Taking Stock

Kazen CoffeyI got my first exposure to the gases and welding industry about 12 years ago while working for a fabrication company. We used a lot of industrial gas and welding consumables in our day-to-day operations. TWSCO (Houston, TX) was our supplier for those products. They were a phenomenal partner and over time, I built a great relationship with TWSCO that culminated with them offering me a management trainee position.

I accepted, and made the switch in August of 1999. I knew a lot about the products that I used in my previous job, but learning all the product lines took some time. Fortunately, I had some great trainers who gave me an excellent on-the-job education. I spent about three months working the sales counter and then another six learning inventory control. Then, I settled into my permanent position as purchasing manager. About three years later, the company decided to adopt a centralized distribution strategy that involved me taking over the hardgoods side of the business.

Today I am the company’s supply chain manager. That means I work out of the company’s main hub where I’m responsible for the distribution of hard goods and packaged gas. I also am responsible for purchasing the inventory for the facility. We stock a wide range of products in the industrial gas, bulk gas, microbulk, specialty gas and welding supply categories. It takes a great deal of analysis to keep everything at the right level. Further complicating things is the recession we’ve all been hit with. I’ve had to analyze what products are most likely to move in this climate and eliminate those that won’t.

I also oversee four managers and about 40 employees. If I had to describe my management style, I would say I take a people-first approach. Some managers believe it’s their way or the highway, I take a different stance. I try to figure out what motivates each of my employees individually and use it to get the most out of them. There’s no real shortcut to pulling it off. I have to put in the time with each individual discovering what makes them tick. It’s an effort I don’t mind making. TWSCO is a family-owned business and we’re committed to treating our employees as such. We expect all of our employees to come in here ready to work for us, but understanding that we’re going to work just as hard for them. Everyone here is on the same page. It truly makes coming to work each day a joy.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Kazen Coffey Meet the Author
Kazen Coffey is Supply Chain Manager for TWSCO in Houston, TX, and on the Web at www.twsco.com.