Brian Godfrey: An Explosive Career

Work is a blast for Brian Godfrey. As a logistics supervisor for Dyno Nobel North America, Godfrey is in charge of moving truck, railcar, and barge loads of ammonium nitrate (AN), a fertilizer used as an explosive in mining and construction.

He negotiates transportation contracts, traces rail shipments, and routes his goods from manufacturing plants to customers and company-owned distributors via the most efficient and cost-effective routes.

Dyno Nobel North America is part of Dyno Nobel, the Norwegian-based international explosives firm. Along with AN, the North American company also produces dynamite and products called detonators and boosters, needed to initiate blasts.

Godfrey works mainly with AN, which accounts for the largest portion of the company’s logistics budget. But he also backs up the manager who handles dynamite, a product that demands the most exacting logistics requirements.

Detonators and boosters for use with dynamite must be shipped and stored separately, Godfrey says, lest they accidentally set off the explosive. Trucking companies that carry dynamite also face strict regulations.

“Every truck has to have two drivers, and one driver has to be awake at all times,” he explains. “They can’t stop along the freeway and take a nap.”

And they can’t rest at just any roadside stop, he says. Instead, they must use a specially-designated “safe haven”—a well-lit, guarded rest area surrounded by berms of dirt designed to direct any explosion straight upward.

For Godfrey, however, the biggest logistics challenge of his career came this year when a machine called an expander broke down twice at one of Dyno Nobel’s plants. Expanders are custom made, so when a breakdown occurs “it’s a matter of getting the expander back to the shop to get rebuilt, then sending it back again to the plant,” he says.

Each breakdown closed the plant for a month, but customers still needed their AN. To meet their requirements, Godfrey supplemented his inventory with AN purchased from other manufacturers and also performed “some creative logistics.”

That meant, for example, speeding up shipments by sending trucks to distributors and storage facilities that Dyno Nobel usually serves by rail or barge.

At times, “we were approximately 6,000 tons below our minimum inventory,” Godfrey recalls. Did he still manage to keep his customers satisfied? “It gave me a few gray hairs in the process, but yes.”

Beyond Dyno Nobel, Godfrey applies his logistics savvy to juggling duties as husband and father, Cub Scout master, soccer coach, and treasurer of the Council of Logistics Management’s Salt Lake City Roundtable. His two oldest sons, aged seven and four, have soccer games on the same days, on different fields, starting half an hour apart, and he has to run from one to the other.

When the youngest boy, now two years old, reaches soccer-playing age, what then? “Hopefully, Grandpa and Grandma will be able to help,” he says. “I haven’t figured out how to be in two places at once.”

But Godfrey has figured out how to get a bang out of his job by embracing the unexpected. “The most fun thing about the field of logistics,” he says, “is that half the time when I come into the office, and I have an idea of what I’d like to get accomplished that day, I may get to only the first item on my to-do list. Every day is a different challenge.”

The Big Questions

What are you reading?

The Doctrine and Covenants (scripture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints).

What’s in your briefcase right now?

Calculator, parking badge, work-related papers, lunch, Franklin Day Planner, the book I’m reading.

Business motto?

Get the product to the customer in the safest manner possible to meet their demand.

Advice for people starting in logistics?

If you want a challenging and fun job, logistics is the place to be.