Reshoring Opens Opportunities for Diverse Suppliers


Rosemary Coates, Founder of Blue Silk Consulting (WBE) and The Reshoring Institute, recently shared insightful information with ConnXus regarding reshoring initiatives and the opportunities it presents for diverse suppliers, including woman-owned, minority owned and veteran-owned businesses. Learn more about how The Reshoring Institute supports the diversification of US supply chains in this guest blog authored by Ms. Rosemary Coates.

A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group found that 54% of companies over $1 billion in revenue are reshoring their production now or at least considering it. Reshoring is the process of bringing manufacturing back to the US – the opposite of offshoring. While there are a lot of news articles and people talking about reshoring, there are very few resources to help companies through the process. The US Department of Commerce offers ACE, an analysis tool for evaluating your reshoring program, and there are other organizations doing some work in this area, but it is not enough for most companies to complete a Reshoring project.

To fill this gap, Blue Silk Consulting and the University of San Diego established The Reshoring Institute, a 501c3 Non-profit organization. The Reshoring Institute is organized under the umbrella of the University of San Diego Supply Chain Management Institute, to provide research and support for companies trying to bring manufacturing and services back to America. This research may include things like site comparisons, tax incentives available, science and math education available by area, marketing and PR and cost comparison development. The Reshoring Institute Directors oversee and guide this reshoring research and support work, using graduate student interns from the University.

The Reshoring Institute has a dual purpose:

  • To provide support and research for companies trying to reshore manufacturing to the US
  • To educate students about manufacturing in America

The University of San Diego was chosen for this collaboration because of its strong programs in global supply chain management, its proximity to Mexico and production that could return from there, availability of graduate-level interns and its very active Supply Chain Management Institute.

The ConnXus Connection

As companies reshore production, they must also rebuild their supply base in the US. During the past 25 years, production has moved offshore and supporting suppliers have followed. Whole industries such as furniture, apparel and footwear and plastics left in the 1990s and 2000s, but are now starting to come back. Rebuilding a supporting supply base is a non-trivial task and can easily take a year or more. This presents a grand opportunity for woman-owned businesses, small businesses and disadvantaged suppliers. The doors are open to new ideas and new suppliers.

To discover new Reshoring opportunities, suppliers should:

  • Be alert for news articles about companies that are reshoring
  • Stay in touch with local and state Economic Development organizations – these people are usually the first to know about new businesses in their area
  • Subscribe to the Reshoring Institute’s Quarterly Newsletter (
  • Visit the Reshoring Institute’s on-line free library of articles on Reshoring and other research

The future is bright with pathways to bringing manufacturing back to America and supporting these efforts with American suppliers.

About the Author

Ms. Coates is the Executive Director of the Reshoring Institute and the President of Blue Silk Consulting, a WBE Global Supply Chain consulting firm. She is a best-selling author of: 42 Rules for Sourcing and Manufacturing in China and 42 Rules for Superior Field Service and The Reshoring Guidebook. Ms. Coates lives in Silicon Valley and has worked with over 80 clients worldwide. She is also an Expert Witness for legal cases involving global supply chain matters. She is passionate about reshoring. 

2015 Year in Review



Cincinnati Business Courier Names ConnXus a “Startup to Watch in 2016”


Dec 29, 2015, 12:22 PM EST Updated: Jan 4, 2016, 9:54 AM EST


Cincinnati’s startup scene continues to grow.

In 2015, we saw tens of millions of dollars in investment, a $100 million acquisition and the #StartupCincy community knit closer together. If this momentum continues, 2016 could shape up to be a big year as well. Here are some of the startups the Courier believes are worth keeping an eye on in the new year:

  • LisnrLisnr seems unstoppable. The startup, which uses inaudible tones to transmit and receive data, received a $10 million Series B round led by Intel Ventures, a tech giant that doesn’t invest in just anyone. In addition, Lisnr was selected by Visa to pilot a technology for contact-free mobile payments and hired new executives from Gracenote and Procter & Gamble Co.
  • Everything but the House: EBTH was another startup that raised massive funds in 2015, locking down $30 million in a Series B round. It’s also beefing up its C-suite, hiring Mandana Dayani from Rachel Zoe Inc. as its chief brand officer and Sachin Gadhvi from Ticketmaster as its chief marketing officer.
  • ConnxusConnxus may not have raised the eight-digit sums in 2015 that others on this list did, but it did lock down a $2.5 million seed-plus round led by Techstars, one of the biggest names in tech startups. The hiring diversity platform has major clients, like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Harley-Davidson, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Sun Trust Bank. It saw revenue growth of 104 percent in the last year and 700 percent compound annual revenue growth since launching its first product in 2012.
  • Enable InjectionsEnable Injections produces a device that painlessly injects drugs underneath the skin. In 2015 it added a rock star from the pharmaceutical world– Jeannie Joughin, who was formerly a vice president at CSL Behring – to its team to help grow its customer base in the industry. It also added Timothy Flaherty, who has held executive positions at Bonfiglioli, Arvinmeritor, Ametek and AtriCure, as chief financial officer.
  • IncludeFitness: Ryan Eder won a prestigious national award in 2007 for The Access, a piece of exercise training equipment that could be used by anyone, regardless of ability or disability. That award was won the following year by the iPhone. Eder has gone on to refine his design and plans to go into full production in 2016.
  • Structure: Structure is still a young company, even in startup terms, but it has a proven team behind it. Charlie Key and Brandon Cannaday founded Structure after selling their first startup, Modulus, a 2012 Brandery grad, to Progress Software in 2014. It certainly helps that the space they’re playing in, the Internet of Things or connected devices, is extremely hot.

Select for Cincinnati Business Courier article. 

​Tis the Season for RFP’s

As the hustle and bustle of trade shows and industry conferences comes to a close for 2015, the season of business proposals and procurement bids is in full swing. After months of networking and relationship-building, procurement leaders are ready to gather information on prospective suppliers. Procurement, or the act of buying goods and services, is streamlined through RFI, RFP and RFQ processes.

Here’s a simple breakdown of the acronyms:

When a buying organization disseminates a Request for Information (RFI), they are seeking general information about prospective suppliers’ capabilities and services/goods. The next phase in the procurement process, involves either a Request for Quotation (RFQ), or a Request for Proposal (RFP). When a company distributes an RFQ, they are simply asking for suppliers’ pricing on the requested services. An RFP, on the other hand, is a request for suppliers’ comprehensive overview of their company background, detailed descriptions of the requested products/services, and often times a specific questionnaire is required for completion.

As a small or young business, having the following 8 items on-hand and up-to-date will accelerate the generally mind-numbing, yet vital procurement process to winning a contract:

1. Professional Cover Page

First impressions are everything, or so they say. Be sure to design a professional and clean cover page that accurately reflects your company’s identity. This should be representative of your company’s brand, the title of the requested service or product and the proposal date.

2. Table of Contents

Provide your audience with an easy-to-read, and understandable overview to reference the sections they’re most interested in. If possible, number the sections according to the information requested by the buying organization.

3. Company Background and Overview

Let’s face it, without this component the procurement team will have no idea who or what your company is about. A cover letter and executive summary are also appreciated elements in an RFP.

4. Comprehensive Product Descriptions

An all-inclusive, detailed overview of the requested product or service should completely exhaust any questions the prospective buyer may have. Be organized in your approach and break out exhaustive paragraphs into digestible sections with bolded or italicized headings.

5. Implementation Plan

The implementation plan includes your company’s step-by-step timeline for new client onboarding. The plan should include a timeline overview in order for your prospective client to schedule accordingly with their own team.

6. Financial Review

Be prepared to detail up to two (2) to three (3) years of your company’s financial information. To avoid the headache, be proactive and be sure your company’s financial review is up-to-date for the past 2-3 years.

7. Referrals

Before entering the RFP, RFQ or RFI submittal process, it’s wise to have three-four client referrals on-hand. Choose wisely: these referrals should have a positive experience doing business with your company.

8. Pricing Outline

Having a standard pricing sheet for all of your products/services will make your life way easier when the RFI’s, RFQ’s and RFP’s start rolling in.

Have questions about the bid proposal writing or organizing process? Email our marketing coordinator 

Top 5 Supplier Diversity Predictions for 2016


Authored by ConnXus CEO, Rod Robinson


Many supplier diversity trends that began in 2015 will gain traction as we enter 2016. Here are my top five supplier diversity predictions for 2016.

1. Increased focus on supplier diversity data accuracy. As the importance of supplier diversity continues to grow, more companies leverage it as a source of competitive advantage. Additionally, as increasing numbers of third-parties use the underlying data in decision-making—accuracy and reliability are critical. Just do a quick google search to see the numerous embarrassing and costly episodes associated with reporting erroneous diversity data.

2. Heightened focus on Tier 2 spend tracking & reporting. As I wrote in a previous post, many best practicing companies leverage technology applications to collect, track and analyze the relevant diversity spend associated with several of their prime suppliers. As the trend toward supplier consolidation continues, Tier 2 programs are a great way for large companies to foster the development of small and diverse suppliers who will become the primes of the future. Some companies, like P&G, are going as far as connecting key primes with top performing diverse suppliers to create value-added relationships that benefit both the supply and demand sides of the equation.

3. Supplier diversity will be more tightly aligned with procurement and supply chain. In many organizations, supplier diversity has historically been a disconnected bolt-on to procurement. However, as the demographics and dynamics of the business world shift—supplier diversity practices are also changing. Given the rapid growth of minority- and woman-owned businesses, representing over 70% of all U.S. businesses, the relationships and knowledge base of supplier diversity professionals will play a key role in the future sustainability of supply chains.

4. Diverse supplier relationship management processes will expand to broader supply chains. Supplier reliability, risk, transparency, validation… These are all buzz words being tossed around to emphasize the importance of effectively managing supplier relationships and supplier data. Many best practicing supplier diversity companies have captured relevant supplier qualification data on diverse suppliers for years via registration portals. However, many of these same companies are now realizing the benefit of having the same level of transparency for all suppliers.

5. Increased emphasis on innovation. As large corporations continue to reduce the number of suppliers participating in their supply chains, this will make it that much more difficult for small and diverse suppliers to breakthrough without significant size and scale. The best way to combat the scale challenge is coming to the table with unique, innovative solutions that bring value. These solutions could come in various forms including development of new software applications to streamline manual processes or a new innovative approach to product marketing.

The key message for small and diverse suppliers looking to breakthrough large corporate supply chains is this: Innovation will overrule size and scale where true value is delivered. Above average gross profit margins will follow. Here is to a rewarding 2016!

​Why Share Your Story?


Crystal J. Davis, ConnXus Senior Member Services & Affiliate Program Manager since 2012, brings over 12 years of experience certifying over 200 minority business enterprises in Ohio. Davis shares her story and experience on the highs and lows of supplier diversity as a kickoff to the Share Your Story blog contest February 1 – March 4.

Crystal Davis:


People enjoy stories because they can relate to and learn from others. Whether it’s the latest celebrity drama to business successes and failures—we all love a good story. That’s why I believe it’s especially important for diverse businesses to share their story to inspire and connect with others who may be stuck in a rut or are looking for business growth opportunities.

From my experience certifying small, diverse and women-owned businesses, I cannot underestimate the power of networking. Whether you’re attending a national trade show such as NMSDC or WBENC, or a local diversity conference—networking is the key to connecting with like-minded businesses and accessing educational opportunities.

On Becoming Certified

There are many realistic (and unrealistic) expectations when certifying your diverse business. Several third-party organizations are available to gain certification—including national, state and local certifying agencies. The most recognized are NMSDC, WBENC, CPUC and state municipalities.

After twelve years of certifying businesses, I’ve found the most successful companies were proactive about promoting their company’s strengths and capabilities. Just because you are certified, doesn’t mean that you instantly gain a contract with a Fortune 2000 corporation. Your business must hold the internal capacity and dedication to do business with major corporations.

Why Share My Story?

Sharing your story not only brings a sense of pride that you are helping someone else, but it brings awareness to your company by allowing others the insight into the failures and successes that you’ve endured.

I have encountered an ample amount of diverse business owners who feel as if they’ve hit a wall when trying to do business with corporate America. My advice to minority, women, veteran or disability-owned businesses who might be asking “Why should I share my story?” Here are my four reasons why:

  1. To educate other diverse business on what resources are to gain certification, what trade-shows produce the most ROI, and what educational opportunities will help grow their business needs.
  2. To connect and network with like-minded companies and those who have been through similar business paths.
  3. To inspire those who are in a rut or feel as if they can’t grow their business, and to see the bigger picture.
  4. In order to grow, your business needs to take inventory of where you’ve been, where you are and where you’d like to be.

What’s your story?

Submit your supplier diversity stories to from Feb. 1 – March 4 for a chance to win $3,000 for your business needs or a charity of your choice.

Select for full contest details.

Share Your Story the Month of February


We want to know…. How has supplier diversity impacted you, your business and/or your employees?