Earlier this year, The MATLET Group participated in a conference hosted by PepsiCo as part of a series developed by an affiliate of the New York-based National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC). A non-profit agency of national and local major corporations, NMSDC provides an important network link between corporate America and Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs). In 2010, member corporation purchases exceeded $100 billion.
Supplier and procurement events are an essential part of The MATLET Group’s business development strategy. Networking, whether it is communicating Supplier Diversity initiatives or in general, takes time. Decision makers often need multiple exposures to learn about one’s company and services in order to consider you when an opportunity to purchase arises. It’s true that corporations are very risk averse, so a trust factor needs to be firmly established before they decide to invest in your company.
Being on a company’s short list and having access to multiple contacts at large corporations creates a highly favorable situation in today’s business environment, says Gary Stiffler, President & CEO of The MATLET Group.
“We gain more visibility by participating with as many councils as we do, allowing us to connect with the right people and build our business,” said Mr. Stiffler, a 30-year printing industry expert who formed The MATLET Group in 2005. A mid-sized company with separate businesses in three different regions, it serves many large U.S. corporations from coast-to-coast.
“With exposure to a larger pool of contacts, we often double our footprint when making connections with people. Considering the many personnel changes in the corporate world, especially at the procurement level, it is important to have exposure to as many people as possible. You need to build confidence in those relationships in order to increase your opportunities for new or expanded levels of business.”
Corporate America seems to agree. When it comes to being involved in procurement on a national level, networking helps put you in the right place at the right time. James Sturgis, Jr., the Director of Supplier Diversity at leading food retailer Ahold USA Retail, says there are advantages for MBEs to strategically align themselves with multiple councils.
“Participation in council events or activities allows corporate procurement people to get to know the MBEs on a different level. Perhaps more importantly, it allows the MBE to be more top of mind to the executive so when an opportunity arises, that MBE has a better chance of learning of the opportunity.”
The MATLET Group has found success as a member of the prestigious NMSDC Corporate Plus group of certified MBEs. It is the unprecedented membership program for the highest caliber Minority Business Enterprises which have the proven capacity to handle contracts for major corporations. The program is designed to recognize their national capabilities and expand their participation in the NMSDC network.
“Our experience and knowledge of what these organizations require of their suppliers, plus understanding their decision making process, gives us an advantage,” summarized Mr. Stiffler. “But it is our association with NMSDC and subsequent exposure to the local councils that makes it possible for us to do business at our current levels.”