ConnXus Spearheads a Brave Frontier with Supplier Diversity Sustainability Dashboards

 

MASON, Ohio, April 26, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — ConnXus, a supplier diversity software company based in Mason, Ohio, now streamlines products into a smart dashboard—opening the gateway for procurement, supplier diversity and supply chain professionals to access a wealth of supply chain analytics in two clicks or less.

The ConnXus supplier diversity sustainability dashboard is complementary with all product purchases and includes two brand-new product offerings:

  1. SmartScrub, an automated, streamlined data enrichment and validation service
  2. ConnXSmart, a “matchmaking” tool that connects large companies with diverse suppliers

ConnXus-Dashboard-Press-Release-4-2016

“That’s right,” said ConnXus chief operations officer Daryl Hammett. “We are giving away state-of-the-art dashboards with every product. We believe everyone should experience the visibility that supplier diversity brings to an organization’s supply chain.”

“Our unique, smart dashboard is a game-changer—disrupting more traditional approaches to supplier diversity management,” announced Anthony Mitchell, senior manager of product management. “ConnXus equips clients with visual representations of their supply chain data that can be easily exported for boardroom presentations and many other purposes.”

Hammett elaborated, “As ConnXus continues to make strategic global partnerships, our dashboard’s recently expanded international supplier registration portal offerings now reach eight different countries—providing corporations and suppliers more opportunities to connect.”

The software company will debut its upgraded suite of dashboard-based applications as a first-time corporate exhibitor at the 2016 Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) National Conference in Orlando, Fla. June 21-23. During the conference, ConnXus will again leverage its unique supplier matchmaking tool—ConnXSmart—to facilitate meetings between Procter and Gamble’s (P&G) community of partners.

ConnXus continues to innovate the supplier diversity industry space. Upcoming software releases include business intelligence, networking, blogging and category management capabilities.

To learn more about ConnXus supplier diversity software solutions, feel free to schedule a demo prior to the WBENC National Conference. Please contact sales@connxus.com

About ConnXus

ConnXus (www.connxus.com) is a supplier diversity software-as-a-service (SaaS) certified minority-owned business (MBE) headquartered in Mason, Ohio. The SaaS-based company helps small and diverse businesses, including woman-, and minority-owned companies, grow by connecting them to Fortune 2000 corporations.

View press release on BusinessWire and PRNewswire

WCPO: WHAT’S NEW IN BUSINESS: CONNXUS GAINS TRACTION AT LINKING CLIENTS WITH DIVERSE SUPPLIERS

 

What’s New in Business: ConnXus gains traction at linking clients with diverse suppliers

Revenues double in 2015, more hiring planned

By: Kevin Eigelbach, WCPO contributor

Posted: 6:01 AM, Feb 5, 2016

 

Rod Robinson, founder, president and CEO of ConnXus, in the companyÕs offices in Mason. Founded five years ago, the company now has 21 employees. (Kevin Eigelbach for WCPO)

Rod Robinson, founder, president and CEO of ConnXus, in the companyÕs offices in Mason. Founded five years ago, the company now has 21 employees. (Kevin Eigelbach for WCPO)

MASON, Ohio — ConnXus, which helps companies find qualified, diverse suppliers and keep track of their spending with those suppliers, is ready to scale up.

“We have companies that are demanding our product,” said founder, president and chief executive Rod Robinson. “We want to get in front of them and help them.”

After five years in business, the Mason-based company has started to gain traction, doubling its revenue last year to well more than $1 million but less than $10 million (Robinson would not reveal the exact amount). It now has 21 employees, including Robinson, and plans to add more sales and development staff this year.

What does it do?

The most basic service involves taking a customer’s accounts payable or spending records and matching them against the company’s database of 1.7 million diverse suppliers to validate the customer’s spending on diverse suppliers. Different companies have different goals for diversity spending, Robinson said, but it generally means money spent with women-, minority- or veteran-owned businesses, or with small businesses generally.

More advanced services include enabling customers to track their secondary diversity spending — money spent on contractors who then hire diverse subcontractors — and enabling them to search the ConnXus database to find diverse suppliers.

How did it get started?

Florida native Robinson, now 48, moved to Cincinnati in 2002 when he became chief procurement officer for Cincinnati Bell. In that role, he learned firsthand how hard it is for large companies to find diverse suppliers and keep track of money that goes to them.

In 2005, he started his own consulting firm and spent many hours going over accounts-payable data line by line to find diverse suppliers. That reinforced his conviction that a software solution was needed, and he started ConnXus in 2010 to provide it.

Who are the investors?

They include local startup investor CincyTech; Boulder, Colorado-based TechStars, which invests in tech startups; and New York-based Serious Change LP, which invests in high-growth, high-potential minority-owned companies. Management hopes to raise $3 million to $5 million more this year from venture-capital firms, Robinson said.

He added that he and the other employees have also invested a significant amount of their own money with the company through an employee stock option plan. Altogether, the company has raised about $4.7 million, and, while it’s not yet turning a profit, Robinson said, it’s getting close.

Who are the customers?

They include large organizations such as Louisville-based distilled spirits maker Brown-Forman Inc., the National Basketball Association, American Express, Harley-Davidson USA and local clients that include Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Who else is on the team?

Daryl Hammett was consulting as a business coach when he met Robinson and became the chief operating officer of ConnXus two years ago. He’s a former vice president and general manager of Sears Optical and an executive for 15 years with Luxottica Group in Mason, a maker of eyewear. He replaced 90 percent of the existing team, he said, and took the company from a scrappy startup to more of a global business.

“We have built the most user-friendly platform in the marketplace,” he said. “At the end of the day, we are taking supplier diversity to the next level, which is supplier inclusion.”

That means not just hiring diverse suppliers, he said, but also listening to their ideas and seeing how they can add value to the hiring company’s strategic plan.

What has the journey been like?

The highs are really high and the lows are really low, Robinson said, but he wouldn’t trade owning this business for anything else. “I wake up every morning excited about what lies ahead,” he said.

In the early days, the challenge was attracting capital and getting clients to take a chance on a startup, he said. Now, the company has both capital and good talent.

“For a long time the wind was in our face,” he said. “Now, the wind is at our back.”

Select for Original Article.

Share Your Story 1st Place Winner: netlogx

Nine diverse suppliers submitted their supplier diversity stories in the first-ever ConnXus Share Your Story blog campaign.  Three judges determined three winners based off the suppliers’ history with supplier diversity, community impact and relationship with other diverse suppliers in their own business. This year’s judges included Tamara Lang, Program Manager for Women Excel Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber; Sheila Mixon, Senior VP of Business Development for Greater Cincinnati Urban League and Executive Director of ORV-WBE; Debra Quade, Kellogg’s Manager of Supplier Diversity. 

netlogx, an information risk management service provider based in Indianapolis, IN, is the first place winner of the ConnXus Share Your Story blog campaign.

Audrey_Taylor-netlogx

Once upon a time, a determined young lady traveled across the pond from England to America seeking employment and a grand adventure. As this story unfolds, months slip into years and her new-found city, friends and work feel like home. She stays, and the story of netlogx begins.

Through the nearly 18 years since netlogx first opened its doors, CEO, Audrey Taylor has remained constant in her commitment to fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion. As a direct reflection, she and the team embrace the spirit of diversity in the workplace and through our supplier diversity program, Diverse by Design, which is reflected in our core values and position of our leadership. Our goal is to provide a culture of excellence and inclusion that is demonstrated with our commitment to all employees. We believe that an inclusive culture is one that recognizes and respects differences and actively seeks participation with diverse suppliers which delivers value and drives innovation for our clients.

As diversity is woven into the very fabric of the organization, leadership serves as strong advocates at every level. netlogx has created a Diverse by Design committee that is fully committed and supportive of initiatives which include increased participation in all facets of the company’s goals and planning, ongoing education and strategic community involvement. This is reflected in our senior management which is 88% diverse and includes minorities and women. Additionally, over 50 % of our team members are women.

Diverse suppliers are integral to our 360 degree approach to participation. netlogx purchases over 60% of our goods and services from minority and women-owned firms. We have also developed processes to identify and partner with diverse companies such as our self on potential business opportunities in an effort to fuel economic growth and build long-lasting partnerships.

As a direct result of our supplier diversity registration efforts we secured a contract with a public utility company. We have engaged and continue to seek utilization of MWVBEs on contracts as well as having served as a WBE on several contracts. Not only is it the right thing to do but we have also seen the economic benefit.

Strengthening relationships with Minority, Women and Veteran-owned businesses (XBEs) in the community through promotion and active participation with organizations and companies that strive to maximize opportunities for XBEs has resulted in countless and unimaginable gifts. Our involvement with organizations such as NAWBO, WBENC, MNSDC, city and state programs and company supplier diversity programs has increased awareness and served to elevate our partners, diverse companies and all of those squarely committed to supplier diversity.

In May 2015, netlogx was selected as a Top 5 finalist in the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) National’s “No Small Thing” video contest highlighting the one thing that’s contributed most to their business success. The video conveys our story and how diversity has helped build netlogx into a successful and caring firm that is Diverse by Design. Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NszoenzRWqM

Why You Need to Make Room in Your Budget for Supplier Diversity

 

For many busy supply-chain and procurement leaders, supplier diversity falls near the bottom of the list when budget time rolls around. That’s partly because supplier diversity programs may seem more like a regulatory requirement or a corporate social responsibility than a genuine business opportunity.

Why_You_Need_to_Make_Room_in_Your_Budget_for_Supplier_Diversity

This misguided perception is rooted in three facts about supplier diversity in the United States:

  1. The federal government is still the single largest customer for minority- and women-owned suppliers and vendors.
  2. State and local governments generally require that a certain amount or percentage of their budgets must be spent with minority- and women-owned businesses.
  3. Many corporations and other organizations – especially those with large government contracts – must also comply with similar requirements.

Given all the many government requirements and regulations every company must follow, there’s more to the story than simple compliance. Want to know the real reason why are more and more top corporations investing so heavily in supplier diversity? The answer is simple – a more diverse and inclusive supply chain is helping them to grow and expand.

Not Easy, But Worth the Effort

For public- and private-sector procurement managers, many of whom are also coping with budget cuts, meeting all these layers of diversity requirements can be challenging. To fulfill their fiscal and diversity obligations, managers need not only organizational buy-in, but also strong procurement processes that help support a more diverse supply chain.

But does a business case exist for establishing programs that actively recruit qualified minority- and women-owned suppliers? An increasing number of supply-chain thought leaders say yes. Manufacturers and other organizations with robust supplier diversity programs are benefitting from:

  • Stronger relationships with their supply base,
  • New business opportunities, and
  • A more agile supply chain.

Consider this statistic: The combined “buying power” of African American, Hispanic, and Asian American-owned businesses is now about $3 trillion dollars. With the multicultural population experiencing such amazing growth, it’s no wonder more and more businesses are embracing supplier diversity to stay competitive.

Good Times, Bad Times

Any procurement manager who has experienced a few business cycles understands that it can be tough to keep diversity in mind during periods of economic downturn or uncertainty. But it can be done. For example, a few years back Cargill had to cull back its select suppliers from 17 to 12 to improve efficiency. Because the giant manufacturer made it a strategic priority not to eliminate suppliers from traditionally underrepresented groups, no Black-, Latino- or women-owned businesses were cut in the process.

In fact, “Having diverse and inclusive perspectives and practices in our organization will be even more crucial in the face of unprecedented economic challenges,” says Pat Hemingway Hall, president and CEO of HCSC. “To be as innovative as possible, we must capitalize on the talents and skills of all of our employees. At the same time, we need to continue to anticipate and respond effectively to the needs of our increasingly diverse customer base who will be facing their own unique challenges during this difficult time.”

Diversity as a New Business Generator

Executives at Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls Inc. say they can directly trace more than $6 billion worth of business to its commitment to supplier diversity. A Tier 1 supplier to General Motors and other automakers for years, the company’s notable focus on diversity helped the company gain business from GM in the late 1990s.

To differentiate itself, Johnson Controls approached GM and offered to form a joint venture with a minority-owned firm to help GM meet its minority-produced content targets. Now known as Bridgewater Interiors LLC, this joint venture has expanded over the years to supply components to several other major carmakers.

Smaller Can Be Better

Like many other defense contractors to the federal government, Lockheed Martin must search for certified minority-owned or small businesses to provide a percentage of its content. The federal government’s definition of a minority-owned business includes small businesses and companies owned by veterans or service-disabled veteran.

This has proven to be a competitive advantage rather than a handicap, because smaller companies are often more agile and flexible than their larger competitors. “What these small businesses do is really bring innovation to our corporation in a much faster method to market than a real large corporation like Lockheed Martin,” said Nancy Deskins, Lockheed Martin’s director of corporate agreements and supplier diversity.

There is also huge untapped potential in reaching out to women-owned suppliers. While women control a tremendous amount of purchasing power worldwide, women-owned vendors typically represent less than 1% of sales to large multinationals.

Corporations interested in partnering with women-owned businesses can find potential leads through WEConnect International, a nonprofit organization that collaborates with various international agencies, including The World Bank Group and the U.S. State Department, to identify and certify women-owned businesses globally.

Still think you can’t afford to build a world-class supplier diversity program into your annual budget? It’s high time to rethink your priorities – and calculate the potential benefits of greater inclusion.


STAY TUNED! Next time, we’ll show you how supplier diversity can help your company navigate today’s competitive landscape.

 

Links:

http://www.sdcexec.com/article/10246927/time-to-get-started-with-supplier-diversity

http://www.diversityinc.com/supplier-diversity/a-win-win-companies-thrive-communities-get-a-boost-with-supplier-diversity/

http://www.industryweek.com/leadership/business-case-supply-chain-diversity

http://weconnectinternational.org/en/

WHY SUPPLIER DIVERSITY SHOULD TOP YOUR TO-DO LIST

 

Diversity_to_do_list

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions this January? Okay, how many of those commitments have already fallen by the wayside? Here are some important reasons you shouldn’t let implementing a diverse supply chain program become one of those “should have, could have, didn’t” items on this year’s to-do list.

While supplier diversity (SD) is just one element of modern supply chain planning, it’s becoming increasingly important to private companies, government agencies, and not-for-profits alike. “Supplier diversity” means a strong commitment to creating and maintaining a diverse supply chain that ensures the inclusion of diverse groups in their procurement plans, including women- and minority-owned businesses.

MORE THAN QUOTAS

It’s a mistake to think of supplier diversity as just a quota system or a social program designed to help selected social groups, while adding minimal value to your supply chain. In fact, a commitment to meaningful SD can give your organization a measurable competitive advantage in several ways:

  • Greater return on investment (ROI). A major study by the Atlanta-based Hackett Group showed actual financial benefits from business relationships with diverse suppliers. Based on a study of 50 companies from both the service and manufacturing sectors, the research demonstrated that companies with a strong SD focus generated a 133% greater procurement ROI than the average comparable business, driving an additional $3.6 million to their company’s bottom line.
  • Lower operating costs and higher profits. These same companies spent an average of 20% less on their buying operations, and reported procurement staffing levels less than half of similar companies without SD programs. The statistics also showed that companies who actively pursue a diverse supply chain are more profitable than companies who don’t.
  • Other benefits. A strong commitment to supplier diversity can also:
    • Promote innovation by introducing new products, services, and solutions
    • Expand your range of procurement channels for goods and services
    • Drive increased competition (on price and service) between current and potential vendors
    • Open up new opportunities for business expansion by highlighting new consumer needs driven by shifting demographic trends
    • Display your organization’s commitment to doing business in multicultural markets with rapidly growing consumer groups

REAPING THE REWARDS

Progressive-thinking companies are leading the way in a multicultural marketplace by finding creative new ways to incorporate supplier diversity into their business processes. Two of these have developed particularly strong relationships with minority business owners — and are enjoying the benefits.

  • In 2007 alone, Wal-Mart spent more than $3.9 billion with nearly 2,000 minority-owned suppliers, using community outreach to help develop their network. As Hispanic businesses scale up, Wal-Mart is using them to meet customer needs. For example, Ruiz Foods, the largest Mexican frozen food company in the United States, is one of Wal-Mart’s largest domestic product suppliers.
  • IBM was the first IT company to pass the $1-billion mark with minority suppliers, spending $2.3 billion with diverse companies in business services, facility management, travel, and technical subcontracting in 2007.

Many companies and organizations set out to implement a diverse supplier group with no real expectations of a tangible return on investment. They may even anticipate increased costs and a greater administrative burden.

The pleasant surprise is that a robust SD program doesn’t have to cost more … and can bring unexpected business benefits that help your bottom line.

DOWNLOAD THIS BLOG IN PRINTABLE PDF FORMAT


STAY TUNED! In the next installment, we’ll explore some simple guidelines that can help you navigate today’s changing competitive landscape with the aid of supplier diversity.

Contact sales@connxus.com for more information on ConnXus products or to schedule a demo.

Links:

Staff Member Spotlight: Jennifer O’Neal-Douga

 

ConnXus Senior Account Development Manager, Jennifer O’Neal-Douga, joined the team in July of 2015.

jennifer-concrete5

“What motivates me to jump out of bed every morning is the thrill of seeing what surprises the day has in store for me and the interesting problems I will solve at ConnXus,” says Jennifer.

In the fairly young business environment at ConnXus, Jennifer’s role is especially crucial to maintain a clear plan for client onboarding and engagement. Her top three responsibilities as ConnXus Senior Account Development Manager include new client onboarding, project management and strategic business growth.

The entrepreneurial and family friendly company culture at ConnXus is what drew Jennifer to work at the Mason, Ohio office. When asked what song best describes the ConnXus work environment, she responded with “Eye of the Tiger,” by Survivor.

When she’s not working, Jennifer enjoys spending her time outside hiking—her favorite local trails are at Winton Woods and Miami Whitewater.

With over 15 years of accomplished leadership experience in the financial, retail and insurance industries, Jennifer brings exceptional strategic planning and operations management skills to the ConnXus team.

Jennifer obtained her bachelor of arts (BA) in history from Georgetown University, and her masters of business administration (MBA) from Xavier University.