Purchasing Made Practical – How do you crack the supply chain of large companies?

By Noor Abdel-Raziq, Altitude Accelerator Communications Intern


On September 23rd, we co-hosted the ‘Growing Your Business – Purchasing Made Practical’ seminar with the Ontario Environment Industry Association (ONEIA). Attendees had the chance to hear from 3 expert speakers: Blake Smith (Ford Motor Company of Canada), Aamer Hasham (Metrolinx), and Rob Abernethy (Ecoinsight Instruments Inc.). If you missed it, continue reading to get an idea of what happened.

Insights from Metrolinx

Metrolinx is a Government of Ontario agency created to connect and improve coordination between different transportation systems in the GTA and Hamilton area (GTHA). Metrolinx brought about the successful Union Pearson Express and Presto card projects.

Aamer, Manager, Project Management office, and Customer Service at Metrolinx talked about sustainable partnerships and the need for increased sustainable solutions. The challenge Metrolinx faces is “a triple challenge”. They must find solutions that address:

  • Rapidly growing population
  • Economy constraints—oil prices, commute distances, etc.
  • Stakeholder expectations

With that in mind, Metrolinx is setting out to reduce commute time, distance between transportation and living locations, and greenhouse gas emissions. Metrolinx also wants to increase the length of rapid transit.

Sustainability to Metrolinx consists of 3 elements: social, environmental and economic. Metrolinx is pursuing solutions that will help them improve operations, risk management, and vendor evaluations. Part of Metrolinx’s goals is to adapt environmental management systems, to measure and minimize the manufacturing impact on the environment, to recycle and reuse materials, and to find ways to meet and persuade stakeholders.

“In everything that we do there is always an opportunity to look for more innovation. My particular area is customer communication, and a big problem for us is to provide real time information for our passengers, so there is a lot of work that we’ve done internally in that area, like developing services ourselves and also partnered with some very good vendors,” says Aamer. Aamer also says that it’s difficult to specify exactly the areas or types of innovations Metrolinx looks for.

Aamer suggests that startups gain “a deeper appreciation for stakeholders or a wide variety of stakeholders that we have to work with in government,” “be patient,” and to “try to understand the culture and the needs.”

Insights from Ford                

“Improved sustainable performance is not just a requirement, but a tremendous business opportunity”
–Bill Ford.

Much like Metrolinx, at Ford, sustainability is important and opportunities are increasingly found in this area.

As Blake puts it, with sustainability “it’s all about products”. There are 4 pillars that define Ford’s products and those are:

  • Quality: Producing high quality vehicles.
  • Green: Ford uses recycled materials for parts of its vehicles. They continuously search for opportunities to reuse recycled materials and use renewable materials.
  • Safe: Being an industry leader in safety.
  • Smart: Utilizing technologies to create better driving experiences.

If you’re thinking of selling to a company like Ford, make sure that your product is “providing solutions to key challenges large companies face”, Blake suggests. Also, if you are wondering what Ford would look for in a product, Blake says, “Ford’s product innovations need to be those that our customers want and value. This is completely consistent with our product strategy pillars.

Insights from Ecoinsight Instruments Inc.

Ecoinsight Instruments Inc. is a start-up company that provides water, wastewater, and liquid handling companies with treatment and pre-treatment devices. Rob, managing director at Ecoinsight Instruments, suggests 4 techniques to acquiring corporate customers:

  • Find your target and sell to the decision makers.
  • Start local and then go wide—Solve local issues first to prove your solution’s worth and applications.
  • Have enough resources on hand.
  • Stay up-to-date and scan your environment.

With those 4 tips from Rob Abernethy, the insights provided by Aamer Hasham and Blake Smith, and the advice in our previous post, you should be well on your way to growing your business and becoming a success.

You can find the slides used by our guest speakers by visiting Be sure to attend our next seminar, Disruptive Tech Forecast for 2016, on December 3, 2015.

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