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Big spenders: Arkansas purchasing professionals controlling billions of dollars gather next month in Little Rock.


Arkansas Purchasing Professionals Controlling Billions Of Dollars Gather Next Month In Little Rock

Approximately 10,000 purchasing managers or company representatives with buying power to match will gather at the Arkansas Trade Exposition at the Statehouse Convention Center March 20-21. The subject will be saving money, and to hear them tell it, it's a different breed of buyer operating in a new era.

"It's an exciting time for the profession," says Deane Wallace, president of the PMAA and a purchasing manager at AFCO steel. "We are starting to become a strategic part of the business.

"The management renaissance of the 80s brought us |just in time,' |partnering,' and a full grab bag of new speak. We discovered that you couldn't ship world-class out the back door if you didn't control the components entering up front. The world discovered the purchasing professional."

The Arkansas Trade Exposition, a biennial production hosted by the Purchasing Management Association of Arkansas, is growing. The upcoming show is expected to be the largest since its inception in 1971.

"We're the first or second largest of this kind in the country," says Marion Myrick, chairman of the show, "and undoubtedly the most profitable in the country."

Purchasing managers take their work seriously and with good reason: Arkansas buyers control billions of dollars each year.

More and more companies are coming to realize that a proficient buyer can contribute significantly to the bottom line.

"Most buyers can produce net profits 10 to 20 times faster than your sales and marketing teams," says Wallace. "For example, if you save $10,000 on a component, your salesmen would have to make $200,000 sales at five percent net margin to equal the buyer's profit contribution."

William Moore, director of material at Falcon Jet, has 42 buyers who spend close to $44 million annually.

"We buy everything from computers to toilet paper," says Moore. "Anything it takes to make a plane fly: leather, fabric, |black boxes'...". His buyers specialize in different commodity groups.

Moore has witnessed many changes in the profession since he started with Lear Jet in 1967. Many trends were talked about in the 80s and will be more fully implemented in the 90s, among them "just in time" inventory, partnering, total quality and job training.

"We're more and more inventory conscious. Levels weren't a precise science like they are today," he says.

One concept, zero inventory, was perfected by the Japanese, especially Toyota. It dovetails with "just in time" manufacturing so there is no safety stock; rather, components come in the door right as they are needed.

Pulling it off takes a great deal of planning and requires more sophisticated buying models than those used years ago.

"We've got a ways to go, but are making great strides," says Moore.

Another industry trend is "partnering." Buyers and suppliers create a longterm, win-win relationship, and work together as teammates, not adversaries. The concept decreases the number of suppliers a company needs, but the relationships are stronger and better.

Moore explains, "Both sit down and say, |Hey, what can we do to help each other?' There's a common mission to support the company."

Also, there is a greater emphasis on a quality product coming in, to ensure a quality product going out.

"We've learned cheapest is not always best," says Moore. "Orders used to go a lot to the low bidder, but today we look at different parameters."

Quality Is Job One

Not only is there a new emphasis on quality products, there is also a growing emphasis on quality training for purchasing personnel.

The Certificate of Purchasing Management was established in 1974 to recognize those who have reached a high level of knowledge and experience. Some larger companies now require the certification.

And the University of Central Arkansas is developing an undergraduate degree in purchasing which they say will be the only one of its kind in the southwest.

With the increased training come higher salaries. You could certainly choose a less lucrative career. One Arkansas company says its buyers earn from $18,000 to $52,000. The national average for certified buyers is $51,000.

These professionals will converge in Little Rock next month for the trade show, wielding their power over suppliers of everything from printing services to industrial computers.

One exhibitor says, "There are lots of folks there just to pick up the freebies, but you see some excellent prospects." He adds, "I like to be there to see what the competition has."

PHOTO : AISLES OF OPPORTUNITY: The Arkansas Trade Exposition will attract 10,000 buyers and more than 350 exhibits to the Statehouse Convention Center March 20-21.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:purchasing managers convention
Author:Ford, Kelly
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Feb 25, 1991
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