Mark Gursky, 37
Director of the Procurement Center of Excellence, Meritor Inc.
Big break: Working with a small team in Italy on cost reduction
Mark Gursky knew what he needed to target when he was named director of the Procurement Center of Excellence at truck-parts supplier Meritor Inc. in 2015.
“We were pretty blind in the area of analytics,” he said.
So he holed up with three colleagues in a coffee shop for two days and did some soul- searching. Where were they wasting time? How could they improve? And in particular, how could Meritor learn to harness data and present it “in a way where our greater procurement community can make both reactive and, more so, proactive decisions using data.”
Now, three-and-a-half years later, that effort is about complete.
And not too soon. While Gursky, 37, admits that Meritor still has a long way to go, it has undergone a huge transformation just in coming out of what he calls the dark ages.
As he explains, common purchasing tools of the past — friendship and fist-pounding — are fast becoming obsolete. In their place: facts and figures.
And as a result, parts and material buyers no longer will be able to get by simply by demanding that cost targets are met. A savvy buyer will need to demonstrate, for example, that a supplier’s material costs are 20 percent higher than what the rest of the market is paying. Once that supplier realizes its cost structure is way off, it will change or risk losing business.
“We are looking at ways that we do things from five years ago so much differently,” Gursky says.
Gursky was recruited by the former ArvinMeritor Inc. as a senior at Michigan State University, where he earned an undergraduate degree in materials engineering. He also holds a master’s degree in industrial engineering from Wayne State University in Detroit.
A key moment early in his career came when he was assigned to an ArvinMeritor team in Italy, working on cost-reduction initiatives. The experience prompted him to see beyond his engineering specialties.
“It was a huge ‘aha’ for me in understanding why a company does what it does,” he said.
Today, seeing the big picture is part of his job. In addition to leading the Procurement Center of Excellence, he heads Meritor’s Global Commodity Strategy team and its North American transportation, logistics and packaging group.
Meritor’s global procurement staff numbers more than 200. It buys $1.7 billion in direct material annually and $500 million worth of indirect material.
— Dave Versical