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Remodeling Designs Inc. president Mike Cordonnier, CR, is always looking for talent. He often will tell people he thinks would fit in with his company to call if they're looking for a change. Once, he gave a business card to a waitress in Michigan because of her excellent customer service skills, telling her to call him if she ever moves to the RDI market of Dayton, Ohio.
Once in a while, his strategy works. Earlier this year, Cheryl Baker, an employee of one of RDI's plumbing distributors, took Cordonnier up on the offer. He brought her on board as the company's purchasing manager, a new position he said he created just for her.
Baker is responsible for ordering all materials, tracking them through the RDI system, and receiving, inspecting and putting them into the warehouse. In addition, she has become the primary contact with vendors, working on obtaining discounts for the company and researching new suppliers. Because of Baker's relationships with plumbing suppliers, RDI now can order some materials direct from manufacturers.
Previously, the company's production manager ordered materials, Cordonnier says. That system worked "on a wing and a prayer," he says, because the production manager just didn't have the time to check accuracy of deliveries. "He's running $1.5 million in volume," Cordonnier says. "It cost us a fair amount of money and a lot of headache.
"We assumed the right [product] was coming in," Cordonnier says. "Nobody was checking deliveries; it went right to the warehouse. It's amazing the problems [we had]. The packing slips would be right, the contents would not."
Materials are warehoused so the project can proceed smoothly without becoming derailed by delayed products. Without the inspection, problems were showing up on the site. Faucet handles, for example, would not match the finish on the faucet. Now, Baker opens every box to check contents. "That's why I have her: client satisfaction," Cordonnier says. "She catches all that stuff before it becomes a detriment to the client relationship."
Baker has also instituted a purchase order system, checking invoices against the POs. "I went back to look, and there was a fair amount of product that we were overcharged for," Cordonnier says.
Product costs are now current because Baker keeps the pricing updated. Cordonnier, who manages sales for the company, passes design sketches to Baker for pricing. "She fills in the detail [on the estimates]," he says. "She's the materials estimator. She doesn't know how long it takes to install, but she fills in the material numbers."
With this function covered, Cordonnier has more time to sell. "Estimates are accurate and take less of my time," he says. "I can spend more time in front of the client instead of back here in front of the computer."
The purchasing manager position is full time with an annual salary of $34,000. Cordonnier says that salary will be easily covered by the materials cost savings. "We probably had $12,000 of material last year that was misordered, damaged and unreturned," he says. Further, he estimates that Baker's negotiating for discounts and finding new vendors will save the company 5% to 8% on project materials cost of $600,000 this year.
"There would be no way I would be able to do what I have to do without her," Cordonnier says. "It's a great move because we have the right person in place. She's a sweet person, but when she gets on the phone with vendors, things happen."
Rod Sutton is the Editor in Chief for Professional Remodeler. Please e-mail him with any comments or questions regarding his column.