Purchasing Agent

Maria Duffy

Tell us about your work---what do you do? I am a food buyer at Showboat hotel and casino . I purchase everything you eat and drink . I order for all the restaurants . The food storeroom keeps an inventory of fresh, frozen and dry goods. When the inventory gets low, they send me a requisition to bring the items up to par levels. I then call 3 food vendors and bid out the items. Whichever vendor submits the lowest bid gets the order. What skills are needed? Typing skills are a plus as well as the ability to cooperate with others. Some knowledge of mathematic and basic computer skills are also a valuable asset. What was your major? I am a high school graduate. How did you get started in your career? I was hired as a purchasing clerk to input purchase orders. After one year I was promoted to a buyer. What experience do you need in this job? To be a food buyer, you need product knowledge . You need to know the difference between a T-bone steak and a porterhouse steak. You need to know the difference between a golden delicious apple and a Fuji apple. You need to know what the products are that you are purchasing. Describe your "typical" workday: Every morning I have my inventory orders on my desk to order for the next day. Everything I order is for today or tomorrow, the reason is that food is perishable and will spoil if it's kept stored away. After I place my orders, I check my receiving short sheets. These sheets tell me what items did not come in or were refused on the loading dock for being shipped in error. Then I reorder any items that are needed. I also work with the chefs because they request samples of different products that they would like to test. This happens anytime they are changing a menu in a restaurant or have a special banquet or just looking for something new. I bring in the samples and attend the food cuttings with them (that's the great part). The food cuttings are where we compare different brands and compare the prices and choose which products best fit our hotel and restaurants. What is the hardest aspect of your job? The hardest part of my job is when something is needed ASAP. There are always last minute parties, menu changes and emergency requests from customers. Since our orders are for today for tomorrow, if a product is short-shipped, I need to get it back in that same day. If there is a banquet and the banquet departments overpulls from the food storeroom inventory then the inventory might be depleted for another outlet. This causes a rush order to get the product in the same day for the other restaurants we have. This is very fast pace , and I love it. With the purchasing of food, your day is not over until all your orders are done. Since everything is for the next day, it has to be ordered the day you receive a request. The best part of this aspect of my job is that my work is completely finished before I leave and nothing is left over for the next day. However, that is just with food buying. If you are another buyer who purchases non-perishable itmes, such as parts, tables, chairs, pens, paper, etc., these items most of the time are not a rush and you order it today for next week. So, ordering non-food items is a completely different pace. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? I love what I do. It is a continuous learning experience everyday. I learn something new everyday. I enjoy bidding products out. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? If you enjoy working with people, negotiating for best prices , working on contacts and learning something new everyday, then purchasing is for you. Even if you start as a purchasing clerk there is so much you can learn.