case studies

Avoiding the Single-Supplier MRO Trap

Following a merger of two first-tier automotive companies, the new enterprise needed to rationalize $400M of annual MRO spend across sixty global production facilities while ensuring continuity of operations. This initiative required an integration effort of unprecedented size and complexity for the team.

Implementing an Optimal Two-Tier MRO Supply Base

At the outset, there were over 100 MRO suppliers: 10% of the total supply base. This was the result of long-standing, autonomous purchasing at the plant level. Distributed buyers had been given free rein to purchase what they needed when they needed it, and to select the supplier(s) they wanted to buy it from. Historical spend was only available internally at the aggregate level, and while it was “directionally accurate”, item level detail had to be collected from suppliers and then combined and cleansed before sourcing could begin.

The project objectives were:
1.  Standardize and combine the two MRO supply chains
2. Maximize savings
3. Complete the project as quickly as possible


Tenzing’s deep MRO experience allowed them to build credibility at the plant level, leading to increased knowledge transfer and company-wide adoption of best practices.

Tenzing laid a foundation for long-term success by connecting the company's executive leaders with the leadership teams of their strategic MRO suppliers.


Provided perspective on how the extensive list of MRO spend subcategories should be consolidated, keeping in mind the needs of distributed buyers and centralized procurement.


Assumed full responsibility for the MRO sourcing effort, including project management, internal communications, and transfer of responsibility as the client team reached full scale.


Set strategic (corporate) and tactical (plant-level) action plans in motion while establishing the expectations of the MRO suppliers contracted for the majority of the spend.

The CPO was able to secure an actionable mandate and organization-wide support from the CEO and head of operations. This plus, proactive budget reductions, incented all teams to engage in the sourcing effort, ultimately generating over $30M in annual savings.

There were preconceived notions—about some of the largest players in the industrial supply industry. These assumptions needed to be addressed and overcome as part of the sourcing and supplier evaluation process. Several large suppliers played a critical role in achieving the intended scale and impact in the MRO category.

A triple win—better supplier performance, lower costs, easier to manage

Many companies attempt to consolidate MRO into one or two strategic suppliers. This often results in those suppliers operating well outside their “sweet spot”—the suppliers are thereby overcommitted and often under-deliver. Tenzing experts’ know-how and insights into the MRO market and individual suppliers’ capabilities, enabled the client to avoid this trap and find a more optimal solution. The existing supply base of several hundred suppliers was rationalized to 5 strategic suppliers, each playing to their strengths and about 20 specialty suppliers with capabilities in critical niches. The new supply base is performing better at lower costs while being easier to manage—a triple win.

Above and Beyond

Tenzing successfully bridged the interests and cultures of the company’s centralized, corporate procurement and its distributed plant-level buyers.

Above and Beyond