I have a job that is easy to love. I search the globe to find the best products and ingredients for our private brand, Member’s Mark. Whether I’m walking through agave fields in northern Mexico or surveying lush, sunlit olive groves in the Mediterranean Basin, I’m on a mission to find people who really know their product and are passionate about what they do. Finding this combination of passion and know-how is the secret to successful sourcing.

Have you ever wondered how the items you buy were developed or where they came from? For Sam’s Club, it all starts with our members.

For example, our members told us they wanted an olive oil that tastes great, has the right aroma and consistency, and comes in a bottle that they’d be proud to display in their kitchens. Our product development team used this feedback to determine the specifications for a first-rate olive oil, right down to the granular recipe. Once product development got the specs sorted out, my team stepped in.

We caught a transatlantic flight to Italy. There we walked the orchards and talked to growers, learning as much as we could about relevant factors like harvest times and local agricultural practices. We also studied how the product is processed, manufactured, and packaged in the region. The sourcing team used these findings to figure out the best way to get a premium-quality olive oil on our shelves – all at a price our members would approve of. Shortly thereafter, Member’s Mark 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil was created!

It’s a very intricate and detailed process, but it’s always exciting and we get to meet so many incredible people from around the world.

When we were searching for a supplier to produce coconut oil, I traveled to the Philippines. There I found a family that has been in the business since Spanish Colonial Times. Their knowledge of the product was incredible, and seeing old photographs of their grandparents and great-grandparents processing coconut oil was really inspiring. I got to visit the original family home on the factory grounds - the furnishings hadn’t changed since the supplier’s grandparents lived there so it was like stepping back in time. It was an experience I’ll never forget.

And on a recent sourcing trip for spices, I met with a family that has been at the forefront of environmental and sustainable production methods in Vietnam. This was a rewarding trip – not only were we potentially sourcing a great Member’s Mark product, but we were doing something that spoke to our members’ values at the same time.

I often say that I not only have the best job in the company, but that I also have the best job in the industry. I get to travel the world, experience many different cultures, and meet unique people who are so passionate about what they do. Even better, I get to bring that passion to our members through our Member’s Mark brand.