Minority Business News
For nearly two decades Minority Business News has been the nation’s award-winning resource for information on minority business enterprise and diversity. Reaching an audience of minority business owners, corporate procurement managers, education professional and government representatives, Minority Business News focuses on value for the readers, advertisers and communities its serves.
Founded in 1988 by veteran newspaper, magazine and radio communications leader Don McKneely, the MBN USA magazine has received more than 75 awards for its work in supplier diversity development. MBN USA has received distinguished award recognition from the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency and has earned the coveted National Minority Supplier Development Council National Supplier of the Year award, received in 2005.
This was the Minority Business News' website for a number of years. When the MBNUSA created a site, minoritybusinessnews.com/ disappeared from the web.
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Recently I discovered that the domain for minoritybusinessnews.com/ was available, so I bought it with the goal of recreating some of its content from its 2005 archived pages and to point visitors to their new site. I definitely didn't want someone else purchasing the domain and re-purposing it for something that had nothing in common with Minority Business News. You can view this site strictly in its historical context or use the information presented in a useful manner.
My father had read the Minority Business News online since I was just beginning my obsession with all things related to DC Comics Batman. Once, after reminiscing about the best Batman movies, I hunted for Batman apparel at our local stores. Now I can find whatever I want online. I just found a great website called MoonAtMidnight.com that sells loads of Batman T shirts & hoodies. It seems that they carry just about any Batman related design possible, ranging from images taken from DC Comics to licensed designs related specifically to the Batman movies that have been released. I'm probably going to be purchasing at least one classic Batman t-shirt from MoonAtMidnight before long since it has become my favorite Batman T-shirt site. Sometimes my father wonders what I am doing with my life. But he is pleased to know that I too now subscribe to the digital version of the MBNUSA Minority Business News and can hold my own when discussing their insightful articles. When I told him about this site and what I planned to do with it, he was doubly pleased. So now, for a nostalgic look back to 2005 and the May-June issue of the Minority Business News.
Regular features focus on our nation’s top corporations, extraordinary business owners, government agencies, unique university programs as well as community advocates. Topics include minority business certification, corporate purchasing trends and management tips for business owners and professionals. When it comes to current news in supplier development and business growth, Minority Business News is the source.
May 15 - June 15 2005
Honda North America, Diversity drives the corporate philosophy
By Meta J. Mereday and Peter Fretty
While diversity may be the current rallying cry in corporate America, it is not a new concept to Honda. Diversity has always been a part of the Honda’s framework since its founder instilled the principle of “Respect for the Individual” as part of the corporate philosophy from the beginning. The three components of this principle — trust, initiative and equality — provides the clear connection between Honda’s value system and its diversity initiatives.
“We, at Honda, understood early that an appreciation of the similarities and understanding the differences of people leads to overall success,” said Paula Carter, Honda North America’s Procurement Diversity Manager. “The importance of diversity is centered on communication internally and externally and partnering with our suppliers in all areas of their business. Supplier diversity is key to insuring that our company is participating in the economic development of everyone. Our success is fostered in recruiting and developing a diverse supplier base.”
It is a well-known fact within Honda that “successful organizations are those that understand the competitive advantage of effectively managing diversity.” With a corporate philosophy and internal value system that firmly embraces diversity and inclusion, Honda developed external partnerships that would bring them closer to diverse businesses to expand their program and to generate that competitive advantage. This comprehensive format is the framework for Honda’s Supplier Diversity Initiative.
“We are actively involved with efforts to not only attract and retain diverse suppliers, but to also to help them develop their products and services for use at all of our facilities,” Carter said.
Carter, who started at Honda North America in 1992, was instrumental in the bringing the program to the forefront with an in-depth program assessment in 1999.
“We reviewed all aspects of the program beginning with the question ‘what is our mission?’ Once we identified our mission and our goals, we structured a comprehensive list of key areas to address including certification requirements, diverse supplier categories, contracting and subcontracting guidelines,” Carter added. “With these categories and others, we researched programs from firms both automotive and non-automotive to get a variety of viewpoints, strategies and ideas. For us it was essential to have a program that enhanced our existing philosophy built on respect, initiative and trust.”
A major area that received attention included collaborations with outside organizations that could assist Paula and the Honda team to drive their supplier diversity initiative. She participates on many panels and conducts presentations to showcase Honda’s approach to diversity.
“We already had a significant relationship with NMSDC as a national corporate member and valued the information and supplier connections we have gained from that affiliation,” said Carter, who chairs the South Central Ohio Minority Business Council, an affiliate of the NMSDC. “We also have alliances with local organizations that represent various ethnic and social concerns. One aspect of our assessment included identifying who exactly comprises a diverse supplier because part of our benchmarking process includes making sure that all groups who have something to bring to the table are invited and prepared.”
When Honda started its benchmarking process, it incorporated the immediate industry standard as the guideline.
“This gave us a starting point and with information regarding reporting practices from a myriad of companies and industries, we had an idea of what to look for in the process and how we could incorporate the Honda way.”
Also, Honda’s management began an extensive review process that included the relationships with OEMs and MRO suppliers as well.
“We wanted to have a clearer picture regarding the diverse breakdown of these vital business units to determine, among other things, which were MBEs and WBEs and their level of business.”
This process has become an extension of Honda’s ongoing audit process to maintain current information on supplier ownership, certifications, ethnicity, and company size among other aspects – all of which led to the establishment of our own internal auditing system. This provides the foundation for Paula and the Honda buyers to have current data on the diverse suppliers within their operation and the ability to determine their viability for upcoming contracting opportunities.
“When we bring a company on board, we want to have a long-term relationship with that company and the time and effort that it takes to integrate them into our systems proves to be worthwhile on both sides,” Carter said. “The Honda way reflects a true partnership whereby we learn from and teach each other. This emphasizes respect on both sides and the awareness that the information from all parties is valued.”
Honda is not simply looking for diverse suppliers – instead it is looking for business partners from diverse orientations who can mesh with its internal nature of operations.
“When we recruit suppliers we look not only at their current capabilities, capacity and financials, but we look at their development process, growth information and their diverse workforce. We have to trust that as we are emphasizing diversity, our suppliers are as well. We want to make sure that their model is in sync with ours to build a lasting partnership.”
Honda provides training and support to its suppliers to build on the partnering process and to help suppliers to make the right fit within the company’s multifaceted operation. Carter said that leads to success for all parties involved.
The Honda way also embraces those suppliers who may need additional resources in order to benefit from the alliances. Sometimes this is in the form of advice and in some cases, it involves more in depth interaction.
“In any partnering relationship, there must be consensus from both parties for it to work. Both parties must come to the table with a unified format that only improves on their individual operations and provide an even better product or service for us. By working with both companies to bring them to that understanding, we can build the consensus and strengthen the partnership. In this era of “bundling” packages, Honda continues to look for specific opportunities within the organization to benefit diverse suppliers.
Honda continues to work on areas to build on it supplier diversity initiatives and to instill the important core corporate values of respect, trust and initiative in the procurement process.
“We realize that we may not be able to include every supplier into our procurement process, but we intend to maximize their opportunity for economic development throughout the company, and we constantly communicate that message.” Carter said. “We want to recognize the ones who are able to be first-tier suppliers as well as those that have the potential to be second-tier suppliers, and we are in the process of meeting with our tier-one suppliers to discuss ways they can help with our initiative. Our suppliers know that they are part of a team.”
EGI, a minority supplier based in Dayton, Ohio, is a prime example of a MBE that has achieved success as a result of its relationship with Honda. EGI first provided Honda with body side moldings, weather stripping and other rubber products in 1987, as part of a joint venture that Honda helped to engineer. At the same time, EGI acquired an injection molding facility in Daytona Beach, Florida which expanded the product capabilities it could provide.
Because of EGI’s joint venture and acquisition, which was motivated and supported in large part by Honda, EGI was able to grow and this lead to the opening of its Marion Industries facility, which produces front and rear end suspensions for Honda Operations in both Anna and Marysville, Ohio. The opportunity was generated largely through Honda’s desire to outsource and working with EGI to prepare the company to handle the work. EGI had no experience or expertise in producing suspension components, however this did not deter Honda from moving forward with the endeavor, thus they spent a year working along Honda employees in the Anna facility learning how to produce these components.
“It was like overnight when it was time to move the equipment and open our facility, we did not have any major problems,” Ernie Green, EGI’s CEO said. “Honda played a major role in our success because they worked with us and allowed us to learn ‘on the job’ with their key personnel.”
Green said he believes that a large part of Honda’s success is caused by its openness to ideas and outreach to others, and he stresses that that industries can learn from Honda because of its continuous desire to improve themselves and others.
“The way that Honda conducts its business and trains its associates could definitely serve as a model for any company,” said Green. “As a result of our business relationship with Honda, we have implemented many practices into our business and all of our customers benefit as a result.”
Another Honda partnering success is JBE, based in Hartsville, S.C. Founder and CEO Jerry Ellison said he believes doing business with Honda is truly like having a partnership with the firm.
“Once you start doing business with Honda, you realize how much of a partnership focus they have,” he said. “We work together learning from each other. They sincerely appreciate what we bring to the table and what we have to say, and we have grown extensively and gained so much return from the relationship.”
As JBE has continued to supply an array of components for Honda’s Jet Ski and ATV divisions, Honda’s focus on quality has been unwavering, explained Ellison.
“Although Honda does not require its suppliers in the ATV business to be ISO certified, we got certified anyway, and they took notice of the initiative,” he said. “One of the things that other suppliers can learn is that if you concentrate on quality, that the other components will fall in line. In the long-run quality is cheaper because you are doing things right the first time, and this does not cause end user problems. You are taking care of your business partner and your customers.”
Ellison stressed that Honda really is a class act. “If you are lucky enough to be a supplier to Honda you have a heads up to supplying to any other automotive company,” he said.
Honda North America has infused its corporate philosophy of respect, trust and initiative into its procurement process, and it is an impressive model that effectively drives a successful diversity program.
Women of Color Face Tough Climb to Executive Suite
By Suzanne B. Squyres
While corporate America races to capture minority and emerging markets, it’s lacking any sense of urgency when it comes to placing women of color in its leadership circles, say human resource experts.
The numbers bear that out, according to Catalyst, a nonprofit research and advisory organization working to advance women in business and the professions. African- American women represent 1.1 percent of corporate officers in Fortune 500 companies. That’s just 106 out of 10,092 positions, while Asian women occupy 30 of those positions and Hispanic women hold only 25.
But the challenges for women of color are apparent before they start ascending career ladders. From the 2000 U.S. Census, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that for every $1 earned by white men, Asian Pacific women earned 80 cents, white women — 72 cents, black women — 67 cents and Hispanic women — 54 cents.
According to Mike Hyter, president and CEO of Novations/J. Howard & Associates, a human resources development and diversity solutions firm, companies are trying to do something about parity for minority women, but not all of them are doing so with great conviction.
“We find that more organizations sincerely seek to promote diversity and inclusion as an essential part of their business and management practices,” he said. “So it surprises us when we still come across cynicism in senior management … corporate leaders who would like the whole thing to go away. They sort of hope that throwing a training program at the issue will enable them to say the company did something about diversity. The good news, however, is that the trend has been moving steadily toward greater strategic leadership in diversity.”
Voices for Change
Some women’s organizations are working with companies to move those initiatives along.
Debra Nakatomi, president of the Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute, said the La Mesa, Calif.-based group has been invited to work with companies that “value our approach, and are committed to providing women advancement opportunities to create custom programs to meet the needs of women in the workforce.”
APAWLI provides educational programs to enhance and enrich leadership skills for Asian-American and Pacific Island women.
Nakatomi welcomes inquiries from companies but has mixed views on the executive status of minority women.
“Despite obstacles to access Fortune 500 corner offices and boardrooms, Asian Pacific American women have emerged in executive positions in a number of sectors,” she said.
The promising news, Nakatomi continued, is that APA women are increasing in the professional and managerial ranks at a healthy pace: 41 percent compared to 38.7 percent of white women and 36.2 percent of all women, according to the 2000 Census.
“Sadly, these numbers don’t translate into mobility in top-tier jobs,” she said.
Marisa Rivera-Albert is equally concerned. She presides over the National Hispana Leadership Institute, a group dedicated to helping Hispanic women achieve success in government, volunteer organizations and business.
Its leadership program was designed “to empower Hispanic women so they can advance in business and help improve the world around us,” she said.
Rivera-Albert added that Hispanic women cannot always depend on others to help them achieve positions in corporate management, and must take it upon themselves to develop skills.
“The biggest reward is to see women walk out of here with the hope, energy and belief that they are effective leaders,” she said.
At the New York City-based National Coalition of 100 Black Women, programs target leadership skills in African-American women to help them deal with career advancement in the corporate sector, as well as political and economic empowerment.
While 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies have formal diversity programs, many women of color feel that the programs’ initiatives don’t respect differences in culture.
A study conducted by Catalyst in 2003 showed that black, Hispanic and Asian women viewed family commitments as a barrier to advancement.
The study further indicated that women of color reported feelings of not fitting in, and not being able to find suitable mentors or establish relationships with key people.
“Too often, the one-size-fits-all approach to diversity training lacks relevance for APA women,” Nakatomi said. “Many companies developed recruitment and advancement programs with an African-American and Latino/Hispanic framework, which can’t be simply adjusted to meet the needs of a very diverse APA workforce that may include Chinese, Korean, Hawaiian, Vietnamese, Indian, Cambodian, Filipino … immigrant and American-born employees.”
Not making all women feel welcome is a big mistake, said former Catalyst president Sheila Wellington.
“Women are leaving corporate America, and they’re taking all that training and experience with them,” she explained. “That’s a lot of potential walking out the door.”
Nakatomi agrees and suggests an alternative.
“The other path to the executive suite is to start your own business,” she said.
Fifteen years ago she launched Nakatomi & Associates, after 10 years at CBS Television and Walt Disney Co. Her Los Angeles firm specializes in health and education issues advocacy and communications.
Almost 30 percent of women business owners with private-sector backgrounds cited glass-ceiling issues as a major reason for leaving corporate positions, according to Catalyst research.
But business ownership is not for everybody and even women who serve on corporate boards of directors are rare. In Dec. 2003, women held 13.6 percent of Fortune 500 board seats, up from 12.4 percent in 2001. For women of color, the percentage was 3 percent, up from 2.5 percent in 2001.
Despite the slow progress, Nakatomi said women will reach the top tier in increasing numbers.
“I stress the importance of being in the right environment,” she explained. “Ask yourself ‘Is this the right company for me?’ We need to challenge ourselves to move beyond the comfort zone, seek out mentors, create and nurture our relationships and learn to read subtle social and professional cues. There is the necessity to be assertive and a strong communicator, support the achievements and success of others and be an advocate for yourself.”
Morarka’s IPW Delivers Excellence in Product, Customer Service
By Peter Fretty
As Kedar Morarka continued to work his way through the corporate world, he held on steadfast to the dream of owning a business — one where he could make a difference. In fact, he even went through the planning stages in the 1980s to start a printing ribbon company, but things just did not pan out. Fortunately, in 1996 after working in the office equipment industry for a few decades, an opportunity finally presented itself, and Morarka was willing to take the risk. That is when the Denver-based Image Projection West Inc. (IPW) was born.
“The company I worked for was making ribbons and supplies that they were selling to dealers in the industry, but did not offer toner cartridges. Since our large distributors knew that I wanted to start my own company, they assured me that if I was able to produce a product that was competitive and high quality that they would be willing to buy my product,” he said. “That was a big boost because I knew we would not have to worry about the sales initially and could focus our attention on manufacturing a premium product.”
Morarka also knew it was important to take good care of his employees.
“Having worked for both small and large companies, it has always been easy to put myself in an employee’s situation,” he said. “I think that the main thing is that you want to be able to share success with employees.”
As a result, IPW offers an above average wage scale, fully paid medical benefits, matching 401k, profit sharing and significant bonuses across the entire company – all of which have led to very little turnover.
Building the Dream
Morarka told Minority Business News that when he and his partner Keith Arnold formed the company they knew that they had to create a competitive advantage to succeed. Therefore, they decided to focus strictly on producing highly reliable toner cartridges for laser printers and fax machines. “There really is no downside to using our product. It sells for 30-40 percent less than the OEM cartridge and saves about four pounds of non-degradable waste from entering the landfill,” he said. Considering that IPW currently produces about 400,000 cartridges per year (1.5 million pounds total), the environmental benefit is significant.
Moreover, with his mechanical engineering degree from Ohio State and MBA from Texas Tech, Morarka has been able to patent innovations in the imaging arena.
“We knew when we started that it would not be an immediate success, but we were confident in our abilities and excited to be entrepreneurs,” he said.
Fortunately, the company has had very progressive growth. In fact, last year it was able to sell approximately $22 million, and based on current projections should hit $30 million this year – most of which has come without ever having a salesperson until late 2003. “We grew to 19 million without a salesperson – it was all word of mouth,” he said. “We focused on innovation, quality and reliability, so people just knew that we were the ones to call.”
Banking on Success
While the company currently supplies to an array of Fortune 500 companies including UPS, United Technologies, JP Morgan Chase, Bell South, Qwest and even some of the OEMs, it was its relationship with Bank of America that really put the company on the map.
“We started early on supplying a small portion of their requirements, and they had it in their system where people could either purchase the new unit for a set price or one of our units for significantly less,” he said. “There was an impression at the time in the industry that by using a remanufactured cartridge you are compromising on quality. This is because many people essentially worked out of their garage and did not really know what they were doing so they were cautious for good reason.”
Yet in 1999, Bank of America recognized the consistency and value and no longer even offered a choice to buy a new cartridge. Since then, with a few exceptions for products IPW does not produce, the growing firm has supplied all of the bank’s toner needs. In fact, over this period, the relationship has saved the bank over $23 million as opposed to the cost of new OEM cartridges.
“Also, our return rate has remained at 1 percent or below which is consistent with what they experienced with OEM cartridges,” said Morarka.
According to Bank of America Vice President of Multicultural Supplier Development Brian Powers, when the bank started working with IPW the firm was brought on board because they had a quality product that met the institution’s needs.
“We had the opportunity to mentor and grow IPW as our business grew. The great thing about IPW is that they have always been extremely flexible and accommodating of our needs,” Powers said. “They have by nature an understanding that their future and survival depends upon their ability to accommodate corporate America. Kedar is ready to make adjustments as necessary and always works to understand our culture and climate. As a result, IPW is a strategic partner and has essentially become a member of the Bank of America family.”
Powers added that what others can take from the IPW model rests with the firm’s ability to understand its core business.
“People need to be cautious about growing outside their core. Kedar understands his core and his costs, which is something that far too few businesses understand,” he said. “When we give IPW a call to develop a new product we know that when they give us a quote they fully understand their price model. Once we commit to a company, we are on the hook for big volumes. We cannot afford to have suppliers that are not capable of delivering on their commitments.”
Bank of America’s Executive Vice President of Multicultural Supplier Development Joseph D. Hill added, “Bank of America’s relationship with IPW is an example of how using diverse suppliers allows us to support our overall supply chain management objectives, while assisting us in delivering key products and services. A supply base which represents the diversity of Bank of America’s customer base assists us in maintaining and growing our market share while delivering on our brand promise of higher standard in all we do.”
Morarka is also quick to acknowledge that without the help of others, he would not be in the position he is today.
“I have had my brother, wonderful teachers, mentors and bosses throughout my career to inspire me to continue moving forward and making a difference,” he said. “When you want to start your own business you are taking a big risk.”
One other person who was instrumental when IPW was just starting out was the late Dorothy Brothers who at the time headed up Bank of America’s Supplier Diversity initiative.
“She really mentored us and was a role model that made us a better company,” he said. “She told us that you have to meet the same requirements as everyone else regardless of size. She was a wonderful inspiration.”
It fact, it was Brothers who inspired a turning point for IPW. “She introduced us to one of its machine suppliers and told them that they had to do business with us. They came kicking and screaming, and eventually gave us a product that made up about five percent of their total purchases,” said Morarka. “Within 1-1/2 years we had done such a good job that they were giving us about 92 percent of their business. They were happy with our performance. When I told Dorothy, she said that was the whole intent. But, they never would have given us the chance if she did not push the issue.”
Morarka is also more than willing to give of his time and resources. For Morarka, the most important and meaningful way his firm can give back is to give to groups that help kids. “We buy a lot of printers to test cartridges and there is a group called The Bridge Project in the Denver area that helps kids before and after school and offers computers and mentoring. We have supplied them printers and toner cartridges needs,” he said. “We have also helped a school in Charlotte, a diabetes camp in California, and we are actively looking at sponsoring a college scholarship in our area.”
Morarka also likes to give back to his employees.
“We do our best to treat our employees right and also have a party each month for the employees. It is a nice fun environment where we enjoy our business as a family,” he said. “That is the best part for me. It is also our biggest accomplishment knowing that we have been able to build a business that provides 200 stable jobs for the community and continues growing.”
The final way that IPW gives back is through its commitment to diversity. For instance, about 10 percent of its purchases come from diverse firms, the firm has mentored other MBEs, and a large percent of its employment base at all levels is comprised of minorities. “We are committed to diversity because it makes sense,” he said.
Minority Business News Awards Include:
- 2004 Asian Business News Asian American Leadership Institute Award
- 2004 DFW Minority Business Development Council Minority Supplier of the Year
- 2004 Press Club of Dallas Katie Award
- 2003 NASA Special Recognition Award
- 2003 Plano Chamber of Commerce Minority Vendor of the Year
- 2003 U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce – Southwest Visionary Award
- 2003 Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Partnership Award
• 2003 Native American Business Alliance Media Person of the Year Award
• 2002 DFW Minority Business Development Council Chairman’s Award
• 2002 Women's Business Enterprise National Council "Applause Award"
• 2002 IBM Media Supplier Award
• 2001 DFW Minority Business Development Council Leadership Award
• 2001 Moorland Branch YMCA I.H. Clayborn Award and the Chairman's Award
• 2001 Wisconsin Supplier Diversity Council Hall of Fame
• 2000 DFW Minority Business Development Council Minority Business Enterprise Advocate of the Year
• 2000 Texas Utilities Shining Star Supplier Award
• 2000 Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Texas Award
• 2000 Philadelphia-New Jersey-Delaware Minority Business Development Council Award of Appreciation
• 2000 National Black MBA (Dallas Chapter) Partnership Award
• 1999 Opportunity '99 Minority Enterprise Development Week Special Recognition-Advocate Award
• 1999 National Association of Urban Bankers-Dallas Chapter Community Service Award
• 1999 National Association of Black Journalists Trailblazer Award
• 1998 New Image Business Associates Community Service Award
• 1998 National Association of African-American Chambers of Commerce Advocate of the Year
• 1998 AT&T Minority Business Advocate of the Year Spectrum Award
• 1997 Dallas Together Forum Covenant Noteworthy Accomplishment Award
• 1997 U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency Minority Business Advocate of the Year
• 1997 Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Business Development Council Minority Business Enterprise of the Year-Class I
• 1997 Ohio Assembly of Council’s Business Hall of Fame
• 1996 New York/New Jersey Minority Purchasing Council Chairman’s Award
• 1996 Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Media Award
• 1996 YWCA Mentor & Allies Award for Empowering Women
• 1996 Frito-Lay Minority and Women-Owned Business Supplier of the Year
• 1995 Greater Dallas Chamber Women’s Covenant Trailblazer Award
• 1995 JCPenney Corporate Partnership Award
• 1995 AT&T Minority-Owned Business External Achievement Award
• 1994 Outstanding Communicator of the Year-National Black MBA Association
• 1994 Minority Service Firm of the Year-U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency Region VII
• 1994 Minority Small Business of the Year-U.S. Small Business Administration Dallas District
• 1994 TU Electric Gold Star Supplier Award
• 1994 National Minority Business Council Media Advocate of the Year
• 1993 Frito-Lay/PepsiCola Business Partner of the Year
• 1993 Media Advocate of the Year-U.S. Small Business Administration
• 1992 and 1990 Vendor of the Year-Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Business Development Council
• 1992 and 1991 Advocate of the Year-Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Business Development Center
• 1992 Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce Quest for Success Award
• 1991 Minority Supplier of the Year (finalist)-Houston Minority Business Council
• 1990 NAACP Juanita Craft Award for Outstanding Journalism