From the outside, it may have seemed like a chance encounter or coincidence. Peggy Del Fabbro, CEO of industrial construction firm M. Davis & Sons, Inc., sat down at a table during a meeting at the 2017 WBENC Summit & Salute – and one of the first people she met said, “Hi, I’m Marsha from Diageo. I wanted to meet you.”
It was Marsha McIntosh, then Director of Supplier Diversity for Diageo, an international producer of spirits and beer. Diageo North America had just launched a formal Supplier Diversity program in 2015, and networking events (including WBENC conferences) continue to be a key driver in the company’s effort to build a more sustainable supply chain.
At the time, Marsha was looking for a women-owned business in construction to help with a big opportunity in Baltimore. A few phone calls and emails later, Peggy had her staff onsite in less than four days. The project? Construction of the first Guinness brewery in the U.S.
THE KEY LESSONS
As Peggy will tell you, what may seem like a chance encounter is actually the result of years of deepening her engagement within the WBENC network both regionally and nationally, cultivating relationships, and always coming to every encounter 100 percent prepared.
“The number one piece of advice I would give is to be prepared,” she said. “The first time I went to Summit & Salute was not even close to what I do now. I just walked around meeting people, but I didn’t really have a strategy.”
Now she and her team spend up to six weeks doing their homework before big events, and always come prepared with a color-coded spreadsheet of targeted corporations they know will attend.
Peggy offers the following advice for her fellow WBEs:
- Get engaged with the WBENC network and your RPO. Start regionally, make connections, and then work your way to more involvement at the national level.
- Do your homework and come prepared to all WBENC events. Come with a strategy and stay focused.
- When at WBENC events, be sure to carve out time for existing customers to deepen your relationship.
- Always be open to meeting someone new – you don’t know where a conversation may lead!
- Pay it forward – work with other WBEs to expand your supplier base and deepen your relationships. (Since starting the program in 2014, M. Davis has spent more than $19 million with small and diverse-owned businesses, representing 17.45 percent of their total procurement spend!)
About M. Davis & Sons, Inc.
M. Davis & Sons, Inc. is a fifth-generation women-owned industrial contractor and fabricator located in Delaware that has served customers for more than 145 years in the oil & gas, chemical, pharmaceutical, food, beverage and industrial markets. Learn more.