory control focused. And then, by the time I left there, Simon and Schuster was the company. I was their supervisor for the quality control department. 

And so yeah, I mean, it's a very interesting experience. And they actually had a tonne of automation in their facility. Not from a robotic standpoint, but like miles of conveyor, and sortation, and all those different types of things, which was really interesting to see. And just the intricacies of putting that layout together and how that was developed. And all those things kind of really probably pushed my interest a little more, I think, in the warehousing world, and then, you know, it kind of in the back of my head, I was always like, Well, I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna do this forever, I'm going to do something else, I'm going to do something else. 

And then I just kept doing more of that. And yeah, then my career just kind of continued. And at some point, I was like, you know, like, this is not a bad field to be in. And it is interesting, and I was doing well at it. And yeah, and I decided to embrace it a little more. So I wanted to go out and learn more about the industry. And I was in my late 20s at this point. And I was looking for something interesting to learn from right, like, you know, like a video series or interesting blog or, or a podcast or something like that. 

But there was nothing really out there that was focused just on the warehousing industry, it was kind of like, what I found, like in an online format was kind of the, you know, the trade magazine just kind of regurgitated a little bit online, you would say and so I had done some blogging in the past myself, I did some some ghostwriting, actually for a different industry. So I was like, well, I could do a blog on this. Like, I think that could be interesting, right? That's kind of like my creative entrepreneurial mindset, I guess, flowing there in the background and, you know, never being satisfied with just one job or one task, right. And, so I tried to start doing that. 

And I quickly realized, ah, like, I don't have the time to write, edit, and try and figure out how am I going to distribute this, I was a young son at the time. And then I was working for a company where we were implementing an automatic multi-shuttle system with voice-picking GDP, pick stations, multiple different zones and conveyors in a brand new building, all from scratch, while closing down two older buildings and consolidating them into this new state of the art building. So, it's a very long day. And I was like, Yeah, I don't have time to do this. And so my boss at the time, actually, he kind of gets the credit. He's actually the guest on episode number two of the podcast if anybody wants to check that out. 


Mark Hiddleson 9:13

What's the name of the episode? Definitely be posting the link to episode two in the show. 


Kevin Lawton 9:19

Yes. Oh, man. That's, that's that's way back. And when the quality was very, very low. We've evolved a lot since then. But But yeah, he was like, he was like, ah, and we had been talking about this idea for a while. We're still friends to this day, we're gonna meet up at modex Actually, and he took me took me with him. I think we worked together three different companies, actually. And so he was like, Oh, why don't you do a podcast I hear like, that's the thing. Now, this was like 2018 I think. And so my room okay, sounds easier. Sit down, talking to microphone. Gonna be a little more raw. I don't have to edit too much. 

So, let me try that. So Uh, so I did. And that's kind of how the podcast came about. And yeah, I mean, it was really just a way for me to learn more about the industry get more connected in the industry. Kind of selfish, I guess in a in a way in the beginning, and it just kind of took on a life of its own way more than I thought it ever would. And, you know, as we're recording this, I mentioned to you, Mark, I mean, in a couple of days, like, it'll be five years since we released the first episode. 

And that is just, I think it's just mind-blowing to say that at this point, because I was just, I think when I started, I'm like, Ah, it'd be cool, if, you know, maybe 1000 People listened at some point. And, you know, now we've, I think we've surpassed like, 130 140,000 downloads total on the podcast over the five years, so. So it's just beyond what I could ever expect. And it's just kind of like, almost every week, every month, it just seems like there's new things that are coming up, new opportunities from the podcast that I never could have imagined. 

So. So that's kind of how the podcast came about. And all along to I've been, you know, working in the warehousing industry as well for 13 years now. So I've been warehouse manager, inventory control manager, plant manager, all that stuff. So everything that I talked about, I've certainly lived and experienced and still experience to this day in some aspects as well.


Mark Hiddleson 11:34

I think that's what makes it great. So you have that everyday experience of actually running a warehouse. I mean, we're an integrator. So one of the things that's exciting for us is I get to go to tons of different businesses, different vertical markets, we have a lot of clients in cold storage and direct-to-consumer, shipping construction clients. And that's what I did for me. It's fascinating. It's been a love this career people like, it's like, how do you get into it? And like, it was my first choice, right? This is what I, what I planned on. The excitement has kept me in the innovation. It's been cool to see the trend. So what are you besides the podcast? What are you? What are you doing right now? Do you have to tell us? Are you working for a special secret project with NASA?


Kevin Lawton 12:25

No, no secret projects or anything like that. I mean, we're so podcasts, we've been doing that. I had the opportunity in 2022 to go and get my own space and do little 3PL e-commerce fulfillment. X action, and it started little business under the new warehouse name as well there. And we've been steadily growing that as well. And, yeah, and we're trying to figure out what the next phase of that looks like? I think at this current time, and, you know, trying to build that out a little more and see, like, what direction do we want to take it. 

But that's been a great way to kind of test some things as well. We've had some good partners that have been great partners with the podcast. And then also, when we got the space, we were able to take some of their stuff and be able to use it in there and kind of test it out as well, which was a cool opportunity. Yeah, so there's that and then I teach as well. So I'm an adjunct professor and supply chain, which, as you mentioned. And I teach at Rider University, which is actually my alma mater, as well. So it's very interesting. 

I didn't go there for supply chain, but now I teach in the supply chain department. So that's a great thing that's happening. I'm in my sixth semester now teaching over there. And it's, it's really, really interesting. It's funny, you know, we talked about, we never set out to like, be in this industry, right, or this business. But it's, it's very interesting to see now, kind of the more awareness on supply chain, especially for the students who are actually, you know, coming in and wanting to be in supply chain majoring in supply chain, and how that's kind of just evolved over the last, you know, 10 years or so. 

I think like my, my alma mater, actually, the, when I graduated in 2010, as an undergrad, that was the first year they actually had a graduating class with supply chain majors in it. So it's still very, like fresh. But I think it is very important. Because, you know, we want people and we want kids to be interested in our industry, because, you know, we need kind of that next generation of people who's going to come in and, you know, embrace this industry and do these types of things. I think we're seeing more of that, but it's certainly a struggle and a challenge. 

So that's, you know, part of the part of the mission behind, you know, warehouses are sexy to be able to highlight some of those kinds of interesting fun things. And, I will say, of the supply chain majors a small percentage of them are interested in the warehouse side of things. And the trucking, transportation side of things are most of them are looking at things like planning, procurement, things like that. So, we definitely got a lot of room to impact there, which is a good thing, right? It's easier to go from 10% to a higher percentage, it's hard to go from 99% to 100. Right. Yeah.

So yeah, and then we will be we haven't really, I guess, put this out there in the world yet. But I guess we could say it here on the podcast, we will be in the next month or two, probably April ish, I will say we will be kind of rolling out a more formal programme around consulting and advising new warehouses and being able to do that. And yeah, and just kind of being able to get into other operations and impart some of our learnings or advise them on, you know, some of the solutions we've been exposed to, and, and being able to do that. 

So that's kind of kind of where we're at right now. But yeah, there's lots of different avenues and things that we're looking to explore. And fortunately, or unfortunately, my mind does not seem to slow down. So as a gift and a curse, maybe once I would say so.


Mark Hiddleson 16:43

I'm the same way. I'm in my 50s. And I feel like, I feel like I have more energy than I had in my 30s and was finally working out and riding my bicycle and everything, stuff like that. Find out I don't, but I feel like


Kevin Lawton 16:58

feel like you feel it. Yeah, it's good


Mark Hiddleson 17:00

feeling the energy and excitement around the trends. And we've been lucky, you've interviewed. We were talking before the show you've interviewed. It's over 500 episodes. And I think, yeah, that's amazing. A friend of mine has done 1000 episodes. And after I'd done, you know, after about five or six weeks in the podcast, I was like, Well, I guess it's just a numbers game. You know, I'm doing one a week. So I'll have 1000. 

And I was like, wait a minute, 20 years, it's gonna take me 20 years at once a week. So 500 episodes is, I mean, that's an accomplishment. And you were definitely on the cutting edge. I forgot it when I gave a presentation. And it was 2017. And it was about innovation. And before I gave that presentation, I was like, what are the things I've changed, right? Because I had been doing it for 25 years, or whatever. And like, I'm doing a lot of the same stuff I did. 

And one of the things I changed my mind on was podcasts because I didn't realize, you know, obviously, the podcast was entertainment. It was like mystery shows, or comedy or something I didn't know. And one of my coaches sent me a podcast and listened to him. And I was like, wow, this is an author that I've read several of his books. Now you can see an interview with this guy, and kind of go deeper. So I looked at podcasts as a little mini University for me to train myself. So I included in that presentation something like, here's something and I started watching podcasts. And then you know, it took a few five years for it to sink in. 

But somebody told me like your boss, he said, with your customer base and your experience and really, you know, what drives your company innovation is the relationships you have with all these people in companies, suppliers, engineers, and so nice, nice work. Thank you for leading the way for people because I was bogged down like just barely started listening to podcasts. Have my own? Yeah,


Kevin Lawton 18:56

Well, well, when I started mine, I had never listened to a podcast actually. I was like, Oh, I guess I can try and figure this out. And I got very lucky. I will say that. I made a choice early on, because I realized I could not have my son, I think he was around four ish, I think at the time when I was starting three, four. And yeah, and he just, you know, he didn't understand that, like, I need like an hour of quiet time to be able to record something. 

So I went to this co-working space and just by coincidence, there was a guy there that had been doing podcasting for like multiple years already. And he just kind of showed me everything. This is how you set it up. This is how you get it out there and all those different things. So I got very, very lucky in that sense, because I really had no idea what was on the technical side or anything like that. So yeah, it has been a journey for sure. And yeah, it was interesting that you mentioned they're kind of, you know, a few years ago that podcasting, I guess from most, like a b2b, I guess perspective, or a, which is kind of what we're doing here. I mean, it was very like, like, you know, what's that? Like? 

And like, does that make sense? Like, I think back in the beginning when I was trying, like, you know, to get guests and find guests and, you know, meet people to get them on the show, and all these things, and there were times like multiple companies were, at that time, they were like, they're like, wow, like, we don't see the value in podcasting, right now. And then like, you know, a couple of years later, they're like, you know, sending me press releases, like, Oh, can we get somebody on the show to talk about this, and all these things. 

And now, and now you see the company is coming out with their own podcast, too, and everything like that. So it's just, it's just crazy how it's grown. But it is, like you said, it's such a great educational resource and a great resource to get different perspectives and just be able to kind of connect and see, like, more, I guess, what is this person about? Right? Like, when you have the guest on like, like, Who is this person? Really, besides like the face of, you know, ABC company, right. I think it's really a great medium to be able to do that.


Mark Hiddleson 21:15

Yeah, I've met a lot and started out to interview, you know, my top, I had a list of the top 30 people that you know, if I was going to do an interview, you know, 30 years, who's the top 30, and I made that list. But what's fun is that list has expanded because as I host guests, I get recommended recommendations from other guests. And it's like you said, it takes off. I wanted to mention I've had Judy, Dr. Dean on the pocket said the exact same thing about what he said about inspiring young people. I actually took a one minute clip off ledger live posted on LinkedIn a few times. 

And out here in California. I don't know if they're everywhere in the country, but we've got a high school in the Central Valley, which is a strictly warehousing programme. They teach picking systems, they have a mini warehouse, forklift certification, warehouse management systems. And I mean, these kids are sharp. I've done a tour of the facility a couple times with work. You should be familiar with WERC W E. RC, they're usually


Kevin Lawton 22:19

Oh, yeah, yeah, we'll be. We'll be going to WERC conference in June. 


Mark Hiddleson 22:22

And you do the conference. So I did the conference every year, the first 15 years of my career, I didn't miss WERC conference, I was on a local board. But that programme in Paterson and Larry Garcia of trying to have Larry Garcia mentioned to me I want to have him on the show, because it's these high schoolers, they're sharp, and I've gone there and people are asking him tough, tough questions. 

And these kids are young and they get it and Patterson has like there's a big Amazon warehouse in Paterson, there's a CVS has a big warehouse, that's a drugstore out here in California, Restoration Hardware. And these are all like million square ft 800,000 square feet Granger has 100,000 square ft DC. So these guys are not in high school, they're getting great jobs with great companies. So young it is. This is an exciting business and we're gonna have to bring up a few things about what makes warehouses sexy. But I want to ask you with your 3PL and E-commerce words, what have you found that has been your niche client or client that you're serving really well, because of your position? 


Kevin Lawton 23:30

Hmm, that's a good question. So, I mean, it's interesting, because I think a lot of people don't realize that there we had a 3PL, as we, we had kind of like, an exclusive agreement with a 4PL that we were working with. And starting that and their focus was on the same day to our next day delivery. So that was kind of really where our focus was and that's how we kind of evolved with them and expanded with them. 

Additionally, we actually started in an old nail salon, actually in Philadelphia, in the center city. It's just an irregular retail unit underneath an apartment building and not a not a traditional fulfillment or warehouse space. And, that was to be able to accommodate like that two hour delivery and get things delivered via courier and Uber and things like that. 

So yeah, it's been interesting. And that's certainly a big contrast to like, when I was working for companies and, you know, larger buildings and million square feet, 300,000 square feet, kind of building, things like that. So, but yeah, I think from that, like we've kind of focused on you know, what fits the bill for that fast delivery. And how do we accomplish that? And that's kind of really where we focused on. But we did expand. And we entered into a partnership with another 3PL called Experior Global as well, and moved out of Philly. 

And we were able to focus more on the next day delivery throughout the Northeast here in a larger space closer to our, our shipping partner from our perspective and, and really be able to kind of hone in on that next day delivery service and be able to do that. So that's kind of where the focus is, I guess being on and evolving over time.


Mark Hiddleson 25:41

Is it more of a warehousing function or delivery for that? Because we're, you know, doing the next day? And is it just regional? Or can you do it nationally? 


Kevin Lawton 25:52

Yeah, so it's, I mean, for us, we're doing like the pick pack. And then we're sending out on a line haul to, to a shipper or to a last mile carrier basically. And they're sorting, aggregating or getting in there before the cut off. And then yeah, they're sending us on its way. And we're regionalised. So we're covering, we say we go as far north as New Hampshire all the way down to DC and then out towards Pittsburgh is kind of like the triangle that we can hit next day on. 

But we are looking and have been talking to a couple companies that could get us nationwide like today, and it'll expand the next day's coverage as well. There's a lot of companies out there, not a lot, a few companies out there that are doing some interesting work in developing those types of networks utilizing air freight and things like that, to be able to accomplish that. So. So that's definitely something we're exploring. We're also kind of expanding into more national fulfillment, as well, because we have, we have additional space now. 

As I mentioned, the space in Philadelphia was very small. So we really did have space to like, bring on and do much more. So now we do so we have a little more to play with. And we're that kind of, as I said earlier, we're kind of thinking about what does the next phase or iteration of this look like? So that's kind of where we're weighing in, like, what type of services do we want to additionally tack on? And how do we want to grow this thing a little further? 


Mark Hiddleson 27:41

There's a lot of different businesses whether it's, like CPG, which that's just a new working with you know, Paul, interviewed Paul Jarrett, and then Joe Spanjers, they were there most of their clients are consumer packaged goods and I had to google CPG like I knew what it was. And then from your I find myself googling stuff a lot that I didn't know what GTP was, and I had to after looking at your website, I'm like, Well, what's GTP to say a little bit about that? Because that's something that makes warehouses sexy. I mean, we've installed PA systems and picking the light would be considerably good. Some people, right? Yeah. Anytime the warehouse brings the goods to the picker, the person. 


Kevin Lawton 28:31

Yeah. So, yeah, essentially, you have your picture, your picture, your picker is I don't want to say fully stationary, but it is pretty much stationary is like either picking zone or is in like, picking setup. So like for us the GTP that we had set up. I mentioned the nomadic multi shuttle system that I worked on back in the day when I was starting out the podcast and yeah, and basically it was like an AR s shuttle system ASRS shuttle system and basically, you would pull out the totes with the products in it. 

So that's the goods right? And then it would trap onto a conveyor, and then that conveyor would bring it to a station where someone was just set up, they were just picking at that station. There is no travel time. I'm there where you're not pushing or pulling a cart around the warehouse to get to the product that you need to pick. That product is just automatically coming to you the person who is the goods to person right and being conveyed to you and then you have a setup there. In this scenario, we had a screen touchscreen, and it would tell you exactly what to pick and I think there were I remember correctly there were three boxes to pick two on either side. 

So six total orders you're picking at the same time. And as those columns it tells you exactly like what box to put it in. And then when that box is complete the system tells you and you push it off to the conveyor, and then it makes its way down to the packing area. But yeah, I mean, those those GTP picking scenarios certainly are very impactful, I think, from not only the perspective of like efficiency, and you know, being able to get more throughput and things like that, but from like, a worker perspective can greatly reduce that, that travel time, and the strenuousness of picking sometimes, because you see, you know, in some facilities where, you know, you're you're lugging around, or pulling or pushing these heavy carts loaded up with totes, or the boxes themselves, as you're picking into them. 

Multiple orders, you know, maybe, like, nine, 12 orders on the same thing. And I think, you know, that's like, a start definitely, like a starting place. But you see inefficiencies there. And because, you know, it gets heavy, right? And, you know, if you think about it, you know, he talked about energy levels, right? You, you think about, you start in the beginning of the day, right, you're, you're pulling this cart around, it's like, you know, so you start at eight o'clock in the morning, and then by the time it's three o'clock in the afternoon, you've been pulling around this heavy cart or pushing this heavy cart on all day, I mean, you're not moving at the same speed at three o'clock that you are at eight, right? So it kind of takes that evenness of productivity away. 

So when you're able to kind of eliminate that heaviness and that travel time and kind of keep them stationary or or just, you know, moving within a small area. You know, you're reducing a lot of that fatigue over time, and certainly making that worker's life a lot better. And I think there's a lot of robotics companies that are doing stuff like that as well, like, look is look is bought right over my shoulder here on my shelf. 

So shout them out. But you know, they're basically, you know, that their robot just comes to you. And you're, you're picking right to the tote on there. And then when you confirm it's done, and it's going to the next area it needs to go to and there's another picker there. And then certainly tons of companies that are doing stuff like that. And I think that's, I guess I would say that's kind of the gist of the GTP. But certainly a lot of potential benefits there. 


Mark Hiddleson 32:31

So mobile shelving, what I've seen the Kiva was the first system I saw with the call of mobile mobile shelving units where it brings a yes, actual whole was Kiva the first, because I remember I went to promo that one year, and there was one vendor, and then two years later, because they have an interview. I went back there. Everybody had a mobile shelving. Yeah. Yeah, so you know, close, we know about that.


Kevin Lawton 32:57

That's a good question. Who was the first first? I know Kiva was very early. I don't know if they were officially the first to do something like that. But very interesting. story. I just mentioned locusts, actually. And, and so Kiva, what happened there. And I think part of the reason why you saw that change at that time, with the explosion of so many others now, you know, providers with this type of solution is that. And actually, this is a story from the first episode ever of the new warehouse podcast, our guest was Bruce Welty, who was founder of Lucas robotics, and went on to be founder of quiet platforms as well. But so he was an early user in his 3PL that he had, Kiva. Right. 

And he tells the story that, you know, the day got a call from Kiva that, hey, Amazon wants to come see the operation they're interested in, you know, maybe using our solution. Can they come in and see, you know, how you guys are using it, what it looks like, and all that stuff. And so they said, Yeah, sure, you know, like, they rolled out the red carpet for them with Amazon, you know, all these things. And we'll come to find out later on, as I think we all know that Amazon bought Kiva. Right. But when they bought Kiva, they then said, well, everybody that's using Kiva cannot use it anymore. 

It's ours only. Right? So that I think sparked, you know, a lot of like, oh, well, now we need to make something to fill this hole in the market, which, which Bruce went on to do, and that's how Locus robotics actually started. They took everything that they liked from Cuba, everything they didn't like, from Cuba, and then made it into, you know, what they think is the better solution, which is the Locus bot. So, yeah, I mean, I think that's kind of what triggered that initial I don't know if we call it an explosion, but the initial like expansion of that type of robot in the IT market there. 


Mark Hiddleson 35:08

Nice. Thank you for sharing that. And that was so we've referenced the first first episode and set aside. Yeah, once


Kevin Lawton 35:15

I'm in the building, I have like 400 left to go out there. Yeah.


Mark Hiddleson 35:20

So that's great. And I wrote Bruce Welty down. We'll have a link and he started locusts so I think I see that technology is one of them because it's its productivity. And like I said, you get tired at the end of the day. mistakes go up to it's not just that you're physically tired of this when you start making. Yeah, mentally to Yeah, physically tired. But a friend of mine was in. They had a client with Toys R Us Toys R Us had a Kiva system and Amazon bought it out. 

And there's some interesting things with Amazon Toys R Us, I won't go into it. But he was brought in because there was somebody else. I can't think of Owens, a minor who went to work for a medical distribution facility. One of the reasons they hired him is because he had experience with Kiva because it is a unique technology. So if you're managing that process, and it's good to have people that have that, do you know, do you know? So Locus, they're one of your close friends? partners or friends or referral? Like what's your relationship with Bruce? Yeah,


Kevin Lawton 36:22

I mean, actually, I would say like the first episode of the podcast, right, I was just kind of thinking like, oh, like, what would be an interesting thing to talk about what would be like an interesting guest. And so then, of course, I was, you know, my mind went robots, right? All robots would be cool. So I just, I mean, I really had no knowledge or anything of robots in space at that time. I just knew, like, they were out there. Right. And, and so I'm like, but that would be a cool thing to talk about. 

That would be interesting for the first episode, right? So I just went searching on LinkedIn, trying to find somebody in the robot space. And Bruce popped up in the search, and I just sent him a cold message. And, yeah, and he said he would do it. And I mean, even at the time, like that time, I didn't realize like, hey, like, that's a pretty big get as a guest. Because I still like learning more about the broader industry. And, and then like, later on, like, then I see like, oh, like, Locus robotics is like, growing like, huge, and they're becoming like, one of the front runners in the space. 

And then he went on to do quiet platforms, which then also, like, created a big wave and 3PL side of things, and, and all that stuff, too. And now just like so I always like to reflect back on that. And I'm, like, very thankful and grateful to Bruce for just saying yes, because even like I say, even later on, as I started getting connected with, like, more of the PR agencies and stuff who started like, you know, pitching me Yes. 

And getting connected with them and stuff. And I ended up getting connected with Locus' PR firms too, because we've done a couple of things with Locus and, and I mentioned that to them. And they're like, Yeah, we Bruce kind of just went on his own on that. We're like, we weren't even aware. Like that was happening. All this stuff. And so yeah, so I always kind of like to have a little, I guess, affinity for that reason. But, um, yeah, I mean, Locus has been a great, great supporter. We've had them on the show several times. 

And I mean, I think we're in space and you know, especially as we're talking a lot about the solutions and technologies that are out there, it's hard. It's hard not to include them in the conversation with the presence that they have. And the solution itself, I mean, I think is just super simple as well. It just makes sense. So yeah, I mean, there's tons of other solutions out there too, and I'm a fan of other ones as well, but they do come up quite often.


Mark Hiddleson 39:04

Yeah, David Smith, I was thinking one of my first or second episodes was David Smith. He's the client I was talking about that at the robots can I was kind of thinking the same thing. I was like, Well, I'm gonna have a guest in the warehouses add some sexy stuff so what else I want to ask you a few personal questions we're getting close to them but what else what's what's another technology you think is sexy that makes warehouse sex? Oh, man.


Kevin Lawton 39:37

Oh, this is really gonna, like, singled me out as a nerd in the warehouse. Space. But no, I mean, I think for me, I'll say I'll start at a high level here. I mean, I think overall, like the sexiness in the warehouse to me, is like when you go in that warehouse and like it's, it's clean, things are organized. And there's just that overall orchestration throughout, right? You know, the processes flow from task to task and standardized processes and all those things like that's the real sexy warehouse right to me, right? I mean, but when you start to bring in new technologies and things like that, I think it takes it to the next level. 

But I'll say right now, what I think is really interesting, really sexy that's happening is that it is maybe surprising because it's not so much of like, visual sexiness, I guess. But a lot of companies now are focusing and working on tech solutions that are kind of targeted and attacking like those little like small in between tasks within the warehouse. So I mean, we saw kind of like a broad stroke, I guess you could say, where everybody for a time was like focused on how do we get robots to do picking? Or how do we automate picking? How do we look at picking, right? 

But there's a lot of other stuff that's happening in the warehouse besides just picking, right. And you know, one of those, I think one big one that right now is getting a lot of focus is trailer, loading and unloading. And I think that that is such an important thing to get robots and automation involved in because that is, like I've said this several times I say it several other times, but that is probably one of if not the hardest job. In the warehouse, especially when you have a floor loaded container coming in from overseas, it's stacked to the roof with boxes, and you just have to manually unload it and tough it out. 

And that's super, super hard to do. And it's super hard to keep people in that position after a long time because it is just extremely taxing. And it's very injury prone to those back injuries and things like that. And so seeing automation, robotics, calm and attacking that problem, I think is such a great thing. And there's like, and I think the most interesting thing, too, is because ProMat last year is really I think when we start to see the expansion of the offerings there. 

Because I think initially really, we looked at we see Boston Dynamics had stretch, and that was kind of like the first push out there. But now you see that moving as their truck bought slip robotics doing something really interesting with like a gigantic AMR for pallet loads of Fox robotics, which focused on pallets to as well pickle robotics as one US dexterity I just interviewed them recently, has like an arm that's doing loading. So there's a lot of I think Honeywell has one too, that's been out there. So a lot of focus on that, I think that's a really great thing. 

But then those, like smaller tasks, when you see very interesting solutions to that, I think like, that's really exciting. Right now, like we see where, for example, like a company called Two Boxes is focused on. So there's been a lot of focus on returns, right? But from the perspective of like, the consumer, making it easy for the consumer, make it easier to get it to the warehouse, but then like when it gets to the warehouse, like how do you make it easy inside the four walls to process and get that inventory back? 

And that's like, what Two Boxes is focused on and being able to standardize those processes so that you know, you can take those returns and instead of like, because, I mean, you've been in a lot of warehouses, right. I mean, probably the typically the most disorganized not nice looking area of the warehouse is the returns department. It's just that's just how it goes. Because you


Mark Hiddleson 44:14

just look over and you go oh, it's your returns area over there that wants to be returned.


Kevin Lawton 44:18

Yeah. And I mean like and I mean, I get it I've managed returns department before like, when you have the customer returning stuff you don't know like, what is going to look like Like what kind of box package is it going to come back in like all these different things right, it's just the mass and and they're focused on making that better for 3PLs to be able to process and all those things so those types of things and focuses on like those processes that maybe don't necessarily always get the spotlight on them I think are really exciting and sexy to me right now. 


Mark Hiddleson 44:53

And so the pattern is one I saw Dennis. 


Kevin Lawton 44:56

Yes, we just had Dennis on Yeah, 


Mark Hiddleson 44:58

So I saw that ep. I have seen Another episode in hopefully it's good business practices of poach guests because I actually returned to one of my passions ago for a dentist. I'm going to be interviewing dentists later this month. So probably after the roadmap because I think returns came up last week because from an accounting perspective and the cost, I mean, it costs like 10 times I forget exactly what it is. 

But it's a multiplier of what it costs to bring something in versus shipping it out. I mean, the cost it's at least, Yeah, triple. Depending on the business and online resource loss of your selling clothes are one of our biggest clients that it's an online, clothes. So people ordered three sizes and they picked the one that fits, they sent the other two back. So it's built into so that it returns so I want to ask you, we're running a love to ask What's your favorite podcasts? Favorite conferences? Or tools and technology that you use yourself?


Kevin Lawton 46:09

So good question. Favorite podcast like, favorite podcast? Like show or


Mark Hiddleson 46:18

It could be anything? I just. Yeah, since I'm new.


Kevin Lawton 46:22

Yes, sir. So, my favorite podcast, I would say. I was when I started out what I thought was a really because I mentioned earlier when I started my podcast, like I had, I had never really listened to a podcast before. So one of the first ones that I kind of got hooked on was How I Built This IRA as I think that one's super interesting to hear about all these founders' stories and things like that. So I still like that one. Definitely. And then from our side of things, I guess I liked this one too, because I guess it's similar to How I Built This, but it's Bootstrappers Guide to Logistics with Nate Shutes. 

And he interviews founders in the logistics space, who have strictly bootstrapped their business so no venture backing of investors, nothing like that. And I think yeah, I think probably the entrepreneur and inside of me is always very interested to hear about people's stories and their journey and things like that, and how they kind of came to their idea, start this business and everything like that. And I think, I guess as I am self-reflecting, as I'm saying that I think as you if you listen to some episodes of my podcast, where about founders and co-founders aren't like, that's probably that's usually one of my first questions is like, well, you know, why did you do this? Right? 

Like, why did you found this company? Um, so those are definitely two that I like and enjoy. I'm trying to think of something else to do that I listen to on a regular basis? I guess from a lighter side, fun side. I do listen to something like SmartLess which I think is a funny one. And I listened to Fly on the Wall. With David Spade, Dana Carvey, which is like all about like, SNL kind of stories and things like that. I think that's pretty interesting. And what else do I listen to out there? There's so many.


Mark Hiddleson 48:42

It's, it's just started. I mean, I think, yeah, well, somebody told me a few years before it went on while I was talking about sort of my podcast is podcast is going to be what a website is now, you know, but when, if you were in business, you have a website, and I think pretty soon it's of your business. You have a podcast, I think. Yeah. Yeah. So we're, we're running out of time. This flew by; warehouses must be sexy, because it seemed like I was thinking we have another half hour but Oh, yeah. 

So man, thank you, Kevin. This has been awesome. We're going to connect at ProMat. Are there any other booths I mean, I'm going to be checking out your booth at ProMat. I'm gonna swing by early we're getting there. You're gonna be there probably Sunday. We'll probably be there Monday.


Kevin Lawton 49:30

Yeah, I think it could be coming in. This is a problem of mine. I'm a little last minute. But I have to book my flight today, actually. Yeah, I have a place to stay. Yeah, I forgot to fly. So yeah, probably coming in like late Saturday night. It looks like and will be there starting Sunday to set up our booth. And then yeah, we'll be there all the way until Thursday, probably flying out Friday morning. So yeah, all week. In Atlanta there is modex? Well, yeah, I think, what am I interested in? The Guru asked me, What are the boosts to check out, right? And there's so many. It's such a big show.


Mark Hiddleson 50:15

People have to go in a day. And then like, decide what I'm going to go back to data. Yeah.


Kevin Lawton 50:23

A couple people are asking me like, it's their first time. And they're like, Oh, could I go for like one day? And I'm like, you gotta mean, it's got like, two-day minimum, I think. But yeah, I would say what's gonna be interesting to see. Certainly, one thing, I think that's interesting. And really, ProMat, last year, kind of the star of the show, I think, was like agility, robotics, and their humanoid robot. 

So be interested to see what that looks like. And if anybody else says humanoid robots this year on, on display? And then yeah, I think some of the other interesting things too, we'll be doing actually, our friends that resonant link who do wireless charging for forklifts. We'll be doing some interviews live from their booth two in the afternoon. So that'll be interesting. And yeah, just kind of, I'm really interested to see the evolution of the truck loading and unloading systems as well. 

But I will say that the one thing and we're actually doing a little podcast about this tomorrow on LinkedIn, which I this episode that we're recording now won't be released in time for that, but, you know, I will say like, the one thing of advice is that there's so much there. And I think if you don't go with a plan, right, if you're somebody that's like, okay, like, I'm at the realization that I need to get some automation, I need to get some robotics, I need to do something to address labor challenges that I'm having, or just prepare for the future of my business to be able to compete and keep up. 

Don't get distracted, and don't fall for the shiny object syndrome, as they say, right? Because there's so many things there that you're going to be like, wow, like, this is amazing. Like, this is so cool. But then there's so many things there that are so cool, so amazing. But it's just not like that for you yet, right. Like you gotta kinda, I guess crawl before you walk, walk before you run kind of thing. So I definitely want to go in with the mindset of thinking. And I would even like, say, like, Okay, let's look at our processes, like, what process makes sense, and is easy for us to automate first, and then go on with that mindset looking for a solution for that, right? 

Because you're not gonna go from having very little automation, or no automation to, you know, throwing some kind of truck unloading type of robot in there, like you want to start small, and then you kind of work your way up. So. So I would say like, that's definitely my advice, because there's going to be a tonne of things that people are going to be like, Wow. Like, that's, that's amazing. Like, I need that. Right. But it's not necessarily mean that it's the best fit for you at the moment, right? Yeah,


Mark Hiddleson 53:30

yeah, there's so much stuff there. I've been in this business, almost 30 years, and I get there and there's stuff we are looking at. You know, 100 different manufacturers with theirs, you know? Yeah. So that is great advice. And we'll be checking your booth out. We'll be at the Locus if, if they're there, hopefully. I've watched the Bruce Welty episode. This is a great resource. So Kevin, I want to be the first to say thank you for joining us. This has been awesome. I've been looking forward to it. Thank you for sharing your insights and experience of the podcast.


Kevin Lawton 54:10

Definitely. Thank you so much for having me on. And yeah, if anybody wants to check out our podcast, The New Warehouse, anywhere you can get a podcast, just search for The New Warehouse and you shouldn't be able to find it. And I always say if you don't find it, let me know because we will get it on there for you.


Mark Hiddleson 54:30

All the podcasts are on all the podcasts. We'll have a link to your show in our show notes, but it's on if anybody wants to grab them on Spotify, Apple. All the ones that were Yeah, absolutely. Awesome. Thank you so much.


Kevin Lawton 54:44

All right. Thank you, Mark.


Outro 54:47

Thanks for listening to The Tao of Pizza podcast. We'll see you again next time and be sure to click Subscribe to get future episodes.


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