Spotlight on Weldon’s Purchasing Department


When Weldon has new grinders and automation projects to complete, the company turns to its purchasing department to ensure all the necessary components are in stock and on time to finish the job.

After Weldon receives a new order from a customer, the department’s manager and agents meet with staff involved from the sales, engineering and production sides of the company’s business.

During those meetings, they discuss the products the sales department sold and the plan for building them. Then, the mechanical engineers work on design, while the electrical engineers develop schematics and determine material needs.

Once that’s completed, the different department representatives run it all by Paul Garner, the production manager in charge of the purchasing department, customer service and the shop.

When Weldon needs a machined part, purchasing agents send requests to three or four production shops to get price quotes and an idea of how much lead time will be necessary to build or acquire the parts.

Sometimes, parts manufacturers are contracted based on price and other times they are chosen based on how soon they can have the parts created and shipped. In other cases, the manufacturer will ask if they can alter the part, it may make it less expensive or easier to make. Either way, this is where the negotiations begin.

“So much communication takes place before we can even write a purchase order for a project,” said Garner, who has been with Weldon for 27 years. “Whether it’s internally among our team or going back and forth on pricing and delivery times with parts manufacturers, our department is in touch with every step of developing and building our grinders and automation projects.”

Sourcing parts from near and far

After a purchase order goes out, Weldon’s agents follow up multiple times, starting about two weeks before the order is due, to ensure everything is on schedule. Paul, who started with Weldon as an electrical assembler, is involved in most projects, along with another purchasing agent.

Weldon’s Purchasing Department, L to R: Mark Leathery, Stacey Arnold, Paul Garner and Ali Lane

On very large orders, the whole team is involved, and each person has a specific job to keep all the ducks in a row – and there are a lot of ducks.

Beyond ensuring materials for all of Weldon’s grinder, automation and other manufacturing projects are available, the purchasing department needs to make sure the entire company is stocked. They track and order everything from printer ink to paper towels and anything in between.

Each year, Weldon works with anywhere from 50 to 100 different vendors. A typical month sees between 200 and 300 orders for office supplies and manufacturing equipment.

While much of the equipment is made in the U.S., purchasing agents often need to source from overseas. Many of the high-precision components for the grinders Weldon builds come from Europe and Japan. For the complex FANUC robots the company integrates into automation projects, all controls come from Japan.

Along with sourcing all supplies for the company, the purchasing department is responsible for keeping inventory of everything in the office and the shop.

Words of wisdom from purchasing agents

Senior Purchasing Agent Mark Leathery has been with Weldon for nearly 20 years – his anniversary will be in June – and he has been part of the purchasing department for 18 of those years. He focuses on grinders and most of the company’s big-ticket items, as well as the sub-assemblies, which form the basis for much of what Weldon manufactures.

For Mark, the most challenging aspect of his job is vendor delivery, which involves keeping machine builds on schedule and determining the amount of inventory needed as business levels ebb and flow.

On the flip side, the most rewarding aspect of the job for Mark is seeing a project come together and creating relationships with vendors that can last for years.

“Purchasing here at Weldon is a lot more than receiving a list of items to buy,” he said. “Along with all the complex planning and scheduling involved, one skill people may not associate with purchasing is the ability to read and understand drawings of complex parts. Those are highly involved, and it takes an experienced eye to comprehend everything needed to build these machines.”

Stacey Arnold, a purchasing agent who has been with Weldon since September 2022, said the most rewarding part of the job, for her, is watching a grinder she purchased parts for being completed and shipped out to the customer.

Ali Lane, a purchasing and production specialist working for Weldon since 2019, never thought she would need customer service skills in the purchasing department.

“I thought I could just buy things online and never have to deal with anyone, but I quickly learned that is not the case and really came to love talking with people and coming together to make things happen,” she said.

For more information on working with Weldon, whether as an employee, a customer or as a vendor, contact us here:


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