One day a request came into Martha Wilding’s office as a buyer for Salt Lake Community College for a $10,000 piece of equipment that you can fit into the palm of your hand.
Naturally curious and, as always, taking a pragmatic approach to her job, which entails being a kind of gatekeeper for purchases over $1,000 at the College, she went and checked it out.
“I said, ‘No, I don’t know what this widget is,’” Wilding recalled saying at the time. “It’s just fun. I love the learning piece of it.” She ultimately approved the purchase.
And when you’re a buyer for the College, sometimes you get to do really cool stuff, like name the airplane you just bought for the aviation program. Or you get to purchase a human cadaver for the Health Sciences department.
“They name them in Health Sciences,” Wilding said about the cadavers. But she does know whether she’s buying a male or female from SLCC’s source at the University of Utah.
“’What’s great about my job is that it’s never ever the same. Every day is different,” she added. “I’m constantly doing research. Our workload is crazy all year long. We kick butt for the amount of work we have to process.”
Wilding estimated that a group of three buyers handle about 1,000 purchase orders or between 1,600 and 2,000 requisitions each year.
“We do our best, all three buyers, going 100 miles per hour,” she said.
But her office is not always the most popular when they have to say ‘No’ or delay a purchase until all the rules and regulations, mainly the Utah Procurement Code, are followed.
“That is the law, and that is what we have to follow,” she said. “We love our jobs, and we want to keep them – so, we follow them.”
And she really gets a bang out of making people happy and saving the College money. Really.
“It’s rewarding to me when I go out on a request for quotes or bids and can say, ‘Yes, I just saved the College $10,000 on this or $1 million on that because it went out to bid,’” Wilding said, noting how a new vendor will sometimes an “knock the socks” off of her and offer a better, more efficient service. “I’m a big believer in exceptional customer service.”
Whether it’s desks, chairs or the latest computer or technological equipment, Wilding and her colleagues are an integral part of the student experience at SLCC.
“I think we’re a big part of that,” she said. “We take pride in that, and we do our best to expedite orders.”
A quick scan of Wilding’s office reveals she’s not all business. Photos of grandkids and her grown son and daughter soften up the place and even get her all mushy.
“It’s cool to see my kids in a parental role,” she said. “This gets me choked up. Just when you think you can’t be more proud of your kids. That’s my passion – I just love, love, love my family.”
As someone who likes to get up at 6:30 a.m. on Fridays and golf with friends during the summer, Wilding’s “Bucket List” includes someday golfing with her four grandchildren.
This single lady, originally from El Paso, also loves sports and, in particular, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, whose life-sized poster used to hang in her old office.
“I really miss him,” she said about the Jeter poster.
The Tomboy she used to be until about the seventh grade – it was about then she discovered boys are interesting – is still just under the surface.
“Boys in my neighborhood – I would kick their butts in sports,” said Wilding, one of six siblings who grew up between younger and older brothers. “I still am (a Tomboy). I still love shootin’ hoops.”
And when other family members might be watching the news or a sitcom on TV, Wilding is usually watching ESPN or listening to sports on the radio – that is, if she’s not lifting weights, in a spin class, snowshoeing or hiking.
“I’m a sports radio junkie,” she admitted. And she’s addicted to her family. “You get me talking about baseball, the Yankees, my family, I just go on and on.”
And guys, if you’re thinking of asking Wilding on a date, you’ve been warned.
“If they say, ‘I hate baseball,’ I say, ‘Nice to have met you,’” she laughed.