Building Relationships with Vendors


Fernando Maggiori,  Warehouse and Purchasing Manager at Air Panama

He has been in the industry since 1995 and has worked with Air Panama since 2014. Starting out as a technical advisor he moved his way up to being a stock and purchasing manager. He is now is in charge of the complete management of Aeronautical Materials, including its Storage, Control, and Purchase along with the Logistics of its import and export.

Business is business. That’s the phrase that’s always thrown around.

But maybe it doesn’t have to be that way.

Even if it’s just saying hi to your employees on your way to the office, or asking them what issues they may be having in operations there is a human side to business. And that is the understanding that you’re working with actual people.

When you hire a supplier do you hire them for price? Or do you hire them because you actually like what their company puts out?

Is it all about money? Or credibility?

Fernando Maggiori from Air Panama shares his insight to the human side of business.

 Have a routine 

Have a routine that you commit yourself to every single day. Check in with your employees.

Is there anything that they’re struggling with? Do they have any questions?

Not only will this help you organize your day, but it will show them that you care. And it will help you understand any issues that they may be having in current operations.

It is important that your employees see you more than a boss, but as a person too.

 “ I like to think of my routine as the actual plan.  I try to say hello to as many employees as I can on my long daily walk from the parking lot, pass the Flight Line and through some of our five hangars.  I talk to GSE, Tooling, Stores, and Purchasing, before actually making it to my office.  By this time, I have a good sense of what could be the top issues affecting our current operations.  I quickly review the latest orders, deferrals, and materials in transit, as well as the fleet dispatch of the prior day in order to be prepared for a daily 11 a.m., maintenance meeting.  Always look to have lunch outside the airport, so to accommodate vendors.  I have only a handful of meetings scheduled weekly in the afternoon, for planned inspections and administration.  I mainly use afternoons for following up KPIs’, contacts and projects with high-value items, as well as the clerical work of signing orders, quotes, and invoices.  Any unexpected issues need to be attended based on their impact on the operation, hence, you may need to dedicate all of your available time based on that priority, regardless of your prior commitments. I hate when this happens within program maintenance since many meetings should have minimized problem areas beforehand.”


To avoid unwanted delays and costs, it is crucial to keep track of deadlines.

Work with your team to create a fleet status report to guarantee that everything runs on time.

Set up delivery alerts with your team in advance.

“We mainly focus on critical items through a fleet status report, where we keep track of the deadlines we need to meet and our ETA’s, most of which are worked with the suppliers we trust the most and our forwarders in order to avoid unwanted delays or cost.  We have sourced from US and Europe, and average times are standard.  KPI’s for open Routine orders are also followed up in order to maintain a delivery time that covers our inspection programs.  Most of this is placed 3 months in advance and have a delivery alert of 45 days, prior to the event.  AOG’s and OOS are managed case by case, in order to work out best possible delivery at the best time and price.”

Sourcing solutions from a new supplier

If you do want a supplier who can provide quality work and affordable prices: Do your research.

Plan ahead on when to do background checks to prevent delays when you’re looking for a new supplier.

“Besides getting out of bed…..The most difficult part of the job is coordinating sourcing solutions from a new supplier.  We have a small fleet of aging planes that require sometimes we source parts from faraway places and little-known suppliers.  For this we have to do background checks, review documents and certificates (QA), work with our logistics partners to find best shipping method and set up payment options (CIA).  If you do your due diligence, you may save money and get a quality new supplier for your most difficult fleet types.  I do not like to place orders to Australia or Africa but have done it, successfully, all the way to Panama.”

Find a supplier you trust

Yes, it would be ideal to get a supplier with cheap prices.

But do you trust them? That’s what matters.

Do you know where these parts are coming from?

More importantly, do you trust where they’re coming from? Focus on finding a supplier that is reliable and will guarantee quality parts.

“Coinciding a lot with the previous question, the biggest QA challenge we face is with the wide mix of suppliers currently on the market, offering all kinds of parts, products, and services.  We have a  limited staff, how to make sure we make a sound quality choice is our biggest concern.  Just complying with regulations is now enough.  I’ve seen some pretty bad parts that complied in my limited experience in the business.  Trust in the suppliers is critical, prices are relevant, but not to be the driver of your decision-making.  There are a few questions you need to ask yourselves regarding this issue.  Do you trust where the parts are coming from?  Is the price reasonable to that of the market?  And are you willing to bet your job on this quality?  If your supplier has compliance with QA requirements and you’re positive on the questions go ahead.  If not, move on to another. “

Hopefully, this article has helped you overcome some of the challenges you have faced as a purchasing manager. What are some of your struggles in procurement?

Tell us your story below.