"I pride myself on my people skills as a purchasing professional," says
Mr. Barna. "You need to be able to roll up your sleeves and get into
the 'trenches.' Your chances of success increase if you can stay close
to your engineering group, production staff, and inventory. I expect that
staff members know the parts that they buy and how they are used. This
understanding allows for more efficient buying and warehouse space utilization."
graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee,
Mr. Barna started his purchasing career in 1978
buyer for Century Industries (Milwaukee, WI), a large hardware distributor.
Six years later, he joined Lyons Safety Inc. (Menomonee Falls, WI) and
served as a purchasing agent until 1988, when he moved to his current
built-in, undercounter refrigeration product manufacturer, U-Line Corp.
According to Mr. Barna, it
was his experiences at each of these companies that have helped him to
discover the key to being a successful purchasing
executive. "Having worked in purchasing departments for mid-size,
privately-held companies my entire career, I've developed a firm belief
in the old adage,
'Watch the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves,'" he
explains. "As a purchasing manager, you need to be able to walk the
fine line between developing a close, mutually beneficial partnership
with suppliers, but not lose your ability to be aggressive and results-oriented.
I never lose sight of the fact that I always need to be concerned with
how my decisions will affect the bottom line of my company."
of fulfilling this ideology, he says, is understanding the aspects of
other operations within the company - a professional objective he has
for himself. "One of my greatest professional challenges is to better
understand sales and marketing trends," notes Mr. Barna. "Most
purchasing departments tend to narrowly focus on MRP reports and internal
inventory data. I believe we need to expand our professional scope by
learning more about the markets we serve, and the directions they are
then can we be proactive in our support to sales and more significantly
affect the company's profitability."
Mr. Barna describes his management
philosophy as "hands-on," but
shies away from micro managing. "You need to have confidence in your
staff and allow them to grow. Only then can a department's full potential
be utilized," he says.
At the end of the day, Mr.
Barna spends his time with his wife of 16 years, Chris, and his two daughters
10 years old, and Katie, who
is 13. An avid reader and collector of American first edition novels,
Mr. Barna also enjoys collecting wine and serves as an in-house wine
to U-Line, conducting wine seminars for distributors and dealers.