Greybeard Advisors
Greybeard Advisors - Greybeard Advisors Tenth Anniversary

Greybeard Advisors Marks Tenth Anniversary

Making a Difference for Clients

September 2014

When the Fortune 500 company he worked for offered Chief Procurement Officer Robert A. Rudzki the top global strategic sourcing job, he had a tough decision to make: “The opportunity was great on every level, except one. An overseas move just didn’t work for my family,” recalls Rudzki. “But in the process of thinking about the move, I realized that I didn’t want my professional legacy to be a series of executive titles. I wanted to contribute to the advancement of my profession — on a number of levels.” To transfer his knowledge about sourcing, profit improvement and supply chain management to others, he founded Greybeard Advisors, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this month, and which ranks today as one of the leading advisory firms in the field. 

Greybeard has grown to over 75 advisors by helping clients adopt a more strategic approach to sourcing and procurement — one that produces lasting, bottom-line gains, instead of temporary blips on the P&L.

“The old-style, bare-knuckles approach of beating up suppliers is simply not effective nor sustainable. In fact, it can have adverse consequences, such as hindering innovation and collaboration,” explains Rudzki. He counsels there are much more effective ways to drive short- and long-term improvement in costs and cash flow — ideas Rudzki first detailed in the book Straight to the Bottom Line®, a business bestseller and Institute for Supply Management (ISM) book selection, as well as its highly endorsed sequel Next Level Supply Management Excellence.

To help them implement these new ideas, companies asked for experienced trainers and coaches — the “grey beards” that Greybeard Advisors was created to provide. “A large part of Greybeard’s success — and the success of our clients — has been due to our commitment to ‘knowledge transfer’ from our deeply experienced senior practitioner-advisors to the client’s procurement team,” remarks Greybeard senior advisor Jim Baehr.

David Butler, Vice President Global Operations and Supply Chain for Philips Healthcare, puts it this way: “Greybeard has perfected a mentoring and coaching process that is ‘light touch, high impact.’ Light touch on the budget compared to conventional consulting engagements, and high impact in terms of process adoption, results and knowledge.” For example, by coaching client teams on concepts such as “Speaking with One Voice,” Greybeard’s practitioner-advisors help clients learn the importance of controlling supplier interactions. “Every conversation with a supplier, no matter how innocent or ‘technical' it might appear, is part of the negotiation process," Baehr says. “The discipline of ‘Speaking with One Voice’ helps companies understand that unplanned, unscripted conversations can give a particular supplier an edge that affects negotiations and total cost.” Once new best practices like “Speaking with One Voice” are integrated into the client’s own business processes, they serve to improve every purchase the client makes.

So after ten years, how does Greybeard define success? “Our clients tell us they receive tremendous ROI on their engagements with Greybeard,” says Bob Rudzki. “But what’s even more exciting to us is seeing, a year into implementing strategic sourcing and negotiation management techniques, that they’re not just continuing on an upward curve, they’re gaining speed.”