By Tony Khing
SAN FRANCISCO — PG&E has a strong relationship with its diverse suppliers and has spent more than $2 billion with minority-, women-, veteran- and LGBT-owned enterprises over the last three years.
PG&E’s partnership with diverse suppliers has helped these businesses grow. But growth is more than just providing business opportunities. It’s also about helping them develop so they can obtain more work with other companies.
With this in mind, PG&E recently played hosts to more than 40 Hispanic-owned businesses at its first-ever business-building workshop on Sept. 16 in the utility’s San Francisco main office.
The three-hour event, hosted by PG&E’s Supplier Diversity Department and the utility’s Latino Employee Resource Group, allowed Hispanic-owned enterprises to network with other businesses, learn how to do business with PG&E, understand the importance of obtaining certifications and hear about the state of Hispanic-owned businesses in California.
Knowledge is power and so is sharing of business experiences. That’s one reason Rafael De La Cruz Jr., president of Bay Area Traffic Solutions (BATS), came to the workshop.
“We can talk about what’s worked with other companies and how we can support each other,” he said.
“A small company like ours can get lost in the shuffle. An event like this helps us to highlight our expertise, get some attention and places us on the same playing field with others,” said Carla Wroten, vice president of safety and compliance for CAL INC, a provider of abatement and remediation services.
BATS and CAL INC have benefited from their partnership with PG&E, and not just on the bottom line.
“Working with PG&E makes me keep up with some very high standards. They’re always looking to be the best at what they do. We’re doing the same thing,” said De La Cruz.
Wroten said her company recently obtained the Gold Shovel Standard certification through a first-of-its-kind PG&E program designed to help PG&E-hired contractors adhere to the safest excavation standards. This certification is now required of all PG&E suppliers performing excavation work.
“We’ve been able to improve our work standards and our workforce because of PG&E’s requirements. They make us more competitive. They’ve put us on our ‘A’ game,” said Wroten.
De La Cruz and Wroten also offered some advice for Hispanic-owned businesses to gain traction within PG&E.
“Don’t be afraid. It’s a process to develop business relationships. You have to focus on accomplishing that goal by getting your certifications and showing your day-to-day work. If you’re doing good work, there’s no reason why you can’t work with a company like PG&E,” said De La Cruz.
“Work with the supplier diversity department. Get to know the people in charge. Don’t be a stranger to them. Once you’re in, they’ll connect with you more. They’ll help you overcome your weaknesses,” said Wroten.
PG&E’s Jesus Soto, senior vice president of gas operations, was among those who addressed Hispanic-owned business leaders about doing business with PG&E.
Over the past year, PG&E has been very active in strengthening and improving relationships with its diverse suppliers. For example, the utility has held business-building workshops for veteran, African-American and LGBT owned enterprises. On Sept. 16, more than 40 Hispanic-owned firms attended a first-ever business-building workshop specifically for them.
The recent workshop continues PG&E’s ongoing efforts to support diverse suppliers. For nearly a decade, the company has exceeded the California Public Utilities Commission’s diverse supplier spend goal of 21.5 percent. And the utility’s diverse supplier spend has been more than 40 percent for two straight years.
Email Currents at Currents@pge.com.