When you think of new product development, you probably imagine engineers refining prototypes, designers perfecting colors and marketers pitching strategy plans. But what you may not see are the buyers, supply planners and commodity managers that play an absolutely crucial role in bringing the product to life.
Enter purchasing professionals like Will Brady. As a supply management specialist within our global faucets division, he’s part of a team responsible for collecting new product requirements from our marketing, engineering and design teams, and then sourcing the right materials to actually create the product.
“I describe my job to my family as very careful shopping,” explained Will. “Just as you would look for a good deal, evaluate your options, not over or under buy when going to the store, I do the same thing but on a much larger scale with product components.”
Will and his team call upon new and existing supplier relationships to optimize a precise balance of quality, timing and cost of product components. They negotiate difficult contracts and creatively navigate complex supply chain channels in a global marketplace.
As part of the purchasing team for electronics and digital devices, Will has been involved in many of Kohler’s smart home technologies. His latest project is our new and improved Moxie showerhead + wireless speaker—this time with Amazon Alexa capabilities—that debuted at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show.
“Since it’s a new category, this project was a unique opportunity to reevaluate our approach to sourcing and really activate our global network of partners to find the right fit,” said Will.
So began an intense process of exploring the supply base opportunities for speakers, evaluating potential brand partners, navigating through commercial agreements and, ultimately, procuring the speaker and accessories involved in the design of the new Moxie showerhead.
Will and his team were up for the challenge.
“I love problem solving,” he said. “I get the most satisfaction from projects where we don’t have existing processes and it’s on me to understand what ‘good’ looks like and utilize an entrepreneurial approach to find a solution.”
So, next time you discover a new product you love, you may wonder who designed it. And hopefully you’ll also marvel at the purchasing teams powering it all behind the scenes.