Record attendance for Supplier Industry Days at Defense Supply Center Richmond

By Leon Moore DLA Aviation Public Affairs

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More than 200 defense supplier representatives converged on the Lotts Conference Center on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, for the annual, two-day Defense Logistics Agency Aviation Supplier Industry Days May 15 - 16.

Pamela Frederick, training liaison, DLA Aviation Career Development Branch, Command Support Directorate, coordinated this year’s event. She said this was the largest supplier turnout since its inception back in 2014. She estimated close to 250 people were in attendance.

Defense Logistics Agency Aviation Commander Air Force Brig. Gen. Linda Hurry set the tone for the event by providing opening remarks.

“Industry days not only strengthen our supplier relationships; but they also address specific issues impacting our support to the warfighter,” she said.

The commander then stressed two important issues: drive up material availability by two percent, with a goal of 90 percent and drive down backorders by 10 percent, both by the end of fiscal 2018.

She also mentioned issues such as on-time-delivery, hard-to-source items, proposal response time and technical issues.

“Collectively, I need innovation. Help us help our warfighters. Maybe there are some things we don’t know or could do better, more efficiently. Maybe you know where the [military] services need to spend their next dollar. Help us create that right demand,” she said.

After the commander’s comments, the day began for the capacity crowd, starting with a Small Business overview, one of the key elements within DLA Director’s Industry Engagement Plan. 

John Henley, associate director, Office of Small Business Programs, Command Support Directorate, laid out how his office has taken a more action item focused proactive approach to building strong partnerships with suppliers.

He said in addition to establishing a Small Business Management Board this past September, a month later, they also developed four lines of effort to drive results: prime contracting, industry engagement, techniques in subcontracting, and education and awareness.

“Making sure we are on the same sheet of music is really the key to our collective success,” he said.

This year’s breakout meetings included cable commodities and bearings, a first for both. 

Deborah Arrington, chief, Bearings Division, Supplier Operations Commodities Directorate, DLA Aviation, said her division manages 118,000 national stock numbers, with 26,500 active and 91,500 inactive.

She said being included in this year’s Supplier Industry Days will go a long way in establishing fruitful relationships with suppliers now and in the future.

“It gives us an opportunity to meet our suppliers that we deal with directly. It gives them a chance to work with us, bring us ideas and bring up issues we can address in a public setting,” Arrington said.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Tew is the chief for the Electrical Components and Cables Division, Supplier Operations Commodities Directorate’s. He said the division manages close to 158,000 national stock numbers, with close to 24,000 in an active status, but is currently dealing with a high number of backorders.  He said Supplier Industry Days are the perfect time to work together with suppliers to find a solution to the high number of backorders.

“At the end of the day, they are in this just as much as we are in supporting the warfighters. They’re not getting paid until the parts are delivered and inspected, so they definitely have skin in the game to fulfill their part of the contract as well,” Tew said.   

The optimism expressed by both Arrington and Tew is exactly what Hurry said she envisioned.  

“I want you to leave with a better understanding of our issues along with the role you play to improve warfighter support.  I want you to identify areas where we can improve, either in knowledge sharing or processes,” Hurry said.