CVMSDC article about Toyota supplier diversity success story and MBE represented by Minority Sales Corporation
Minority Sales Corporation
The Advantages of CMSDC
2. It is not a neat, short and sweet story of a Greenville supplier meeting a Spartanburg corporation and a big contract being signed in two months. Rather, it involves four companies and three councils, spread over 700 miles, developing relationships over several years, but I think that this may be what the significant real world opportunities are like in the future.
3. The story involves many organizations and individuals doing their roles well to make supplier diversity work.
Sometime in May a few years ago, Tim Welbaum, Sales Manager of Action Tool & Machine, a Michigan Council certified MBE and reciprocal member of CMSDC, called me. Tim said that he had heard of Minority Sales Corporation nine months earlier when he was at the CMSDC’s BOC, and that Action had just decided that it would be more efficient to use a sales rep firm in the southeast rather than to continue using a direct sales force. (Our companies did not even directly meet each other at the BOC, and it was nine months before there was a reason to talk, but it all started because of the information flow facilitated by the CMSDC and the BOC.)
Real world: serious player, with serious competition
Fast forward a couple of years. Minority Sales Corporation was representing Action in the southeast and doing business from the Carolinas to Birmingham, AL to Georgetown, KY.
Action was an experienced ISO-certified company offering quality products and service at a competitive price. And we also had some particularly relevant expertise and equipment to serve the forging industry.
One forging industry company that we were doing some work for was Louisville Forge and Gear. But Louisville Forge also had a long standing supplier that seemed to be doing a good job for them, and seemed to be retaining most of the business.
The big breakthrough with Louisville Forge came when the Toyota Opportunity Exchange in Cincinnati provided me with an opportunity to spend time chatting informally at a reception with Walter McKee, Louisville Forge’s Purchasing Manager. We got to know each other better and realized that we both saw potential for the relationship to be bigger, and we both became committed to making it happen. (Second tier can work: the right opportunity was not directly with Toyota, but Toyota 1) was seriously emphasizing their second tier program, and 2) provided the specific opportunity for Tier Ones and MBEs to interact.)
Here is what Louisville Forge did. They actively looked for opportunities to include Action. (They did not put up barriers or look for ways to make us go away.) I believe they started giving us a shot at every relevant opportunity. Purchasing and Engineering welcomed Action warmly. They included us in their golf outings, which was a great opportunity to build relationships with people throughout the organization. They even once honored us by including Kirk (my partner and brother) in the President’s and the Chairman’s foursome. I see the President in passing once or twice a year; he knows us and asks how our business with Louisville Forge is growing. That is pretty good senior level commitment. As Julian Brown says, “You do business with people you know.”
Action Tool and Minority Sales Corporation
Here is what Action and Minority Sales Corporation did. We worked hard for a long time to get to know Louisville Forge and to give them good service. We did not expect business to start flowing magically overnight. It took nine more months to really see the results. We had a three person outside sales team covering Louisville. Our estimator and plant manager in Michigan and the Louisville Forge engineers in Georgetown became phone and e-mail buddies and discussed technical issues directly. We worked hard to provide good service and to do good work on the early, smaller opportunities.
When the serious business developed, I made a point of thanking Toyota for what they had done (as well as Louisville Forge). Although we have not done a dollar of business directly with Toyota, the company and the individuals at Toyota played an important part in this success story. I think that supplier diversity program managers hear a lot of complaints, and it is important to also remember them when there is a big success.
Need more information about Minority Sales Corporation? Contact Roger Stone or Kirk Stone at (864) 255-4999 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ENewsletter of the Carolinas Minority
Supplier Development Council
June 30, 2006 VOLUME 1 ISSUE 2
Roger Stone and
Minority Sales Corporation
Roger Stone along with his brother Kirk have forged a market niche to insure the success of supplier diversity within the CMSDC. Here is just one of their success stories.
I like this story for several reasons:
1. It starts at a Carolinas Minority Suppliers Development Councils’ (CMSDC) Business Opportunity Conference (BOC).