5 Minutes with Victoria Stringham

Victoria, you didn’t take a traditional path to the world of synthetic turf, tell us how you finally made your way to AstroTurf.

Unlike most on our Sales team, my path to joining AstroTurf had nothing to do with a passion for sports or synthetic turf. I had always worked in sales and managing contracts, including as a real estate agent for many years representing clients. I’m a self-proclaimed “contract geek” who stumbled into cooperative purchasing and piggyback contracts when I worked as a Regional Sales Manager for a government technology company. In that role I met with different types of government agencies, both big and small – from large State agencies and municipalities, to small towns, universities and colleges, school districts and charter schools. I worked closely with government Purchasing staff and all types of buyers who used our software platform. I learned the ins and outs of government contracts and quickly realized the fastest and simplest way to a sale was through cooperative purchasing. So I focused on more relationship selling and leveraging co-op contracts to grow sales.

Nice! We like that you’re a “contract geek”! Sounds like the perfect fit for managing AstroTurf’s cooperative contracts. Is it true you knew some of our sales team before you started at AstroTurf?

Yes! Since 2012 I worked at The Cooperative Purchasing Network (TCPN) managing contract sales for the Southwest region and then moved to a Supplier Management role. AstroTurf had a TCPN contract award allowing me to work with sellers and distributors to bring awareness to cooperative purchasing. In 2017 the AstroTurf leadership recognized the need for our Sales team to have a dedicated person committed to manage and grow sales for our (now 8) different cooperative contracts, which led to my hire in January 2018. I love the challenge of growing our new program and truly enjoy working with each co-op organization, with our Sales team and network of distributor and track partners, and the continued interaction with government customers.

Why is cooperative purchasing such a buzz word, and what makes it so important to AstroTurf’s sales success?

Cooperative purchasing has experienced tremendous growth over the past 20 years and is now a legal government procurement method in all 50 states. It is truly a win-win for both Vendors and Buyers. Working for a first-class co-op organization created a more deeper understanding of the government buying experience and daily challenges faced by Procurement staff. Through the cooperative purchasing process, Buyers can legally piggyback on competitively awarded contracts, without conducting a new formal procurement. Cooperative purchasing contracts are used by states, cities, counties, universities and school districts in order to buy from vendors and suppliers like AstroTurf, without the time and expense of completing their own traditional RFP or IFB. It’s an easier sales process for everyone – with the potential for much higher margins – while owners stay in control by choosing the Vendor they want.

That almost sounds to good to be true… What’s the catch, and why would an agency NOT use a co-op contract?

I get asked that question from owners that aren’t familiar with this procurement method. They can’t believe they don’t have to manage the hassle of a formal bid process and instead can piggyback on an already-competed contract award. The challenge is that sometimes agencies aren’t open to using a co-op because they get stuck in how they’ve always done it a certain way. Other times we don’t find out about the project until the customer has already put the time and work into a formal solicitation and doesn’t want to cancel it. And yet another issue we face are those States with legislative statutes that don’t allow piggybacking for public works, capital improvement or construction projects. But at the end of the day, it’s always the agencies choice how to procure their field or track, and cooperative purchasing continues to gain momentum as the industry builds awareness of this ultra-convenient buying method.

It’s clear you are passionate about growing the new AstroTurf co-op program, and we’re excited to have you on the Sales team. Tell us what else you’re passionate about or other interests that you have.

Being outdoors is essentially my therapy, whether hiking or camping, running, playing soccer or golfing with friends. I’m an Arizona native and come from a large family, with most of us just 5 miles apart, so we get together frequently for family gatherings. And we remodeled our house last year so we do much of the hosting! I’m ridiculously blessed… I have two grown daughters, a partner of 10 years and a new son, and now my first grand baby, just a month old! I live by the motto that life is more full and happy when you’re surrounded by those you love.