For Parker Teshima, working as a Walmart merchant entails much more than negotiating with suppliers. Teshima, a 2015 global supply chain management alumnus from the BYU Marriott School of Business, ensures that shelves stay stocked with vital emergency preparedness items so people can purchase supplies even when natural disasters strike.
As a Walmart merchant, or buyer, Teshima not only sees that the nearly 4,600 stores remain supplied but also makes decisions about which products go on the shelves. On top of that, he coordinates deals and logistics with suppliers.
His time at BYU Marriott prepared him well for his professional career. Teshima learned expert spreadsheet skills in upper-level information systems courses and developed strong professional abilities during capstone buying projects. “The skills I learned are so useful and relevant,” Teshima says. “I use these business skills every day.”
Including college internships, Teshima’s Walmart career spans almost a decade. “Over the years,” he says, “every job I’ve had at Walmart was somehow connected with emergency preparedness.” This correlation stands, even though Teshima changed between different store departments. Whether in charge of gas cans, tarps, shop vacs, or generators, Teshima uses his skills to help people affected by natural disasters obtain necessary supplies.
In 2017 Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. As the devastation of the category five storm set in, Puerto Rico Walmart requested double the number of generators for its locations than the entire company typically sold annually. For months after the hurricane hit, Teshima diligently hustled and cold-called to acquire the needed generators. For many Puerto Ricans, a generator was not merely a nice luxury but rather a lifesaving piece of equipment. In addition to widespread needs such as light and cooking, refrigeration was critical for many who needed to preserve special prescription medications.
In the end, Teshima secured twice as many generators as requested—four times the amount typically sold in the United States in a year. “In the grand scheme of things,” says Teshima, “I sell literally millions of units of goods every single year, so what I accomplished in Puerto Rico—statistically—was not incredibly significant. However, to every single person who received a generator, my efforts meant everything.”
The impact of Teshima’s work extends beyond handling emergencies. When suppliers increase prices or make other product changes, he makes decisions about which products to keep on shelves. Teshima sees how his decisions impact consumers, so he keeps these people in mind.
With a focus on supporting individuals and families in times of need, Teshima continues to lead the way forward. “Through my work,” he says, “I have the opportunity to impact others in a significant and meaningful way.”
Written by Jaden McQuivey