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September 06
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Supplier Diversity

Hispanic-owned MBEs take their place in the growth of corporate America

"We have to be able to make a dollar, keep the dollar and have it move within our communities."
Joe Corchado, president
JFD Sales Consulting Services

 
 

Joe Corchado.

Joe Corchado, founder of JFD Sales Consulting Services.

Monica and Miguel Mancebo.

Monica and Miguel Mancebo are principals of McClure Management Group in New York City.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Hispanic-owned businesses grew 31 percent between 1997 and 2002, triple the national average for all U.S. businesses. A 2002 survey found that nearly 1.6 million Hispanic-owned businesses generated a total revenue of better than $244 billion.

In many cases, these MBEs get a helping hand from larger companies dedicated to supplier diversity. This "helps level the playing field in corporate America for small and minority-owned businesses," say Miguel and Monica Mancebo, principals of McClure Management Group, New York, NY, a career transition and management services company and itself an Hispanic MBE. "It lets small companies play in the game and bring value to larger corporations."

McClure helps corporations with their outplacement needs, executive coaching and retained staff training and development.

Pinnacle Technical Resources: IT provider to the Fortune 500s
"I started my company from my apartment living room when I was twenty-five," says Nina Vaca, chair and CEO of Pinnacle Technical Resources (Dallas, TX), an MBE/WBE IT services provider to Fortune 500 companies. Pinnacle will celebrate its tenth anniversary this fall, and now has more than 700 consultants operating in thirty-two states and two countries.

The firm's clientele includes industry leaders in telecom, financial services, healthcare, consumer products sectors and more. Among its core competencies are enterprise data warehousing, custom apps development and architecture, system/network integration and call center technologies.

"From a business standpoint, we leverage technology to make running our own business more efficient and help our clients to do the same. We are paperless; everything we do is Web-based," Vaca explains.

"We deliver large-scale, complex IT development and integration solutions on time, within budget and with complete dedication to the needs of our clients."

With $40 million in annual sales revenue in 2005 and $60 million expected this year, Pinnacle ranks among the fastest growing private firms in America. "Although we're a small business, we've won twenty-five local and national awards in the last three years," Vaca notes with pride.

She herself is the first two-time winner of the U.S. Hispanic Business Woman of the Year Award from the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and was featured by Fast Company magazine as one of the top twenty-five women business builders in the U.S.

Vaca's family came to the U.S. from Ecuador in the 1960s. She graduated from Southwest Texas State University with a BA in speech communications and business admin, and last year she was selected as a distinguished alumna of the university. Before starting her company she worked as an IT recruiter, where, she says, "I learned that consultants are the heartbeat of the IT business."

Vaca has four children. Her husband Jim Humrichouse, brother Freddy Vaca and sister Jessica Narvez are all members of Pinnacle's executive management team. The company is a member of NMSDC and WBENC.

Support from an MSDC
The New York & New Jersey Minority Supplier Diversity Council (NY&NJ; MSDC) is a very active regional chapter of NMSDC. It works to bring together MBEs, public agencies and corporations through networking and business development training, including an online program in development to show MBEs how to expand nationally.

"People do business with who they know," says Lynda Ireland, president and CEO.

This April, the NY&NJ; MSDC signed a memorandum of understanding with the Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (LIHCC). It is
Lynda Ireland.

Lynda Ireland.

expected to expand opportunities for Hispanic-owned businesses to win more corporate contracts. "The council's corporate members include some of the largest private, public and foreign-owned firms in business, and we are looking forward to formalizing our strategic alliance with LIHCC," Ireland states.

Jorge Martinez, president of LIHCC, notes that the alliance is "a wonderful opportunity for chamber members to become certified by the council and avail themselves of the educational and networking opportunities to bring their businesses to the next level."

The New York area, Martinez says, has one of the fastest growth rates for Hispanic-owned firms. It accounts for more than 10 percent of all Hispanic-owned firms in the U.S.

JFD Sales Consulting: the opportunity to perform
"Understanding financing is a challenge that Hispanics face as a people," says entrepreneur Joe Corchado. Corchado founded JFD Sales Consulting Services (Long Island City, NY) in 1997. As a member of the NY&NJ; MSDC as well as on a personal basis, he helps other minority firms "understand that it's financing that runs America, not politics. We have to be able to make a dollar, keep the dollar and have it move within our communities."

JFD is a fast-growing company offering sales, technical support and consulting services related to office furniture for government, schools and corporations. Corchado has twelve people on staff and averages $7 to $8 million a year in sales. "Our clients' needs are the most important thing to us. We invest in long-term relationships," says Corchado.

"For us, supplier diversity provides an opportunity to be seen. It does not guarantee business, but at least it opens the door."

Corchado's family moved to New York City from Puerto Rico when he was twelve years old. Corchado started college but didn't finish. "My masters degree is in street smarts," he says proudly. "It has helped me develop and grow the business."

He's on the board of the Queens Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and has ties with the Bronx and Brooklyn chambers. He gets business through trade shows and the Purchasing Councils Expo, but networking within the community, he says, is a key component of his company's success.

"It's so rewarding to get the opportunity to perform a service and do it well," Corchado concludes.

Gulf Coast Electric Motor Service
Tico Rodriguez.

Tico Rodriguez.

Higinio (Tico) Rodriguez is president of Gulf Coast Electric Motor Service Inc (Pensacola, FL). His company repairs motors for the Southern Company (Atlanta, GA), an energy provider whose four major operating companies supply the Southeast with nearly 40,000 MW of electricity. Rodriguez moved to the U.S. from Cuba in 1971.

Rita Lay, sourcing supervisor of Southern Co's Gulf Power subsidiary, explains that "Tico's company does offsite motor repair for us. In 2004 we spent $97,000 with them and more than $195,000 in 2005. Southern Co as a whole spent nearly $600,000. Diversity translates to better value."

As Rodriguez sees it, "Every motor is a challenge, but we love what we do, we love the Southern Co people, and we think their engineering department does a tremendous job."

Corporate support for M/WBEs
Robert McCormes-Ballou.

Robert McCormes-Ballou.

Robert McCormes-Ballou, director of vendor development and diversity for Office Depot in Florida, says "I enjoy developing suppliers that are historically under- utilized businesses. It is important to Office Depot that our vendor base accurately represents the diversity of our customers."

M/WBEs "are critical partners in servicing local stores and clubs," says Wal-Mart's Chris Rasche, supplier diversity director. "We find that small businesses usually have smaller supply chains. That means they can adjust more quickly to changing customer demand."

Washington Mutual's Brian Powers, first VP and manager of strategic supplier management, notes that M/WBEs "are excited about each opportunity. They want to deliver value and continue earning our business."

Texas Instruments' Dr Shannon Suber, director of minority and women business development, reports that the company has grown its M/WBE purchases from negligible in 1989 to more than $231 million in 2005. "Small businesses like M/WBEs are flexible and agile and can respond quickly to TI's needs," she notes. "We place strong emphasis on the quality of supplier relationships because if they succeed, we succeed."

Sy Sternberg, chair and CEO of New York Life, declares that "Diversity is the essential foundation upon which the rest of the corporation's culture is built. We consider our commitment to a diverse workforce to be a key strategic strength, and promote the same inclusive standards in the selection of our suppliers and vendors."

D/C

Angela M. Hutchinson is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, CA.

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