Buying a win-win

Being a purchasing agent is more than just putting the squeeze on vendors, trying to extract every last drop of savings, said James Dubin, of Cherry Hill, who, in February, was laid off from his job as senior purchasing agent at Whitesell Companies in Delran. That might work in the short run, but it’s not the way to gain support when there’s an emergency or when other supply line falls short.

“I’m a very good shopper,” said Dubin, who said he used his skills to save $500,000 over the course of five years.  “I negotiate so it’s a win-win for both parties. When I worked at Whitesell, I had 400 or 500 vendors in my database and I tried to make sure all of them got fed. I made sure everyone got a piece of the economy from Whitesell.

James Dubin

“That way, if one of them can’t serve you, you already have your ducks in a row,” he said.

Dubin isn’t surprised his company made cuts – many lost their jobs before it was his turn to go. His company was in the middle of an industry that got smacked by the recession _ construction and property management. As senior purchasing agent, he was buying every thing from bricks for new buildings to floor cleaning fluid for the properties Whitesell was maintaining. The market downturn meant less need for bricks and fewer floors to clean. His subordinate was chosen to handle the job.

“I loved that job,” he said. “I’m a people person. I liked interacting with the vendors and with all the departments. You have to be able to deal with all kinds of personalities.”

These days, his hobby of buying and selling collectibles at flea markets has become more important than ever, not only for the money he earns, but for the mental stimulation and the opportunity to be outdoors and meeting people. “The flea market is a distraction,” he said. “It keeps my skills sharp.”

Dubin is hoping for another job in purchasing or in property management. If not, he’d like to re-certify as a teacher. He began his career as an elementary teacher with a degree from Temple University.

“I don’t think construction is going to come back for three or four years,” he said. “Banks aren’t giving money out and there’s plenty of existing property to go around.”

Update: As of December, 2011, Dubin is still looking for work.


  • James Dubin
  • Hometown: Cherry Hill
  • Profession: Purchasing agent
  • Experience: Created one-of-a-kind designs for
    hand-painted urban clothing, muralist and camp arts
    counselor for inner city youth.
  • Education: Temple University, bachelor's degree in education
  • E-mail address:
  • James Dubin's resume

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Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769 or