Thomas Edison would be proud. The supply-chain development partnership between GE Canada and Export Development Canada (EDC) is living proof that the two organizations have heeded the legendary GE founder’s advice: “There’s a way to do it better – find it.”
By injecting a little ingenuity into matchmaking, the two corporations are tapping into a core of Canadian innovation that resides in small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs). In return, selected companies gain a new world of opportunity by tapping into GE’s global supply chain.
“There’s a phenomenal amount of innovation taking in place in SMEs and we want to be able to introduce that kind of innovation to our customers,” explains Bradley Smith, GE Canada’s vice president of regional programs. He notes that GE’s aim is to “create a win-win situation where we can help these small businesses grow at an accelerated pace by introducing them to our supply chain, which introduces them to new markets and new customers.”
These EDC-GE matchmaking events started in 2014, with an inaugural session held at GE Aviation Bromont in Quebec that introduced 13 companies into GE’s supply chain. Other events have been held the past couple years in Calgary, Mississauga and Peterborough, covering all GE business units.
On average, GE Canada on-boards about 100 new companies into its supply chain every year.
These matchmaking events focus on two-way dialogue to proactively source innovators with capabilities that match GE’s needs – from aerospace and energy to health care, IT, and beyond.
“The goal is to really facilitate the introduction of SMEs to GE businesses in view of seeing if there is mutual benefit that could be established by creating a relationship,” says Smith. “We are all about collaboration, and we look for innovation in all corners of the world.”
Earning a link in the GE Canada supply chain has its privileges: exposure to opportunities, new global markets, and the chance to grow as well as evolve alongside one of the world’s best companies.
“A key aspect of our sourcing commitment to grow the supply chain is really looking for companies that add value to the customer base, are looking to work with GE to develop new solutions, and will work with GE to pivot as our needs respond to changes in the market place,” Smith adds. “In return we are pleased to work with those companies to do what we can to make them more productive, more efficient, and more profitable. If our suppliers can become more productive, efficient, and profitable, then they are going to be able to offer us better product, and product at a lower cost.”
So, what does GE Canada look for in a supplier?
There are specific “must haves” including fair work practices, a recognized quality system, stewardship with respect to the environment, and an inherent requirement to follow all applicable laws. Then, the corporation analyzes each company in terms of value and culture with respect to growth, partnership, and potential to add value at GE.
This creates the foundation of a long-lasting partnership, says Smith.
“Suppliers are really partners to GE. We see a good relationship with a supplier as being absolutely essential to allowing GE to grow,” he adds, noting, “When companies like GE form relationships, we are not doing it for the short term; we are doing it for the long term.”
Smith says a supplier arrangement with GE can often lead to a decades-long partnership. As such, it is important that GE Canada suppliers adopt a long-term vision and are capable of weathering economic ups and downs.
“We are quite mindful that the economy is quite cyclical and that includes the currency exchange,” says Smith. “But suppliers are best served if (they) continue focusing on delivering best overall value.”
“That includes price, but it also includes delivery and quality service. Good companies instinctively understand that they need to work with their customers in a partnership where they are continuously looking to help their customers succeed.”