Diverse Businesses Get a Chance to Meet Prime Contractors at SCE’s ‘Meet the Primes’ Event

SCE’s Transmission & Distribution department looks to increase its diverse business enterprise spending.

October 06, 2014 | By Nora Mendoza

“I’ve never climbed a pole, but my people replace them,” said Elijah Adams, a majority investor in Faith Electric LLC, a company that specializes in overhead and underground construction.

Adams recently attended the first “Meet the Primes” event organized by Southern California Edison’s (SCE) Supplier Diversity and Development department. The event matched the utility’s Transmission & Distribution department’s top 12 prime suppliers with 40 diverse business enterprises who are positioned to supply materials and resources for subcontract work.

A business owner since 2012, Adams began with 15 employees and now has a staff of 40. To date, he has overseen Faith Electric on more than 25 SCE projects.

“I knew SCE was looking for minority-owned businesses that can scale, so after purchasing Faith Electric I invested capital, organized a new management team and improved back-office operations,” he said.

Adams is doing everything right — now he needs prospects to help grow his business.

And that’s what “Meet the Primes” is all about, said Kevin Cini, vice president of SCE Major Projects in Transmission & Distribution.

“Whatever your role or interest, today is about building relationships and generating opportunities,” he said.

The prime suppliers that attended the recent SCE event accounted for over $1 billion last year in goods and services for Transmission & Distribution work. Their diverse business enterprise subcontracting spending amounted to 19.2 percent of that $1 billion and the company hopes to increase this percentage.

SCE had a goal of 40 percent spent on diverse business enterprises across the company and surpassed it two years ahead of schedule. Now it’s about sustaining this percentage.

Joseph Finneran, owner of Alton Builders, a disabled-veterans company, served in the U.S. Army with a tour in Vietnam. A diverse business enterprise general contractor with SCE for the past six years, Finneran said his company likes building things. And he has, with about 15 projects at SCE, including interior tenant improvements, a garage expansion and an advanced technology project.

Finneran was at the “Meet the Primes” event for his company, and in a sense for smaller diverse business enterprises too. If Alton Builders gains subcontracts, smaller diverse businesses win too because Finneran’s management team is committed to include qualified, diverse companies on all of their projects.

Deborah Dyson Electrical is an example of one of these smaller diverse business enterprises. Deborah Dyson was equally happy to sit down with the primes and mingle with the various subcontractors who might need their services.

“We feed off these events,” she said. “I have a few good leads for future work.”

Jeanene Bowers of Henkels & McCoy, a prime supplier, said the SCE event felt like “speed dating.”

“It was great. And interesting to meet vendors we don’t currently use, to give them an opportunity,” she said.

The tool used to match prime suppliers with diverse businesses was developed by the Women Business Enterprise Council-West in conjunction with minority-owned business Cloud Custom Solo. The primes share their subcontract needs and the diverse businesses outline their services and materials. The tool works like a matchmaker, providing appointments for diverse businesses to meet with the primes.

SCE’s Supplier Diversity team will follow up with the 12 primes to check on the results of the various interviews.

“We’re trying to change the thinking — we need to have prime suppliers think of using diverse business enterprises to do some portion of their contracts,” said Eric Fisher, principal manager of SCE Supplier Diversity and Development. “They have to look at the bigger picture.”

Some of the diverse businesses aspire to eventually become prime suppliers.

“Our goal is to engage with prime suppliers, and eventually be the prime supplier,” Adams said. “Give us the job, and we’ll give it back to you, completed.”

For more information: sce.com/sd.

Topics: People