As an agency that is committed to the success of small business enterprises owned by Women, Minorities, LGBTQ, Veterans and Disabled Veterans, the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) held the CPUC | Joint Utilities Los Angeles Business Expo on May 3, 2017 at Skirball Cultural Center. Through business matchmaking sessions and a resource/vendor fair, the event provided invaluable opportunities for business owners to meet one-on-one with procurement representatives from over 50 utility companies and local/state agencies, including T-Mobile, Los Angeles World Airports, and SoCalGas.
Under the CPUC Utility Supplier Diversity Program, utility companies with revenues greater than $25 million annually are required to have a Supplier Diversity Program to increase the utilization of Women, Minority, Veteran, Disabled Veteran, and LGBT owned business enterprises. California state agencies, on the other hand, are required to award at least 25% of their procurement to Small Business (SB), and 3% to Disabled Veteran Owned Business Enterprises (DVBE). Angel Carrera, Branch Chief of the California Department of General Services (DGS) Procurement Division, said in the opening remarks, “We are looking for companies with professional expertise, innovative business solutions, and of the highest quality.” Becoming certified as an SB or DVBE does not only grant a business owner with a 5% bid preference, a more streamlined procurement process, but also ensures inclusion in the Department of General Services (DGS) database, increasing their chances of procuring a contract with state agencies.
Panel discussion: “Doing Business with Utility Companies”
Moderated by Stephanie Green, Small Business and Community Outreach Manager at the CPUC, the panel discussion featured representatives from five companies who have procured contracts from utility companies, who shared their strategies and advice on how to succeed. Elizabeth Cabral, Vice President of Marketing at Hal Hays Construction, Inc., underlined the importance of market research. She said, “Be a student of your marketplace, and understand the players. Go to events, find out who is going to attend, and connect with public companies.” Maria Thompson, President and CEO of Agile Sourcing Partners, agreed and added, “Understand your customers and have a long-term vision… If it doesn’t make money, it doesn’t make sense.”
For Joe Maak, CEO of Pride Resource Partners LLC, patience and consistency is key. He advised, “Be committed not only to your business, but to the quality of your goods and services, and to your client.” Mike Fogelsonger, Co-Founder of 101 Telco Solutions, Inc., said, “Make sure you have the experience, size and resources before you go after a big company.”
On the other hand, Patt Watts, President and CEO of FCI Management Consultants, highlighted the importance of well-written proposals and of attending professional and networking workshops. But to really succeed, she added, “You need to participate beyond workshops – get involved in leadership roles, and sit on the board. Do not expect your membership to take effect right away.”
Other workshops at the business expo include: “Introduction to State Government Contracting”, “Developing an Effective Cybersecurity Strategy”, “Access to Capital: How Small Business Can Access Financing”, and “Powerful Solutions for Your Business”.
To become certified with the Department of General Services and for more information, please visit www.caleprocure.ca.gov.