Director of Purchasing

  • Full Time
  • Portland, Oregon
  • This position has been filled


Solutions For Cleaner, Healthier Facilities

The Walter E. Nelson Co. is one of the largest distributors in the Pacific Northwest of janitorial, packaging, and business products, providing solutions for cleaner, healthier facilities. We serve a broad customer base including Education, Government, Commercial Property Management and Office Buildings, Healthcare, Foodservice, Lodging, Building Service Contractors, Manufacturing, Commercial Laundry Facilities, and many more. Walter E. Nelson Co. is a family owned business and was founded in 1945. We have grown to 13 branch locations in Oregon and Washington.

The Director of Purchasing is responsible for the daily operations of the Purchasing Department in our Corporate Services headquarters in Portland, Oregon. Working with our other branch locations and coordinating group buying activities is also an increasingly important role in this position. You will oversee and manage the supply chain to maximize service levels, drive cost efficiencies and profitability, while identifying and mitigating supply chain issues. This is a cross-functional role working with executive management, vendors, sales reps, operations, customer service, and accounting departments in addition to your direct reports. This position requires strong negotiation, analytical skills, creativity, flexibility, and emotional intelligence.


  • Recruit and hire Purchasing personnel as needed. Train buyers on purchasing principles, and our internal ERP software.
  • Create a motivating, challenging, and harmonious work environment to foster productivity in purchasing department. Provide guidance and corrective action when needed.
  • Manage buyer assignments and monitor backup coverage to ensure continuous service levels are maintained.
  • Ensure appropriate inventory levels are kept, working with buyers, vendors, sales, and warehouse staff to determine optimal ordering schedule, quantities, and practices.
  • Work cooperatively with other branch locations and buyers as needed for coordinated purchasing with select vendors.
  • Keep abreast of market conditions and trends and apply that knowledge to current and future purchasing practices and decisions.
  • Identify improvement opportunities and recommend and implement changes.
  • Identify new vendor/product channels if the supply chain is disrupted.
  • Communicate vendor, product, pricing, and market trend information to purchasing, sales, customer service and management via email and our Intranet site.
  • Evaluate vendors and products making selections that align with company goals using preferred buying group vendors.
  • Work with buyers, warehouse, accounting department, and vendors to rectify receiving shortages, damages, price discrepancies, while making timely claims and payments.
  • Collect and maintain Customer Stocking Agreements as needed.
  • Maintain current library of vendor price lists on our intranet site.
  • Assist IT in data collection needed on item codes for our online portal.
  • Assist A/P in data needs for rebate, point of sale reporting to vendors, and buying group purchasing compliance.
  • Eliminate stock duplication or slow/dead stock.
  • Increase inventory turns.
  • Enhance profit margins.
  • Mitigate price increases where possible, and update timely.
  • Participate in scheduled vendor performance and goal setting meetings.
  • Work with management, purchasing, operations and sales staff to correct any vendor’s operational or pricing deficiencies.
  • Occasional travel required 2-3 times a year for ISSA, Network and other trade show events. Occasional travel to other branch locations may be required periodically.

Knowledge, Skills, Attributes

  • Purchasing in a distribution environment in Janitorial or Packaging is preferred
  • ERP software experience
  • Proficient in Microsoft applications including Word, Excel, Outlook
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Business math understanding for percentage of change, gross profit, calculating freight loads, forecasting analysis, etc.
  • Time management and organizational skills
  • Public speaking for organizing and leading staff training in person or via Zoom style calls
  • Teamwork and relationship building with both internal and external groups
  • Global/import experience helpful
  • Psychic ability is helpful, but not required


College degree in Business Administration, Supply Chain or related field or equivalent combination of education and experience is required. Must have 5 or more years of Purchasing and Management experience. Janitorial and/or Packaging distribution experience is preferred.