Ford Set to Pass Minority, Female Supplier Goal

DETROIT Ford Motor Co. expects to exceed its annual goal to spend 10 percent of its U.S. purchasing budget on suppliers owned by women and minorities.

Ford said it maintained its 10 percent goal in 2009 by purchasing $2.7 billion worth of goods from Tier 1 companies owned by minorities and women. But that was a significant decline from $3.3 billion in 2008 and $4.2 billion in 2007. Ford attributes the drop in spending to the decline in auto production.

These are difficult times for all auto suppliers, but minority- and women-owned businesses face their own set of unique challenges, Tony Brown, Ford group vice president for global purchasing, said in a statement.

Because of this, Ford took proactive action to offer our diverse suppliers significant business opportunities while at the same time providing support to others to improve their chances for long-term viability, he said. Ford purchasing chief Tony Brown: Tough times present unique challenges for suppliers owned by women and minorities.

Ford said it provided more than $150 million in new business to minority- and female-owned suppliers last year. Ford helped expand business opportunities and product lines for some of those companies. For example, the automaker said it:

Facilitated the sale of a portion of Meridian Automotive Systems business to Flex-N-Gate Corp. The sale expanded Flex-N-Gates product line by adding exterior vehicle lighting systems. Flex-N-Gate, of Urbana, Ill., is an Asian-American supplier.

Supported Grupo Antolin Wayne by transferring a significant piece of interior headliner business from a mainstream supplier. Grupo Antolin Wayne, of suburban Detroit, is a black-owned supplier. Sourced a global parts distribution contract to AEL-Span/UTi, a black-owned supplier in Belleville, Mich.

Upgraded Husco International, a Hispanic-owned supplier, to Tier 1 status, from Tier 2. As part of the upgrade, Ford sourced new powertrain manufacturing business to Husco, of Waukesha, Wis.

Flex-N-Gate Corp. ranks No. 12 on the Automotive News list of the top 150 suppliers to North America, with $2.25 billion in parts sales to automakers in 2009.

Flex-N-Gate makes stamping and mechanical assemblies, plastic and steel bumpers, fascias, lighting and other exterior elements.

Grupo Antolin Wayne is a unit of Grupo Antolin North America Inc., which ranks No. 86 on the Automotive News list of the top 150 suppliers to North America, with $328 million in sales to automakers in 2009.

Grupo Antolin makes overhead systems, door function and seat function products

In 2008, Ford created what it calls the Joint Technology Framework, under which the automaker provides key technologies to preferred
suppliers to give both parties a competitive edge.

That program is a part of the Aligned Business Framework, Fords term for its designated preferred suppliers. The automaker offers long-term collaborative relationships, details about future production schedules and first shot at new business to its preferred suppliers.