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October/November 2011

Diversity/Careers October/November 2011 Issue




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Supplier Diversity

Amgen's program has evolved into a proactive engagement

Support of upper management is crucial for a successful program, declares Wendy Matheu, supplier diversity and procurement manager


Amgen (Thousand Oaks, CA) is a biotechnology firm that produces human therapeutics. "Since starting our supplier diversity program in 2001 we've evolved a lot," says Farryn Melton, VP of global strategic sourcing.

First, she explains, the program put together the fundamentals: developing policies and procedures, educating the staff, establishing processes and determining goals and methods of tracking and monitoring progress. The company also joined industry groups to draw on their experience.

"But now we've gone from a more administrative approach to a proactive engagement with external business partners. We're very proud of our evolution," says Melton.

Melton has been with Amgen since 2005 and involved in supplier diversity for more than a decade. Her previous stints were at Boeing, Novartis, Pfizer and Warner Lambert. She started in sourcing and procurement, but says she's always been passionate about supplier diversity.

Upper management support
"To have a successful supplier diversity program you really need upper management support, and Farryn and her leadership team provide that," says Wendy Matheu, supplier diversity and procurement manager at Amgen. Matheu understands the problems facing small and minority-owned businesses very well. She was a minority business owner herself before she became a senior buyer at Amgen and then moved into supplier diversity.

Matheu has managed the supplier diversity program for five years now. As proof of the program's success, tier 1 spending with small and diverse businesses is at about 20 percent; tier 2 spending is healthy as well, and a contractual obligation of Amgen's master service providers.

Melton and Matheu point out that although the Amgen supplier diversity program does not have a formal mentoring program, it uses matchmaker meetings of the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) conferences as mentoring and networking sessions. "We find that group mentoring is very effective. But we do have informal mentoring on a case-by-case basis," Matheu reports.

Business conferences
"We also find that workshops offer networking opportunities," says Melton. "We recently had a 'Power Your Business' event on our campus in partnership with WBENC, the Veteran and Military Business Owners Association (VAMBOA), the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and the Southern California Minority Business Development Council. The full-day event was designed to provide information on important business topics like the benefits of certification. We had more than 200 attendees, and the event was available via WebEx as well."

She notes that Amgen has co-sponsored conferences with other large businesses and conducts group mentoring for existing and potential suppliers, with a focus on how suppliers can expand their business opportunities with larger firms.

Melton herself is actively engaged in small business and supplier diversity forums and is a board member of NMSDC, WBENC and the Diversity Alliance for Science (DA4S). Amgen is a corporate board member of WBENC, NMSDC and DA4S, and a founding VAMBOA corporate member. This June the company was corporate co-chair of the WBENC national conference and business fair in Las Vegas, NV.

A lot of business value
The supplier diversity program "brings a lot of business value," Melton says. "We're a really diverse company and having a diverse supplier base just makes sense. It's part of our core values of integrity and fairness, and it drives innovation and is cost effective. Where do you get the best ideas? From diverse groups of people!"

Amgen accepts and encourages WBENC, NMSDC, NGLCC, and SBA certifications for its suppliers. ISO 9001 is recommended for manufacturing-related business.

ChemicoMays LLC: environmental VBE
Leon Richardson is president and CEO of ChemicoMays LLC (Southfield, MI). After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps for eight years, Richardson entered the civilian workforce in 1986 as a lab technician at a small chemical company. "I worked on the bench, took classes and learned the chemical business from the ground up," he says. "After a while I moved into manufacturing with the company and then into sales, selling technical chemical processes to the auto industry."

While Richardson was at the chemical company he got interested in a non-hazardous process for cleaning automotive paint shops. At that time almost all cleaning processes involved hazardous solvents. Richardson tried to introduce the new technology at his company but there was no great interest, so he left in 1989 to start Chemico Systems (Birmingham, MI), a chemical manufacturer.

"We saw a niche opportunity. We had been dealing with highly toxic chlorinated material, and we believed a non-hazardous process would be possible. I got together with some good chemists and ChEs who worked up the process, and I was the entrepreneur," says Richardson.

Mentoring by GM
Early mentoring by General Motors (Detroit, MI) let Chemico Systems hone its skills in the environmental arena. "They showed us how to apply the same value-added processes to other industries that use similar solvents. Today we are the largest significant chemical management company at GM. Our goal is to recycle, reuse, and reconstitute!" says Richardson.

In 2006 Richardson combined the service arm of Mays Chemical (Indianapolis, IN), a chemical distributor, with Chemico Systems to launch ChemicoMays as a chemical management service provider. "We changed the name because we eventually went beyond just managing the chemical processes," he explains. "We weren't just cleaning automotive paint shops anymore. Now we had clients who were in heavy manufacturing, aerospace, the defense industry and pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.

"All these companies have similar manufacturing processes and use regulated materials. This offers us opportunities to expand our business," says Richardson.

He began doing business with Amgen after he attended a chemical management strategy forum. "Amgen heard our presentation and we've been doing business together ever since. Amgen has been a market leader in sustainability and environmental consciousness, and our business model fit well with where they were going," Richardson emphasizes. He adds that ChemicoMays has expanded its operations to three other company facilities. "Amgen challenges us to come up with new and better ways to manage processes. They've also introduced us to other potential customers in the biotech and pharma industries."

Recently the Amgen connection introduced ChemicoMays to Jones Lang LaSalle Americas (JLL), a global commercial real estate services company and Amgen's master service provider for facility services. Richardson notes that ChemicoMays is working with JLL on other opportunities.

It's clear, he says happily, that diversifying your client base and networking can both pay off positively. ChemicoMays has already become international, offering its chemical management services throughout North America, including Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The company is certified by NMSDC.

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