083. Hero – Dr. Travis Hodge, Strategic Sourcing Manager at Vulcan Materials Transcript

Travis: 00:00

If you’re at work or at home or in a community group or with your friends it’s outside of the box is where the opportunities are and you have to step. Into a zone. That’s uncomfortable to find these opportunities that are outside of the box. 

Chris: 00:21

Welcome to EECO Ask Why. A podcast that dives into industrial manufacturing topics, spotlights the heroes that keep America running. I’m your host, Chris Grainger, and on this podcast, we do not cover the latest features of benefits on products that come to market. Instead, we focused on advice and insight from the top minds of industry because people and ideas will be how America remains number one in manufacturing in the world.

Welcome to EECO Asks Why. Today we have a hero conversation. I’m very excited to have with us Dr. Travis Hodge, who is the Strategic Sourcing Manager at Vulcan Materials. So welcome, Travis. 

Travis: 01:00

Hey, how are we doing today? 

Chris: 01:01

Man, I’m doing good, man. I’ve been looking so forward to talking to you, man. It took us a while to get connected, but I’m so glad we’re here.

Travis: 01:08

It did. Everybody’s busy these days and we’re all got our plate full. So I’m glad we finally found a mutual time. 

Chris: 01:14

Absolutely. I’m so excited and Travis, we love these conversations and we love to get them started just by giving you a chance to share about your journey to where you’re at right now.

Travis: 01:24

Sure. I’m a, let’s be real. I’m 43 years old. I’ve been in the procurement world my entire career. It all goes all the way back to my father, who was an entrepreneur. And he purchased the true value hardware store when I was in middle school. And then high school that’s where I worked every day after school and in summers. 

Went to Virginia tech. Got my undergrad degree, was in the ROTC there all four years. Played football there. Just a fabulous place to learn and grow. And from there, I started to explore various procurement avenues. I started out in auto manufacturing with Volvo trucks, North America. Then jumped over to commodity manufacturing with Moen incorporated. They make faucets. 

Jumped over to Lowe’s home improvement. Started to work national accounts there, and then eventually found my way to Vulcan materials, who is the nation’s largest producer of construction aggregates in the United States. Publicly traded on the New York stock exchange. And I’ve been here since 2004.

So Vulcan is a very strong company. It has a lot of family values and it was just really a good fit for me personally, as well as professionally. Now, since 2004, they’ve given me every opportunity to grow. I started out as a procurement supervisor. They helped me get through my MBA with their tuition reimbursement program.

And back then they had very robust supervisory development programs. The one I went through was 18 months long. Then they had a mentoring program that was 12 months long. And once I got through those, they really started to turn me loose with helping our ERP project team rolled out Oracle. Rolling in new lines of business from acquisitions.

All the way up to being the director of the East coast for division level procurement. And with the economic downturn there in 2012 we started to interact with consulting firms like McKinsey and company. And that’s really when I got my first glimpse into the bigger world, if you will.

And it’s actually, when I decided to go ahead and pursue my PhD with Liberty university started out as just a way to differentiate myself from all the MBA airs out there in the world. But it ended up being one of the biggest blessings in my life in terms of going to a Christian university where you had to integrate the biblical world view into each and every assignment and each and every class that you took.

So. Coming out of division procurement and leading the effort here on the East coast Vulcan decided to roll out a new procurement system with all the bells and whistles. Jumped over to that team. Help them get it stood up. Get the field trained and then orchestrated connecting our top a hundred suppliers with business to business connections so we could do transactions more efficiently. So now I’m in my latest and greatest role with Vulcan’s strategic sourcing manager for all of our fixed equipment, which includes crushers, screens, conveyors, and all the components they’re in as well as MRO consumables, which includes electrical components and supplies, welding, gases and goods. Hand tools, power tools, safety supplies, PPE, those kinds of things. So that’s my journey to where we are at Vulcan today. It’s been quite prosperous, but it’s been as a result of consistent, diligent, thoughtful efforts. 

Chris: 05:12

Oh man. Thank you so much, Travis. That was just quiet, quite a story in itself, man. And just to unpack a few of those things you talked through. So first of all, your dad at the true value he had, man, what do you remember most about those days? What did what’d you learn? 

Travis: 05:28

Yeah, so I really got a feel for that seller buyer dyad. I remember actually before true value hardware store, my dad was buying things here and there. And he would take me with him. I remember one day we went to buy a camper and while he was talking to the seller, he asked me to crawl into every nook and cranny underneath and on top and look to see if there was anything wrong with it. So he was really teaching me about negotiation and things from the seller’s perspective and from the buyer’s perspective, even before I knew what those kinds of things were. 

Now, once we got into the true value of hardware business, I really started to understand more of the financial part of that in terms of stocking levels and reorders and closing out the cash register and those kinds of things.

But also you got the opportunity to interact with all these local plumbers and local maintenance guys that would just come in and, they were as, as wise as they could be in their craft. And here I am, 15, 16 year old trying to help them find what they need. So in summary, it was really most about that buyer seller dyad.

But one thing I remember my dad telling me several times, and I really didn’t understand until he was no longer my employer. He always told me, Travis, I’m going to be the hardest boss that you ever have. But once you move on from me and out into the real world, things are going to seem much easier.

And I just kinda thought he was joking, but he was actually right. He held me to a very high standard and that standard just naturally carried on. Once I got out of Virginia tech and started to venture out into the world. 

Chris: 07:18

Yeah, man. No doubt. Now you mentioned Virginia tech and I, did I hear you, right? Did you say you played football there? 

Travis: 07:24

I did. At our high school we were annual perennial power that went to the playoffs every year and I rode the momentum from there to walk on to the Virginia tech football team. And it just so happened the year that I walked on, we ended up having one of our most successful years.

We went to the Nokia sugar ball. Everybody knows sugar bowl. But maybe we all forgot that we used to have Nokia cell phones, but that was the key sponsor back then. So it was the Nokia sugar bowl in 1995 and we ended up beating the Texas Longhorns in that game. And I’m just blessed to have a sugar bowl championship ring in my arm war to, to show my grandkids one day.

Chris: 08:12

Man. That is so cool, man. Now what position did you play? 

Travis: 08:15

I was the punter there. I kicked field goals and ran wide receiver and punted in high school. And ironically, the same guy that took my job in high school ended up being the main guy there at Virginia tech, Shane Graham. He went on to the NFL and played for many different NFL teams over a very successful career. So it wasn’t as hard to swallow. I got to live vicariously through his success, but it was just a blessing to even be on the team. And part of that program.

Chris: 08:45

No doubt, man because you were there during the Beamer days, right?

Travis: 08:48

Yeah, I was actually when I walked on his son was the same year and same age as me. And he was actually snapping at that time. And so when we would have practices, Shane Beamer was actually who was snapping the ball to me occasionally. And so that’s another little memory that I have to take with me as well.

Chris: 09:09

Man, that’s great, Travis. Thanks for sharing that. And then Liberty, we talked offline you did that all through the Liberty online correctly. 

Travis: 09:18

I did. Now that is a three-year lockstep program is what they call it. You go through 60 credit hours of curriculum, which takes you two years. Then you take a comprehensive exam and if you pass the comp, then you move on to the dissertation phase.

And it was just really orchestrated by faith. And what I mean by that is I really could see the breadcrumbs on the trail all the way through that process. And out of 600 plus applicants, I was one of the 25 that was selected for that cohort out of 25, 18 of us made it to comprehensive exams. Out of 18 of us, 10 of us passed comprehensive exams. And at the end of the three years, I was one of two people that had successfully defended my dissertation. And I’ll tell you all that not out of pride, but just to give glory to the Lord, because he’s really who walked me through that whole process.

Chris: 10:17

No doubt, man. I’m not familiar with that program. My wife did complete her MBA through the Liberty online program. And I can just attest to the hard work that it takes and the structure of what that offers. So congratulations. And I know that was a lot of hard work, my friend.

Travis: 10:34

It was, and one of the key points there is integrating that biblical worldview into every class and every assignment. So you might be in an economics class and you have to describe why is economics important to God? Where are there topics about this in the word? And so it really helped me grow in my biblical knowledge and spiritually by integrating those biblical truths into the academic regimen.

Chris: 11:06

No doubt. I remember helping her from time to time and the research, the biblical research you would have to do, man, is it was through the roof. It was intense because you had to tie it back to, like you said, we could be in a statistics class and we would have to tie things back to it. Hats off to you and the last thing on your journey that you mentioned I like to dovetail into the next question. 

You mentioned a mentor program that, that you went through and had that opportunity. Can you give us a little more about that and what that did for you? Cause we’re all about, talking about our mentors and people who shape our careers. I’m just curious on how that work for you. 

Travis: 11:40

Yeah, that’s right. Vulcan does it really well and they partner you up with someone who can help you have a vision for the future. And it also, in some ways, prepares the path for you as well. So I was blessed to have a mentor, uh, The VP of operations.

Over that 12 month program, we would go around to different Vulcan locations. Learn specific things about our manufacturing processes or the people or the policies. And it was a good way to grow in knowledge of the business. But while that was fascinating and value added what it started to open my eyes to more and more was the importance of having wise counsel.

And so because of that mentoring program early on, I could pick up the phone and call that VP anytime, any day of the week even five, six, seven years later, I had that relationship set up as wise counsel permanently. So I could always pick up the phone and get some advice. 

What I learned was it doesn’t really matter what venue you’re in. If you’re at work, if you’re at home, if you’re with your network of friends, if you’re in your church, if you’re in some type of community group, if you can surround yourself with wise counsel, almost like a president has a cabinet. Each one of those cabinet members needs to know more about a certain topic than you will ever know, or at least have already been down the trail and can give you some wisdom about how you should proceed down the trail.

So that mentoring program really spring-boarded me into making sure I had wise counsel in every Avenue of my life. So when I did get to those fork in the road moments, I could just stop and say, Hey, I’ve got some people that can help me with this. I don’t have to do this all by myself. 

Chris: 13:51

No doubt. It just sounds like that was such a blessing for that program to exist. And then for the people that were involved in it to actually sounds like they took it very serious, right? And dedicated significant time to supporting it. 

Travis: 14:06

Absolutely. And then, the door swings both ways. So you’re going to have the opportunity to be wise counsel. There are young men that also need guidance. Whether, again, whether it’s in the professional world, network of friends, church, community events, whatever. So you always have to I’ll use the term give back, even though I don’t really like that phrase. But in essence, take what you’ve learned. What’s wisdom that you’ve learned and pass it along to others and it just makes the world a better place.

It sounds cliche, but I cannot discount the value of having wise counsel and being wise counsel. And if everybody did it, like they were supposed to, the world would would be such a better place. 

Chris: 14:56

No doubt, man. Going through that program has that led to opportunities for you to provide advice to others to help them in their careers? 

Travis: 15:05

It absolutely is. And so I’ll use a guy named Alex. Young, bright, educated, driven, but somewhat lacking in confidence and just have the opportunity to really recognize that. And I think that’s one Avenue of wise counsel that, that people forget is a lot of times people aren’t going to ask. But you’re in a position to help and you have to have enough discernment to see the opportunity.

Know when is the right time and when is the right place to provide that guidance? And when you wait for those windows to open, it becomes a dynamic shift in that person’s life, because they’re ready to receive it. If I try to come in and force it on you, you’re going to be much more likely to spit it out.

If I’ll wait until you’re ready to receive it, it’s going to be digested well. And so it goes back to really the parable of the sower in the word where, Hey, if you try to sow a seed in some hard soil, it’s not going to work. You’ve got to wait until. The soil is soft enough. It’s the right season, the right time of the year to really plant that seed.

And so with Alex, I decerned the need, I waited on the opportune time. And there was a dynamic shift in really his perspective on self and his perspective on career path, just based on what was maybe a five minute conversation one day at the right place and the right time in his life. 

Chris: 16:54

Wow. That’s amazing. That’s so good. Such, such good counsel just in that advice, Travis, thank you so much. I’m sure that’s gonna be speaking to someone that’s listening right now. And wonderful stuff. And, you’re in a very a strategic role, you’re that strategic sourcing manager, I’m curious, coming down the pipeline is what as some of those, the challenges that are coming your way in the future?

Travis: 17:18

Yeah. So there are certain economic drivers that drive the construction aggregates business. There’s infrastructure funding at the federal level. State highway bills. Commercial construction. Residential housing. All these things are our drivers for Vulcan that dictate our production and our sales.

And so as I’m looking now more globally at the industry, I really see some things coming down the pipeline pertaining to raw material shortages, inflation in the supply chain. So when you’re talking about steel and copper and rubber, The global demand for these products we’ve now seen in a pandemic type environment can take a big hit really quickly.

And so there are certain economic factors that, that I think are our here and now, and going to continue that are going to require us to be more efficient with resources, more proactive in our planning and our contracting. More of a global view of the supply chain rather than a local one. And so it’s really migrating us from what I’ll call old school to new school.

And I actually think it’s a blend of the two. And so when you bring that old school approach of diligence and loyalty and Having those relationships in the supply chain, and then you combine it with a global perspective, some modern technology and the slogan fences make good neighbors.

Contracts make good suppliers. And so it’s really merging these two worlds that have not wanted to collide. And now in the year 2021, I feel like more than ever old-school and new-school are merging and we can’t let go of the old school. We’ve got to bring some of those traditional traits forward with us because that’s what’s made it successful.

We just need to marry it up with more of a global approach, more of an inclusive approach married, married with modern technology. 

Chris: 19:42

As you do look at that when, from Vulcan specifically, what are some of those projects that are getting you excited as you look out the window as well?

Travis: 19:50

Yeah, so we invested heavily in our new e-procurement system. We stood it up, rolled it out to the field. And once we connected these catalogs, we actually have over 170 catalogs in our system. Now we’ve really migrated folks to point and click shopping more than ever before. And that’s really a given in today’s market.

Amazon has set that standard for everyone. So now it’s a standard at Vulcan. And with that though, we still have too many suppliers in the product categories competing for the business. We have what we call SKU proliferation, too many different part numbers being bought across the board. And then we have honestly the same item being purchased from multiple suppliers at different price points. 

So I’m really excited about procurement nowadays because we are now in a position to leverage not just our buying power but our data power. And many of the suppliers out there in the MRO space have had the data advantage for many years.

And now with the investments that Vulcan has made, we now have equal leverage on data. And now we have our buying power to apply on top of that data. And it actually creates a scenario where Vulcan can make dynamic shifts in its supply chain relationships and achieve the lowest total cost of ownership in the various product categories that, that we source.

Chris: 21:34

No doubt. I think everybody can connect that buying power standpoint, but the data power may be a new topic. Do you have any examples on how the data has actually impacted where you see that impacting in the future? 

Travis: 21:47

Yeah. So one of the things we did we decided to conduct an RFP after we stood our system up and connected these catalogs. And the RFP is very broad. It covers five main product categories and it totals around $70 million in spend. And as we started to take a look at what we’ve been buying, we very quickly came up with 95,000 different unique part numbers that we had purchased in a single calendar year, just in these five product categories. So that is in no way, shape or form a best practice.

It also highlighted for us the SKU proliferation that I talked about earlier. The different prices for the same product that I talked about earlier. And so what we’ve done is we extracted a sample out of that population of 95,000 different unique part numbers based on quantity volume and dollar volumes.

And we did it in a way that we felt like it was very representative of our patterns. And we took those 2,500 part numbers as a sample. And we actually made them market baskets. Sent those out to our top 30 MRO suppliers and are now in the process of analyzing pricing from them to see what opportunities that we have.

So that’s an example of data power. Prior to this system being integrated, we didn’t have this level of data. Prior to our organizational changes that came with the system integration, we didn’t have an organizational structure that reported that provided the data science that’s required to pull off big data.

So, We’re in a new world. It’s 2021. I joke with people and say, weren’t we supposed to be in flying cars by the year 2020. And now here we are in 2021 at a minimum, we should at least have a data advantage. 

Chris: 24:02

No doubt, man. It’s what you hear everywhere. Anybody talked to an industry, it’s all about data, big data, doing more with the data. But it’s cool to actually hear how you’re taking that and making it happen and making an impact for Vulcan. Hats off to you guys for what you’re doing and what you’re leading. 

Travis: 24:19

Now back to that old school piece. So let’s not forget about that. Yep. Price points. Yeah. We want the best price points. Point and click shopping. Yeah, we want that. But at the end of the day, there still has to be relationships somewhere. There still has to be trust. There still has to be a mutual understanding of the needs, both on the side of the seller and the side of the buyer. 

Remember that buyer seller dyad, I talked about that I learned about early, that I talked about earlier. Each side needs to capture some value. And if there’s not trust there, it’s not going to work. It doesn’t matter what kind of relationship you’re talking about here in this world. It can be your marriage. It can be your friends. It can be supply chain relationships. If there’s not trust, it’s never going to work.

And so that’s where we have to bring that, that old-school trait as what I call it with us into the modern era to say, yeah, we’re going to make big data decisions. We’re certainly going to use it in our favor where it makes sense. But at the end of the day, we have to have a healthy, trustworthy relationships with our key supply partners enabled in order to pull it off. 

Chris: 25:30

No doubt. It’s so wise that you recognize that, and it leads me a little bit into my next question, Travis, because when people think of, when you initially said you’re big on procurement, people have perceptions about procurement. You know what that is. I’m curious. Are there any myths about procurement that you’d like to debunk? People think it’s this, but it’s not. 

Travis: 25:49

Yeah. So I think for years, procurement has been viewed as a downstream purchasing activity. All the decisions have already been made procurement just needs to conduct this transaction. And certainly I think there was an era where that’s true, but now today, more than ever before, procurement is more of an upstream activity. 

It’s proactive sourcing. Proactive building of these relationships. Proactively connecting these business to business connections. So by the time we get to the downstream purchasing activity, everything has already been set in a way that is favorable to operations and the folks that need to order these items or services.

So we’ve really went from being viewed as downstream not having a seat at the table. To now, we used to call it actually procure to pay. That’s what it used to be called. It was purchasing to payment. That’s what that meant. Now we’re described as sourced to pay because we’re at the beginning, establishing the sourcing relationship.

We’re in the middle, doing the tactical procurement. And we’re also in some ways on the end, making sure that the payment processes happening properly. That all the incentives are achieved and contractual compliance and those kinds of things. So it’s really been getting a seat at the table. It used to be that only ops and sales and engineering and safety and health had a seat at the table. Now, procurement is always at the table. We collaborate equally with these stakeholder groups and we in no way make the decisions by ourselves, but we do guide the decision-making process. 

 Chris: 27:47

Travis, that was wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing about that. I think you really broke down some walls. I hadn’t even considered it procurement. Wasn’t didn’t have a seat at the table, but it sounds like you are firmly planted now and it also does you have a voice that is heard. 

Travis: 28:01

Yeah. And procurement, you thought also be viewed as like compliance with these agreements. We’re not the police. We’re a friend and a collaborator. We’re not the decision makers, we’re a coordinator and a facilitator. And just being at the table collectively, again goes back to that president with cabinet members. You need to have a procurement professional at the table because they likely know the ins and out of those processes better than anyone else at the table.

So when you assemble a strong leader with someone from engineering, ops, human resources, procurement, safety and health, environmental, when you have all those players at the table at the same time, It’s a very powerful combination. 

Chris: 28:49

No doubt. Now I have one more question about your professional career and then we’ll dovetail a little bit outside, but I am curious when you’re in your career and doing the work that you enjoy the most, and you’re feeling that, that level of fulfillment, what are you doing in those moments,  Travis? 

Travis: 29:07

Yeah. So this is a tough one, right? Because I think it’s an answer that most folks maybe don’t want to hear. And it’s, you’re enduring well through the tough times. And that’s what inevitably brings you joy. If you blow up or self-destruct in the moment, you’ll look back on it for days, weeks, months, maybe even years, depending on how bad.

You, you broke down, or the mistake that you made, but if you choose to be confident in who you are, your values, your morals, your effort that you employ, you’ll always be able to look back and know that you endured well, even if it was a tough season. 

Now on the opposite, if it’s a bad, tough season, you don’t understand why. People aren’t being fair. The task is too hard. You don’t have enough resources. If you self-destruct and you don’t endure well, it’ll actually create a scar. It might be just a scar in your memory. It might be a scar with your credibility. And so I’ve found over the years that the best way to have peace and the best way to have joy is to just endure well in those tough seasons and endure well even in the good seasons.

And if you’re the same person, regardless of what the season is, and you maintain the belief and the faith in who you are, what you know to be as right. That you’ve put forth a diligent hand, you can go home and sleep at night, but it’s those moments where you don’t choose well, are the ones that start to create anxiety, perhaps anger, perhaps fear. And that stuff is really hard to filter out once it gets to roll in. So yeah. 

Chris: 31:02

No doubt man. Enduring well, and it takes a lot of discipline and a disciplined mind to recognize that. And Travis, I hope you’re speaking to someone right now who needs to hear those words. 

Travis: 31:14

Yeah. And here’s the way I’ve chosen to look at it. Is if this world is temporary and our life here is temporary, and this is all a test of faith. Then essentially everything here is just a prop. So are you going to get angry at the props? Are you going to make the props an idle? Are you going to let the prop destroy who you are or are you going to use the prop to make this world a better place? To spread the good news of the gospel and to get on the other side and know that you did your best.

Chris: 31:52

That’s it. Wonderful. Thank you so much, Travis, for that. uh, I love everything you tied together there and you have such a wonderful career. Love to get to know a little bit outside of work now, if that’s okay. And how about hobbies, man? What do you enjoy doing for fun?

Travis: 32:08

We are a Lake life family. I was born and raised on the Lake. My mother says that she had me on the boat when I was six days old and I learned to water ski when I was four. And so we’re just a family of fish and we look for any opportunity to get to a body of water and ski and swim and fish and all the fun things that the Lake involves.

Chris: 32:34

That is awesome, man. That sounds like a lot of fun man. In North Carolina we’re lucky we get to have quite quite a few months that we can go to the water and not be too cold, right? 

Travis: 32:43

Yeah, that’s right. We actually tend to venture up to Smith mountain Lake up in Virginia. It’s just a beautiful setting. It’s a big, large body of water and we love to go up there. 

 Chris: 32:54

So Travis, sounds like he enjoys spending a lot of time on the water man. Smith mountain Lake is beautiful. I’ve been up there myself and you’re also you’re a fitness guy, right? 

Travis: 33:03

Yeah. You know, Growning up playing sports and being in those college programs it just sticks with you and I have a wife that she jokingly says that she breeds athletes because all of our kids have been athletically gifted.

And I’m blessed to have a wife that likes to work out. I like to work out. And so we definitely make time to work out. Now that’s not to say that there’s not seasons where you sit in front of the computer too long, or you’re on the road a lot and you’re eating habits are poor. 

Recently I’ve put on that 20 pounds that I cut off a couple of years ago. And so now I’m back on that weight loss journey of trying to cut back down from around 200 to a down about 180. 

Chris: 33:53

There you go. It’s so much harder going all the way isn’t it, my friend? 

Travis: 33:57

It’s a lot easier to put it on than it is to take it off. 

Chris: 34:00

It sure is. It sure is. And I’m right there with you on that journey. So, uh, you mentioned your wife and your kids. So what can you tell us about your family or that you’d like to share? 

Travis: 34:10

Yeah, I’ve got a true proverb 31 woman as a wife. She is a business woman herself. She actually runs her business, like a ministry. We own a in-home nonmedical senior care business.

She grew it to over a hundred employees and just treated each one of those clients as if it was her own grandparents. And the Lord actually blessed us with an opportunity to transition last year. She and I decided to sell that franchise. And now she’s in the process of building another business that, that ties into really an industry of making people feel more beautiful.

 And that’s all I’ll say at this time, but I couldn’t be prouder of her. She comes from simple raisings and here she is a CEO of her own company. Now her and I, we went to the same high school together, a small hometown single high school, one high school in the whole County.

And once I went to Virginia tech was coming home, a sugar bowl champion my stock was a little higher than it was when I left and I decided to ask her out. And now here we are 25 years later. And we have Carla and Kyle and Austin and Brooke ranging from middle school all the way up to ones just got married and is pregnant with their first child.

So. We’re just delighted. It’s, one of those she was made for me and I was made for her and every, everything has been really a beautiful process. So that’s a little bit about our family. 

Chris: 35:49

Absolutely, man, thank you so much for sharing that. And if you got that Proverbs 31 wife I’m blessed in that sense, myself, man, it makes a big difference at the end of the day. Doesn’t it? 

Travis: 35:59

It does. Biblically, you’re supposed to have that helper and she’s more than a helper but one of the things she does very well is she holds me accountable. And I think men need that. Particularly with all the distractions available in today’s world. She calls it like she sees it. She helps hold me accountable. And she also exalts me as leader of the house. And it puts me into a position where I hold myself more accountable because I feel that responsibility that’s on me from a biblical perspective. 

And so I’m just delighted at how she’s made me a stronger person. And I think because of some of my confidence coming up, the way I was raised, it helped her gain the confidence to go out and like I said, become a CEO of her own company. 

Chris: 36:51

That’s wonderful. That’s wonderful. Thank you for sharing about your family and we love to play this game, Travis. It’s quick. It’s we call it the lightening round and just a bunch of random questions and love to let our listeners know a little bit more about you. So if you’re willing, we’ll jump through that. 

Travis: 37:07

All right, let’s do it. 

Chris: 37:07

All right, man. So a favorite food?

Travis: 37:10

Any kind of seafood. 

Chris: 37:12

Any kind of seafood. Okay. I’m with you there, man. And you’re in North Carolina. You can get some good seafood too. 

Travis: 37:18

No doubt.

Chris: 37:19

Very good. Very good. How about you mentioned your workout guy. I’m curious. What’s your favorite workout? 

Travis: 37:25

Yeah, I love to just get dumbbells and do anything you can do with dumbbells. I’ve fallen in love with them. We didn’t really use them back in the day. It was all, bar bench press, and bar squats and bar power clings. And I’ve fallen in love with dumbbells. So give me give me a rack of dumbbells from five pounds to a hundred pounds and we’ll get it done. 

Chris: 37:47

Get it done. I hear you, man. How about a favorite music? 

Travis: 37:50

Yeah, that’s really changed over the years. I used to be one of these knuckleheads that had, Rockford Fosgate subwoofers in the back of my car being excessively loud. And, as the good Lord took more and more hold to my heart, I’ve just progressed over to. I’m an old fart. I liked classical music with not a lot of lyrics or some praise music home with not a lot of lyrics in the background, just to give me a steady, calm pace for the day.

Chris: 38:17

I hear you, man. I hear you nothing wrong with that, my friend. So how about somewhere you haven’t been, but you love to go one day? 

Travis: 38:24

Yeah, my wife and I, we have this desire to travel the world one day. And one of the places that we would really like to go is back to where Christ was and where he walked. And some of the places in those old Bible stories that I become more and more meaningful over the years. So we look forward to the day when we’ve got the time and the resources to go make an intentional trip over there to the Holy lands and just lay eyes on some things. 

Chris: 38:54

Well, I mean, i, I know my wife, she listens to every hero episodes. So when she hears this part, I’ll be getting nudged at night because I’ve been hearing this for a while. She wants to do that same trip, my friends. 

Travis: 39:04

Oh yeah. Nice. 

Chris: 39:05

It’ll be a while, but we definitely will get that in a good Lord willing. How about a place that you have been from your favorite vacation?

Travis: 39:13

Yeah. I’ll tell you this. Growing up on the Lake, right? We love boats. We grew up going to these local, like regional boat shows that would be in like your local civic center. And two years ago, it was my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. And we found out that there was an international boat and yacht show in Miami, Florida.

And so we lined everything up. My entire family went all my sister, her family, my parents, my whole crew. And we went down to Miami for a couple of days and got the, see. Some of the biggest baddest, most expensive boats you’ve ever seen in your life. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. The food was awesome.

And on top of that, it was my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. And so with all of us being lake life Kind of people, we were all mind blown by seeing the big cigarette boats and the big $11 million yachts and all this other stuff. So it was definitely a memory that we’ll never forget. 

Chris: 40:14

Yeah, man, that sounds awesome. All right. How about I got two more pets, dogs, cats, or other? 

Travis: 40:19

Yeah, we are not so much a pet family, but we did break down a couple of years ago and we bought the smallest dog you can buy, which is one of these little chihuahuas. And really it was my teenage daughter was starting to go to a room and shut the door.

And I saw the little girl elements in her, starting to transition. And so I just really I was racking my brain of how can I slow this down? And finally it hit me. I’ll buy her a puppy. And so for Christmas, a couple of years ago, we bought this little girl dog named Bella. And she’s just a ball of fun every night and keeps us all in more of a playful mode.

Chris: 41:03

That’s cool, man. That’s cool. The last one in the lightening round, I saved this one for you. In particular, since you have shared about your faith, do you have a favorite verse or a life verse or anything like that? That always stands out? 

Travis: 41:14

Yeah, I do. It’s actually not a verse. It’s a chapter. And so I was raised up learning John 3:16 and was raised in a small Baptist church. And John three 16 was just put into you. I couldn’t tell you any other verse in John 3 until a couple of years ago. And I had this prompting to go to John 3 and just start reading. And in John 3, it talks about you must be reborn again, right? 

Jesus is talking to Nicodemus. Nicodemus is like, how can I be reborn again? How can I go back in my mother’s womb? And of course, Christ is talking about, you must be born again in the spirit. Shortly after that Christ says I must be risen up like the bronze serpent in the desert.

Well, I’ve been raised in church my whole life. I had no idea what he was talking about. I had to go and find out what that story was in the old Testament. And of course, what I found out was they’re leading the Israelites out of Egypt and they are having to take the long way around Edom and folks are complaining and some serpents literally start to give them problems and bite them.

And they started to pray for a solution. And God’s solution was fashion, a bronze serpent on a staff, hold it up. And anyone who looks and believes will be healed. And so I’m sitting there reading that and I’m like, this makes no sense whatsoever.

And then it just all hit me. And this is why John 3  is my favorite chapter in the whole Bible is in the same way that a bronze serpent on a stick doesn’t make any sense about how you’re going to be healed from the snake bite, Jesus on the cross is the same way. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.

It’s hard to believe. It’s not logical. It’s not scientific it. But if you just step out in faith and you follow God’s design, that’s where the beauty is. And that’s all he’s asking us to do is buy into the design, have faith and get to the other side. So you can be with him for eternity. 

Chris: 43:29

I love it, man. Thank you so much. That was wonderful. You’re a great participant in the lightening round and you survived, man. 

Travis: 43:36

No I did. That was fun. 

Chris: 43:39

So, Travis, this has been wonderful, man. You’ve been a great guest and we call it EECO Asks Why. And we’ve  saved the Why for the end. I love this part because it speaks about passion and what drives people. So if someone was to come up to you and want to know what your personal why is, what would that be? 

Travis: 43:55

Yeah. It’s why do we stay in our box? The most meaningful opportunity there’s are outside of the box. And so there’s a lot of different boxes that we can get in. We can get off work and go home and get in our box, or we can go to work and stay in a in the box type of thinking. It doesn’t matter. 

If you’re at work or at home or in a community group or with your friends it’s outside of the box is where the opportunities are. And you have to step into a zone that’s uncomfortable to find these opportunities that are outside of the box. And so at work, we hear the term out of the box thinking. Out of the box ideas. That’s what promotes the future. 

In our personal lives. It’s the same way. If you don’t have the courage to step out of your box into an uncomfortable place, to either put yourself in a situation to grow and get stronger, or to lend a helping hand, you’re just going to be stuck in the same old place. So if you want to progress in life, you got to get out of the box.

Just like if companies want to continue to succeed in the future, they have to think outside of the box. So my why is why stay in the box, when all the opportunities are outside of the box. 

Chris: 45:21

Yeah. That’s it. Travis, this has been wonderful. You’ve shared so much wisdom and insight for our listeners and opened up so much about yourself and the wonderful things you guys are doing at Vulcan.

And you’ve been a partner with us at EECO for years. I actually used to have you guys as my account, I know Brian Carter serves you guys well now and it’s just, if you have ever had a chance to visit a Vulcan quarry. Oh, they are fun to go to. Particularly if you go on blast day, there are a lot of fun on blast day aren’t they?

Travis: 45:49

Yeah, they really are. It’s a unique business. It’s essentially taking big rocks and making little rocks and selling them, but it’s so much more than that. And there’s a lot of engineering and planning and hard work that goes into the successful application of that business. But as far as EECO’s support to Vulcan, it’s now well over 15 year relationship.

When I first came in 2004, Brian Carter was my first contact. Certainly with Brian and you and Adam it’s just a great team. It’s a great company. You all share the same values that Vulcan does and you have over and over and over stepped outside of the box and helped Vulcan be more dynamic in how it manages electrical supplies, electrical components, electrical equipment, including all of the, uh, services that you all provide as a value add. So. Love eco and look forward to future business with you guys. 

Chris: 46:55

Thank you, Travis. And just thank you so much, sir. You have a wonderful day.