Recap: Creating Connections 2018 at Quicken Loans Arena

2018 Creating Connections event at Quicken Loans Arena

12 Feb Recap: Creating Connections 2018 at Quicken Loans Arena

On Jan. 16, 2018, The Presidents’ Council was proud to partner with The Cleveland Cavaliers, The Cleveland Indians, The Cleveland Browns, Aramark, Cleveland Building Trades Council, Greater Cleveland Partnership, Hispanic Business Center, NAACP, and OMSDC for the Creating Connections Supplier Diversity Event.

At this inaugural event, members of The Presidents’ Council Business Chamber (PCBC) had the opportunity to connect with key purchasing decision makers of Cleveland’s three major sports teams. Creating Connections provided beneficial information to our PCBC members regarding the steps and processes of actively engaging with, becoming a supplier, and getting the goods of small business owners into some of the biggest venues in sports. Though this was the first annual Creating Connections event, The Presidents’ Council looks forward to working with all parties involved in making this an annual event that benefits all parties involved. During each seminar held by the Cavaliers, Indians and Browns, PCBC members asked phenomenal questions that led to gaining priceless insight in generating new clientele within major league sports.

The Cleveland Indians Director of Purchasing, Betty Prendergast, shared wonderful insights as to how small businesses should approach the Tribe for supplier opportunities. To cover all the bases regarding Global supplier diversity and inclusion, the Indians use to manage those requests. Additionally, the Indians handle their sourcing towards the end of the season in August and September. Though the team begins their season in April and finishes in October, they play only 81 home games a year. Prendergast makes clear though, that they are most reachable when the team takes road trips. Attendees were also provided key information to consider when doing business in baseball overall. The key points for business owners were to follow MLB in some capacity to remain up to date with the current topics and issues regarding the game, know your competitors who are bidding for similar contracts, and to be realistic when evaluating the likelihood of landing a big league team as a client. It was also stated that Major League Baseball encourages diverse businesses to gain certification from the NMSDC, WBENC or the SBA.

Also, was the discussion of connecting with purchasing decision makers for all 30 Major League Baseball teams at the Winter Meetings to be held the week of December 9, 2018 in Las Vegas. Vendors attending the Winter Meetings will have the opportunity to learn more about the needs of the 30 MLB franchises around the league as well as some minor league teams. The big takeaway from those that attended were that there are countless opportunities to secure new business through baseball given all of the necessities involved in the game-day experience. Concessions are another area where business owners should seek to get their products into major league stadiums. The Cleveland Indians secure the needs of their concession stands through Delaware North.

The Cleveland Browns’ informational session included details on their current status of vendor relations. Their seminar was led by Dave Jenkins, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Browns. The Browns purchase all the products and goods needed by FirstEnergy Stadium and their front office staff & training facilities in Berea. The only areas in which they are not responsible for purchasing are concessions and retail merchandise which are handled by Aramark and Legends, respectively. The potential future buying opportunities they noted include framing, printing, courier services, office supplies, office furniture and janitorial supplies. They stated that 400 of their 1300 vendors are brand-new to the organization, and joined after a holistic evaluation of quality, price, service, diversity and partnership potential. The Browns don’t currently have a formal purchasing program in place as they are on the look for a new staff member to fill the role of purchaser, full-time. Once the purchasing program is in place completely, supplier diversity language will be expressed, inviting vendors to provide certifications with their bids.

Providing more opportunities for minorities and small business enterprises will be one of the key responsibilities for their new hire. The Browns expressed that supplier diversity is important to them because they value different perspectives, ideas and approaches. Diversity is one of their organizational priorities because supplier diversity contributes to economic development and is good for the fiscal landscape of the region. They also note that adding diverse vendors is a smart business move on their end because it drives competition. The Presidents’ Council anticipates having the opportunity to connect with their new procurement officer at our next PC Networking Night in the spring, which we encourage all of our members to attend.

The Cleveland Cavaliers provided fantastic insight into their buying processes as well. The Cavaliers purchase everything needed by team and arena staff including printing, signage, office supplies, promotional items, coffee refreshment products, vending services, office furniture and janitorial supplies. The purchasing is handled specifically by their sourcing team. The Cleveland Cavaliers current sourcing team has five members. They use SharePoint to optimize their buyer diversity, and will soon include a portal to their SharePoint on the main Cavaliers website, The Cavs’ sourcing team is committed to providing opportunities to minority and small business enterprises as well. Their selection criteria for purchases includes price, quality, service, diversity and partnership. Their goals are to increase the number of diverse vendors they work with annually while increasing their diversity year over year. The standard RFP/RFQ information includes supplier diversity language that seeks out certified minority business enterprises similar to the Cleveland Browns. Their process always includes at least three vendors from Northeast Ohio, while proactively seeking qualified MBE, WBE and CSB.

The Presidents’ Council is pleased to have had the opportunity to participate in Creating Connections and provide added value to our PCBC members with opportunities to grow member businesses with the help of our big three franchises.

Be sure to stay connected with us, as we will share purchasing opportunities from our Cavaliers, Indians and Browns, as well as others as we are made aware of them.

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