By Mark Tomalonis
Principal, WarehouseTWO, LLC
If you search the internet for the phrase, “smartest person in the room”, you quickly will see this anonymous quote:
“If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.”
Good advice. But it diminishes the fact that SOMEBODY has to be the smartest person in the room. Here is why that somebody should be the one who is responsible for managing your company’s inventory and purchasing.
(For this article, we use the terms “inventory management” and "purchasing" to refer to the process of deciding what sellable items get purchased, in what quantities and when. These terms are not to be confused with “warehouse management”, the processes of receiving, handling and storing inventory in a warehouse, and picking/packing/shipping orders.)
For the typical industrial wholesaler-distributor, “inventory” competes with “accounts receivable” as its largest asset, as shown on its balance sheet. (“People are our greatest asset” is not accounted for on a company’s balance sheet.)
Take, for example, five publicly-traded U.S.-based nationwide industrial distributors. (These companies have annual sales of $billions.) The charts below show the value of inventory, as a percent of all assets, for these five companies.
For all five companies, inventory represents between a quarter (24%) and a third (37%) of ALL assets. For four of these companies, inventory is their LARGEST asset.
Not only is inventory a wholsaler-distributor's largest, or second largest, asset, it is probably its riskiest investment, too. Compare the drivers that can quickly devalue one's inventory investment, vis-à-vis one's accounts receivable (A/R):
|Inventory Devaluation Drivers||A/R Devaluation Drivers|
Who manages your accounts receivable? Your CFO? Credit Manager? Perhaps a highly educated person with an accounting degree or advanced degree, such as an MBA? If you are willing to put such talent and “smartness” in charge of one of your two largest assets, why not put equivalent talent and “smartness” in charge of your other largest asset?
That is, shouldn’t the smartest person in the room be responsible for managing your largest, riskiest-to-own asset, your inventory?
How smart should the person in your company who is responsible for inventory management and purchasing be? Consider these talents/capabilities:
Other traits of an effective inventory/purchasing manager
One more thing. Because the person at your company responsible for inventory management and purchasing is responsible for your company's largest, or second largest, asset, he/she should be one of the most highly compensated persons at your company too. You’re welcome. :-)
About the Author
After a successful career in sales and operations management in the wholesale-distribution industry, Mark Tomalonis is now principal of WarehouseTWO, LLC. He amuses himself by writing articles, such as this one, to help wholesaler-distributors execute their operations better. Mark’s articles and tips are published in WarehouseTWO’s monthly e-newsletters. Click here to subscribe.
WarehouseTWO, LLC is an independent “inventory-sharing” service created exclusively for durable goods manufacturers and their authorized distributors, and for any group of durable goods “peer” wholesaler-distributors, such as members of a buying/marketing group or cooperative. To learn how inventory-sharing with WarehouseTWO can help your business, visit the WarehouseTWO website, or email email@example.com.