About Toyota OE
A diverse supplier chain is good for business and the economy. That’s why Toyota hosts its annual Opportunity Exchange (OE) – to allow Minority and Women Business Enterprises to cultivate and strengthen relationships with Tier I suppliers. Those relationships can eventually lead to contracts that provide innovation and cost savings to the Tier I suppliers that can bring business growth for the Tier I and MWBE. And, even though OE is hosted by Toyota, MWBEs and Tier I’s often work on deals related to other automakers.
The 26th annual Toyota Opportunity Exchange is November 9 -10, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio at the Duke Energy Convention Center. Each year, the free event helps cultivate and strengthen relationships between Toyota suppliers and MWBEs. The event began in 1989 with 300 attendees and has grown to nearly 2,000 people each year. The event includes seminars and panel discussions that focus on topics including how MWBEs and Tier I suppliers (both direct and indirect) can turn relationships into opportunities.
For more information and to register for the Opportunity Exchange, visit ToyotaOpportunityExchange.com.
Innovation, creative solutions, and cost savings are all elements every business strives to attain. What the companies that attend the Toyota Opportunity Exchange (OE) already know is that having diverse suppliers can create the conditions that lead to business expansion. That’s because having a diverse supplier base drives diversity of thought, which is required to be innovative and provide products the marketplace wants.
Each year at OE, Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBEs) meet and grow relationships with Tier I suppliers to Toyota and other automotive manufacturers. Initial introductions often lead to talks that strengthen relationships and can lead to contracts.
“One thing about being an MBE, about being small, we’re quick; we have a lot of innovation,” said Greg Battle, former president and chief executive officer of Coolant Control. “We have to show [majority suppliers] that the products we are offering have an intrinsic built-in value. They get a good price. They get a better performing product. That’s our niche.”
Relationship building is a benefit of attending the Toyota Opportunity Exchange that is mentioned time and again.
“Expect that you’re going to form relationships that could lead to contracts in the future,” said Ed Rigaud, president and CEO, EnovaPremier.
“Every year we are here because we’re looking for new opportunities and more opportunities,” said Rosa Santana, CEO of Forma Automotive, Diversa and Integrated Human Capital. “At the end of the day a lot of it comes from relationships and the relationships we’ve built here.”
For Tierra Kavanaugh Turner, owner of TKT & Associates, Inc. and TKT-nectir Global Staffing, LLC, she finally connected with Toyota on OE’s floor. “For years I was coming to OE and did not have the capacity or resources to be a supplier to Toyota but they worked with me and I was able to work with their suppliers.”
Toyota Opportunity Exchange: Lower Costs and Boost Innovation
Finding a competitive advantage is a must for any company to be successful. At Toyota’s annual Opportunity Exchange (OE), a trade fair for Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBE) to interact with Tier I suppliers, there are plenty of success stories. The key theme of these stories? Innovation leads to lower product costs resulting in more business.
“MWBEs bring value to Tier I suppliers by way of innovation savings and cost avoidance that can bring new twists and opportunities for both companies to bring to the market,” said Carl Satterwhite, president and CEO of RCF Group. “Minority firms may see things from a different angle than larger companies, and that may lead to strategic business opportunities.”
By being nimble and progressive, MWBEs may offer unique and creative solutions that form a stronger supply chain and bring many benefits. Toyota recognizes a diverse supply chain as a foundational element of its business.
“We tend to make our products with margins that cost us less,” said Greg Battle, former president and chief executive officer of Coolant Control, a provider of industrial fluids to Toyota and numerous other tier one automotive suppliers.
The 26th annual Toyota Opportunity Exchange is Nov. 9 -10, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio at the Duke Energy Convention Center. The free event began in 1989 with 300 attendees and has grown to nearly 2,000 people each year. The exchange includes seminars and panel discussions focus on how MWBEs and Tier I suppliers (both direct and indirect) can turn relationships into opportunities.
For more information and to register for the Opportunity Exchange, visit ToyotaOpportunityExchange.com.
Hit the floor
At the Toyota Opportunity Exchange, connections made mean results.
“It’s a great chance to connect,” said Melvin Gravely, president and CEO of Triversity Construction. “Businesses get a chance to talk about your value proposition, and you meet with the right people who buy what you sell and start that conversation.”
“You don’t walk in the door with something handed to you,” said Tierra Kavanaugh Turner, owner of TKT & Associates, Inc. and TKT-nectir Global Staffing, LLC. who first secured contracts with Tier I suppliers EnovaPremier and Piston Automotive.
Ron Nuñez, president and COO of a group of independent supply companies, secured a $1.6 million contract through OE in 2012, with North American Lighting to produce tail lights for various makes, including Toyota and Lexus.
“The goal of the Opportunity Exchange is to make a match. I’ve been to many gala events and golf tournaments and they never turned into a business opportunity,” Nuñez said. “At the Opportunity Exchange the companies there are looking at partnering with vendors strategically – where you’re completely integrated as part of a company’s strategy.”
Spotlight on McKechnie
In a male-dominated industry, Linda Torakis appreciates the Toyota Opportunity Exchange because it offers a chance to compete.
“Just providing the opportunity for us to be out there and to open the door, we’ll compete on our own merits,” said Torakis, president of McKechnie Vehicle Components. “For them to open the door is a great thing.”
As a Tier I supplier, McKechnie began attending the Opportunity Exchange seven years ago. Last year, McKechnie secured a $1.2 million contract to supply chrome trim to Murakami Manufacturing USA Inc. for the Lexus RX350. McKechnie also connected with Tokai Rika, resulting in more than $1 million for production of chrome-plated parts for the 2014 Ford Mustang and Fusion and on the 2015 Nissan Maxima.
“It took us a couple years to cultivate those relationships, but we absolutely met them here at the OE and it’s been a positive experience for us,” Torakis said.
Over the course of 25 years, Opportunity Exchange has helped generate new business for M/WBEs and continues to help Tier One suppliers diversify their supply base. These partnerships help add value and innovation to Toyota’s products and services. There are many success stories of M/WBEs that have begun the process of developing a business relationship with one of Toyota’s Tier One Suppliers at Opportunity Exchange. Here, we share some of those stories.
For more information about Toyota’s supplier diversity program, please visit www.toyotasupplier.com. Additional information can be found on Facebook at and Twitter, .
2014 Toyota Opportunity Exchange Success Story: Melvin Gravely
Connecting with the right people to drive new projects and revenue streams for minority and women owned enterprises (M/WBEs). That’s what Toyota offers the nearly 2,000 attendees at its annual Opportunity Exchange. 2014 marks the annual event’s 25th anniversary.
“Coming to Opportunity Exchange was a means of building a deeper relationship with Toyota,” says Melvin Gravely, President and CEO of Cincinnati-based Triversity Construction. In fact, Gravely has inked two contracts with Toyota totaling $2.5 million dollars. That includes an expansion at Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA) that will add more meeting space, rooms and additional seating.
2014 is Gravely’s ninth year attending, and he’s hoping to sign an even bigger deal. He is also on the lookout for opportunities with other Toyota suppliers.
“It’s a great chance to connect,” said Gravely. “Businesses get a chance to talk about your value proposition, and you meet with the right people who buy what you sell and start that conversation.”
2014 Toyota Opportunity Exchange Success Story: Tierra Kavanaugh Turner
When Tierra Kavanaugh Turner first came to the Opportunity Exchange (OE) more than a decade ago, she didn’t have the capacity or resources to be a supplier to Toyota. But that wasn’t about to stop her. So she continued to come, year after year.
“They identified areas I needed to strengthen and improve – increasing staff, documenting processes, and exploring potential strategic alliances,” says Turner, owner of TKT & Associates, Inc. and TKT-nectir Global Staffing, LLC. “In the interim I worked with their suppliers to gain specific industry experience and scale.”
“You don’t walk in the door with something handed to you,” she says. Turner first secured contracts with Tier I suppliers EnovaPremier and Piston Automotive before becoming a Tier I to Toyota, providing contingent labor services for its Engineering and Technology groups. “Without demonstrated experience with Toyota or even the automotive industry, I had to prove that I deserved an opportunity to perform through quality of service, responsiveness, problem resolution and pricing.
“As a business owner I am always working and it is rare to get a chance to step away from the business to work on it,” Turner said. “Here you get to do more marketing of your business in a 3 ½ hour timeframe than it would take you a year to do, and you get valuable face-to-face time.”
2014 Toyota Opportunity Exchange Success Story: Rosa Santana
This story is about the road taken. Rosa Santana is the first Hispanic woman to own a business serving as a direct Tier I supplier to Toyota. And her path was paved by the automaker’s Opportunity Exchange – an annual two-day event that provides minority-owned businesses the chance to network with direct suppliers.
On Sept. 12, Toyota announced Santana’s Forma Automotive LLC will join Toyota Motor Manufacturing, TX (TMMTX) as an on-site supplier beginning in 2015. Forma Automotive will assemble Tacoma truck beds at the plant.
“Had I not participated in OE, my company would not have been known the way we’re known by Toyota and we would not have been offered this great opportunity,” Santana said.
A big part of Santana’s strategy has been attending the Toyota Opportunity Exchange (OE) the past 10 years. By doing so, she has landed at least one new account each year; in fact, her first San Antonio customer came out of her initial visit to OE in 2005. That’s when she met Kevin Shurn, president of Superior Maintenance Co., who later won a bid to provide maintenance and janitorial services for the new Toyota truck assembly plant in San Antonio. Superior Maintenance then contracted with IHC to staff that operation.
Now, Santana is sharing in her success, helping other M/WBEs navigate OE and spreading the word. One year, she brought seven new companies to the event. Santana says participating in OE drives more return on investment than any other conference or trade show she’s attended, and the fact that it’s free to participate is no small deed.
“To me, actions speak louder than words. Toyota doesn’t just talk about supplier diversity, they really do what they say they are going to do, and are committed to increasing the opportunities of minority and women owned businesses. What they’re offering is an incredible opportunity.”
2014 Toyota Opportunity Exchange Success Story: Kevin Shurn
Kevin Shurn has attended the Toyota Opportunity Exchange since it started in 1990. “No one goes to the extent that Toyota does to help minority and women-owned businesses,” said Shurn, owner of Elizabethtown, Ky.-based Superior Maintenance Co., a Tier I supplier. “Just as Toyota expects you as a supplier to meet quality, cost, safety and delivery expectations, Toyota has an expectation – not only a target but an expectation – for their Tier I suppliers to work with minority and women-owned businesses.”
It was in 1993 that Shurn secured a contract, as a result of attending the Opportunity Exchange, for his Superior Maintenance Company to provide janitorial services for Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky, plant. Then, Shurn had less than 10 employees. Today, he has more than 500 employees, serving Toyota manufacturing facilities in Kentucky, Indiana and Texas.
“Due to the fact that Toyota has been the foundation of our success we have been able to grow over the years, by adopting their practices, quality principles and the Toyota Production System,” Shurn said. Today his company is a facilities
management company providing comprehensive services, including manufacturing support, sequencing and subassembly; janitorial services; grounds maintenance; preventative maintenance; industrial cleaning; machinery and equipment repair; and mailroom services.
2014 Toyota Opportunity Exchange Success Story: Greg Battle
“A lot of people go to the Opportunity Exchange thinking that they are going to do business with Toyota,” said Greg Battle, president and CEO of Cincinnati-based Coolant Control. “Toyota has the Opportunity Exchange so that people can build relationships with their Tier Is.”
Battle should know; as a Tier II supplier, he now works with more than 100 Tier Is, generating millions in revenue by providing industrial coolants and lubricants for Toyota parts, including engines and transmissions. Battle is a Tier I supplier for Honda and Ford and has been able to prove himself to Toyota as an indirect supplier.
Battle realized he had the quality for Toyota, but couldn’t match the scale they needed. “I realized I wasn’t big enough,” he said. “The Opportunity Exchange grew exponentially valuable because I learned I could sell to Tier Is, and could make the money …I can sell something faster to a Tier I that makes its way into a Toyota vehicle.” Participating in the Opportunity Exchange has led to a 28 percent growth in Coolant Control’s revenue.
In the beginning, Battle was on the hunt. He attended his first Opportunity Exchange in 1998 and thought he could approach it as he would any other tradeshow. “I thought I could go in and just have conversations and maybe see 30, 40, 50 or 60 people. But when I went in, there were way too many people for me to see. The first one for me was a learning experience and my take-aways set the course for me to go in to my second and all the others.”
He explains that you may have the best spring in the world and you want to sell it to Toyota. “Everyone has to understand that the Tier I is already buying the products you sell. The key is to go in with a niche, and a strategic plan that allows them to see more value price-wise and use-wise … You have to put your best foot forward and keep working at it, then you’ll get one, two, three contracts and so on. The Opportunity Exchange has allowed me to grow my business.”
2014 Toyota Opportunity Exchange Success Story: Linda Torakis
When Linda Torakis and her husband Mike purchased a company on the verge of collapse in 2008, they knew they had an uphill battle.
One of their existing clients was Toyota. “There was an established relationship with Toyota, but it was damaged,” said Linda Torakis, president of McKechnie Vehicle Components, headquartered in Roseville, Michigan. “All of our relationships across the board were damaged and Toyota was most open to sticking with us. While other OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) were like ‘It is what it is, we are moving our business,’ Toyota thought we had an interesting story and gave us a chance to see how it went.”
Toyota did keep checks and balances on them throughout. “Toyota was a huge support in terms of sticking with us while we rebuilt the company, making sure we were stable and paying our bills early to make sure we had cash flow,” Torakis said.
As a Tier I supplier, McKechnie began attending the Toyota Opportunity Exchange six years ago. Four years ago, they began talks with Murakami Manufacturing USA Inc., which produces exterior mirrors for Toyota. This year, McKechnie secured a $1.2 million contract to supply chrome trim to Murakami for the Lexus RX350.
Murakami’s U.S. operations are based in Campbellsville, Ky., so with a McKechnie facility in nearby Nicholasville, it was a good fit.
“The Opportunity Exchange provides a networking opportunity where you’re meeting Tier Is and OEMs in one spot rather than taking what could take three or four weeks to get in the same room,” said a McKechnie account manager. “People can think, ‘I’m buying this product from Japan and I’ve got McKechnie in our backyard, so why wouldn’t I take a look at them?’ ”
McKechnie also connected with Tokai Rika at the Opportunity Exchange, which will result in more than $1 million for production of chrome-plated parts for the Ford Mustang and Fusion this year and on the Nissan Maxima in 2015.
McKechnie’s expected revenue for 2014 is $55 million, with projection of $70 million next year, and Torakis describes the Opportunity Exchange as a “top-shelf event” that provides networking opportunities leading to lasting business relationships.
“For me, the networking is second to none. I think the WBE spending target (of 2 percent, announced at the 2013 Opportunity Exchange) is a positive for women. This is still a male dominated industry and I think it’s great to encourage suppliers to take a look at women-owned businesses,” Torakis said. “Just providing the opportunity for us to be out there and to open the door is a great thing. We can compete on our own merits.”