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A-List Insights: Felecia Stratton (Part 1)

Welcome to A-List Insights!

A-List Insights is an interview series where we talk with industry thought leaders and experts about different topics surrounding logistics and supply chain – gathering their insights and experience firsthand.

Thought Leader: Felecia Stratton

Part 1 of 5

In this segment we feature Felecia Stratton, Editor of Inbound Logistics magazine. Felecia has been with the company for over 30 years and is responsible for content across all print and digital channels. She shares with us her high-level and unbiased view of the industry

I love talking about the business, I love logistics, I love supply chain, I love my magazine.

This is the first of a 5-part series interview with Felecia. To provide context to the current climate, the entire interview was conducted at the end of October 2020, during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

Part 1: The Journey to Now

You’ve been covering this industry for a long time. How did it start?

I’ve been with Inbound Logistics since 1984. I started at Thomas Publishing, which is our parent company, now called ThomasNet, in 1982. Since 1898, Thomas published “The Thomas Register of American Manufacturers.” They were these huge green books, industrial directories, listing every U.S. manufacturer and supplier. So, if you were working in manufacturing, or a machine shop or anything like that, you would…remember in the old days you used to look up words in the dictionary? This is what it was back then before the internet. If you were looking for a supplier, you would go to the Thomas Register – it was like 25 volumes. Anyway, that’s where I started.

I was there for two years, and ThomasNet said ‘we have this great supply directory, but the people using it are asking for transportation – now that I bought x, how do I transport it?’ So, the company decided they wanted to include a transport component, so they added a directory to the back of the Thomas Register called the “Inbound Traffic Guide.” It was just an alphabetical directory of carriers, and you could look by lanes, LTL or whatever.

That’s how Inbound Logistics was born – it was from a directory. And then from that, they kept getting reader questions like ‘how do I find the right carrier? How do I price it? how do I save money?’ etc. So, they decided to wrap content around it. The directory came out the following year.

From that, they said ‘we’re going to do a transportation magazine,’ and they went internal looking for people to work on it. I had an editorial background and wanted to be an editor. They needed an editorial assistant, so I jumped from Thomas Register marketing to Inbound Traffic Guide (at that time), and we went from being quarterly publication to six times a year to where we are now at twelve times a year. Back then we were just print, and now of course we’re multi-channel. That’s been my journey…from editorial assistant to assistant editor to managing editor, and in 1990, I was promoted to Editor. That’s where I’ve stuck!

The reason I’m still here is that it’s so interesting. This business is not static, and because of that, content is different for every issue we work on, and the stories evolve because of what we’re writing about. In the past I remember writing about fax machines and how revolutionary it was to send a purchase order or a bill of lading on a fax machine. I clearly remember researching and writing those articles. When you look back, it’s comical.

Most in the industry know Inbound Logistics is more than inbound. Has the name of the magazine ever been a deterrent in that it's not all encompassing of the breadth of content it covers?

I wouldn’t say it’s been a deterrent, but sometimes it does need explanation. People brand new to the industry sometimes don’t understand that one person’s inbound is someone else’s outbound. We do sometimes get the confusion, ‘are you an importing magazine?’ But at the end of the day, inbound logistics equals supply chain management.

That’s what Inbound Logistics is. Our mission is to help our readers manage their supply chains so they can be more globally competitive, that’s it in a nutshell. Providing content that helps them do that is my job.

Way back, we toyed with the idea of changing the name. At the time, we thought of all the reasons why we shouldn’t, and our publisher wrote an article titled “Playing the Name Game”. It still resonates today.

Look for Part 2 of our “A-List Insights” Series interview with Felecia Stratton where we discuss changes in the industry.

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