Mickey’s New Purchasing Manager Says Communication Is Key to Success
David Perry has been promoted to Purchasing & Materials Manager for Mickey Truck Bodies, responsible for managing the company’s external suppliers, with particular emphasis on the purchase of materials and finished parts for production.
Most recently David was Senior Buyer/Warehouse Manager, the position he held since joining Mickey in 2012. He will continue reporting to Greg Fisher, CFO. Josh Marshall, Sr. Buyer, and Larry Henson, Buyer, now report directly to David, as do Rex Cook, Cycle Counter, and Henry Mosley, Warehouse Supervisor.
Prior to Mickey, David spent 9 years with Kaba Ilco Corp., a leading provider of innovative access solutions in the security industry, as Sourcing Manager responsible for all domestic and international purchasing duties. He has more than 24 years experience in the purchasing and materials profession reaching back to 1989, when he started as an Inventory Control Analyst. He’s been a Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) since 1999, achieved a Project Management Certification in 2012, and is a member of the Institute for Supply Chain Management (ISM).
“Since joining Mickey in 2012, David has continued to take on more responsibility, and has shown exceptional leadership capabilities,” says Greg. “The purchasing department has one of the most challenging jobs in the company because they have to get it all right, all the time – pricing, timing, quantity, quality. They keep us going and have a direct impact on our bottom line.”
During his first week on the new job, David discussed the plans, priorities and possibilities for the Purchasing Department.
THE MICKEY SPIRIT: What are your main priorities for 2014?
DAVID: We are focusing on cost reduction so that we can help the company’s bottom line, and on building even stronger relationships with key suppliers to ensure parts and materials are bought at the most competitive prices and delivered on time for production. We also want to identify new suppliers and negotiate discount structures where appropriate.
We’re also going to work on fabrication fees and charges, and off-the-shelf items where we may be able to do better going direct to the manufacturer rather than making spot buys. We’re always trying to improve our inventory position, whether it’s on a cost basis or a quality basis. We want to be consistent.
TMS: Which areas are the most difficult to control?
DAVID: The metals market, which has a huge impact on our business, is extremely volatile. We can set contracts and try to hold pricing, but it’s going to be related mainly to the fluctuations in the metals market. We have to stay on top of it constantly in order to capitalize on the best buying opportunities.
TMS: Where have you see the greatest improvement in the purchasing process at Mickey?
DAVID: Communications between departments and throughout the organization. As good as we are now, we can be even better. The more we talk to each other, the better we can plan and get the right materials in here on time.
TMS: What’s one example of how you have improved the communications process?
DAVID: We started having weekly meetings directly with key people from the production floor, sales, engineering and scheduling. In the past it was more of a conversation or a phone call; one person to one person. Now we’re sitting down in a large group and we try to anticipate problems and plan ahead for solutions. It’s a communications loop encompassing the entire production process. If we get the right information we can schedule our materials better so that there are no shortages, the production runs smoother, there’s less overhead and less rework. Best of all, the customer gets their order on time – or even ahead of time in some cases – and it’s built exactly to spec. Everyone participates in the communications loop.
TMS: Is just-in-time still the holy grail of the inventory field?
DAVID: It’s still important because we have limited space here, and we don’t want to tie up the company’s capital buying large quantities too far in advance. We try to maintain our inventory on a weekly basis. Of course the problem with J-I-T today is what it’s always been – if you have something come in and the schedule changes, that can jump up and bite you if you’re running too tight. So you have to look at the long lead time items and maybe go a little heavier on the front end so you don’t run out of material.
TMS: Do you have a system or process – or a secret – for balancing J-I-T with the unexpected schedule changes?
DAVID: Those weekly meetings have definitely been very helpful in dealing with these schedule changes. We all know what’s coming in and when it’s coming in, so we can get the materials in here in time to accommodate the adjustments.
TMS: Greg Fisher said this is one of the most challenging jobs in the company? Why is that?
DAVID: Mainly because of all the changes in scheduling. We commit a lot of the company’s funds every month, and balancing what we are buying with what we are selling is very important to the financial success of the company. It’s tricky.
TMS: Do you have any way of sidestepping or offsetting big price spikes in your primary materials?
DAVID: We look at it from a business standpoint. If we have orders booked 3 or 4 months out, we’ll commit to the larger quantity for that entire time frame at the current pricing, and lock into it so we can release the material each week as we need it.
TMS: What’s your biggest job fear?
DAVID: Running out of materials. When that happens it has a major production impact. We can’t work and the customers don’t get their trucks on time. So we have to constantly stay on top of the inventory to make sure that does not happen.
TMS: Last year the company had a banner year in terms of sales and production. How would you rate your department’s performance given that volume?
DAVID: We did an excellent job keeping everything flowing. We had very few shortages throughout the year and none that really impacted our production to the point where we had to shut lines down. It feels very good to get that kind of year under our belts since as a company we have dedicated 2014 to being our ‘best year ever.’ Going forward, we will conduct comprehensive reviews of the purchasing function and methodology to identify and implement improvements.
TMS: What’s the most amazing thing about Mickey Truck Bodies?
DAVID: The people. Of all the companies I have worked for, I can honestly say the people at Mickey are the easiest to work with and the most supportive. This company has been around for 110 years. We have people here who know how to manufacture. There’s somebody here that has faced the same situations that we face on any given day, and we are not bashful about tapping into that knowledge base.