Job Title: Purchasing Agent
Type of Company: The company I work for provides packaging products to manufacturing firms.
Education: AS, Quinebaug Valley Community College (Danielson, CT)
Previous Experience: I worked as a department manager for a large retail chain.
Job Tasks: A purchasing agent has to have a thorough understanding of the raw materials that are used to run the plant where he works and to make the products that the plant turns out. He has work in close conjunction with department heads to track key materials and keep enough in the plant for each job. He also has to work with suppliers and know how to negotiate pricing and shipping.
An important part of the job is maintaining sufficient inventory as materials and supplies are used. As business increases or decreases your purchasing does the same. You do not want to keep too much on hand but running out is even worse. The flow of goods is very important for cash flow to your company. So you want everything to be "just in time" and that can be tricky.
You spend a lot of your time working with the accounts receivable, accounts payable and shipping and receiving personnel, so a gift for working smoothly with others is a big plus. You should also be good with numbers, and you must be organized and have computer skills. At the end of the each quarter and at the end of the fiscal year, we take a physical audit of the plant's raw materials so we have a reliable inventory for tax purposes of the products we've used. A physical inventory also helps in tracking waste that may not have been captured in the paper work from the machine lines. It helps to tell us, what's more, if the output from the plant is sufficiently profitable. This all ties back into cost. The company always needs to know if it is charging its customers enough.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: If you're a people person, as I am, the best parts of the job are working with others. You manage your own schedule and make your own appointments with suppliers. You also see all around the building and business since what you do supplies the people you work with with the items they need to do their jobs.
1. You must have an "I want to learn" attitude and learn all aspects of the systems and jobs in the plant.
2. A knowledge of math, business and accounting, as well as a familiarity with computers, are important to the position.
3. You must also be good at handling stress. Everyone wants his needs handled first and everyone thinks his own department is more important than anyone else's.
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