Location Spotlight: Purchasing Department at Corporate Headquarters – Kansas, U.S.A.

Location:  Corporate Headquarters — Kansas, U.S.A.

Affiliate: Seaboard Overseas Group Purchasing Department

Products/Services offered by Purchasing:  Our department delivers customer service in the form of procurement. We handle mandatory pre-inspections and logistical instructions/guidance and provide documentation for exporting/importing goods to our affiliates primarily flour mills in Africa and the Americas (Central and South).

Describe a normal day – Activities, shifts, how does the product move along the production line, etc.

In the mornings, we hit the ground running. Because of the time difference our affiliates have already worked half the day (give or take), so we start the day prioritizing and answering emails. We receive e-mail requests for spare parts, machinery, ingredients, packing materials and miscellaneous other items, which we source, quote, order and ship to the mills. We handle a request from beginning to end and apply a small markup to the cost of goods. Most orders are completed smoothly; however, we do have our fair share of fires to put out which often relate to logistics, mandatory inspections, and other communicative issues. In 2018, we processed almost nine thousand documents, organized 229 inspections and invoiced over $24.8 million in sales.

How many employees/collaborators work in the Purchasing Department?

The department is run by Brandi VanRoss, Director of Purchasing, and the team consists of six members who are each responsible for a specific number of affiliates depending on mill volume.

What are the typical daily challenges Purchasing faces?

Each affiliate comes with its own set of challenges based on their location, but our daily challenge with all them is communication. Not only is there a language barrier at many of these sites, but there is a lack of technical information when the requests are sent to us. Another one of our frequent challenges are urgent requests which are vital to operation. Anything needed urgently often causes logistical headaches.

What is the latest project or improvement Purchasing went through?

In 2018, the Department assisted with the acquisition of 3 new mills in Senegal, Ivory Coast and Mauritania. The most recent mill expansion projects that we assisted on were in Kenya, Zambia, Congo and Jamaica. For our department, the most recent improvement was the migration to Microsoft Dynamics AX as our ERP system.

Are there any new projects developing?

We never know what lies around the corner, but we are always ready and constantly learning and adapting.  Every day is an adventure in our line of work.

What was the last social event, gathering, or celebration you participated in as a group?

We enjoy each other’s company and love to do other fun things like a safari photo shoot that was created for a special overseas presentation this year.  Recent events that we participated in as a department were the Seaboard Centennial Celebration, Christmas shopping trip for the less fortunate and our annual corporate holiday party.


How’s life in this location? Weather, economy, infrastructure, traffic, government, society, etc.?

We are located in the Midwest USA which gives us the opportunity to experience all four seasons, some of which we like better than others.  (We recently got 12 inches of snow and another storm is on its way.)  Traffic is minimal, society is hospitable, and life is pleasant. This Sunday, our football team the Kansas City Chiefs are playing in the AFC Championship and hopefully going on to win the Super Bowl.  I’m not really sure how to comment on our current government at the moment.

What is special about Kansas City? Touristic spots or interesting things to see and do, etc.

Kansas City is known as the ‘Paris of the Plains’. 😊 We are also known for the best BBQ in the world.  We are lucky to have professional sporting teams for football, baseball, soccer and hockey.  Interesting things to visit here would be our Traditional and Contemporary Art museums, the WWI memorial or shopping and dining downtown, Country Club Plaza, and various other little pockets inside the city.