Supplier Diversity: Adapting To The Changing Market


Author: Angela Lowrie, Material Management, Fluor Canada Ltd.
Co-author: Kurt Galley, Contracts Management, Fluor Canada Ltd.

With the increase in not only traditional projects, but also projects in carbon capture, hydrogen, biodiesel, and other non-traditional spaces, it is more important than ever to ensure that we are collaborating and building new relationships within supply chain to come up with smart solutions that address all facets of safety, cost, schedule, and quality. By working closely with our supply base, collectively, we will need to develop new ways of executing our projects if the industry is going to move towards a low carbon future

As we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a need to pivot and execute work differently than we had ever seen before. Most of us were working in a work from home environment, with little to no face-to-face interactions. At Fluor, we engaged closely with contractors and suppliers to develop new and efficient processes to overcome obstacles in remote working relationships. An example of this was the introduction of remote visual inspections between projects and suppliers/contractors. We are seeing great ingenuity in the types of projects we are being asked to execute, and a wide variety of non-traditional locations where these projects are located. As a result of the increase in volume and diversity of projects, we cannot achieve our goals by doing things the way that we have in the past; there is a need to change the way we execute work in the future.

The need to broaden our supplier and contractor base to provide innovation and new ideas to meet these goals has given Fluor the opportunity to create the Canadian Contractor and Supplier Relationship (CCSR) program. This program allowed Fluor to host its first supplier Connect networking event in June 2022 and now plan the second annual Connect event for June 2023. In addition, Fluor will be hosting a Technology/Connect event in Edmonton (March 2023) and Calgary (April 2023). This program has resulted in identifying and providing increased opportunities for the representation of Indigenous, women, disability, and minority owned businesses within our supply base.

The benefits of diversifying our supply base are countless. Often these diverse businesses are local to the areas where projects are being developed, and proactive engagement with them can have a positive impact on the overall local economy of that area. By using these suppliers and contractors, it can assist the local population by providing training opportunities that increase their employability for future work and wages. This can also assist in the growth of these underrepresented companies and promote their reputation within the industry. Overall, the positive effect on the local economy is one that helps ensure that money spent on the project will benefit the community. In addition, by increasing the number of local suppliers and contractors that we are working with, Fluor will be in a better position to de-risk some of the issues that we are seeing in the global marketplace (i.e., COVID-19 impacts to general international shipping).

By expanding our supply base, we are able to provide clients with more competitive pricing and schedule options, and these diverse businesses may be able to provide the strongest fit for the project requirements. Fluor also has the opportunity to gain knowledge and innovative ideas from local suppliers that will better equip us to execute our projects in the most efficient and effective means possible. There is not any one company that has all of the skills or solutions to meet every project’s needs. Fluor seeks to leverage the knowledge and skill sets of all of our suppliers and contractors to ensure that we are executing projects successfully. It is through this collaboration and relationship building that Fluor will be able meet the challenges of the future.

Fluor’s engagement of a diverse supplier base fits perfectly with our purpose — to build a better world. We are only able to achieve this with the support and alliances that we promote and maintain with all of our suppliers and contractors. These relationships will allow Fluor to be more resilient in these ever-changing times.

By continuing to engage new suppliers and contractors, we not only enhance our existing relationships but also foster an environment of future opportunity and potential growth for our clients, supply base, and organization.

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