Amelia Thompson finds things. As a senior materials management specialist for RTD, her job is to work with vendors to track down and purchase the items that are needed by the agency’s frontline employees. For the first two years that Thompson did this work, she bought mostly bus parts, body shop products and some custodial items.
Then COVID-19 hit – and RTD needed products it had never purchased before: disposable masks, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer. This urgent new reality had Thompson chasing down leads anywhere she could find them, talking to people she had never met, working with companies she had never heard of before, then hoping for the best. Throughout the pandemic, she has seen firsthand what a challenge it is for companies to produce items in the large quantities RTD needs – and for a government agency to compete with hospitals and big companies to get these items in hand.
Thompson brings a perspective honed from experience across the agency. The California native joined RTD in 2015 as a bus cleaner and worked in the warehouse as a parts clerk, which means she knows how the things she purchases will be used and stored. “I know what our people would be looking for,” she said. When Thompson talks to vendors, she’s considering what items will be most useful and necessary to her colleagues, to keep them safe amid the pandemic. The drive is personal: Her father-in-law is an RTD bus operator.
“It does put quite a bit of pressure on me,” Thompson said, joking. In all seriousness, she added, “I don’t have control of the entire supply chain, so I do what I can to make the process as smooth and as fast as possible, from where I’m in control of my part of it.”
Some aspects of Thompson’s work take months, if not years, to complete. She enjoys wrapping up details. For that reason, sourcing items during a global pandemic has provided more immediate satisfaction, she said: “As soon as something is purchased and received, I feel like my job is done.”