Group purchasing brings savings for supplies, services

When she orders church and school supplies for Hales Corner Lutheran Church, Julie Crowe likes to track the discounts from the catalog prices.

“I do keep track of the catalog list price and the savings are substantial,” she says of the LCMS Group Purchasing Agreement (GPA) with Office Depot that her Wisconsin congregation and other congregations use.Web-GPA1.jpg

 “In some cases we save as much as half.  Although it’s not usually that much, we almost always get a better price,” Crowe says.

A much smaller congregation, Salem Lutheran Church and School in Farrar, Mo., will often produce up to 4,000 copies during a week. So, the staff appreciates the Oce  copier that also serves as printer in a network of 10 office and classroom computers.

“We were searching for the best product at the best price,” explains Salem’s secretary, Linda Dreyer. Recalling information from a mailing, a teacher alerted the school to the LCMS Group Purchasing Agreement. “We’re satisfied — in fact we’re almost spoiled with it,” Dreyer says of the new machine.

Large or small, LCMS congregations are finding they can save money through economies of scale with the LCMS Group Purchasing Agreement (GPA), according to Mike Magee, director, Group Purchasing Agreement. “I encourage congregations to look at programs like GPA and ways to free funds for ministry.”

Magee says GPA harnesses the buying power of all the churches and schools, since vendors are willing to offer discounts and additional services when there are prospects for volume sales.  He adds that the Synod has sought out vendors who offer services, materials, and equipment that can be used by congregations and schools.  He notes that the vendors are screened, since acceptance implies a certain degree of endorsement.

“We expect a level of quality and service,” he adds.  “Our vendors understand that through this GPA endorsement, they are really representing us — the LCMS, and because of that, they are held to a higher standard.”

Office Depot is the sole vendor of office supplies through the GPA program, Magee notes. One GPA benefit is that the company ships at no charge for catalog orders. Organizations also can arrange a card to obtain discounts for in-store purchases.

GPA is available to all LCMS schools, congregations, and Recognized Service Organizations. Information and contacts for specific vendors can be found at www.lcms.org/gpa.  Magee can be contacted at 800-248-1930, ext. 2330, for vendor information or to answer questions.

During times of economic slowdown, Magee believes GPA can help LCMS organizations be better stewards of their resources. While he promotes GPA through ads, newsletters, and mailings, he says, “We’d love to see more churches and schools participating.  The more organizations we have on board, the more money we are able to save all participants in the GPA through increased bargaining power.”

Office Depot also is currently the only GPA vendor of janitorial supplies. Other vendors are Academic Superstore, computer software and peripherals; Kansas City Audio-visual, equipment and instructional technology; Oce and RISO, printers and duplicators; Tandus, floor coverings; and Martin Ott, pipe organs.

Service providers are Consolidated Fire Protection, inspection, sprinklers and alarms; IML, audience response and meeting services; Protect My Ministry, employment and volunteer background screening; and Verizon Business, telecommunication services.  Four moving companies — Allied Van Lines/Federal, Bekins Van Lines/Worldwide Relocation, Stevens Van Lines, and United Van Lines/A-Mrazek — are part of GPA.

Most GPA vendors restrict their products and services to LCMS organizations, but the moving companies will serve any member of an LCMS congregation.

Posted February 5, 2009

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