OT - Anybody have been, or currently are, a buyer/purchaser?

Submitted by GVBlue86 on March 1st, 2010 at 11:14 PM

Hey Mgoprofessionals, I am interviewing for a Buyer/Purchaser position for a electronics manufacturing company in Grand Rapids. Are there any secrets or good things I might want to know regarding skills for the job that might be good for the interview? I have some broad experience with inventory and cost analysis of raw materials as an accountant. I am in sales right now so I have an semi-opposite perspective on the job and I know the general duties but am not an expert on this type of position.

Just wondering if anyone would be kind enough to give me some interview advice, or who might have experience of what it might be like.


Edit** Thanks everyone for your input. There are a lot of good tips that I will definitly use. Fucking.Shit.Up being the most important obviously. I knew going to Mgoblog was a good move for career advice!


Max Power

March 1st, 2010 at 11:43 PM ^

Organized! You have to be as organized as you can. Yeah people want their supplies to be as cost effective as possible. But if your not organized and stuff doesnt get shipped to you in time, and it halts production, nobody will care that you saved $.25 on 1,000 fasteners.


March 2nd, 2010 at 12:31 AM ^

tell them you spend a majority of your time on the internets, namely craigslist, specifically the 'cas' section. this will prove you're an excellent surveyor of potential. job is yours. win.

ps m4w?


March 2nd, 2010 at 12:39 AM ^

I wouldn't consider him the absolute sharpest knife in the drawer (though he completed his undergrad in Engineering at UM and his MBA at MSU) but he's a damn good purchaser. He's given a number that he needs to get from his purchasers, and he gets it ... every time. He's said one of the most important qualities is his ability to read others. His suppliers need the business, and he knows it ... they want the big contract and they're willing to take a few pennies less to get it.

I just would never let him drive me car for fear he'd wreck it or we'd never see him again...


March 2nd, 2010 at 2:06 AM ^

Yes, I have been both a buyer for a Fortune 100 and sold to many of them so I will offer a few things.

Purchasing is many things:

1. Driving cost savings initiatives.
2. Setting a robust supply base strategy, IE. selecting strategic vendors to build relationships with.
3. Consolidating your supply base seems to be the soup du jour in purchasing these days. Make sure you understand that idea.
4. Even though your main job is to save the company money it is also important that the buyer's relationship with vendors is a win/win. If you beat them down too much they could go out of business, quality could worsen, they'll stop helping you out when you need them, they could short ship or stop shipping altogether. The trick is to keep it a win/win while also meeting your purchasing metrics.

Lastly, I would emphasize your experience in sales, that you played the other side effectively. You can point out that you understand the motivations of sales people and that selling made you good at reading people.

Good Luck!


March 2nd, 2010 at 7:30 AM ^

I do it as part of my responsibilities for a smaller manufacturing company in Erie, MI. It's not difficult. They'll probably have a preferred vendor list. For the most part, just order from that, and occasionally take meetings with other vendors to see if you can get reduced prices, free shipping, or simplified supply chain.


March 2nd, 2010 at 9:19 AM ^

Nope. I live in Temperance, Just east of Lewis Avenue. I was born and raised in Monroe. I used to live in the city of Monroe when I was little. 31 Stanford Drive, right across from the A&W on Monroe Street.


March 2nd, 2010 at 7:38 AM ^

But if they start asking questions about your past employers, DO NOT, under any circumstances, complain about them in any way, even if you had a boss who was a psychopathic idiot from Hell. I know from sad experience that it will do nothing but harm you in the eyes of the interviewers.


March 2nd, 2010 at 8:30 AM ^

I'm a Purchasing Director for a large RV Manufacturer in Elkhart, IN. Since you have accounting experience you already understand the money side. Purchasing for the most part is about relationships. Focus on your ability to connect with people and read the situation. Depending on the size of the company you are looking to get hired by, sometimes getting your foot in the door with preferred companies is harder than you might think. Convey that you have the people skills to make those connections and that you find that people do what you want them too. Hope that helps friend.


March 2nd, 2010 at 10:49 AM ^

“joelr222;” I know mgoblog isn’t serving the function of persay… “linkedin;” but I'm an operations professional within the RV industry centralized in Elkhart county. 1st and foremost I’m not trying to sell anything so no worries there, I just enjoy networking with individuals in and/out of the industry within the area; especially those with vested interests in UM. If by chance we’d be able to have some dialogue sometime, please let me know and I can send you my email. If you don’t respond to my post I’ll assume you’re working through some vendors issues with Dexter, Flair, etc.

Wide Open

March 2nd, 2010 at 9:42 AM ^

1) You might ask about their IOV (inventory over-value) situation. If they have a lot of dead stock, tell them that you're willing to work with your vendors to see if they can take it off their hands in exchange for more of their business. Like UNCWolverine said, both vendor and customer need to work together so both can benefit.

2) Tell them that you will become familiar with the vendor's payment terms and A/R cutoff, and purchase to help maximize the company's cash flow. A purchasing schedule should allow for the maximum time between the order date and the date the payment is due.

3) Promise them that you will talk to your vendors' credit departments to see if they can give discount terms to the company (where an invoice is 2% off if paid by a certain date), or extended due dates. Again, this would help their cash flow.

4) Are there frequent pricing errors on vendor invoices? Is there any way to improve lead time between the placement of the order and receipt of the order? Tell them you will submit accurate purchase orders, and deliver them to the vendor in the most efficient way possible.

Good luck!


March 2nd, 2010 at 12:26 PM ^

that is a potential supplier. That will come back to bite you in the ass, especially at 6:00 p.m on a Saturday, and you need parts on Monday, and the only person who can help you doesn't answer his cell phone because you power-tripped, belittled him and treated him like an ass.

(Speaking from experience. I was the supplier. And the buyer got in deep trouble - a demotion - when his boss contacted me later, and I sent him the emails that his employee had sent to me.)