1925 – Unlocking Procurement Potential with Conrad Snover

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the CEO of ProcureAbility, Conrad Snover.

Conrad Snover, the CEO of ProcureAbility, discussed the pivotal role of procurement in business success and how ProcureAbility is revolutionizing this function. It assists organizations in acquiring essential services and materials, handling technology upgrades and process improvements, enhancing supplier performance, and optimizing logistics. 

Conrad highlighted ProcureAbility's journey from a consulting firm to a comprehensive procurement services provider, emphasizing their adaptability and customized solutions for clients. This flexibility helps businesses streamline their procurement processes.

He also discussed the evolving dynamics between suppliers and customers, noting that suppliers now need to provide value-added services and foster collaborative relationships to meet the changing needs of their customers and achieve shared success.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Overview of ProcureAbility's work in assisting companies with procurement needs
  • Challenges of procurement, including underfunding, lack of training, and underutilization
  • Importance of efficient procurement practices in saving money for large companies
  • Evolving role of suppliers in providing value-added services to customers
  • Insights from Conrad's experience as a professional cyclist and their relevance to business mindset
  • ProcureAbility's evolution from a consulting firm to a comprehensive procurement services provider
  • Emphasis on the importance of collaborative relationships between suppliers and customers
  • Need for procurement organizations to upgrade skills, platforms, and processes

About Conrad Snover:

Conrad Snover, CEO of ProcureAbility, has over 25 years of experience in strategic procurement and supply chain management. He excels in client success, employee engagement, and product innovation. He has launched and managed numerous programs focusing on strategy design, procurement transformation, category management, strategic sourcing, supplier development, and organizational sustainability.

Conrad has consulted for Fortune 1000 companies across various industries, including oil and gas, utilities, technology, banking and insurance, hospitality, and healthcare. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Utility Supply Management Alliance (USMA) and the Utility Purchasing Management Group (UPMG). He is a sought-after presenter at national supply chain conferences. Conrad holds a bachelor's degree in business from the University of Washington. In his free time, he enjoys adventuring outdoors with his family and is a retired sponsored athlete and aspiring ski mountaineer.

About ProcureAbility:

ProcureAbility is a leading provider of procurement services, offering a comprehensive suite of solutions that include advisory, managed services, digital, staffing, and recruiting. ProcureAbility has focused exclusively on procurement organizations’ success for over 25 years, helping clients transform their operations and drive growth.

Combining leading methodologies, analytics, market intelligence, and industry benchmarks, ProcureAbility employs a uniquely flexible and customizable service delivery model. Trusted by global organizations of all sizes, ProcureAbility excels in elevating procurement functions and enabling clients to reimagine what’s possible.

Tweetable Moments:

14:49 – “The most powerful lesson for me is to focus on being in the now, to be present and not overly concerned with what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow.”

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out ProcureAbility’s website at

Check out ProcureAbility on LinkedIn at

Check out ProcureAbility on Youtube at

Check out Conrad Snover on LinkedIn at

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Are you looking for introductions to partners, investors, influencers and clients? Well, I've had private conversations with over 2000 leaders asking them where their best business comes from. I've got a free video you can watch with no opt in required, where I'll share the exact steps necessary to be 100% inbound in your industry over the next 6 to 8 months, with no spam, no ads, and no sales. What I teach has worked for me for over 15 years, and has helped me create eight figures in revenue for my own companies. Just head to up my influence. Com and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for great guests. Go to up my influence. Com and click on podcast. I'd love to have you. With us right now. Conrad Snover Conrad, you are the CEO of Procure Ability. Your website is procure to our friend that's listening. Just kind of click on the show notes or click around and we have a direct link so that you can follow along.

Josh (00:01:21) - Conrad it's great to have you. Thanks for.

Conrad (00:01:23) - Having me. Good morning.

Josh (00:01:24) - Well, excited to talk about procure ability. also, I just, Conrad and I enjoy similar music. We'll just leave it at that. Conrad, thank you so much for joining us.

Conrad (00:01:35) - Yeah, it's great to be with you.

Josh (00:01:36) - Well, give us an overview of the work that procure ability does.

Conrad (00:01:39) - Well, we're a professional services company. I mean, the name, the name of the company is Procure ability because we help companies with procurement. And, you know, every company does procurement. They buy things, right? They buy, services or materials that, that they need to run their business. Every company out there, large or small, every industry does procurement. So that's what we do. We 100% help companies do that. So you can imagine in the recent era of, constrained supply chain and difficult procurement environment that we had coming through Covid, business was pretty good. and gave everybody some visibility into what we do.

Josh (00:02:22) - And it's not just buying physical products. Right. So you're also assist. Are you also assisting with when you know company needs professional services. Is that. Yeah.

Conrad (00:02:34) - Yeah absolutely. So you know it's not you're right. It's not just materials. And it's not just services. And it's not just procurement either. We do a lot more outside of that. But it just it's kind of an easy way to think about it. But we are a services company. So anytime any company needs help at all with their procurement environment they call us now. What does that mean? Well, you know, maybe they need to upgrade their technology. That's an easy one. Everybody can understand that. Maybe they don't know how to implement technology. They want to fix their processes first. Maybe their technology is fine and their processes are broken. It takes forever to get something purchased and then contracted and then approved and then requisitioned and then ordered and then finally to the warehouse, or maybe they're having trouble with supplier performance, or maybe they're paying too much in logistics and transportation, and their supply chain function is broken with between warehousing, their warehousing, their suppliers, warehousing, their distribution network.

Conrad (00:03:35) - So it's that whole network, the supply chain, the movement of the procurement and the movement of the materials through their system where we help.

Josh (00:03:44) - Yeah. And so for someone that's not in this world, Conrad, would you mind just helping us understand why procurement can sometimes be quite a challenge? so, again, you know, a lot of folks on this, who listen to this might be more on the SMB side of things. but but can you kind of help us, give us just a procurement 101 and why? This is often rife with challenges.

Conrad (00:04:09) - You bet. First, it's fun to. What what I love about procurement, and I love about all business and sort of being a consultant and doing different projects. And it's about learning how the world works. There's so much out there that is critical to everyday business function and everyday, sort of corporate efficiency that a lot of people don't even know exists. And I would say procurement is kind of one of those things. It just happens in the background.

Conrad (00:04:36) - A small company, you know, maybe you're starting your own company. You just do it yourself, slightly larger company. Maybe you have several other people that do it. You know, even us, we're procurement focused company. It wasn't until we exceeded, oh, I don't know, $20 million in revenue to where we placed a specific focus on procurement, the very activity that we consult to our clients on how to improve. And the reason is, you know, most companies do it poorly. They waste money, they're inefficient. And when you're just doing a contract here or a contract there, you know, for for us, we're a professional services company. We don't buy much stuff. Our IT contract is probably our biggest contract. so we sourced that one very carefully. We negotiated that one very carefully. But then we'd have all these other little cats and dogs contracts that, that, that kind of, you know, if we spend, if we waste a little bit of money on them, meaning if we don't negotiate the very best deal, it's not the end of the world.

Conrad (00:05:32) - We don't waste a huge amount of money. and life goes on, but at a very large scale. Imagine a huge company, a large global manufacturing company, a huge energy company. They spend tens of millions and hundreds of millions of dollars on one thing. One little thing. And if we can negotiate an arrange and negotiate a better contract and arrange a better process, and maybe consolidate the supply base down so that they only have one company they're buying from, or maybe 2 or 3 for security of supply and for backup and that sort of thing. But if we optimize it, we can save a huge amount of money because we can save a small percentage of the purchase. But if the purchase is massive, it's $100 million and we save 10% of that. Save some, you know, $10 million. Boom. Just like that. So this is a we can have very, very, very significant impacts on bottom line, on profitability, on cost of goods sold, for improving the way procurement is run.

Conrad (00:06:39) - But it's not just negotiating a better deal. We do a lot of things around actually establishing a procurement department. Like I said, as you're growing, maybe you don't have one. And then at some point you need to have one person in your company focused on it. Well, eventually you need to deliver it function. You need a leader. You need a staff. You need contracting experts. You need your negotiating experts. And and you need an official procurement department. Then you need technology. Then it interweaves with the rest of the business. Then you can optimize and figure out how to do it right and really save some money.

Josh (00:07:12) - Yeah. what do current procurement teams typically look like and where might they benefit from having some outside guidance?

Conrad (00:07:23) - So a lot of the history of procurement is that it's underfunded undertrained under skilled, underutilized and underappreciated. And. It's, I guess, historically been viewed. And I'm going back here now, 20, 30 years historically viewed as a back office transactional function. And now with especially with constrained supply chain.

Conrad (00:07:49) - And what we're seeing, it's like front page of the New York Times every week there's some supply chain constraint, whether it's a, you know, a shipping container, hitting a bridge, a container ship getting stuck in the canal, global supply chain constraints. You know, the list is endless. You know, cyber risk of suppliers attacking, or. Excuse me, attacking the cybersecurity penetration from suppliers, supply chains that are accessing. And, the company's network supply chain and procurement now has this global. Presence. It has importance now to make sure that the company manages risk and, does so in a way that allows sustainable operation. So if you take a function that historically was underappreciated and underfunded and all those things, and now it's front and center and very, very strategic, the question is, have we kept up? Have the people kept up? Has the skills kept up? Have the processes as the like the position with the organization? And the answer for the most part is no. And so that's where we come in.

Conrad (00:09:02) - We help procurement organizations upgrade everything, upgrade their skills, their platform, their process to to become current. And it's usually a combination of of all three of those things. It's the process that they follow, the technology platform, the skills of the people and you know, the mindset and the attitude of the people in general. So, you know, it is a people business. It's a services function. Procurement is is staffed by people. So I would say to answer your question most succinctly, it's a resourcing issue.

Josh (00:09:35) - Yeah. So certainly I'm thinking of those that might be on the supplier side, right, that are listening to this right now. you know, we provide professional services. I, as a company, want us to be very attractive to those who we make, who may be making decisions, for fulfilling needs. Right. What can I do as a service provider? As a supplier, just to be much more attractive to do business with from the procurement side?

Conrad (00:10:08) - You know, it's a great I love this.

Conrad (00:10:10) - And, I love this question because. There's so many, so many angles to this.

Josh (00:10:18) - I love it too, because it's incredibly self-serving.

Conrad (00:10:21) - Exactly. So what we what we've seen. I'll give you a quick metric, which is which to start the answer. About 15 years ago, our customers were about 50% materials and 50% services, meaning the spend every year the amount of money they spent, their checks they wrote, 50% went to buy materials, 50% went to to service companies. Now that number is something like 80% services. And so what that means is suppliers around the world, in all disciplines are increasing their value added services that they deliver. So they they used to sell a part and now they sell a part with design and engineering or kidding prefab. some other, you know, maybe inventory management, maybe restocking. So they wrap services around it to make them more sticky, more valuable to their customers, and also to improve their own margins. So it's actually a win win where the customer says, I need my life to be easier.

Conrad (00:11:27) - How can you help me? Supplier. What else can you do for me that you maybe haven't done before? And supplier says, well, this is great because I make more money, I make more margin, I increase my business. And so both in that in that collaborative relationship, both companies succeed. And I think this really opens the door to one of my passions is that. Historically, procurement has sort of beat on the table and said, give me 10% less. Josh, I need you to give me your give me your stuff. But you know I need to pay you last year. Prices are too high. and, you know, this whole, like, negotiating, Glengarry Glen Ross kind of thing. And that's just not what we need to be doing anymore. We need to be working together in a collaborative way. More of alliance relationship where there really are no more supplier customer relationships. It's more customer to customer relationship. And so we treat each other with respect. We share information.

Conrad (00:12:31) - I tell you what I need. You tell me what you can do. And together we uplift the the interaction between the two of us. So so back to your question. Do more services, figure out what your customer needs that you can, you know, how can you enhance what you give them today and make sure that they know that you're there for their success. And then you can work together on increasing the business.

Josh (00:12:53) - Before we, kind of talk about, you know, where folks can go from here and kind of talk about procure ability itself. I'd love to ask you about your experience in professional cycling. you were sponsored athlete. and mostly what I'm curious about, you know, and those kind of endurance type sports, what have you, like, if you were to talk to a leadership team in relay. Here's a couple of things, or a thing or two that I've learned that professional or at least, you know, really being a competitive athlete has helped me with professionally. Anything come to mind?

Conrad (00:13:31) - Yeah, a little bit of a shift here, but then I'll bring it back to the procurement space because, you know, we'll keep the theme, the thread running through this conversation as well.

Conrad (00:13:39) - You know, the. I think the most powerful lesson for me. There's probably several in there, of course, time management, discipline, focus, all those things. Right. But the one most, most powerful for me is to focus on being in the now, to be present. And not overly concerned with what happened yesterday or what's going to happen, what might happen tomorrow. So if you're in a bike race. You really need to be worried about the bike race. I need to be thinking about where I'm going to apex the turn, where I'm going to attack, or in my case, how I'm going to catch up when I've been shot off the back because I'm not strong enough. And, and really just focusing only on that in the heat of a bike race. I'm not worried about the emails. I'm not worried about what to do list my calendar, how busy my calendar is on Monday. I'm just worried about this right here and right now. And it doesn't mean that there's no planning, right? I mean, you're you're you allow yourself the capacity and the platform to do this because you've you've trained and you've planned and you've arrived.

Conrad (00:14:49) - You, so so I don't mean like, you ignore everything else and you just focus on this, but it's kind of a stoicism mindset where you just you really focus on what's happening right now. And I think bringing that back to business, I think that's very, very critical that we don't get overly wrapped up in, maybe a mistake that we made yesterday and, geez, you know, really letting it beat you up. I mean, you want to learn from mistakes and move on, but there's no reason to get beat up about mistakes. There's also no reason to be overly concerned and unnecessarily worried about what might happen in the future, because it may or may not happen. And so we want to prepare for, a challenging environment in the future. Security of supply. Sustainable supply chain. Back up suppliers. Back up shipping routes for when the canal gets blocked. suppliers in different locations in case one gets hit by a hurricane. So you plan all this stuff out? But right here, right now is what we're focused on today.

Conrad (00:15:51) - Now, one last connection for you in the procurement space. So I recently moved and was cleaning out the garage, and I was sort of shocked at my lack of best practices in inventory management because I had bike parts from many, many years ago. And, you know, that ties to my procurement, expertise in getting sponsorship. So I didn't have to pay for any of that stuff. And then my, inventory and supply chain expertise and, or lack thereof and letting it all pile up in my garage.

Josh (00:16:25) - So tell me just a bit about, procure ability itself. you know, obviously, I don't know of a organization that has your market dominance from the outside anyway. You're working with the biggest of the big, governments Campbell's, Cigna, DaVita, CenterPoint energy companies. and, you, Facebook, General Dynamics, Honda, IBM, the biggest of the big. give us just a glimpse of like, procure ability as an organization.

Conrad (00:17:00) - Yeah. You bet. So, I mentioned at the beginning of the discussion that we do our product.

Conrad (00:17:06) - What we deliver is procurement services. And so we do that in a number of different ways. We have a consulting practice where we come in and solve problems. We have a staffing practice where we can deploy a single individual to backfill. If somebody is out on maternity leave as an example, or you having companies having trouble growing or finding the right resource, we can just deploy somebody. We have a scaled solution of that to do long term implementation called managed services is a long term implementation of procurement. bandwidth. We also have technology. We have research analytics. So we have some other complimentary services for that. But we're basically a one stop shop for all things procurement. Now, we were formed in 1996 as just the consulting firm. That's how we started. A lot of us came from large consulting firms, the big the big marquee brand name firms. And, we decided that we didn't want to be in that environment where it was a little bit rigid in the way to deliver work or a project had to be of a certain size or a certain scale, or structured a certain way to make it work.

Conrad (00:18:09) - And we found that clients there was an underserved market for clients who needed whatever they needed. And so we said, sure, you want one person, we'll give you one person you want. 30 people will give you 30 people. You need a project to do this. We can do that. Absolutely. So we just said yes to all the all the options and built the company to be super, super flexible. So it's founded in 1996. And and we evolved from consulting to what I describe, where we have that big suite of complimentary services to do everything under the sun. And as it relates to procurement, now we're about 250 people. We're global. We have offices in, in Latin America and India. Most of our team is in the United States still, because that's where we started, and that's where the growth has been most of the time. we are a virtual company. We don't have an office. Everybody works at home, but also travels to their, their client site. We spend a lot of time working on site at our client's office location, hand in hand with the client to help solve problems that way.

Conrad (00:19:13) - Now, I can go into more if you want, but I'll pause there and check in.

Josh (00:19:16) - Yeah, for the sake of time, we've got about two minutes left, and so I'd love to make sure that someone who's listening to this podcast knows exactly where they go from here, who absolutely should be reaching out and and learning about procure ability, maybe grabbing a phone call, etc..

Conrad (00:19:33) - Yeah. So look, every company has needs in the procurement space and the supply chain space, whether it's optimizing and improving the operating environment to decrease cost. So to, to buy the same things you buy today, but at a better price or a better structure or a better supply chain improvement or more sustainable supply chain. And so. If you need help that you know, come find us at That's that's what we do.

Josh (00:20:03) - Excellent. All right. Conrad Snover again, CEO procure ability. Your website. Procure ability. Com Conrad it's been a great conversation. Thank you so much.

Conrad (00:20:14) - For the time. Josh enjoyed it.

Josh (00:20:21) - Thanks for listening to the Thoughtful Entrepreneur show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up my influence. Com and click on podcast. We believe that every person has a message that can positively impact the world. We love our community who listens and shares our program every day. Together we are empowering one another as thoughtful leaders. And as I mentioned at the beginning of this program, if you're looking for introductions to partners, investors, influencers, and clients, I have had private conversations with over 2000 leaders asking them where their best business comes from. I've got a free video that you can watch right now with no opt in or email required, where I'm going to share the exact steps necessary to be 100% inbound in your industry over the next 6 to 8 months, with no spam, no ads, and no sales. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create eight figures in revenue for my own companies.

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