Astra Women’s Business Alliance Organized Game Changers Event

On July 24th-25th, 2013, Fortune 500 companies, women-owned businesses and federal agencies came together to explore opportunities to do business, network and support women-owned businesses.

Astra Women’s Business Alliance, a regional partner of Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), organized and hosted a “Game Changers, Champions for Women-Owned Businesses Worldwide,” event that brought together Fortune 500 companies, women-owned businesses and federal agencies. The Workshops Awards & Matchmaker event provided an opportunity for those involved to do business, which can lead to economic development and job creation, which can then also span the world with its impact.

Three Astra women business owners won WBE Growth Awards for increasing their revenues during the past two years. Imelda Alejandrino, of AP42 won for businesses with growth under $1 million dollars; Laura Bergerson of Channel Impact won for growth up to $6 million and Olsa Martini of Olsa Resources, Inc. won for representing businesses over $6 million dollars in total revenues. The businesses were nominated by other individuals and were selected through a committee process.

Timothy Evans, Supplier Diversity Manager of Comcast was recognized as Corporate Advocate of the Year. Done Deals Awards were given to the following companies who have created at least three contracts with Astra women business owners in the last calendar year: Brocade, Robert Half International, Comcast and Effective Training Associates.

Astra also held a workshop entitled “Capturing Pooled Power of Women” which addressed the importance of women buying goods and services from each other and forming strategic alliances to position themselves for larger contracts in order to impact families and the communities. Mary Ann Campbell, Money Magic, Inc, former National Women’s Business Council, appointed by President Clinton; Billie Bryant Schultz, Cesco, Inc. founding board member of WBENC and Barbara Kasoff, co-founder of Women Impacting Public Policy were panelists. The workshop was moderated by Diane McClelland, co-founder of Astra Women’s Business Alliance and co-founder of Foundation for Women Owned Businesses. These women have been actively supporting the growth for business opportunities for women business owners for over 125 years combined.

Sponsors for the event were Chevron, Johnson & Johnson, AT&T, TransPak, Inc, Private Eyes, Inc. Olsa Resources, Inc., TMG, Union Bank, Hunter Hawk, Inc. and Primitive Logic.



Compusave Strategic Alliance Quadruples its Business

winstonwinnickiAstra 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.comcompusave

Arlene Inch, TransPak, Inc. is Astra’s WBENC Star for 2013

Astra is delighted to announce that Arlene Inch, Chairman, TransPak, Inc., is Astra’s 2013 WBENC Star   Arlene a committed supporter of women in business and Astra is honored to have her in our region and on our team!

Arlene’s consistent focus meeting her team’s need and her innate ability to identify strategic options is a critical factor in TransPak’s growth. Since the Inch family acquired the business in 1969, Arlene has taken on any role necessary in order to make the business the success it is today. Arlene’s personal philosophy of keeping positive no matter what the challenge has served the business since their first major customer, Farinon Electric, a microwave radio equipment manufacturer.  In addition to her responsibilities at TransPak, Arlene works to have a positive impact on the community. Arlene is on Astra’s Board of Directors  & in addition to  supporting  Astra/WBENC, Arlene is on the Board of the Bay Area Tumor Institute as well as the Northern California Arthritis Foundation. Arlene earned her B.A. from San Diego State University.

Join Astra & TransPak at the Summit & Salute in Baltimore on March 13-14, 2013.

Previous Astra WBENC Stars

2012 Hannah Kain. Alom Technologies, Inc.

2011 Janell McGill, Milligan Events

2010 Sandy Hunter, Hunter Hawk, Inc.

2009 Sandra James, Private Eyes, Inc.

2008 Olsa Martini, Olsa Resources, Inc.

2007 Julia Rhodes, Kleenslate Concepts

2006 Sandra Floyd, Outsource Consulting Services, Inc.

2005 Elizabeth Kearney, Ph.D., Kearney & Associates: The Experts’ Alliance

2004 Joan Lasselle, Lasselle-Ramsay Information Development Services

2003 Linda Harris, LF Harris Co.

2002 Candace Phillips, Bio-med Testing

Astra WBENC Reception, Workshops and Awards July 24-25, 2012


International Reception, July 24th, 2013. Counsul Generals from both India & China met with WBEs to share their perspective on doing business in their countries.

Keynote Speaker, July 25th, 2013. It pays to show up. It’s not everyday that you get to meet a billionaire in person. For those who attended the 16th Annual Astra Workshops & Awards on July 25th that’s exactly what you did. You met a billionaire. Fellow WBE, Lynn Tilton of Patriarch Partners, didn’t just show up, she fully participated and shared her life experiences with all who were in attendance. It was a day of giving. Lynn told her story from the heart. Take a moment, get to know Lynn.

If you’d like to learn more about Lynn check out the Barbara Walkers 20/20 interview or what NPR has to say.

Astra Awards 2013 Every year we stop to say thank you & acknowledge advocates of women business ownership. 2012 is no exception.

Our 2012 honorees are:

2012 Astra Award Winners

$4 Billion. Together we are strong.

As of March 31st, 2012,  Astra (WBENC) WBEs employ 20,768 people and are generating over $4 billion dollars annually in revenue. Women-owned businesses in the West are thriving. As a regional network our reach is wide. Located in 6 states, 33% of Astra’s WBEs describe themselves as ethnically diverse. Working together,we make a big impact in our region.

As diverse businesses, WBEs, can further boost the network by establishing and implementing their own Supplier Diversity Program. Astra is often asked, “What are best practices for developing a Supplier Diversity Program?”  Here are a few simple  recommendations:

Be committed. A diversity program can be part of your organization’s overall strategic plan. If you haven’t already done it, just add a diversity pledge to your company’s core values & mention it in the “About Us” section of your website.

Be Specific. Determine your level of commitment. As a WBENC WBE, you already are committed to diversity. Take a minute and document your goals as a part of your budgeting process.

Be Accountable. Do a quick review. You are probably already buying from diverse suppliers. Simply write down how you can capture, monitor & report your diversity spend. This is easy to  include in your policy & procedures handbook.

Be Visible. In addition, to displaying your WBENC badge, add a link to your diversity pledge & include “stories” in your company’s messaging. Remember to report your Done Deals or nominate your best customer for an “Advocacy Award” by completing the form below.


2011 Astra Done Deal Award Winners

The Astra Done Deals™ program strives to highlight the companies who have supplier diversity initiatives to redirect a portion of their corporate spend each year to qualified women and minority companies. The firms who receive the Done Deals™ award have provided at least 3 contracts during a year to Astra women business owners. In 2011, Astra recognizes, Microsoft, AT&T, Amgen, Brocade, and Robert Half International their Done Deals™

“Women-owned businesses serve as one of the major engines of our country for economic growth and job creation. In the Astra region alone, women contribute over $5 Billion dollars to our economy and employ more than 19,000 employees who then support their local communities with their employee spend for consumer goods and services” says Astra co-founder and President/CEO, Diane McClelland.

Additionally, Astra women business owners were recognized for their efforts to outsource to other women business owners and build strategic alliances among other women for capacity-building.  In 2011, Suchi Gupta, Pure Design Solutions received the Astra WBE Done Deals™ Award and Karen Hebert Gordon, The Oya Group and Laura Bergerson, The Bergerson Group received the inaugural Astra Strategic Alliance award.

Have you completed a Done Deal? Report it today!

Astra’s WBENC Star for 2012 is Hannah Kain CEO Alom Technologies

Hannah Kain, CEO Alom TechnologiesEvery year WBENC honors its shining stars from each of its 14 regional partner organizations. This year Hannah Kain, CEO of Alom Technologies will be representing Astra. Visit WBENC’s Summit & Salute Microsite to learn more about the event honoring these outstanding women. Registration is open. See you in Baltimore March 21-22, 2012. (Check out Hannah’s Success Story.)