Logistics Blog | Total Distribution, Inc. in Jacksonville, FL

David Stephens said he was never discontent with the longtime truck-driving job that he voluntarily gave up this year. But the 50-year-old Jacksonville resident was certain there was a more ideal career for him. As a newlywed, especially, he didn’t want to continue being away from home as much as four weeks at a time. “You have to find your bliss in life,” he said. Now he’s found it.

Former Truck Driver David Stephens Starts New Career at Grimes with CTL from UNF Jacksonville

Stephens completed the six-month University of North Florida’s Certification in Logistics and Transportation (CTL) program and is now working as a driver resources coordinator for The Grimes Companies. In his new position, Stephens has a key role with one of the Southeast’s leading logistics and transportation firms. “I wanted to expand on what I knew, which was basically transportation, warehousing and logistics, and be able to go somewhere in life,” he said. “There are a lot of opportunities out there in this town if people will take advantage of what is out there.”

What is a CTL? Where can I get one?

CTL is an internationally recognized industry certification offered through the American Society for Transportation and Logistics. The UNF instructors are industry professionals who share best practices in costing and pricing and applying strategies to increase productivity. Supply chain management is moving the right items to the right customer at the right time by the most efficient means; the movement of cargo through the supply chain is also known as “logistics.”

Brett Harper, a lead instructor for the CTL program, said that the certification offers the same principles taught during a four-year degree program — but in “hyper-speed.” "Not everybody can afford to go to a four-year university and some people are too far in their career to do that. So certification is filling that void,” he said. “You learn about the entire supply chain industry, not just one aspect.” Among the benefit to program participants is that the instructors help the students make key supply chain management industry connections that may be utilized in their career path. Nearly 350 people, many already working in logistics fields, have received the certification through UNF since the program began in 2009.

“We have people coming into the program who either want to change their career path or who are already in the industry and want to expand their knowledge,” Harper said. “The thing certifications do is give an educational level that people can’t get anyplace else." If you think about it, nobody grows up thinking about getting into warehousing and transportation.”

While the program covers topics ranging from inventory control to international logistics, it starts with a module on business. “About $1.4 trillion is spent in the U.S. each year on logistics, so it is a business,” Harper said.

Lori Frederick, UNF’s continuing education director, said the program is helping employers fill key positions in the community, and that it’s especially filling a niche for people with military backgrounds. “With the logistics industry experiencing such growth, the program is providing employers an opportunity to solidify or increase their market share by having employees who understand all aspects of the supply chain,” she said. “For the attendees, they feel like they are able to do their jobs better and realize the value of networking.” At UNF, the CTL is offered through cohorts, which group students into the same classes throughout the program. Stephens said he particularly benefited from and enjoyed the team-based learning experience, which enables classmates to build professional and personal relationships that will last a lifetime.

David Stephens: Moving Forward

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Stephens is philosophical about his upward career development in 2015. “The difference between who you are and what you want to be is what you do today; my brother told me that,” he said. Stephens said his wife, Beth, had a key role in his researching, enrolling and completing the UNF CTL program. The couple paid for the program out of pocket. “We went into this together,” Beth Stephens said, “and I couldn’t be more proud of David.” Harper, meanwhile, said Stephens was a model student. “David was like a sponge, taking information in, on Day 1. It was clear that he came to learn,” he said.

New CTL programs begin in January and February. For more information, call (904) 620-4200 or visit www.unf.edu/ce/logistics.

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