Larry Montreuil: True Blue

Larry Montreuil has been director of supply chain management at JetBlue Airways in New York since 2003.

Responsibilities: Strategic sourcing, contracts and purchasing.

Experience: Supervisor, materials management, New York Air; manager, logistical planning and provisioning, Continental Airlines; director of purchasing, Trump Shuttle; director of purchasing, Queens Surface Corp.

Education: B.S., aeronautical industrial technology, Arizona State University, 1981.

I didn’t originally plan to work in supply chain management. I started as a reliability analyst with New York Air, but quickly moved to managing the repair cycle for airplane components. I grew interested in the complexity of the business-to-business transactions that happen behind the scenes, and the opportunity to take costs out of those thousands of transactions.

I also enjoyed planning, forecasting, and collaborating with peers, as well as sourcing, negotiating, and managing suppliers. All my jobs since then have involved sourcing and procurement.

At JetBlue, I manage the teams in charge of strategic sourcing, contracts, and purchasing.

The strategic sourcing group focuses on the larger spending areas across the company. We work with the business units to determine their needs, then help them source those requirements.

After the company awards the business, the contracts team develops a contract and conducts negotiations. We also maintain JetBlue’s contracts database.

The purchasing team handles buying all items other than aircraft parts—everything from onboard snacks for passengers to office equipment and supplies.

One of the biggest deals my team negotiated is a contract for engine maintenance. We bundled all the engine work we might need into a single cost-per-flight-hour. That way, our costs vary with the opportunity to generate revenue with each airplane.

Following a highly competitive bidding process, we formed a strategic relationship that worked out well for both JetBlue and the maintenance supplier. Our costs are predictable, because engine hours are based on our flight schedule. That makes the supplier’s revenue stream predictable, too.

Because airlines are extremely competitive, and margins are small, we operate under intense cost pressures—while never compromising safety. And the pace of work is very quick.

Trying to hit budget targets, and staying mindful of the calendar to make sure we lock in deals on time, creates tremendous pressure. We also support projects with specific deadlines, whether we’re starting service in a new city or getting seats delivered for a new aircraft. It’s a dynamic, but exciting, environment.

The biggest project my team is currently engaged in is overhauling the supply chain group. Historically, JetBlue’s procurement has been decentralized. As the company matures, we’re trying to give procurement policies and processes more structure.

Among other changes, we want the business units to use our contracts database more consistently. Using the procurement system provides better documentation and more discipline. And the rigor of a competitive process yields better deals.

Even without the database, when our supply chain team asks suppliers for quotes, we get a different response than when a business unit approaches suppliers on its own. When suppliers see a procurement request come through, they realize there will be competition.

Running transactions through an e-procurement system will drive more of that kind of response from the supply bases, and create greater savings in the long run.

The Big Questions

What was your scariest career decision?

Going to work for the Trump Shuttle when it was just getting started. It was a great challenge, and it was fun to help build a startup into a viable air carrier.

When you’re not working, what do you most enjoy doing?

My responsibilities at home keep me busy, but I enjoy biking and kayaking. I also serve on the board of trustees for the village of New Hyde Park, N.Y., where I am the deputy mayor.

What would be your alter ego dream job?

Captain of a shrimp boat on the Gulf of Mexico.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, which three artists’ music would you want with you?

The Rolling Stones, the Allman Brothers, and Muddy Waters.

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