Supplier Diversity Raises up 21st Century Expo Group

ConnXus Share Your Story Series


Rayford McFarland, CEO of 21st Century Expo Group

Supplier Diversity may mean different things based on who you are and how it impacts your existence. What supply diversity means to me is that it provides a means to develop the resources and relationships that companies, large and small, need to help level the field of competition, social responsibility, and community development for the greater good and success it brings to American families and their communities.

Since our founding in 1991, 21st-Century Expo Group, Inc. (21stCEG) has participated in various initiatives established by government, corporate, and professional sports organizations. They have served as a part of our unique niche that has kept us viable and relevant to our client base over the past 25 years.

Most critically our association with the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and my local council, The Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council (CRMSDC) have been strong supporters and catalyst for 21stCEG’s growth in the trade show and special events industry.

After the tragedy of 9-11 and the 2008 Great Recession, the industry and our clients suffered a dramatic downturn that affected our very survival.

To endure the downturn, we depended heavily on NMSDC and CRMSDC to continue building our business while taking the necessary steps to maintain financial and operational efficiencies.

Starting in 2010, we were able to create a model of sustainability including sales, marketing, and business development trajectory that dramatically improved our financial and operational success. In 2012 we were selected to receive The CRMSDC’s Supplier Of The Year Class II Award. That same year we won the contract to produce Major League Baseball’s Inaugural Diversity Business Summit in Chicago. Things were clearly looking up.

During the NMSDC Annual Conference in Denver, 21st Century Expo Group received its 2013 National Supplier of the Year Class II Award to our delight. That award represented the accumulation of support and assistance received from our clients and the supplier diversity professionals in their organizations.

Since receiving these awards, we have been able to create a new course of success that continues today. We are now the only African-American women owned and operated general service contractor in the nation. Our client list now includes organizations such as Google, Time Warner, McDonald’s, Centene Corporation, Major League Baseball and of course ConnXus.

In addition we’ve been able to move into a new warehouse facility, double our minority staff, and establish our Project Expo Initiative. This initiative is designed to provide personal growth development and employment opportunities for unemployed young African-American men from the underserved communities in Washington DC and Maryland.


Through our relationship with Major League Baseball’s Supplier Diversity and Inclusion office, we recently presented 21stCEG’s services to the Diversity in Inclusion Sports Consortium (DISC) that consist of representatives from the NFL, NBA, NASCAR, US Olympic Committee, US Tennis Association, and Major and Minor League Baseball.

For 21stCEG, none of this would’ve been possible without the existence, support, and continued efforts of NMSDC, CRMSDC, corporations, and minority businesses working together collectively to achieve the American Dream.

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