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Celebrating supplier diversity during Hispanic Heritage Month

Supplier diversity fuels the vibrant culture of community at SRP. There were an estimated 123,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in Arizona in 2015, according to the DATOS: The State of Arizona’s Hispanic Market 2018 report, and the majority of those were woman-owned.

Teresa Ornelas, President & CEO of Great Impact, owns one of those businesses and is a member of SRP’s Supplier Diversity program.

Ornelas founded her company 21 years ago as a way to participate in the workforce while also being a mother to four children. Since then, her company has helped hundreds of organizations promote and protect their brands through promotional products.

Family first

Through all of those years, family has continued to drive her success.

“Family is the strength behind Great Impact, and that’s something that’s a big part of the Hispanic culture,” she said. “It started from a need to be a better mom and grew to be a way to show my kids a lot about hard work. In fact, my oldest daughter now works with me, and we have a five-year succession plan where she will take over.”

Investment from others

Her small business, especially in the beginning, also benefited from the investments of her clients.

“Once we moved into an office, we were taken more seriously and began growing,” Ornelas explained. “SRP was actually my first corporate client.”

Today, Great Impact hosts an online store for the HR team’s branded merchandise, as well as a retiree store.

The impact from supplier diversity

SRP’s 2018 Supplier Diversity spend with the Hispanic community was $11.9 million and has been recognized in the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Circle of Excellence since 2012.

“The connections through Supplier Diversity have helped us. The network is so large that an introduction in the community is nearly priceless,” Ornelas said.

A new mission

A couple of years ago, Ornelas went to a sustainability training class through SRP and the Women Business Enterprise Council (WBEC). The training — and the conversation with her staff afterward — inspired the company to do more with its recycling program.

“We invited companies in our complex to start collecting plastics so we could recycle in 500-pound increments that get converted into benches for schools,” she said. “We now have a room dedicated as a recycling center; unused sample T-shirts get remade into pillows for dogs, for example.”

Great Impact’s efforts paid off, and the company was invited to SRP’s All-Stars Supplier Diversity meeting, where the company won the Sustainability Award — something that Ornelas believes has helped her business.

Hopes for the future of supplier diversity at SRP

Ornelas hopes that other minority-owned businesses will continue to benefit from the investment of companies like SRP.

“It’s extremely important that we celebrate our differences and that leadership embraces supplier diversity, she said. “Without it, small businesses don’t always have those opportunities.”

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