You couldn’t adjust an Embody chair without the part made in this mold. Primera Plastics does it. Noel Cuellar and Ethan Barde run the company. They’re “graduates” of our mentoring effort, a part of the Supplier Diversity Program we began 20 years ago.
We’ve made a lot of progress since then, and report on our performance each year. Primera—“a couple of guys who started with nothing,” according to Noel—has also grown. With hard work and guidance from us on logistics and lean manufacturing, it is now a Tier 1 supplier for us and the largest Hispanic-owned company in West Michigan.
Primera is not alone among our diverse suppliers. At the end of last fiscal year, our total spending with minority-owned businesses reached 14.5 percent.
“That translates to just under $100 million last fiscal year,” notes Kimberly Coffman, Herman Miller’s manager of Supplier Diversity. “It may not seem like a big number, but on a percentage basis, we’re in the same league as the DiversityInc Top 10 companies. They averaged 13 percent of their direct contractor spending with minority-owned businesses.”
Coffman says Herman Miller isn’t about to dwell on the 20th anniversary of its Supplier Diversity Program. “We have an ambitious 17 percent goal for spending with minority-owned businesses for this fiscal year,” she says. “It’s within reach too, because we don’t just believe that a diverse community makes for a stronger company, we act on it.”
Another action step this year is our new Supplier Diversity Advisory Council. “Our CFO is the executive sponsor,” says Coffman. “I think that says a lot about our commitment to developing a diverse supplier base. For us, doing good is synonymous with doing good business.”