The University of Georgia’s Procurement Office seeks to ensure that every area of campus has the supplies, materials, equipment and services they need to carry out their part of UGA’s mission.
But the pandemic has taken this job to an entirely new level.
“We have always had to be able to respond quickly to urgent needs, but in this situation, there have just been so many more urgent needs. The volume and the pace have changed,” said Assistant Procurement Officer Claire Boyd. “We’ve had to be even more agile than ever before.”
Since early 2020, Boyd and her team have had to quickly locate all sorts of items that aren’t on their usual shopping list, including air scrubbers, face masks, plexiglass shields and new signage, as well as tents and trailers so that dining services could serve students outside.
In the midst of it all, they’ve also sought to purchase goods from local businesses who are struggling during the pandemic. They bought hand sanitizer from ASW Distillery, an Atlanta-based company that added sanitizer to their product line when whiskey sales slowed. (Of the company’s six partners, five graduated from the University of Georgia.)
Another Georgia-based company that has supplied UGA is PPE Imports, a veteran-owned business that designs hand sanitizer dispensing stations that are product agnostic, meaning they can dispense any product in case a particular brand is unavailable.
“It’s really neat because you know you’re directly impacting people’s lives in a positive way,” said Boyd. “We talk to vendors who are facing challenging times and it’s great to be calling and saying that UGA is interested in purchasing from them. They’re so happy to know that the University of Georgia wants to do business with them.”
Boyd uses the wisdom she’s gained from being in UGA’s Procurement Office for 17 years as well as a little knowledge from her UGA degree, where she trained to be a middle school teacher. “Thinking quick on your feet, remaining calm, being flexible and eager to serve – those type of things,” she said.
But Boyd made sure to point out that it’s been a team effort. “Our Procurement Office is made up of individuals who are really tough and resilient, so we were, as a team, well positioned to serve at an even greater level when called upon,” she said “If a specific need was coming, we knew we had a whole team that could make it happen, regardless of what it was. That’s just who we are.”