News Column

Minority Suppliers Forum Helps With Best Practices

May 10, 2013

Ayana Jones, Tribune Staff Writer

Diversity suppliers file photo)
Diversity suppliers file photo)

Business executives recently shared successful strategies during a panel discussion held by the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Delaware Minority Supplier Development Council.

The "Demystifying Success" panel moderated by Curtis R. Conner, vice president, G&C Environment Services, Inc., highlighted the best corporate supply chain and minority business enterprises (MBE) operational practices.

Panelists included Michael K. Robinson, program director, Global Supplier Diversity for IBM; Maurice L. Williams, regional supplier diversity manager, Pepeo Holdings; Luis Liceaga, president, Impact Dimensions, LLC; Michael G. Horsey, managing partner, Philadelphia Office, Mitchell & Titus; David Groomes Sr., vice president, Supply Chain Management, U.S. Facilities, Inc. and Todd Rose, president and CEO, Telrose Corporation.

"Given the ever-changing landscape in business, through the PA-NJ-DE MSDC's general meeting, we continue to bring the most up-to-date information on supplier business development and corporate supply chain management. The general meeting features the best corporate and MBE leaders sharing information on successful approaches and strategies to compete in the global economy," said Wade Colclough, PA-NJ-DE MSDC president and CEO.

There were common threads throughout the panel discussion. Many of the panelists advised MBEs seeking to become suppliers to thoroughly research the company they seek to conduct business with. The research should range from identifying key leadership, understanding the corporate culture, to the products and services that the company is buying.

"You would be surprised how many people are ill-prepared at that first meeting. Do the research. That's the most critical thing I will say. Understand who is your competition. Understand what differences you from that competitor. What's that extra value that you are going to bring to the process," said Robinson, who is responsible for leading IBM's supplier diversity initiatives in the U.S., Latin America, Canada, Europe, Asian and South Africa.

Robinson said suppliers should understand that corporate procurement teams are risk adverse.

"You're new and you're trying to get into that company, understand how you are going to make that procurement professional a success and how are you going to reduce the amount of risk in moving from a proven to a new supplier."

Since 2006, IBM has spent in excess in $2 billion worldwide with diverse enterprises.

During the forum, owners of MBEs shared some of the strategies that made their firms successful.

Rose, who leads Telrose Corporation, said addressing the customers' needs is critical to the success of the multimillion office supply service company.

"What is important is we have to understand what is important to our customer. If we continue to do that, then we will continue to be successful," said Rose.

"If we matter to their business goals than we become a part of the fiber of what they do on a dayto-day basis and they are going to continue to come to us, even if it's outside of what our core business offerings are."

Headquartered in Philadelphia, the PA-NJ-DE MSDC represents more 135 corporate members and 425 MBEs with more than 35,000 employees throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey and Delaware.

Minority Supplier Development Council panelist from left, David Groomes, St., vice president, Supply Chain Management, U.S. Facilities, Inc.,; Michael Horsey, managing partner/ Philadelphia office, Mitchell & Ttius, LLP., and Maurice L. Williams, regional supplier diversity manager, PEPCO Holdings, Inc.

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Source: Copyright Philadelphia Tribune 2013

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