WEIRTON - There are 150 affiliates of the Institute of Supply Management, but none in West Virginia.
Don Barber's career in supply chain management took him from his native West Virginia to positions in Arkansas, Illinois and Oklahoma back to a job in Jackson County. Between when he started out and now, the affiliate to which he belonged, the Mid Ohio Valley chapter in Parkersburg, disbanded.
"I found, like a lot of ISM members, the professional development activities, training and learning opportunities and the local networking to be very valuable at the start of my career," he said. The ISM had been known as the National Association of Purchasing Management until 2001.
West Virginia and Montana are the only two states without an active ISM affiliate, Barber noted.
The advantages for having an affiliate benefit not only supply-chain managers but small- to medium-sized companies, the kind that fill West Virginia's business community.
"The smaller the company, the more of a challenge it is to build the skillsets for the employees, and the more limited are the resources," he said. Barber said the ability to provide low-cost training and professional development and local networking, as well as professional volunteer and leadership opportunities means small- and medium-sized companies develop more clout to develop in-house their supply chain resources.
Where companies might have to pay $500 to $1,000 a day for training and development independently, affiliates of the ISM often receive free programs or pay up to $250 a day, often through satellite seminars. Regular meetings often include forums, plant tours, table-top and trade shows and
more, the ISM notes. Local networking also allows for training and learning among the supply chain professionals in an area.
Barber said he's gauging how West Virginia could set up its affiliate, perhaps with a statewide unit supporting smaller chapters where concentrations of people and industries with supply chain needs are.
"Ultimately, it will be determined by members," he said.
So far, Barber has, with limited resources, a website and limited media coverage, found 15 interested people. It takes 45 to start an affiliate, and Barber said he's aiming for more than that.
Membership is open to anyone interested in supply chain management, and crosses all manufacturing and service industries.
Educators in purchasing, supply chain, materials management or other fields and subjects may join, and there are grants and research scholarships available. Full-time college students also may join.
Barber noted there are more than 400 educators and more than 4,000 student members in the ISM.
Supply managers are involved in fields including contract negotiation and administration to allocation and positioning of resources, supplier evaluations, strategic planning, transportation and logistics, inventory control and management, problem solving, economic forecasting and more.
Interested supply chain professionals may register on the website for the formation of a West Virginia affiliate, www.ismwv.org, or send an e-mail to Barber at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the ISM West Virginia line at (304) 761-4416.
Signing up as an interested person on the website has no obligation, cost nor does it mean the person has agreed to join the organization when it forms, Barber noted.