Today the American Gaming Association (AGA) honored five gaming suppliers with the Diverse Vendor of the Year Award for their outstanding work in the industry. The awards were presented during the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Political Education and Leadership Institute’s TUNICA 2012 Mississippi Policy Conference, held August 9 through 11. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who serves as host of the conference and is chairman of the CBC Institute and CBC Gaming Task Force, was on hand at the ceremony to welcome the crowd and congratulate this year’s honorees.
“A commitment to diversity in hiring and procurement is a priority for our industry, and this year’s set of winners all share key attributes that make the gaming industry thrive: dedication and commitment to excellence,” said Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., president and CEO of the AGA. “These award winners are prime examples of the excellent local suppliers that work with gaming companies every day and represent the industry’s commitment to diversity and economic development that extends to all corners of our host communities.”
This is the fourth year AGA member companies have honored top minority, woman and disadvantaged business enterprises (MWDBEs) doing business with the gaming industry. Individual AGA member companies nominate the winners, and, due to the varied nature of vendor-supplier relationships, determine their own selection criteria for each honoree.
The five companies honored this year are the following:
- Sobel Westex, based in Las Vegas, is a leading MBE manufacturer and distributor of textiles for the hospitality industry. It has been a strategic partner to the Boyd Gaming Corporation since the mid-2000s and a valued linen supplier to Sam's Town Tunica since 2007.
- “Although corporately located in Las Vegas, Nev. with additional locations across the country, Sobel Westex has a physical presence in Mississippi—making their responsiveness even greater,” said Joe Coe, Boyd Gaming’s director of diversity. “There has been an occasional misstep along the way and without hesitation, Sobel Westex has jumped in to offer solutions, thus minimizing disruptions to our customer experience. The value add provided goes beyond price; they are strategic in offering solutions involving product control, logistics and service-level agreements. We are pleased to have Sobel Westex as a partner to Sam’s Town Tunica.”
- Durand Food Services (DFS), based in Kenner, La., is Caesars Entertainment’s primary produce distributor for properties in Mississippi and Louisiana. Even before the awarding of contracts, Durand took the initiative to learn what is required to become a vendor for Caesars and built an infrastructure to be competitive in pricing and product.
- “As the produce supplier for Caesars Entertainment's New Orleans, Bossier City and Biloxi properties, Durand Food Services has done an exemplary job at providing for both our company and guest needs," said Fred Keeton, vice president of external affairs and chief diversity officer at Caesars Entertainment Corporation. "Supporting minority, women and disadvantaged businesses and reinvesting in local industry is an integral part of what we do to better our operating communities through economic growth.”
- Technology Group Solutions, LLC (TGS) is a minority-owned business enterprise, based in Lenexa, Kan., that offers quality IT product solutions and services. Since its relationship with TGS began in early 2011, Ameristar Casinos, Inc. has continually increased the amount purchased from TGS due to its competitive pricing and ability to meet required deliverables.
- “We are committed to working with vendors who can provide high quality products and services. Additionally, as an organization we are focused on buying locally from diverse and women-owned businesses. The team at Technology Group Solutions matches our focus and provides high quality services to our organization,” said Matt Miele, vice president of procurement & QA for Ameristar Casinos, Inc.
- Endara Enterprises is a certified minority- and woman-owned business out of Shreveport, La. that distributes in Louisiana and throughout the U.S. to a diverse customer base including small businesses and Fortune 500 companies. Isle of Capri Casino’s, Inc.’s Casino and Hotel in Lake Charles, La. has had a business relationship with Endara for more than 10 years.
- “Rubby Endara Gregg, president of Endara Enterprises, and vice president Mary Jo Gray, have been an asset to the Isle of Capri, providing great service as well as competitive pricing on a vast number of products. Endara’s leadership, commitment to service and its procurement relationships have resulted in numerous industry awards over the years including the SBA’s Small Business Person of the Year. We look forward to our continued business relationship,” said Paul Hutchens, vice president and general manager, Isle of Capri Casinos.
- Economical Janitorial & Paper Supplies Inc., based in Harahan, La., became a key strategic vendor for MGM Resorts International in 1999. Since then, MGM has gone to Economical for about 40 percent of Beau Rivage’s warehouse disposable/janitorial inventory and nearly 80 percent of its direct janitorial orders.
- “Due to their competitive pricing and relationship with Beau Rivage, Economical has been granted preferred vendor status by both Brady and Kimberly-Clark Corps.,” said Erik Lewis, director of purchasing for MGM’s Beau Rivage.
After the presentation of the awards, the award-winning suppliers took part in a roundtable discussion during which they shared their experiences working with gaming companies and offered guidance to other diverse businesses interested in supplying the gaming industry.