Nearly 50 entrepreneurs representing 16 companies learned how to do business with DTE Energy at the inaugural DTE Greater Michigan Diverse Supplier Immersion Day earlier this month in Grand Rapids. The firms are poised to join the 225 West Michigan businesses that landed $59 million in DTE supplier business last year. Six suppliers that attended the October 5 event in Grand Rapids have the potential to become direct suppliers to DTE and an additional nine are poised to contract with the company’s top-tier suppliers.

DTE has conducted similar events in Detroit resulting in more than $9 million in supplier business awarded to minority-owned firms. Because of DTE’s large customer base in West Michigan, the Grand Rapids gathering focused on spurring more partnerships with minority-owned businesses in the region.

“The journey to become a DTE supplier is different for every business but starts with events like this,” said Jaspreet Singh, DTE supply chain director. “By offering information and networking opportunities, we’re building future relationships with minority suppliers in West Michigan.”

To ensure community awareness and involvement, DTE’s faith-based outreach team worked with the New Faith Temple Church of God in Christ and other Grand Rapids-area churches.

“After successful supplier events in Detroit, we wanted to offer the same opportunities to minority businesses in West Michigan,” said Mark Jones, manager of Faith-Based Outreach at DTE. “The faith-based community knows businesses and entrepreneurs with the potential to be DTE suppliers. We’re grateful for the interest in Grand Rapids and look forward to seeing those that attended our event grow their business by joining DTE’s supply chain.”

DTE’s first diversity supplier immersion event in 2017 was at Fellowship Chapel in Detroit.

In April, the Edison Electric Institute recognized DTE with its 2018 Business Diversity Innovation Award for the company’s efforts to engage diverse suppliers. So far this year, DTE has spent $322 million with minority and women-owned companies.

At DTE’s supplier immersion events, local business owners learn how to become a DTE supplier by meeting DTE buyers and networking with other suppliers. In Grand Rapids, potential suppliers connected with the Andy J Egan Co. and Utility Supply and Construction Company, both top-tier DTE suppliers.

Many DTE suppliers have also evolved into doing business with one another, further multiplying the results of the company’s contracting practices and its emphasis on contracting with suppliers in the Great Lakes State.

“This work – the focus on diversity and economic growth – is part of our DNA,” said Tony Tomczak, DTE’s vice president of Corporate Services. “Having a diverse supplier base gives DTE a competitive advantage and more importantly, by creating opportunities for small businesses, we’re helping families, growing the economy and building stronger communities.”

Tomczak is also chairman of the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council and DTE’s chief procurement officer.