I met Steve Alley a couple of times early in my career as he would venture to Nashville from time to time to meet with customers. Our relationship began in earnest on a cold February morning when I met him in Chicago to attend to a cargo issue. At the time, I had been in Logistics with Ingram Barge Company for a few years and was managing our transportation operations from St Louis to Chicago. Our meeting was brief, and the issue went unresolved. We broke for lunch, and I got to watch him for the first time in full negotiating mode for over an hour. It was mesmerizing, and I remember distinctly coming back to the home office and telling anyone who would listen that I wanted to move into Commercial Sales. Ingram was debuting a brand-new mentorship program, and I was selected to participate. I knew exactly who I wanted to mentor me. None other than Steve Alley himself.
Steve mentored me for the next 5 years or so as I learned and grew with our Logistics Team. In 2015, I got a call from Steve, who had just met with our then Chief Commercial Officer, Dan Martin. Dan told Steve that since he had been unsuccessful in bringing Steve to Nashville, he would then bring Nashville to him. We needed to begin training the next generation of Commercial Sales Team members, and Steve was being drafted as the catalyst for that program. Steve told Dan that there was a young man in the logistics department who had the personality and work ethic to succeed in a sales role and I was tapped to join up with him in Cincinnati.
I left my wife and kids in Nashville, got an apartment in Cincinnati, and for the next two years, commuted weekly, to learn the commercial side of our business. Steve taught me to not only become a great barge freight salesman but to also manage my time with my family to ensure they were prioritized. I left him in 2017, and he continues to mentor and teach me to this day. Steve retired in 2021 and turned over the responsibility to lead the Dry Cargo Sales team to me. I owe him more than I could ever repay for taking a chance on me and opening his vast knowledge and industry experience for my education. Steve remains a wonderful mentor and great friend.