Executive Spotlight: Jay Gordon


Executive Spotlight: Jay Gordon Director of Procurement ARCOP, Inc.

Interview conducted by Mitchell Smith, 2nd year MBA Student, TCU Neeley School of Business

March 8th, 2019

Mitchell Smith: Could you tell me a little bit about your background and other roles that have lead you to where you are now?

Jay Gordon: I did my undergrad at Ohio State and started off in marketing because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. And then, the way I got introduced to supply chain is over the summer. I needed a job and a company called the Hub Group, a large third party logistics provider was doing interviews on campus. They had a Cleveland, Ohio office with an opening, and I needed a job so I took it without having any industry experience. In that role I kind of did the day-to-day logistics, editing and uploading brokerage data for a big intermodal operation and other low level work, but it was fast paced and it was interesting. When I got back to Ohio State, that next fall for the starting school year, I did some research and discovered that Ohio State has a pretty robust and top-flight supply chain and logistics major. So I ended up double majoring in marketing and logistics and the next summer after graduation I got another internship with Hub group and was in the Jacksonville office, which is more of a sales office. So I just kind of went around and helped conduct sales calls and things like that but again it was real interesting just learning about all the different business operations out there, and meeting a bunch of people in the company.  After I graduated, they had a job in Atlanta, which is where I'm from originally and I wanted to get back closer to home. So I took that job and worked at Hub group for about eight years and did a myriad of different things. At that point, I kind of stumbled on to this position at ARCOP, which is where I am now, and that was to really develop their inbound logistics program. So, we didn't really have a freight management program at the time and it was kind of handled at arm's length, and nobody really knew how the logistics thing went over here and so I came on board to develop that over the course of the next six years. Afterward there was an opportunity that came about as Director of Procurement and  I took that role about two years ago. That's kind of how I ended up in indirect procurement, which is where I am now.

MS: Right, that's a cool story of how you just naturally fell into that. As the Director of Procurement what are your high level primary responsibilities and initiatives that you directly oversee?

JG: High level consists of really three core areas. One is, to ensure our suppliers have the correct amount, and correct quality of product to supply our stores on a day-to-day basis, so more items, ensuring we have a quality supply product. The other core area is to conduct contract negotiations and to ensure that we're partnering with suppliers against demand at the best price possible. And then the third piece is to work with our product development team and our marketing team and our supply management team on promotional related activities. Again, ensuring that suppliers for those promotional activities are able to supply demand, and provide a quality product as well.

MS: That makes sense. So following up on that, what technology do you use in your role and how do you see future developments benefiting the procurement industry?

JG: Not nearly as much as maybe some other role management where they're doing these complex, forecasting models and demand plans and things of that nature. But for my role and what I do we are pretty limited. We do rely heavily on Microsoft office products; email, excel, power point are predominantly all we use, and look for when hiring individuals on our team. Technology is something that people will get a lot of benefit from, there's just not a lot of benefit directly affiliated with my role.

MS: Okay that makes sense. Focusing more on you, what skills have helped you progress the most in your career, and what would you tell students who aspire to follow a similar career path as you?

JG: Number one for me is the relationship and communication aspect. That is crucial to being able to relate to people, creating some sort of connection with everyone that you interact with, being able to succeed especially in a role where you are constantly working with others outside your firm and hold the firms reputation with any given negotiation. I think that more than anything, especially in previous roles It's been crucial. Purchasing is very heavily geared towards building relationships. I would tell Students to always be trying to improve how you communicate with everyone you interact with and how you present information to your peers.

MS: Interesting. So to dig a little deeper on the subject, what has been the most influential piece of advice, or person, or book that has helped you succeed?

JG: For me it was a guy I used to work for early in my career at Hub Group.  He was the sales executive responsible for the Home Depot account, and he was the one that was responsible for developing that account into the biggest account at the company. I would talk with him on a daily basis. He taught me how to have the proper work ethic and tenacity in a procurement role. He was always striving to do better and challenge himself.

MS: That's actually really cool. There's definitely been a commonality with everyone I've interviewed for Executive Spotlight, they’ve all had a very influential mentor.  What steps do you take personally to stay up to date and make sure ARCOP is not falling behind industry standards?

JG: We do a lot of benchmarking against our supply chain and then against the industry in general. We’re constantly reaching out to our peers and suppliers to see what they’re doing whether it’s a new technology or really anything in the industry that is changing. It’s great you know, when everybody shares information and tries to be good partners. We also subscribe to a wide variety of publications, attend a lot of conferences and keep up with trends that way.

MS: It Sounds like you do as much as you can to stay ahead without overdoing it. Thank you for taking the time to talk today.