Gulfstream relies on more than 3,400 suppliers in building and servicing its corporate jets.
The roster includes giants like General Electric, but the list is overwhelmingly populated by what the company’s vice president for marketing, Bill Shira, calls Gulfstream’s “lifeblood” — small businesses.
“We can’t do what we do without the help of small businesses,” Shira told a room of local entrepreneurs Tuesday during a Small Business Council SMART Lunch Series event.
More than 2,400 of Gulfstream’s suppliers are classified as small businesses. Those businesses garner a large piece of the $734 million in procurements Gulfstream makes nationwide each year.
Gulfstream spends more than $80 million annually with Savannah suppliers alone.
“We look for passion, skill, commitment and somebody we can trust,” Shira said. “We really have to have that trust.”
Several Gulfstream managers involved in purchasing and subcontracting, including small business liaison Marshall Tuck, attended Tuesday's luncheon held at the Savannah Morning News auditorium. Shira encouraged local small business owners to network with those managers and to register as a Gulfstream supplier through the company website at gulfstream.com/supplier/.
Registering is a way to get on the “radar screen” with procurement, Shira said.
“We, as a company, are slammed,” Shira said. “So the key as a potential new supplier is to be persistent. Persistent and patient.”
The time is now to make that connection because Gulfstream is “slammed,” Shira said. Gulfstream has a backlog of orders for its new G-650 through 2017 and is building its new production facilities near the airport to address the demand.
The company is projecting growth as the American economic recovery continues and the economies in developing countries, particularly China, expand. Of the 16,000 business jets in service around the world, only 200 are owned by Chinese companies.
“When the market returns like it always does, we’re going to be golden,” Shira said.
Small businesses wanting to work with Gulfstream as a supplier need to register through the company website at www.gulfstream.com/supplier/. Gulfstream’s corporate small business officer is Marshall Tuck.