Success Stories: Tales of Small Businesses as Diversity Suppliers

supplier diversity success stories

The world of business is full of success stories. We have heard a lot of small start-up companies that reach milestones in their history, the tales of many business and industry leaders, companies that survive severe economic and financial crises (both internally and externally) and others who face a lot of PR nightmares.

Most often, these success stories focus on large corporations. Small businesses also have their share of success stories. These stories often have similarities with their larger counterparts and make them very distinct in the different challenges that they overcome.

Some small businesses have reached their success as a diversity supplier. Even among small business owners, there are groups of businesses that are discriminated because of many factors. These success stories reflect that with odds against them, they can succeed. And one tool to help them succeed is entering a larger company’s supplier diversity program.


Some supplier diversity success stories can be found on a company’s supplier diversity website/page. For instance, here are three success stories from Wells Fargo, an international banking entity based and headquartered in the US.

According to Francisco Alvarado, CEO and Owner of Marand Builders, supplier diversity programs “are important because they create opportunities for capable companies – small, new and minority-owned – to participate in competing for work in an environment of established relationships.” His company has been a 2nd tier sub-contractor doing construction for new Wells Fargo banks. After working with Wells Fargo’s Corporate Supplier Diversity, Marand Builders grew to be a 1st tier general contractor. Their company has expanded from 3 employees to 18 workers and worked on the construction of 18 new Wells Fargo branch banks.

Another company that benefited from Wells Fargo’s Corporate Supplier Diversity Program is Call One, Inc. Call One, Inc. supplies Wells Fargo with telephone equipment like headsets and desk sets. The company, headed by CEO and Owner Berchet “Dottie” O’Daniel, has a decade-long relationship with Wells Fargo and its associates on a national level.

Akraya Inc. is headed by Sonu Ratra testifies that the “Wells Fargo Diversity Supplier team has been an incredible support to Akraya, Inc.”. She credits the program’s mentorship and guidance to make them a better supplier and the experience gave them the opportunity to grow. She also credits the Wells Fargo program for its nomination and support of the company, helping it win the Supplier of the Year Award from The Northern California Minority Supplier Development Council. In turn, this recognition allowed her company to pursue more opportunities. Ratra adds, “It is heartening for diversity suppliers like us to know that they are so deeply committed to the success of small and minority businesses. Wells Fargo is a true Diversity Champion!”

Aside from Wells Fargo, there are a lot of international companies that established and encourage supplier diversity.

Here are some supplier diversity stories from suppliers of Time Warner, a multimedia giant and a media conglomerate.

Smith Sodine of Eagle Transfer Corporation has been a supplier for Time Warner. Eagle Transfer Corporation is a woman and minority-owned business. She credits the company for helping them in the process of working with Time Warner as well as other high profile companies that need their services. Eagle Transfer Corporation has been working with Time Warner for four years and has done a lot of projects for the said company. Eagle hopes that the relationship will flourish and continue the symbiotic relationship between two companies for years.

SEAL Consulting, Inc. is headed by Badal Patel, its President and CEO. SEAL is an ethnic minority-owned company that is also a supplier of Time Warner. Patel says that “SEAL is proud of being part of the supplier diversity program at Time Warner.” Like other suppliers, the SEAl is content with the support that Time Warner provides using its Supplier diversity programs and hopes to foster the relationship between the two companies.

Creative Solutions’s Debra Carlino is a woman-owned small business and a supplier of Time Warner and Home Box Office. Like many others, Debra says the opportunity of being a supplier of Time Warner has been great and advantageous. It has brought her company new business opportunities, an excellent working relationship with Time and dedication to diversity, particularly small companies like her own.

Kraft also has its fair share of supplier diversity stories. The company is also a multinational company based in Chicago, Illinois, USA. The company produces food grocery products.

One of Kraft’s longest suppliers is Cano Container Corporation. Cano Container Corporation is a manufacturer of corrugated shipping cartons and related products. The company has been providing corrugated packaging and warehousing solutions to Kraft Foods since 1992. One of North America’s premier packaging companies, they provide corrugated boxes for a variety of products including, and textile.

Aside from providing packaging materials, Cano Container Corporation provides warehousing solutions as well for 12 years. Their packages and containers are perfect for a variety of products like food and beverage, textile and IT hardware. Cano explains that having a partner like Kraft enables him “to grow my business and fulfill the American dream.”

Another long-time supplier to Kraft Foods is Adhesive Systems Inc. This company is a subsidiary of Diversified Chemicals. This company helps Kraft to perform better as the largest food company in the US and occupying the second place in the world. Adhesive Systems Inc. (or ASI) helps Kraft in terms of cost savings, sustainability and innovation. With their help, Kraft develops and grows as a company for its customers and workers.

What does it take?

Given the above testimonials, a small business owner can see the potential in applying
as a diversity supplier to a larger corporation. The perks are very evident in this kind of program – a supporting company or department, an extensive network, a reciprocal way of sharing knowledge and expertise and of course, a major source of profit for the small business.

So, what does it take to be a good diversity supplier?

Some of the best advice include the following:

1. Be a partnersupplier diversity program

Even though there is a big difference in terms of size between the two companies, both parties should try to be a partner and not a ‘tool’ or act like an extended department of another. If the small business can assert itself and there is an equal opportunity and agreement from both sides, both companies can work together. See things as they are really – 2 companies working together.

2. Be patient as well as persistent

There are a lot of large companies looking for a diversity supplier. Sure, a small business can apply to them all. But like any business strategy, it has to choose a company that it thinks it will work well with. Often, business goals and values must be aligned and similar. Of course, a small business product or service must also be a good fit to the larger company’s need or want before an agreement can be made.

3. Give and take

As said before, there are many perks of being a diversity supplier. Both parties
should keep in mind that this is a partnership that involves both giving and taking from each other. A small business can benefit from being a diversity supplier and a larger corporation can benefit from a loyal and trustworthy supplier. In addition, the small business provides a stable influx of products and services that a larger company needs.

4. Pitch your expertise and your offer

As a small business wanting to get a foot in the door, it is necessary to ‘sell’ the business to a larger corporation. Point out the advantages of partnering with the business and why it could be a lasting relationship. Advertise the business’ strengths and advantages over others. And don’t forget to mention why you are the perfect candidate to be a partner. Keep in mind that this partnership should be envision with a long term commitment.

5. Adapt

Entering a partnership, especially as the junior partner, will require some adjustments. There might be some areas of similarities, but be prepared for the difference between the business and the bigger company. There will be differences in styles, approach and scope. Take the time to learn and adapt. Learn about the company, its rules, values, people, products/services and other nuances once the business is accepted. Try to find out how the business and its niche can help the company and how the larger company can also help in return.

6. Communicate

In any relationship, one key element is communication. Offer strategies, recommendations or tips. In return, ask questions that can be helpful in the relationship and the business as a whole.

7. Build relationships

From constant communication, try to build relationships that last. Some small businesses above testify that they have been working for years and hope to continue the length of the current relationship. A good and lasting relationship is a very ideal foundation for two companies. Even if the two companies parted ways, it is still a very good chance of reconnecting ties and relationships. In addition, a good and stable performance can prompt the larger company to recommend the small business in its network. That can be a big plus for the latter.

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