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Anthony Nieves – A Keen Eye for Purchasing

Hilton’s Nieves is responsible for wide sweeping changes that have saved $115 million during the last three years alone.

Monday, July 17, 2006
Bettina Marks
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Anthony Nieves – A Keen Eye for Purchasing

A hospitality industry icon, Anthony Nieves has been a recognized purchasing and supply end leader for more than 20 years with Hilton Hotels Corporation. He worked in the service end of the business during college and parlayed his wholesale seafood distribution experience from sales into a marketable asset for the purchasing side at Hilton.

As General Manager of Hilton Supply Management (HSM), a wholly owned subsidiary of Hilton Hotels Corporation, he is responsible for all activities of HSM including the supervision of renovation, freight consolidation, installation, and purchasing services for furniture, fixtures, equipment and operating supplies for properties within the Hilton portfolio and other non-Hilton entities.

In this role, Nieves oversees the supply management of goods and services for all properties within the Hilton family of brands in addition to the formulation and implementation of corporate procurement policies and procedures.

“Tony operates a talented group of purchasing professionals that add significant value to all of our brands and to all of our properties, whether they are owned, managed, or franchised,” according to Patrick Terwilliger, Senior Vice President – Design, Construction and Purchasing, to whom Nieves reports.

After assuming his position as HSM General Manager in 1988, Nieves integrated the various supply management activities of the company into a consolidated discipline providing end-to-end supply management solutions. The acquisition of Promus Hotel Corporation in 1999, afforded Nieves an opportunity to successfully merge the two companies’ supply management departments, renaming and repositioning the division to more accurately reflect the responsibilities and deliverables of the discipline, and restructuring its business model to achieve more savings for the hotels, thus adding more value to the company.

Nieves’ keen focus on improving efficiencies has enhanced HSM’s strategic role within HHC, favorably impacting the company’s growth and profitability.

Under Nieves’ direction, HSM has re-bid and implemented new supplier contracts resulting in total company savings of over $115 million during the last three years.

“Tony has brought the philosophy of early supplier/purchasing involvement into product development and innovation, the utilization of cross functional teams with all of the subject matter experts and stakeholders working together to establish the statement of work and review the bid findings to select the appropriate supplier,” says David Shattuck, VP of Supply Management.

The $2 billion re-ignition campaign that Hilton recently launched was years in the making and Nieves’ team was involved early on from an R&D perspective, finding new products and services for the brand management teams, establishing the cross functional environment and in developing marketing strategies. “Tony and his HSM team have played a significant role in the re-ignition of our brands - whether it is the changes with the Hilton Brand or the huge logistical roll-out of our Make It Hampton initiative. All of these changes involve close coordination of purchasing efforts with the brand teams,” says Terwilliger.

According to Nieves, “There were significant strategic initiatives for the Make It Hampton launch and we were immersed in the process from strategic sourcing, commodity and discipline to subject experts. Additionally, we’ve been involved with top of the bed items – across all brands including the accessories in the room, the introduction of “hookless shower curtains” and finding products that can withstand commercial usage that simultaneously meet the demands of the Hilton aesthetic.”

Purchasing and Supply is transactional based (supply and demand) – at the front end – is the product termination dependent upon – value analysis – a process that has evolved over time at the hotel regional level. “When you have owned assets you can dictate the buying pattern, managed hotels can have an influence and the franchise community have choices, which presents us with the challenge of offering a value proposition,” he says.

It takes approximately one year to 18 months from the time that they specify products until they reach the end user – the guest within the specific brand, according to Nieves.

“By having the HSM infrastructure for strategic sourcing acquiring commodities in a cross-functional capacity operating full time for the Hilton Corporation, it provides us with a quicker to market competitive edge,” says Nieves. “Other companies cannot deliver as expeditiously.”

Nieves began his career as an assistant purchasing agent at the Fontainebleau Hilton Resort &Towers in Miami. He was soon promoted to purchasing agent at the Hilton Palm Beach Airport before moving to Trump’s Castle Hotel & Casino (former Atlantic City Hilton) as purchasing coordinator. Nieves later became the director of central purchasing in Washington, D.C. before being promoted to the regional director of purchasing for Hilton’s Southwest Regional Purchasing Office. Before assuming his current role, he was Vice President – Purchasing for Hilton Hotels Corporation and General Manager of Hilton Equipment Corporation.

“Tony operates in a very hands-on management style, but delegates effectively to the staff of experienced professionals that he has assembled,” comments Terwilliger. According to David Shattuck, “Tony is an excellent coach, mentor, and leader cultivating top talent and establishing effective strategies to build career plans and a stronger more qualified team. He recognizes team members and builds upon their unique strengths. Tony has a way of navigating people towards their goals, rather than forcing compliance. He realizes that success requires the combined talents, efforts, and contributions of everyone in the organization to achieve our company’s goals.”

Tony spends a good part of the year on the road (approximately 30 percent of the time) and acknowledges that the business is 24/7, but, he says, “I love it. It’s always changing, and exciting and, there are so many different types of people to meet. I like being in the midst of it all.” He appreciates his wife’s patience and tolerance, as she, herself used to be a Director of Catering in the Hospitality industry, but, today is a full time Mom for his three children, ages 20, 16, and 14, who Nieves spends whatever free time he can with. He enjoys watching his son play softball in his league and practices martial arts, himself, whenever he can.

Nieves serves as the chairperson of the board of directors for the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) and is the Immediate Former Chairperson for the National Restaurant Association (NRA) – Food service Purchasing Manager’s Group and continues to serve on the steering committee. He is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Center for Advance Purchasing Studies (CAPS) and a member of the Conference Board’s Purchasing and Supply Leadership council.

Nieves speaks frequently at the Institute for Supply Management and many of their affiliates, the International Food service Manufacturers Association (IFMA), National Restaurant Association, APICS, The Conference Board, American Association of Collegiate Registrars & Admissions officers (ACRAO), the Industry Standard Conference, and the International Quality & Productivity Center (IQPC).

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in hospitality management from Florida International University.

About a year ago Hilton conducted a high level internal evaluation of whether or not the purchasing organization could be or should be outsourced, Tony and his team, according to Terwilliger, handled themselves professionally and impartially throughout the evaluation.

“The evaluation confirmed the considerable value that his organization brings to Hilton and confirmed the decision that this service is best delivered from within our corporation,” says Terwilliger.

Nieves continues to focus on the design and management of value-added processes across organizational boundaries to meet the needs of the ultimate end user – the hotel guest. The interface that already exists within the organization’s many business units allows HSM to readily leverage cross-functional activities.

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