The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
UMW, hospital groom partners
BY CATHY JETT
Sean Thacker wants to capture a bigger share of the janitorial business at Mary Washington Healthcare.
His company, PBM Supply, already works at 17 of the buildings on the MWHC campus in Fredericksburg, but not at the hospital itself.
So Tuesday, he and his general manager, Mike Hill, attended a seminar at the University of Mary Washington’s Anderson Center on how to do business with both MWHC and UMW.
They were among 177 area businesspeople at the event, which the Fredericksburg Department of Economic Development and Tourism organized in partnership with MWHC and UMW. It was designed to help local businesses supply more of the goods and services the two entities purchase each year.
Karen Hedelt, the department’s director, said earlier this year that the idea was sparked by 2010 report that MWHC commissioned that showed it spent nearly $64 million with local vendors and nearly $34 million elsewhere in the state. A 2008 study done by UMW found that the university spends $4.7 million in the Fredericksburg region on procurement outlays and $21.7 million statewide.
Alan Edwards, vice president of supply chain solutions at MWHC, said that the company does much of its buying through a Dallas-based group purchasing organization that 1,400 hospitals belong to, and through a regional supply chain network with a combined purchasing power of $1 billion.
He said the vendors who want to sell products and services to MWHC must be authorized to do business with the government and must not be on a sanction list. The company would lose its Medicare and Medicaid funding if it did business with a sanctioned vendor.
Edwards said he typically asks vendors if they will make money from a contract with MWHC, and will check such things as their tax liens to make sure they don’t get in over their heads.
“This is a partnership,” he said.
Erma Baker, UMW’s assistant vice president for business services and chief purchasing officer, said that the university’s top spending categories include architectural/engineering, construction, campus dining services, course materials and IT goods and services. It is embarking on a number of construction projects, including the renovation of Mercer Hall and the Woodard Campus Center next year.
UMW makes procurements through eVA, the state’s electronic purchasing system. Vendors must register with eVA in order to tell state agencies and local governments what they sell, and to find who might be interested in buying their goods and services. Registration is free on eVa’s website, eva .virginia.gov.
Following the seminar, participants had a chance to talk to representatives from MWHC, UMW, eVA, the Virginia Department of Minority Business Enterprise, the Virginia Department of Business Assistance and the Fredericksburg Department of Economic Development and Tourism. They also could walk over to Eagle Village to get individual help at UMW’s Small Business Development Center.
Among those who stood in line to talk to the representatives was Ethan Van Brunt, owner of VB Energy Design in Fredericksburg. He stopped by the eVA table to get more information, and got walked through its website. Among other things, it includes tutorials and how-to demonstrations for buyers and guidelines on how to search for business opportunities online for free.
“For me, as a one-person operation, you want to find customers who don’t have multiple levels of management,” he said. “You want to go to the head decision-maker.”
Tuesday’s event was the first of its kind, and Hedelt said she was pleased by the turnout. A spinoff focusing on construction is being discussed.
Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407