Tony Blevins, aka the Blevinator, is the world’s most renowned person in procurement. He has single-handedly structured Apple’s most significant deals over the past 20+ years, including Apple Park. In 2022, he stepped down from his position, but this isn’t about that. Instead, this is about how he created the most aggressive deals with Apple’s suppliers.
Foxconn, Pegatron, Wistron, Luxshare, and Samsung are several of the strategic suppliers Apple works with to achieve its mission-critical hardware goals. Let’s be honest, anything Apple does is mission-critical. Tony was in charge of Apple’s entire vendor supply chain experience and his super power was conducting price negotiations with each of these suppliers.
I’m not going to talk about key procurement processes which include scoring tactics or supporting documents. Tony Blevins evaluated suppliers and made decisions that weren’t always reliant on price nor process. Tony had a power play that no one else had, and it wasn’t the money behind Apple or Apple’s name.
Tony was fearless when it came to negotiating. An innate trait that flourished as he grew in experience and understanding of the requirements. Tony has a great mind and an ability to digest not just requirements but every aspect of those requirements, which gives him the foresight to negotiate about each spec down to the very last screw.
Tony loves technology and Catapult caters to his unique process which ultimately was a fully customized experience tailored uniquely to each of the Request For Proposals (“RFPs”) he was executing. This includes inviting any supplier based on predetermined filters or a unique evaluation process to document why and how he selected a winning vendor (we all love Compliance).
After Tony received everyone’s RFP responses, he would bring in key stakeholders, the Apple team would then narrow the suppliers bidding down to three and ultimately would invite them to Apple Park to perform a Finalist meeting. In this next phase of negotiations Tony would not only have all of the power, even though nothing is built without the supplier, he would then pin them in conferences rooms right next to each other so they could not only see one another but it would give Tony the opportunity to structure the best deals by going from room to room.
As suppliers arrived for the finalist meeting with their C-Suite, they would negotiate and price aggressively to win. No one wanted to leave Apple Park without a deal even if it wasn’t a great one for them.
There is internal talk that as Apple Park was being designed, the arrangement of conference rooms would accommodate the negotiating strategy Blevins had implemented to instill fear faster than usual to lower suppliers’ fees.
Tony discussed pricing, timelines, and quality requirements with each Supplier and then he would take a break. During that break, he would walk out of one room and go to the next, having the same conversation. After finishing those conversations, he would go back to the first room, informing them that they were overpriced, forcing them to lower their fee. He would rinse and repeat this process multiple times until he felt he couldn’t get any better of a deal.
This tactic was a brilliant move because each of these suppliers knew that they would likely financially break even and possibly even lose revenue on Apple, but the world would know they were doing a job for one of the most prestigious companies in the world. This in turn would bring in additional revenue to supplement the loss from Apple from other paying customers. Blevins knew this, and the suppliers did too, which allowed each party to walk away with a successful outcome even though they lowered their price by 20-30% before stepping foot in Apple Park.
Catapult is the category leader in custom RFP experiences across every industry and use case. Catapult currently supports over $720 Billion in RFx spend.