I've had the great privilege the past few years to work closely with small disadvantaged and minority suppliers. These business owners are all highly entrepreneurial individuals willing to take extraordinary "risks" to develop, launch and grow their businesses and to do this against "obstacles" that majority companies do not face.
They are high energy, always exciting and real experts at networking. They're non-bureaucratic and can get things done at amazing speed. Every meeting is important to them and they surround themselves with other like-minded people. As business men and women, they are extremely focused. Every person who works for them knows the company objectives and knows the contribution they are expected to make. I'm proud to say that not only have I developed many close business associations, but also a number of meaningful personal relationships including a few who act as coach and mentor.
Last fall I participated in a new program called the AT Kearney Student Lab. Sponsoring companies included Emerson, Manpower, MeadWestvaco, Siemens, OldCastle, P&G, GSK and Georgia Pacific to name a few. A group of sponsoring company representatives (usually 2-3 per company) along with one AT Kearney facilitator developed a "problem statement" to be evaluated, researched and reported on by individual teams of MBA students. Last fall, the program was with Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business in Pittsburgh, PA. At the first meeting of sponsors and students, I was immediately struck by the overwhelming diversity among the students. They were from all parts of the globe representing many ethnicities. And it was then that I thought "I'm seeing what the future senior business leaders in the US will 'look' like 10, 15 or 20 years from now. The current "majority" will become the future "minority".
Social demographers have predicted that by 2040 roughly 50% of the US population will be comprised of ethnic "minorities". From what I saw on campus last fall, US senior business leadership will see and feel the change 10 to 15 years ahead of the population shift.
I've been working with a company that really brings this change to life. They are called Cherokee Pharmaceuticals, a wholly-owned subsidiary of PRWT Services, Inc. (in full disclosure, they are a small consulting client of mine, but my experience with them dates back to working with them from GSK.) In 2008 PRWT acquired an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing facility through its subsidiary making it the first minority-owned Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Distribution company in the US. Up until now, most small, disadvantaged or minority owned businesses have not been responsible for "complex manufacturing". I think everyone will agree that the production of pharmaceutical products is extremely complex and highly regulated. So Cherokee Pharmaceuticals is a real breakthrough and again I believe that we are seeing today what will become the norm tomorrow... and that is overwhelming ownership and growth of minority-owned business as well as small, disadvantaged businesses in highly complex sectors of American business. Some of these companies will become the new "Great Engine" companies that help revive our country. And they will have great success because of the way they approach their businesses (as discussed in the first two paragraphs of this posting).
Of course, corporations must also do their part to help ensure the success of these early leaders. In the case of Cherokee Pharmaceuticals they have an impressive portfolio of capabilities including API (active pharmaceutical ingredient) manufacturing, a huge laboratory designed for API and chemical testing, a full range of cGMP warehousing and distribution capabilities that can handle flammables, explosives, heat sensitive, etc, and packaging sourcing services. They have one of the largest pharmaceutical-grade cold storage capacities in North America, more than capable of handling significant quantities of flu vaccine (I hope someone from government is reading this).
So, any readers who buy chemicals, solvents, reagents or API's; anyone who is looking for analytical capability, or, anyone who needs help with warehousing or distribution... and wants to save money while assuring supply quality, check these guys out. They are easy to find on the internet (www.cherokee-pharma.com). Ask for either Luis Tovar or Dennis Bauer. You'll be doing the right thing for your company and also doing your part to help ensure the critical and successful transition that the US is beginning to undergo.
- Gregg Brandyberry