Women in Woodworking Series: Purchasing Manager, Amy Jones
In our “Women in Woodworking” blog series, we are highlighting the women of Bakes & Kropp, bringing you insight from those keeping the books and purchasing hardware to those walking home with sawdust on their boots.
In this post, we chat with Amy Jones, our purchasing manager, expert negotiator, and 2022 honoree in Woodworking Network’s 40 Under 40 awards. Read on as Amy walks us through her Bakes & Kropp journey and how her innate curiosity is piqued every day in the shop.
What is your history with woodworking?
Amy: Growing up I had general exposure to woodworking. Taking wood shop in middle school led to an interest in engineering in high school. I think my fascination comes from learning how things are built and put together.
Tell us about your journey to working with Bakes & Kropp.
Amy: I had been working in the automotive industry and going to college back and forth after high school, but I wasn’t really finding the right fit. Curiosity led me to answer an ad that read something like “get paid to learn bookcase finishing.” I didn’t know where it would lead but it turns out I found what I had been looking for all along. 10 years in a few months and I still love what I do.
How is your current role different from the role you started in?
Amy: My growth at the company started with a year in the finishing department, after which I moved onto the Shop Floor Supervisor role, and then took on purchasing very shortly after that. The two roles (Shop Floor Supervisor and purchasing) split as the workload grew and I continued on to champion purchasing. My growth and movement throughout the organization has been organic and intuitive. I saw opportunities and asked for challenges.
What is a typical day like for a Purchasing Manager?
Amy: I wear many hats, both literally and figuratively, but the root of my role is buying the best materials at the best pricing. Getting to that objective takes research, patience, and social skills. I am always trying to stay on top of new offerings and potential support services. I purchase everything, not just the hardware or lumber that our cabinets are made out of. Another facet is the tooling and machinery used for manufacturing. To keep our factory running smoothly I stay in contact with our Shop Floor Manager and Woodworking Manager daily to make sure we have all needs covered to get the job done.
What do you like most about your job?
Amy: I do enjoy my vendor relationships. It has always been one of my favorite things to enter into negotiations and networking. I also like that my endless curiosity for how stuff works is put into play every single day—sometimes in a purchasing capacity, and sometimes in an educational capacity. Special projects are always fun; from ECP (BK lean manufacturing) to Safety, it's always good to work through growth and opportunities in the shop.
How do you go about finding the best materials? Are there any materials you particularly love?
Amy: I think our metal accents are my favorite. My background in auto manufacturing gives me a true appreciation for metalwork. We are fortunate to be located in the center of the Motor City manufacturing hub of Detroit and its surrounding area. There are many local metal craftsmen that do amazing work within minutes of the Bakes & Kropp factory. Some are large outfits that are known across the country and beyond, while some are guys in their own small space doing really neat work. I appreciate the metalwork especially after working with steel in what now seems like another lifetime, before I joined Bakes & Kropp. Beyond that, there are so many clever storage and organization gadgets that can be utilized in cabinetry. Lighting is also a big wow factor when our projects are complete. I enjoy bringing in different textures of glass, mirror, or leather to designs.
Amy on the factory floor
What would you say to the next generation of young women looking to find their career?
Amy: In the past few years, I’ve teamed up with the local high school as part of the advisory board for their woodshop program. Many schools in Michigan have cut woodworking out of the curriculum, which pushes students away from trade jobs. It’s important for us to try to change that narrative. There is so much opportunity in woodworking and really any of the trades out there for women to take on and champion those specialties. Woodworking has opportunities from forestry to fabrication to design—it’s endless. It’s a timeless career. Women play big roles in leadership, there are many women owned-businesses throughout the woodworking industry.
How does Bakes & Kropp create an inclusive working environment?
Amy: Transparency and values drive the inclusive nature of the business. The communication level across the company creates our symbiotic culture. We hold weekly meetings in the factory where every employee has their voice and we talk through wins and opportunities both personal and professional. This happens at different levels within the company as well. I have always felt that all of my ideas, whether implemented or not, are heard and respected.
Amy with her niece and nephew