Think Global, Act Local
"I'm very proud to have been able to put together teams of stakeholders, and have them work together to reduce costs," Koplitz remarks.
Prioritizing book production
While book-production-related purchasing is no longer Koplitz's sole concern, it remains a priority. Print and related procurement accounts for approximately 60 percent of Pearson's overall outlays, according to Koplitz. "Since this area represents the largest percentage of our expenditures, it's especially important that we manage it effectively," he stresses.
The domestic supplier management team for production comprises 20 to 25 people. The U.S. team is complemented by a European paper and production team. "The global supplier management teams mirror what had been put in place here," Koplitz explains.
In addition to orchestrating supplier management teams and acting as a liaison among Pearson divisions, Koplitz acts as a primary negotiator with outside vendors. "I'm always looking at innovative ways to establish agreements with our supply base," he remarks.
"Not only does Richard go above and beyond [the call of duty] to ensure that he is keeping Pearson's interests at heart, but he also understands the importance of developing mutually beneficial partnerships with [Pearson's] suppliers," declares James Conway, president, chairman and CEO, Courier Corp., North Chelmsford, MA.
Dollars and sense
In 1999, Koplitz and his supplier management teams reduced company costs by $33 million. "And we're forecasting an improvement on that this year," Koplitz notes.
"Dick has captured tens of millions of dollars—perhaps a hundred million dollars—worth of savings for Pearson," asserts Phil Hoffman, president of Pearson Inc. "He has really taken us to the next level.
"Before, we were going for quick [savings] hits," Hoffman acknowledges. "Dick's resources and experience have allowed us to chase all [cost-reduction] opportunities in all corners."
What Koplitz has done for Pearson in terms of cost savings is simply a continuation of his efforts at Simon & Schuster prior to the acquisition. In his 15 years with the Simon & Schuster/Pearson organization, Koplitz estimates overall savings in excess of $250 million.