One day about 15 years ago, I was sitting in my first Southwest Minority Supplier Development Council event, and the moderator asked an important question I am sure was on most people’s mind. Why should I
As I looked around the room, I saw faces that had the same inquisitive look I did, “yeah, why certify?” As we all eagerly awaited the brilliant answers that were sure to come our way, those words went through one ear and out the other.
As I reflect on the importance of that day, I have since learned how important those words were — and still are. If this guy could tell that guy “Why certify” I could say, there are great educational programs. I could say how the Council has magnificent events. Or, I could say the Council does an excellent job putting [minority business enterprises] and corporations in the same room. I could and would say all those things because they are true.
But that is not why I would tell anyone, including my younger self, to get certified.
What I would say to anyone who wants to listen is that certification is so much more — relationships being the key to unlocking everything the Council has to offer.
Our family business was built from relationships, and, because of those ties, our business has grown, we have started new businesses and our network is vast.
We started in 2001 in Princeton, Indiana, with about 10 employees and have since opened a facility in San Antonio, Texas, with over 165 team members between our two plants.
SMSDC and certification have been a huge part of this process. The Council has found a way to apply this relationship-building into the certification process. Not only has it put MBEs and corporations at the same table, but it has fostered an environment that plants the seeds of success for MBEs to grow themselves as entrepreneurs and as a business.
Certification, like anything else, is what you put into it. So, what I would tell people is that certification is not, is a “golden ticket!”
You will not cut a check, go to an SMSDC event, wave your magic certification and get business. But, if you put in the work, understand your business and build relationships that this process will bring, the business will come.
I have had the honor of becoming friends with individuals I have never done business with as well as those who our family has been in business with for over a decade.
The certification process brought us together and now, to this day, if I ever need anything — business or not — I can call upon them.
So, to the question of “Why certify?” if you are an entrepreneur who wants to grow your business, build long-lasting relationships and, most importantly, grow yourself as an individual, then certification is for you.
To learn more about Millennium Steel of Texas LP, visit millenniumsteel.com.
To learn more about the Southwest Minority Supplier Development Council, visit smsdc.org.