Think Global, Act Local
"I've known Dick Koplitz for more than 15 years," recalls Daniel Bach, president of D.B. Hess Co., Woodstock, IL. "We initially began dealing with each other when he organized the corporate purchasing function for Prentice Hall [a division of Simon & Schuster]."
Bach lauds Koplitz for his finely tuned sense of fair play. "I have found that once a contract is reached, if an issue is raised, Dick will support both his operating companies and the vendor to ensure that the issue is resolved in a fair manner, and within the spirit of the agreement," he relates.
"Dick stands behind agreements 100 percent," agrees John D. DePaul, chairman of the Lehigh Press, Pennsauken, NJ. "He is one of the most ethical people I've ever met."
A hidden asset
In November of 1998, Pearson Inc. acquired Simon & Schuster's educational business units, including its purchasing department and key personnel such as Koplitz. At the time of the acquisition, Simon & Schuster was a $1.4 billion business.
The new ownership was quick to identify Koplitz as an invaluable asset. Since the acquisition, Koplitz has integrated the Simon & Schuster procurement functions into Pearson's and globalized supply chain efforts.
Now, from his office in Upper Saddle River, NJ, Koplitz is responsible for worldwide procurement of all commodities for Pearson, which includes business units that span television, a magazine and newspapers, as well as book publishing. Last year, Pearson reported total sales of $5.3 billion.
Koplitz's mission is to achieve significant cost reductions for the organization without sacrificing quality. Toward that goal, he put together internal supplier management teams both in the U.S. and internationally. Each team represents a particular Pearson company, business unit or function. Members of a team develop and implement savings strategies, and also collaborate with other teams to maximize savings across the board.