Astra Women’s Business Alliance (Astra WBENC) sat down with Sandy Winston (left) and Julia Winnicki (right) of Compusave Strategic Alliance to learn about how they utilize their Astra WBENC certification. Read on to learn about their partnership with The Boeing Company Supplier Diversity Team (Boeing) and how Astra WBENC has helped them grow their business.
1. You’ve been an Astra WBENC WBE since 2007. How did you learn about the Astra WBENC network?
(Julia) I became certified by the State of Washington as a WBE in 2005 and in 2007 I received an invitation to attend an event in Everett that Astra was hosting. I’d never heard of WBENC before. We had become Washington State Certified because we were interested in going after government contracts. At that first event, there was “speed dating” with buyers from Boeing who told me that my company was too small and that I should talk to Astra about getting WBENC certified. So, at the event, I sat down with Astra and talked to them about the certification process and officially became an Astra WBENC WBE in 2007.
2. What does your company do and how has your business changed since you became WBENC certified?
(Julia) We are a Value Added Reseller (VAR). Being a VAR means that we procure computer equipment, both hardware and software, process and integrate it, and then ship it to our customers for just in time delivery. Over the last 5 years our business has quadrupled. Boeing has been critical to our growth as a company. Really the key to this relationship has been the Boeing Supplier Diversity Team. Glory McCallum of Boeing has been a stellar advocate for us. She works closely with businesses and partner organizations like Astra WBENC. She has truly been a mentor and supporter of our company. We cherish our relationship. Compusave Strategic Alliance is a true beneficiary of the corporate support of WBENC certification. We are better for it. And as are result we just received notification that we will be receiving the Boeing Performance Excellence Award for 2012.
(Sandy) Boeing wants 100% accuracy and 100% on time delivery from suppliers. To be acknowledged with The Boeing Performance Excellence Award, Compusave Strategic Alliance creates and maintains internal core processes that triple check every order and every shipment we make – throughout quoting, purchasing, configuring, testing, labeling and shipping. These processes, plus our ability to develop and maintain customer relationships are at the center of our success, both with Boeing, and with all our other customers. The relationships we have created through the WBENC network have helped every step of the way.
(Julia) We have learned so much working with Boeing. We were invited to their first supplier diversity symposium as an exhibitor back in 2009. We were ready by then as we were certified and we had built capacity through our alliances. So at that event we were able to show our products and share our capabilities directly with buyers. That was a huge turning point for us and we became a Boeing supplier. We were also invited to participate in an online supplier showcase where we presented our capabilities live via web conference to 40 invited Boeing buyers. We had 20 minutes for our presentation and 10 minutes for questions. That was a very successful event for us.
3. What is your favorite Astra WBENC connection story?
(Sandy) It was one of those “you have got to be kidding moments”. Compusave was already certified when I came on board and I really didn’t understand the value. Julia was already working the network and then I showed up at a national WBENC National event in Las Vegas- you know the one they hold every year in June – this year it will be in Minneapolis. I sat down next to a stranger at lunch and we introduced ourselves. I explained what Compusave did and she said “I need that and I’ll call you.” When we arrived back home this large WBE called me and placed an order. It was truly an amazing experience.
(Julia) For me it was probably at an Astra event in 2009 where we connected with Robert Half International. It was a matchmaking event and that was the beginning of a successful business relationship.
4. What is your Astra WBENC “aha’”moment?
(Julia) For me, it was hearing Elizabeth Kearney, Ph.D., President, Kearney & Associates speak at an Astra event. Liz spoke about strategic alliances and how that helped her grow her business. It was like a light bulb went off. Boeing had called Compusave “too small” and here is this woman telling me how to get bigger by gathering capacity through alliances. That was definitely my “aha” moment.
5. What are your Astra WBENC plans for 2013 and how can Astra WBENC improve its service to your company?
(Julia) I will continue to participate at the national level as part of the Leadership Forum-at-Large. Boeing nominated me to this perpetual posting in 2010. This is great exposure for our company at the national level.
(Sandy) Both Julia and I will be attending all three of the big WBENC events as well as supporting Astra’s regional events. We co-chair Astra’s Washington State Leadership Forum. There is also a big event being planned at Microsoft in Redmond on October 16th. We are looking at partnering with The Mariners for a “Take me out the Ball Game” event over the summer and as well as having an events at Macy’s and Starbucks. So a lot is going on in the State of Washington!
(Julia) We’d love to see increased access to buyers for contract ready firms through the Astra WBENC network. I am not sure what format or structure this access would take on but it would allow established, experienced supply chain savvy, referable, capacity ready firms to showcase their X Factor. To me an X Factor is what makes a company different from their competition. That difference might be innovation, creativity, performance excellence or some other a combination of unique factors that sets them apart. It’s just an idea but it would be great to figure it out and make it work. There are some fabulous WBEs out there!
6. What’s your best advice for someone new to the Astra/WBENC network?
(Sandy) Show up! You have to show up! Just keep coming back. It’s a 2 to 3 year investment and it will pay off. Just keep working the network and giving back.
To learn more about Compusave Strategic Alliance visit their website: http://www.compusavedirect.com