Kevin Mitchell, vice president of global supply chain at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, the world’s fifth-largest defense contractor, addressed a capacity audience of more than 70 aerospace business leaders at the SCV Aerospace & Defense Coalition (ADC) breakfast Tuesday, and he gave the audience some pointers on becoming a supplier to the company.
If you’re a supplier to the aerospace industry, and you want to do business with Northrop Grumman, there are ground rules you need to know. The first is, “Do your homework.”
He told attendees to study up on Northrop Grumman and “become familiar with the company’s products, future priorities and requirements.”
To qualify as a potential supplier, Northrop Grumman follows a stringent internal system. A potential supplier should try to build credibility, demonstrate quality products, on-time delivery and proven performance – and know the system.
“Always avoid gaming the system by contacting high-level executives,” advised Mitchell. “And never be unprepared.”
Strong supply base
As a Northrop Grumman executive responsible for developing and maintaining a strong supply base for aerospace systems products, Mitchell is in a unique position to counsel businesses that want to work with the company. The company’s global supply chain comprises subcontracts, procurement, pricing and estimating, transportation, kitting and production support.
Mitchell explained that potential suppliers can input their company information into Northrop Grumman’s database. He added that it helps to check with the company’s Global Supplier Diversity Office, which can advise suppliers on potential subcontract opportunities.
The presentation, “Building a Stronger Supplier Partnership,” was sponsored by the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation. In addition to covering how to become a Northrop Grumman supplier, the presentation included topics such as the aerospace and defense giant’s strategic sourcing objectives, its global supplier diversity program, supplier qualification and ranking and the company’s focused growth opportunities.
Small Business Opportunities
While Northrop Grumman is by all standards a large company, that doesn’t exclude small businesses from becoming suppliers.
A statutory requirement ensures that 23 percent of Northrop Grumman contracts are awarded to small businesses. As a result, the company welcomes participation of different types of small businesses, especially those in the categories of service disabled veteran owned businesses and historically under-utilized businesses zones.
Another tidbit of information presented to the group: the company ranks its suppliers, and it’s beneficial to move up the ladder. Among more than 800 suppliers, 8 percent have achieved the top Platinum Preferred status, and another 7 percent are ranked as Platinum suppliers. From a strategic perspective, the company is driving more business toward those who have achieved these two top levels.
Since 2012, 1,730 suppliers received more than $4.5 billion in contracts across Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in California. The company has a robust supply base in California, creating about 7,300 direct supplier jobs and a total jobs impact – direct and indirect – of 34,100. Of the total amount awarded in contracts, small businesses received $2.1 billion, and large businesses won $2.4 billion.
Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation, noted that Mitchell’s talk generated a lot of interest in the local business community.
“I’m pleased that so many Santa Clarita Valley aerospace businesses got vital information about their supply chain needs,” she said. “The wide range of companies (in attendance) is representative of the strength and diversity of the local business community.”
To learn how to join 800-strong Northrop Grumman suppliers and obtain a copy of Kevin Mitchell’s presentation, contact Sue Arellano, business assistance manager at SCVEDC at SueArellano@scvedc.org.