Travel Posts

Brad Pierce’s Personal Website Goes 2.0

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Spring is in the air, out with the old, in with the new. My personal website has been stagnant for years. It served its purpose well providing a general background about myself and my business interests. The content itself was solid, but it looked old and antiquated by today’s web standards. As someone who lives and breathes technology and gives speeches on the subject, it was just plain embarrassing. So, it was time for a refresh, 2.0 style.

My new personal website, which is available at http://www.BradleyPierce.com, features clean graphics and a streamlined interface. It looks modern and is filled with well organized content including my professional profile and relevant web links.

My new personal website also features web 2.0 components such as the implementation of a responsive page design. This means that my website/pages scale automatically so they’re formatted in a way which looks great regardless of the visitor’s platform – desktop browser, tablet, or mobile phone. Check it out using your iPhone, the site looks fantastic! I’ve also integrated a live Twitter feed into the site which pulls my latest tweets from my BradinMotion Twitter account.

I’ll be adding even more features and content in the future as I see fit. Overall, I’m thrilled with the look and feel of my updated personal website!

Check out the new 2.0 version of Brad Pierce’s Personal Website by clicking here.

Brad’s Mini Flying Wild Alaska Adventure

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Alaska, the Final Frontier.  For years I’ve dreamed about flying to Alaska, experiencing the scenic beauty of such a magnificent place from high above.  After completing my quest of landing in all 48 continental United States, Alaska was on my radar for places that I wanted to visit in my Cirrus SR22 Turbo Aircraft.  Over the past years, I’ve been speaking with numerous people ranging from casual flyers to business associates to flight instructors who’ve flown to the area.  I’ve also had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with several of the real Alaksa pilots from the television series, Flying Wild Alaska, to get even more perspective on the region.  I love flying, I’m a capable and well trained pilot, but flying to Alaska with its’ unforgiving terrain and rapidly shifting weather conditions scared me.  Getting perspectives from a wide group of trusted advisers gave me the confidence I needed to actually make the trip happen.

When I first contemplated visiting Alaska, I figured that I’d head up to Anchorage for a quick weekend visit.  Upon looking at a map and doing some quick flight calculations, I realized that Anchorage was much more than a weekend trip.  Alaska is quite frankly, huge.  Take a look at the comparison map I’ve included below to see the size of the state in comparison to the continental US.  The map is click-able to make it larger.

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Now that I’d ruled out Anchorage as my intended destination due to distance, further research led to me the small fishing and logging town of Ketchikan, Alaska.  I’d be able to fly directly from the Northwest US and make the trip non-stop in around 3.5 hours with plenty of reserve fuel in case of an unintended diversion.  The next question was when I’d actually make the trip.  I didn’t have a specific time frame in mind, other than knowing that I’d like to visit in the summer when weather would most likely be favorable.  Given that I travel throughout the US often, I knew I’d be in the Northwest several times and would just wait for the perfect opportunity to present itself.  One thing that’s resonated throughout all my discussions with my flying mentors and advisers regarding flying in Alaska is that patience is a virtue, you can’t be on a specific schedule when attempting such a feat.  I found myself in Seattle one weekend and the weather looked terrific.  I was within range, the forecast was calling for nice weather for the next two days, it was go time.  Upon departing Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, my Alaskan Flying Adventure had begin.

The flight towards Alaska was breathtaking and magnificent.  There’s no other way to describe it.  For miles and miles in every direction the beauty of the landscape was remarkable.  The mountains and waterways throughout British Columbia are truly a sight to see.  As my aircraft soared through the clear blue sky towards its’ destination, gigantic cruise ships passed below taking passengers to and from the place I was so eager to visit.  The following two pictures were taken during this part of the journey.  As with all images in this post, they’re both click-able to make larger for an even better view.

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Finally, after three hours in the air, I watched the map on the multi-functional display (MFD) in my airplane as it crossed from Canada into Alaska.  I simply couldn’t be more excited.  My dream of this adventure was becoming a reality.  Sure, it started several hours earlier, but actually seeing the little airplane on the map cross the dotted line signifying entry into the state brought it all to life.  Shortly after entering Alaskan airspace, I began preparing for landing in  Ketchikan.  I was still on high alert knowing that despite the beauty, danger lurked in the mountain winds as I descended closer to the valley.  Fortunately, I’ve been trained well by Rocky Mountain experts in Colorado so feel confident in my mountain flying ability along with a healthy respect for the associated challenges.  Even though the skies were clear blue that day, I had my instrument approach plates ready, I’d studied every detail, I was ready to make a safe landing at my destination.  After circling the small airport island across the waterway from the city of Ketchikan, I descended into the valley and lined up for the runway.  I noticed numerous float planes hundreds of feet below me landing and taking off from the Tongass Narrows waterway which was an interesting sight.  My aircraft’s magic box called out my 500 foot altitude indicator telling me I was moments away from accomplishing landing in my 49th state in the US.  The landing was magnificent, absolutely smooth and perfect just as I’d imagined it would be after such a relaxing and majestic flight.  The following picture was taken on the ground at Ketchikan International Airport (KTN / PAKT) standing in front of my Cirrus Aircraft, N225HL.

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That day and evening were spent exploring Ketchikan and visiting with numerous local customers.  Yes, you read that right, local customers.  My company has over 100,000 customers throughout the country, including several that happen to live in Ketchikan, Alaska.  Whenever I’m traveling, I always make it a point to stop in to local establishments to simply say “thank you” for the business they’ve done with my company.  Needless to say, many of these customers were shocked and surprised.  They figured that they were buying from some faceless corporation with an online site, yet there I was, live and in person, shaking hands and thanking them for their business.  It was nice to meet some new friends and solidify business relationships that aren’t on my normal beaten path.

The scenery throughout the city was just as incredible as what I’d experienced from above.  Trees, mountains, waterways, just the right amount of snowfall on the mountain peaks, every direction shouted out nature, beauty and serenity.  I captured the picture below just before sunset overlooking the Tongrass Narrows waterway which separates Revillagigedo Island (City of Ketchikan) from Gravina Island (Ketchikan Airport).  You’ve probably heard the saying, pictures don’t do it justice, in this case, that couldn’t be more accurate.  This place was simply amazing.

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My mini Alaskan flying adventure had come to an end way too soon as the following day wore on into the afternoon.  I still had a meeting to attend in Dallas and given the distance needing to be covered, it was time to leave Alaska behind.  I’d accomplished my goal of landing in yet another state, but I simply didn’t want to leave, despite my necessity to do so.  I checked the weather and determined it was still safe and clear, so departed for the journey back South towards Seattle.

Did I say the weather was clear?  Well, it was clear when I departed, and it was forecast to be clear throughout the flight.  The funny thing about flying in Alaska is how quickly the weather can change.  I’d heard this a dozen times in my discussions with others, but I still didn’t quite “get it” until experiencing it first-hand.  The first two hours of journey were smooth with clear blue skies.  Then, it happened.  Clouds started to roll in, mountains were becoming seas of white, with peaks protruding as a frightful reminder of the rugged conditions below.

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As my Cirrus continued towards Seattle, the clouds began creeping closer and closer until I found my aircraft engulfed in them.  Headwinds increased, slowing down the journey considerably.  Turbulence began occurring, light at first, then progressively more and more aggressively.  Radar coverage was limited, so air traffic control couldn’t do much in the way of helping determine a better course to avoid the weather.  Rain began to fall which brought with it concern for freezing rain, something that I choose to avoid at all costs.  My attention was intensely focused on the outside temperature reading which was quickly approaching the freezing point.  I couldn’t go any lower to find warmer air due to the mountainous terrain in the area.  Fortunately, my Cirrus Aircraft is equipped with a system called FIKI which stands for Flight into Known Icing.  This is a fantastic de-icing system that I’ve used on numerous occasions, yet I actively try to avoid icing encounters whenever possible.  I primed the system to ensure it was ready to go at the first sign of icing occurring on the airframe.  While I did pick up a small amount of icing over the course of the next hour, it was minimal and very manageable.  While this could be an unsettling experience to some pilots, I was still feeling confident with the journey.  I had plenty of TKS (de-icing) fluid on board that would last all the way to Seattle if necessary, I also had a Plan B.  Remember that waterway below I mentioned when writing about my journey towards Alaska?  That same waterway was now right below me.  Before leaving Seattle, in an abundance of caution, I subscribed to Jeppesen airplane charts for my multi-function display that covered all of North America, including Canada.  Despite altitude restrictions for mountainous terrain in the area, my Plan B, a worst-case scenario, was simply to descend down and fly the waterway back towards Vancouver and onward to Seattle.  Fortunately, my Cirrus performed like a rock star as always and allowed me to safely stay at altitude while I passed through the clouds and rain.

Upon arriving in Seattle, I was relieved to have completed my “Mini Flying Wild Alaska Adventure” successfully.  It concluded with a picture perfect landing at Boeing Field amidst the glow of the city lights surround the area.  While my time in Alaska was short, hence the “mini” in the post title, it was amazing.  It was truly amazing in every way, shape and form imaginable.

My Alaskan Flying Adventures will certainly continue, next time for a much more extensive visit when I venture back to there for more exploring this summer.  I’ve had a small taste of what it’s like to fly in the region and I absolutely love it.  The scenery, the beauty, and the views that constantly took my breath away, this is a place like no other.  It is truly the Final Frontier, and the place where I look forward to visiting many times in the future.

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Thank you, Alaska.  You’re one of a kind with your natural beauty and perfection.   I’ll see you on my next Alaskan Adventure!

Hello, Dubai! The Story Behind Brad’s Dubai Adventures

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As I sit here on the balcony in Dubai overlooking the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, I think to myself, how in the world did I get here?  The magnificent city, the friendships, the partnerships, the growth, the opportunities, and the limitless optimism towards a lifetime of dreams coming true.  The story of my Dubai adventures took years to make happen, but I’ll re-cap my journey as concisely as possible here.  Sit back, relax, and get ready to read about the wild adventure that’s taken me half way around the world time and time again.  The journey hasn’t been without challenges or obstacles, but I’ve loved every minute of the ride.

Several years ago, my primary business, Restaurant Equipment World, received a visitor from a Google search for the term “restaurant equipment”.  That visitor subsequently did an online chat with one of my young sales associates, simply asking a short series of general questions.  Next came the e-mail and order inquiry which was immediately brought to my attention.  The request?  Could we fill up two 747’s in 8 days with heavy restaurant equipment to be sent to the Middle East?  Surely this was fraudulent?  Surely this was a joke?  Surely we couldn’t have ever gotten this “lucky”.  As it turns out, luck is a matter of being at the right place at the right time and being well prepared to embrace the opportunity.  The total order was around $2 million US dollars, huge dollars at the time, but a huge risk as well.  I asked for a million dollar deposit to proceed.  This would undoubtedly separate the men from the boys to determine if this inquiry was legitimate.

A day passed and still no money, but there was regular communication from the customer which was a good sign.  The next day arrived and I was off to an industry meeting with several of my vendor partners.  I was excited about the prospect of this deal being legitimate, but too hesitant to share the good news with others for fear I’d be viewed as someone who was chasing a pipe dream.  Then it happened.  I’ll never forget the picture text message from my assistant – $1 million US dollars had just arrived in my account.  Wow, it’s real.  We’re really doing this.  I was quickly asked what to do now, my response was simple, “Ask for the next million dollars!”

The days that followed were wild and intense.  Our industry works on lead times of weeks and months, not days.  If we were going to pull off the impossible, I’d need to call in every favor from every manufacturer in our industry.  Turns out growing up in this industry and having friendships with President’s and CEO’s pays off in spades when the chips are down.  As luck would have it, I was already at a major industry buying conference at the time so much of the communications could take place face-to-face with our vendors.  This was a huge plus and ultimately would help to make for a successful outcome.  My sister (our VP) and I divided up responsibilities and engaged our vendors requesting immediate action.  One vendor in particular blew my mind with their handling of the situation.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t fulfill the order by my deadline.  Instead of accepting failure, the President of the factory personally called his competitors to determine industry capacity to meet my requirements.  I was amazed, appreciative, and honestly will send every bit of business I can to that company in the future.  A situation like this really shows you whom your true friends are in the industry.

Upon receiving firm deadline commitments, factories started churning out products.  We were providing our customer with a play-by-play of the progress of each item numerous times each day.  But wait, there was a holiday.  We’d gained an extra day to pull off this feat, or so I thought at the time.  We contacted our customer and asked if a day delay was acceptable due to the holiday.  I’ll never forget the response, “Weekends and holidays do not count.  A deadline is a deadline.  Deliver on time as promised or send back our money.”  I quickly learned the meaning of never giving excuses and always executing flawlessly with delivery schedules.

The deadline was looming and we still didn’t have the next million dollars.  Frantic calls to factories ensued with all hands on deck at my company.  While we’ve done plenty of large dollar orders, this one was different, this one smelled of opportunity and adventure.  I needed my best and brightest to all pitch in for a successful outcome.  Without exception, every single staff member stepped up to the plate and performed like rock stars.  I was so incredibly proud of my team.  As the final hours of the day before delivery counted down, we were all set with most products, aside from one major group of items.  Would we make it?  With the help of a valued partner, the answer was clearly affirmative.  The manufacturer sent one truckload of equipment out as they frantically raced to build the final pieces.  These weren’t small items by any means, they were full sized pieces of commercial cooking equipment.  To make their obligation, the vendor ended up shipping several massive crates on an airline flight to make the delivery on time.  I definitely owed them a lot of thanks and genuine appreciation.  Once again, a valued vendor partner would show me how much they valued our relationship by coming through when I needed them most.

The items were in place, we had delivered to the freight facility as promised.  I was at a conference in Austin at the time of delivery, so I temporarily abandoned my luggage in my rental car while I took off on a cross country flight to meet staff members of mine already at the delivery location.  This was an important order and it was imperative that myself and my team be personally involved to make sure everything was accounted for properly.  After all, at this point, I knew nothing about the folks at the freight facility we were working with on this order.  As it turns out, they are fantastic people who run a first class operation with a dedication to perfection.  Between my team and theirs, every crate was inventoried, counted, re-counted, and inspected.  Everything was perfect.  Life felt fantastic, we had pulled off a miracle.

While I was riding an emotional high of accomplishing such an impossible goal, we still had one slight problem – we were still lacking a million dollars.  It was go time, this was one of those moments in life you’ve got make a decision and take a risk if you want to reap the rewards.  Go big or go home.  I went big, really big.  I authorized the planes to be loaded full of equipment.  A tense day ensued, would we get paid, or was I the world’s biggest sucker?  Needless to say, the next million dollars arrived, right about the time the last pieces of equipment were being loaded heading to Dubai, on time, without excuses.  Victory at last!  We were home free.

I’ve never been an international traveler in the past.  That often surprises people who now know me for my global jet-setting on a regular basis.  I had only traveled to Canada and the Bahamas, but those hardly count as international since they speak our language and accept our money.  Heck, I had never even been to Europe.  On a wing and a prayer, it was time to head half way around the world to give a handshake and a thank you to our customer.  Flights took me to London and then onto Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  I was a complete fish out of water, I had no idea what I was doing, no idea about local customs.  My only “formal” education about the Middle East was derived from quick Google searches waiting for flights at the airports.  The customer meeting was fantastic, though was quite short after traveling 37 hours to see them.  I was none-the-less greatly appreciative of their order and my new friends in the Middle East.  Upon arriving back at the hotel, good news awaited.  It turns out they didn’t order enough fryers.  $150,000 to be exact.  Could we help?  You betcha!  I thought to myself, “wow, I’ll be back next week to do this all over again if this is how things are done here.”  I didn’t realize the full value of being here in person to build relationships and say thanks until this very moment.  Later in my adventures, I’d learn this is key to doing business anywhere in the Middle East.  Relationships and reputations are everything, that makes this story especially fascinating since this first order didn’t follow the normal course of business in the region.

In the months and years that followed, so did more trips back and fourth to Dubai.  Each trip brought new business partners, new friendships, and more business.  Before long, customers began developing a deeper trust and started requesting items other than restaurant equipment.  First, it was electrical equipment.  Next came plumbing, then medical supplies, then auto parts, then our world exploded with the diversity of requests.  Not only were there industrial types of items, but also items such as video games, Christmas trees (shocking for the Middle East), decorations, fire fighting equipment, body bags (yes, you read that right, morbid, but true) – you name it, we were selling it.  Suddenly, Restaurant Equipment World didn’t seem like the right name for our organization now that we had become a general procurement company.  We own roughly 220 trademarked “World” names so wanted to stick with this theme.  Critical Supply World was born.  Critical Supply World would be my company that would provide everything and anything required by my customers.  The premise behind this company is doing everything fast.  Extremely fast.  Rapid procurement with no excuses, ever.  We delivery on time and within budget.  Always.

After too many trips to count and solid relationships flourishing, it was time to take things to the next level.  I needed to get a local business license and open up an office in Dubai.  I’ve formed companies domestically in the US, so I really didn’t think this would be a big challenge.  Boy, was I wrong.  Eleven months later, countless phone calls, e-mails, stamps, signatures, banking matters, attestations and everything else imaginable, we had finally done it.  I often tell people what takes 10 minutes in the US takes 10 days in the UAE when it comes to business formation and getting the related services set up.  Finally, we were now a company with a business license in the UAE.  I can’t take credit for this process alone though, it was the work of many people on my staff as well as great friends in the Middle East.  This was truly a team effort which has led to the opening of Pierce Sales Company, Inc. (FTZ Branch) – derived from the name of the parent corporation of both Restaurant Equipment World and Critical Supply World.

So here I am, all these years later, sitting here on a relaxing weekend afternoon looking at the amazing skyline of downtown Dubai, getting ready for a busy week meeting with customers, vendors and business partners.  I’ve become a resident of Dubai, although my full time home is still in the United States.  Travel back and fourth from the states seems routine, even the 16+ hour Emirates Airlines plane ride each way seems “normal” to me at this point.  The local culture and interactions with Emirati’s and ex-pats from other countries seems routine and comfortable to me as well.  I’ve made great friends and people whom I trust and respect throughout the region.  Business is done with honor and respect, it’s not unusual to do high dollar deals with a handshake and a promise.  People’s word here means something and that’s a great way to do business and build relationships.  Simply put, I love the city, I love the warm and friendly people, and I love how business is conducted with valued partners throughout the MENA (Middle East Northern African) region.

So, there you’ve got it.  The story behind my Dubai adventures.  A lot has changed from those early days, but Dubai still holds a magical place in my heart and has changed my life forever.

* Be sure to click on the picture at the top of this post for an artist’s rendition of the brilliant Dubai skyline.  It’s truly amazing knowing that not too many years ago, this was all desert.

Join Brad at Gulfood 2013 in Dubai, UAE

Gulfood 2013 Dubai UAE Logo

I’ll be leaving the states in a few days to attend Gulfood 2013 in Dubai, UAE.  For those of you not familiar with Gulfood, it’s the world’s biggest annual food and hospitality show.  This show is timed right on the heels of NAFEM which was fantastic.  It will be fascinating to see the global outlook for the industry to compare with the positive vibes in the air I’ve been experiencing domestically.

I’ve attended this show numerous times in past years and all I can say is “wow”.  It’s an unbelievable sight for a tradeshow.  The exhibit halls feel like they go on and on for miles.  Literally, anything and everything foodservice is on display.  You can source smallwares and heavy equipment, build a food production facility, buy packaging and machinery, discover ingredients from around the world, and anything else foodservice related you can imagine.

If you’re attending the show, feel free to send me a note so we can arrange a time to get together.  The actual show dates are February 25th-28th, but I’ll be in town and available for meetings before and after those dates as well.

Here’s to a great Gulfood 2013 show in Dubai!

NAFEM 2013 – A Look Back to a Bright Future Ahead

The NAFEM Show 2013

I just finished up a long week at NAFEM 2013 in Orlando which was fantastic.  The NAFEM (North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers) show only comes along every two years, this ensures there’s plenty of time between shows for new products to be developed and makes the show even more important to attend when it arrives.  Two years ago, the mood on the show floor was one of hesitation, doubt, and uncertainty.  This year however, the future looks bright for good things to come.  The event was so upbeat, attitudes were so positive across the board, I didn’t encounter a single negative view of what’s ahead.  This parallels the positive attitudes I’m seeing and hearing from customers of my own business.  The economy is back and is full steam ahead.  It will be interesting to see attitudes on a global economic scale when I return to Gulfoods in two weeks in Dubai.  I’m hopeful and optimistic the world economy is back on track as well.

The best part of the show as always were the people and relationships that make it all possible.  It was great to spend time with industry partners who I truly consider friends.  The NAFEM staff deserves kudos for the phenomenal job they did to make this all possible.  It’s no simple task to produce such a massive show, but they did so with military precision and a flawless execution.

Reflecting back upon the week of exhibits, meetings, dinners, parties, and sore feet from all the walking, I’m thrilled with the future outlook.  I’m energized and engaged to keep making myself a better person, build a stronger company, and reach for the stars to accomplish a long list of goals I want to achieve both personally and professionally.

Perhaps the most fitting event to top off the week was last night’s Jimmy Buffet concert.  Standing just a few feet away from Jimmy as he played with all his heart, I was reminded that along with all the work, all the meetings, all the efforts that are required for success, you’ve got to have some fun along the way too.  Work hard and play hard, I like it.

Here’s to a great NAFEM and a great future ahead in so many ways!  Cheers!