Held on March 13-14th at the Pacific Palms Resort, Industry Hills, the Gateway Conference 2017 combined two of SCMSDC’s biggest events – Minority Business Opportunity Day (MBOD) and the Supplier of the Year (SOTY) Awards – for the very first time. With the mission to connect corporations and diverse businesses, the two-day conference was packed with educational workshops and panel discussions led by industry leaders, and included an exhibit fair that featured corporate and MBE exhibitors.
It is no surprise that minority businesses are one of the fastest growing businesses in the nation. As flexible, price-competitive, and innovative enterprises, they excel in bringing solutions to challenging corporate issues, and offer products and services that meet specialized corporate procurement needs. In light of the great strides made towards supplier diversity and inclusion, the Gateway Conference provided an incredible opportunity for MBEs to network with each other, pitch their goods and services to corporate members, learn what it takes to be a successful diverse supplier, and was a perfect occasion to honor outstanding minority suppliers.
For the 27th consecutive year, the SOTY Awards was sponsored by America Honda Motor Co. Inc., a longtime supporter of supplier diversity and the SCMSDC. “Diversity is simply good business, and this year’s winners and nominees exemplify this principle,” said Charles Harmon, SCMSDC Board Chair and Senior Manager of Corporate Procurement and Corporate Services for Honda, “Their demonstrated leadership sets an example for all of us.”
Day One of the Gateway Conference focused on growth strategies, business knowledge, and leadership-building, while Day Two provided MBEs with the opportunity to form new relationships through an exhibit fair, as well as an interactive industry forum that featured corporate leaders from the construction, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, entertainment, and utilities industries. The conference concluded with the SOTY Awards, an awards dinner that recognized star suppliers.
Keynote Address – Leadership and Influence: How to Empower and Succeed
As the former Vice President of Global Real Estate & Business Development at Pinkberry, Ryan Patel was instrumental in helping Pinkberry expand from less than 95 locations in 2011 to over 250 stores in 20 countries. In addition, he has provided valuable strategy and leadership in developing international growth plans across multicultural and cross-functional teams for Wet Seal Retail, Inc., Jamba Juice, BJ’s Restaurants, Inc., and Panda Express. With such extensive experience in developing global brands, Ryan has gained insights from many CEOs and shared his advice on how to be a successful and effective leader.
First, he said, we need to understand the difference between direct and indirect influence. Direct influence involves persuasion using one’s title or stature, and is something we should never exert on others if we were to be true, inspirational leaders. Instead, we should use indirect influence – “through shared values and finding partners that have the same beliefs” – to empower others, ourselves, and our environment. He continued, “As a leader, as an entrepreneur, you have to use the network around you.” Instead of networking with the same group of people around you, we have to create “smart networks” by going out of our comfort zone and connecting with people in different industries.
Effective team-building and diversity are also essential to successful leadership. He asked, “What kind of unconventional team-building exercises has your company done, that has brought your team successes?” He reminded us, “Diversity is key. Gender equality is key… If you just hire the best person regardless of color and race, you will find that it will be a diverse team.”
The grand finale to the Gateway Conference 2017, the SOTY Awards “celebrate and honor outstanding diverse suppliers that are of high value to corporate members,” said Virginia Gomez, President of SCMSDC. This year, a total of 34 minority businesses were nominated. They were judged based on pre-established NMSDC criteria, which include demonstrated growth and development; employment and job creation; consistent high quality operations and business performance; procurement/purchasing and mentoring spend to MBEs; and regional council involvement. The winners will then compete in the regional and national competition for the NMSDC SOTY award. Here are the 2017 award winners. Congratulations!
- Class I – Amanda Ma, Innovate Marketing Group
- Class II – Ronda Jackson, Décor Interior Design
- Class III – David Mowry, Blair, Church & Flynn Consulting Engineers, Inc.
- Class IV – Hal Hays, Hal Hays Construction, Inc.
Décor Interior Design
Ronda’s tenacity, entrepreneurial drive, coupled with her creativity and exceptional taste has made Décor Interior Design one of the best interior design firms in California. Specializing in tenant improvements and packaged office furniture solutions, Décor create spaces that combine the ergonomic, functional, and aesthetic components that contribute to a productive work environment. From architecture and space planning, custom furnishings, fine art and accessory curating, to land use and entitlements, Ronda’s firm undertakes turnkey interior projects from conception to completion.
In addition, Décor has an outstanding commitment to responsible and sustainable practices. By working with the industry’s best manufactures using clean, lean manufacturing to produce products that are more durable, recycle easily, and meet indoor air-quality standards, it maximizes material value without damaging ecosystems. It is no wonder that in addition to taking home the SOTY award, Ronda has received awards from the US Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Association, and Black Business Association, not to mention being recognized by Fortune Magazine, Inc. Magazine, ICIC and the LA Business Journal.
Hal Hays Construction, Inc.
This marks the second consecutive year that Hal Hays Construction takes home the Class IV SOTY Award. Accepting the award was Kirby Hays, who succeeded his father Hal Hays as CEO and President of Hal Hays Construction. Their story is an inspirational one: in 1991, Hal Hays founded Hal Hays Forestry with one bulldozer, one excavator, and one truck. Today, in addition to having 289 pieces of heavy equipment, a $2 million fleet of CARB-compliant trucks, it has been awarded numerous awards, such as the 2010 California Small Business Person of the Year, honored by President Obama in the White House, Multi-Year Honoree Top California Contractor, and ranked seventh in Top Native American-Owned Businesses in the US. When asked how he turned his humble business into the success it is today, he underlined the importance of having an open mind. Although their initial contract with Southern California Edison (SCE) was nominal and a bit outside of the traditional services they offer, Hal Hays saw it as an opportunity to show SCE what they were capable of in quality and service. And after delivering outstanding services time and again to SCE, their relationship has culminated into decades of close partnership and collaboration.
SOTY Award Corporate Nominators
- American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
- Anthem Inc.
- Comcast NBCUniversal
- Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
- Northrop Grumman Corporation
- Southern California Edison
SOTY Awards Selection Committee
- Arnice Lamb, The Walt Disney Company
- David Iwata, Valley Economic Development Center
- Dennis Thurston, Southern California Edison
- Elizabeth Kawakami, Toyota
- Ken Ashford, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
- Sergio Gascon, University of Southern California
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