5 Questions with Johnson City award-winning purchaser Jolene Combs

Zach Vance • Mar 16, 2019 at 7:00 PM

Last month, City of Johnson City Buyer Jolene Combs was named the 2018 Buyer of the Year by the East Tennessee Purchasing Association.

Combs has served the Johnson City Purchasing Department for four years, and earned the Certified Professional Public Buyer status in 2018. She has also served as chairman of the East Tennessee Purchasing Association’s newsletter committee. 

“(Combs) understands the need for quality relationships with suppliers and customers, and continues to demonstrate outstanding professionalism,” the Association stated in its press release announcing its 2018 award winners. 

The following are some questions Combs answered about her career and her life outside of work: 

Fast Facts

• Dog or cat person? “Dogs; I have three!”

• Coffee or tea? “No, thanks.”

• Favorite food? “Pizza, forever and always.”

• Native of Johnson City or transplant? “Born and raised in the Tri-Cities.”

How would you describe your job as a buyer/purchaser for the City of Johnson City?

“My department is tasked with making sure that we are spending taxpayer dollars in a fair, transparent manner and getting the best value for the goods and services purchased. As you would imagine, due diligence is very important in our line of work. No two days are ever the same. We have helped departments purchase everything ranging from fire trucks and sludge pumps to Christmas trees and playgrounds.”

What led you into this kind of work?

“I kind of stumbled into it, actually. At the time, I was working at a scrap yard that had some purchasing-related duties and I had applied for several different administrative-type positions at the city but had never received a call back until I applied for a position with Purchasing, and as they say, ‘the rest is history.’ ”

Who's had the greatest influence on your career?

“I have to say my director, Debbie Dillon, and assistant director, Valerie Harless, have had a great influence on my career path and goals since I’ve worked for them. From day one, they have supported me, given me every opportunity to flourish professionally, and have continually instilled confidence in me that I didn’t know I had. They are my biggest cheerleaders!”

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

“Don’t assume everyone knows what you know.” Sometimes when I’m feeling impatient with someone I have to remind myself that just because I know it, and may have said it over and over again, doesn’t mean they know it.”

What activities or hobbies do you enjoy to do outside of work?

“I’m a simple kind of girl. I enjoy spending time with my dogs and my husband, and I like to get lost in a good book.”

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