Liberty Mutual Insurance: a decade of supplier diversity
The large property and casualty company is expanding and invigorating its supplier diversity program. MBE Roxbury Technology benefits
Boston-based Liberty Mutual Insurance is one of the largest property and casualty insurance companies in the U.S. It has more than 45,000 employees and operates in twenty-six countries. And it's maintaining a commitment to supplier diversity.
This year Liberty Mutual celebrates its one-hundredth anniversary. As it enters its second century, the company is continuing its supplier diversity efforts by expanding its program.
William Boodry, manager of procurement, notes that the landscape for supplier diversity in the insurance industry is unique. "In addition to traditional categories of vendor spend, we have many categories attributable to servicing policyholders. Our policies provide rental cars, auto-body shop repairs, towing services, contractors to remediate fire and storm damage, appraisers, temporary living, stenographers and much more."
As a result, Boodry explains, "We look for vendors in nontraditional areas as well as the more typical corporate areas like IT services or office supplies. We're excited about expanding our supplier diversity efforts in the non-traditional areas this year."
Years in procurement
Boodry has been manager of procurement for Liberty Mutual since 2005, and brings with him twenty-five years of procurement experience from Fidelity Investments, Reebok, Boston Whaler and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. The supplier diversity program is an integral part of his organization's spend management efforts, he says. "Contributing to the overall economic success of the communities we serve and the expansion of our markets promotes business growth."
Boodry's role includes both internal and external advocacy. He sits on the boards of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and its local affiliate, the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council (GNEMSDC).
A more focused turn
Liberty Mutual's supplier diversity program began in 2003. Over the last decade, Liberty has established an executive steering committee and created a robust internal structure.
Recent efforts have taken an even more focused turn. "We hired a fulltime supplier diversity manager last June," Boodry reports.
The company spent $141 million with more than 5,500 minority and woman-owned companies in its last fiscal year. And Liberty Mutual was named corporate advocate of the year by the Associated Minority Business Enterprises of New England during Minority Enterprise Development Week 2011.
Haleemah Hall is the new manager of supplier diversity. She joined the company in June, 2011, coming to Liberty Mutual from jobs in the telecom and retail industries. "The property and casualty insurance industry is significantly different," she notes, "and presents some unique challenges."
Roxbury Technology: MBE for Liberty Mutual
A 2006 sourcing project for printer cartridges led to Roxbury Technology Corporation (RTC) and other MBE remanufactured toner vendors. RTC was the successful bidder.
"There was considerable change management involved with introducing remanufactured toners into the Liberty environment. The result has been a successful business relationship since 2007 and nearly $3 million in sales for Roxbury," says Boodry.
Founded in 1994 by the late Archie Williams, RTC began with his vision of creating jobs and economic development in inner-city Boston. The company started out as a distributor of toner cartridges, but Williams' plan was to become a cartridge remanufacturer.
When Williams died in 2002 his daughter Beth Williams succeeded him as president and CEO. She fulfilled his legacy, and in 2004 the remanufacturing plant he had envisioned opened in Boston.
Beth Williams builds the company
Williams has a BA in political science and urban development from Brown University; she was director of business diversity for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts before taking over from her father.
Under her direction, RTC's revenues grew from $4 million in 2004 to $16 million in 2009, and to $13 million-plus for the last two years. The company now employs more than sixty people in inner-city Boston.
Forging the connection
The connection with Liberty Mutual flows through RTC's association with Staples. "Roxbury's major customer is Staples, the office products superstore," Williams explains.
"We competed for the Liberty business and we won," Williams says. She notes that Liberty Mutual now gets most of its imaging products from RTC, and this has played a key role in the growth of the company. "They've been one of our top ten customers for more than five years," she says.
Liberty Mutual takes a role
Mentoring local diverse suppliers is a priority at Liberty Mutual Insurance. Williams explains that Liberty Mutual has taken an active role in the relationship between Staples and RTC. Liberty Mutual mentored RTC in two key areas, helping it develop a tailored, high-end customer service response program early in the relationship, then sponsoring Williams to attend the NMSDC-affiliated advanced management education program for minority entrepreneurs at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management in 2006.
"We have reaped many benefits from our relationship with Liberty Mutual," says Williams, from an improved customer service and quality control process, to national recognition and credibility as a supplier. "As a result we've clearly succeeded in managing this large national account, and business from other large companies has followed."
RTC is NMSDC and WBENC certified, and also certified by twenty minority business councils nationally, including the Massachusetts State Office of Minority and Women Business Assistance. The company won the GNEMSDC president's award in 2011; WBENC named RTC one of its top dozen Shining Star national winners in 2010.