Purdue conference assists businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans

Purdue University's Office of Supplier Diversity Development, along with the Supplier Diversity Development Coalition of Greater Lafayette, will host the annual Relationships to Partnerships Sessions on Nov. 17 to help minority, women and veteran business owners in Indiana connect with coalition businesses.

The daylong conference, themed "Pitfalls and Rewards of Business Partnerships," starts at 8 a.m. in Stewart Center on Purdue’s campus. This is the 13th year for the sessions.

“This is the largest event in West Central Indiana that brings together diverse companies from all over the state to meet with larger companies here in the Greater Lafayette community,” said Jesse Moore, Purdue’s director of supplier diversity. “The Tippecanoe County commissioners and the mayors of both Lafayette and West Lafayette sign a proclamation designating Nov. 17 as Supplier Diversity Day.”

Melvin Gravely II, majority shareholder and CEO of TriVersity Construction, will be the conference’s luncheon keynote speaker. Gravely has more than 26 years of business management, sales and strategy experience, including positions with Fortune 500 businesses The Timken Co. and IBM.

He is also the founder of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Thinking Ltd., a think-tank focused on getting the best results from minority business development initiatives.

“Melvin Gravely is a dynamic speaker and successful entrepreneur,” Moore said. “His knowledge of the economic consequence of the changing landscape and demographics in America and the role diverse businesses must play in that change is presented in a lively and engaging manner. This will be his third appearance at the Relationship to Partnership Sessions.”

This year's plenary session will be 8:30-10:30 a.m. in Stewart Center, and will feature a panel discussion on the day’s theme “Pitfalls and Rewards of Business Partnerships.” Scott Walker, president and CEO of Greater Lafayette Commerce, will moderate the panel. Daryl Williams-Dotson, president and CEO of WDi Architecture; Hal Darring, president and CEO of Global Parking System; Jessica Nickloy, president and CEO of The Etica Group; and Howard L. Stevenson, managing partner of Stevenson Legal Group, will also participate on the panel. 

Also during the conference, the coalition will recognize three companies that exhibit “diversity and excellence.” Winners of the 2017 Golden Handshake Award are Purdue University Physical Facilities, large company; Tippecanoe School Corporation, new coalition member award; and Indiana Oxygen, veteran business.

Purdue Physical Facilities has engaged in a number of activities recently that have positively contributed to efforts to include more opportunities for diverse firms. The group made web-based enhancements including an ePlanroom that houses all bid documents and reports in a centralized location, continued to engage with the Supplier Diversity Development Advocacy Council, held forums for general contractors and architecture/engineering firms to showcase current and future projects, and increased utilization of the construction manager as constructor delivery method, which leverages the competitive nature of the market to include more participation opportunities for diverse firms. These actions have resulted in over $28 million in contracts being awarded to women, minority and veteran-owned companies in the immediate past fiscal year.

Indiana Oxygen was founded in 1915 by Walter and John Brant. Walter Brant was a 1910 Purdue graduate in electrical engineering. The brothers built an electrolytic gas plant by taking water molecules and separating the oxygen and hydrogen by electrolysis. Indiana Oxygen remains today the oldest gas manufacturer and welding supply company in America. It has branches in Lafayette, Indianapolis, Fishers, Muncie, Bloomington, Marion, Seymour, Vincennes, Elkhart, Fort Wayne and Cincinnati. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce has selected Indiana Oxygen as one of the “Top 100 Places to Work in Indiana” in 2015, 2016, and again in 2017.

The Tippecanoe School Corporation is a comprehensive K-12 pubic school corporation with 1,500 employees, serving more than 13,000 students. The school corporation is committed to being fiscally responsible with tax dollars while acknowledging the value of products and services of businesses owned by women, minorities and veterans.

“I believe being a part of the Lafayette Supplier Diversity Development Coalition helps expand our supplier base,” says the corporation’s chief financial officer, Amanda Brackett. “It also gives more businesses an opportunity to compete and grow their customer base. It's a value-added benefit for TSC and the Greater Lafayette community.”

Sponsors for this year's conference include Caterpillar, city of Lafayette, city of West Lafayette, Fifth Third Bank, Greater Lafayette Commerce, Indiana University Health, Ivy Tech Community College, Kirby Risk, Oerlikon Fairfield, Purdue University, Tippecanoe County and Wabash National.

Source: Purdue University