In 2007, the phone rang at ISG Office Concepts, and a company that prides itself on never saying “no,” stayed true to form.
“Merck contacted us asking if we could provide ancillary supplies, and I said, ‘sure, no problem.’ Then I hung up the phone and asked myself, ‘what on earth do you suppose ancillary supplies are?’” says Joanne D. F. Santomauro, ISG president and CEO.
At the time, ISG had been a vendor to Merck dating back to the 1980s when the Pennsylvania-based company started providing office supplies and other workplace materials as a member of Merck’s Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) community. As fate would have it, the inquiry for ancillary supplies – a wide range of non-drug materials used in clinical trials – came just as ISG had enrolled in Merck’s Supplier Diversity mentorship program.
“The program had just begun that year, and we designed it to connect leaders from Global Procurement and from Merck business units with a particular diverse supplier,” explains Sally Macaluso, senior director, Research Procurement at Merck’s corporate headquarters, Whitehouse Station, N.J. “This is a channel for us to give these suppliers advice and guidance on growing their business at Merck -- and also helping them to grow beyond their relationship with Merck.”
A Merck mentorship program helped Pennsylvania-based ISG Office Concepts to launch a new division specializing in providing ancillary supplies to pharmaceutical companies conducting clinical trials.
The opportunity to branch out into ancillary supplies was especially timely for ISG, since the office supply business had entered a new era of increased competition – and one solution was diversification into new lines of business.
“Sally was really incredible,” Santomauro says. “She helped me focus on how we had run our company and on how our supply chain management model could really be applied to any product or service. Well, I had never really thought of it that way, and from that point forward we launched a new division that specifically services pharmaceutical, biotech and medical research organizations with ancillary supplies and management services.”
The Ancillare division now represents 20 percent of ISG’s company sales. Ancillare is shipping globally, and recently won the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Export Achievement Award.
The mentorship program is part of Merck’s efforts to develop a world class supplier diversity process.
Since its inception, the scope of Merck’s supplier diversity program has grown to include not only women- and minority-owned businesses, but also companies owned by military veterans and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Contracts for about 900 diverse suppliers represented approximately 15 percent of Merck’s spending on every category of goods or services in the United States and Puerto Rico.
While only a handful of these companies participate in the mentorship program, vendors can learn more about becoming a Merck supplier by visiting an informational Web page.
For Santomauro, her mentorship experience with Merck has reinforced her own personal commitment to the practice. She’s joined other women business owners at a local community college to establish “Starting a Successful Women-Owned Business,” a program aimed at assisting aspiring women entrepreneurs. And Santomauro and has instilled the ethos of mentorship into the running of ISG.
“I’ve discovered along the way that learning and mentoring is really a core philosophy that applies to running my business,” she says. “Everyone here has a mentor, and the more that spirit pervades, the more it becomes a culture where people help one another. And it’s not just the right way to treat people, it’s also the only way I’ve found to run a successful business in a competitive environment.”
Questions about supplier diversity at Merck? Contact us at email@example.com.
We are proud to be recognized as a leader in the area of supplier diversity and look continuously for ways to expand and improve our program. In 2008, we began to expand our program globally. Our approach may be different, depending on local laws and regulations, but we look forward to continuing to build a supplier base that reflects our diverse customers.
We are active members of the following organizations: