Tackling New Challenges

During her 13-year career in the industry, Donna Perkins has come a long way. Her enthusiasm and desire to learn drive her success.

As pricebook manager for Calloway Oil Co., Perkins maintains costs and retails for all items in the company’s 23 E-Z Stop Food Mart stores in Tennessee. She also handles vendor issues, cost exceptions and project management duties for Calloway Oil on various IT projects. Most recently, she was instrumental in leading the company’s effort to convert its stores and company headquarters to PDI’s Enterprise system.

Perkins aims to help Calloway maximize the investment in its new software. “We have a lot more information at our fingertips now,” she said. “We need to use that market basket and shelf space analysis to become more profitable and efficient.”

While Perkins thrives on technical projects, her favorite part of the job—and the industry as a whole—is the people. “This company is full of really great employees and really smart people, and I enjoy working with them. I also love attending industry functions, talking to other retailers and finding out what makes them successful.”

Getting Started
When Perkins started at Calloway Oil in 1997 she joined the payroll team and made an immediate impact.

“When Marty Calloway hired me, he said payroll could be reduced to two days a week, so that was my goal—to get it done in two days a week.”

Within just a couple weeks, she reached that goal, leaving her time to learn different aspects of the company. Her first lesson was in IT.

“We were changing out store PCs and the hardware provider needed someone to help him. Since I was free three days a week I helped basically rebuild all the PCs and put them in the stores,” Perkins said. “Because I installed all the software, I became an advanced user, which led to heading the POS interface, and then that led to my current role as pricebook manager.”

Perkins could not have imagined that she’d one day be educating retailers on technology back when she was a college student at the University of South Florida, gaining her bachelors degree in Spanish. Her degree, however, has come in handy in her current role as she occasionally translates signs and other materials into Spanish for the stores that serve Hispanic populations.

Succeeding Today
As pricebook manager, Perkins finds the biggest challenge is gaining vendor cooperation in providing good data from the get-go. Teaching vendors why the cost per square inch is so important is the key to profitability, she said.

Perkins’ desire to educate vendors drove her to PCATS, where she has been a member for four years now and currently chairs the lottery group.

“One thing I focus on in that group is instant ticket management, which is a huge risk for all retailers who handle lottery, due to instance of theft,” she said. “There needs to be improvement in the ability to handle that inventory well and minimize our risk for loss.”

As for the future, Perkins sees herself working for Calloway for a long time to come. “I would like to continue to push this organization forward in the area of retail and make it as profitable as possible,” she said. “As for the industry, I’d like to see more cooperation among vendors and retailers and to see improvements in lottery management. If I can see those things in my lifetime I’d be very happy.”

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