The CM Procurement Pro Academy: Born from frustration and friendship

Mike Martin, owner and chairman of CleanMark Labels was frustrated with his company’s lack of growth. They had state of the art facilities in the US, China, and Malaysia.  They had incredible people and systems, but growth remained elusive.  Not only that, Mike was a little bored.  He enjoyed solving label technology issues, but that aspect of his job was too infrequent.  He knew that there had to be a way to grow his company AND have more fun doing it.

And at just the right time—things always seem to happen at ‘just the right time’—Mike reconnected with an old friend, Toby LaVigne.  Toby had been working on the the exact problem Mike was facing; “How do you grow your company (or your career) in a way that’s fun and sustainable for everyone involved?”

Toby’s approach blended marketing, sales, leadership, personal and professional development, and strategy all in one.  And although Toby was working primarily with CEO’s, it’s not just a CEO challenge. So many aspects of how we used to live and work are not working as well as they did just decades ago! We’re witnessing a transition into a new and different economy and procurement pros are in the center of the storm.

Well, Mike and Toby had a lot of conversations, which ultimately led to two very big decisions. First, Mike ‘fired himself’ and hired Toby to be CEO.  Second, Mike committed to a bold new strategy.  He decided that he wanted his company and his purpose to go far deeper than just making labels stick in challenging environments.  Mike decided that he wanted to break free from convention and be the kind of change he wanted to see in the world.

And that’s when the BIG IDEA emerged.

You see, the closer Mike looked at their market and customers, the more he began to empathize with what they were really going through day in and day out.  Like most “vendors and suppliers” (Mike dislikes those words), Mike and his team were consumed with quoting, often to be the low bidder, then producing, shipping and waiting to be paid.

With all that work to do, it was easy to get caught up in their own little world and not really consider what it was like on the other side.  But Mike found a way and did just that.  And what he learned amazed him and awoke his purpose.

Procurement professionals have one of the most difficult jobs there is; in fact, it’s a lot like the job of a CEO.  Did you know that Tim Cook (Apple), AG Lafley (P&G), Bali Padda (Lego),  and Marry Barra (GM) all worked in procurement positions prior to becoming famous CEO’s? 

The truth is that Procurement Pros have to get up to speed on a wide variety of products and systems within their companies.  They have to find, vet, and manage qualified partners.  They have to find new ways to get what their company needs, when, and where they need it as efficiently as possible.  They have to negotiate, present, sell, analyze, and more!

In the digital age, the impact that procurement professionals can have on an organization will only rise.  The visibility across an organization, up and down the chain of command that procurement professionals have is a unique vantage point and a huge opportunity.  Mike figured that since we’re on a similar path of continuous improvement, we may as well share in that journey together.

And the CleanMark Procurement Pro Academy was born.

We welcome your thoughts, comments, suggestions and more.