For a company like Harley-Davidson, which designs and manufactures premium motorcycles, the search for excellence begins with its suppliers. “We’re always looking for well-run companies that can deliver on quality, cost, and innovation,”says Paul Wiers, vice president of materials management for the Milwaukee-based company. “Our goal is to produce the best-quality motorcycles for our customers, and we need a diversity of talent and ideas to make that happen.”
A case in point would be Mico Industries, a minority-owned engineering, stamping, and welding company that’s based in Grand Rapids. Last year Harley-Davidson selected the company to produce a rather complex component for its motorcycles, even though the part stretched Mico’s capability beyond its traditional product line. “We liked their leadership, work ethic, and the quality we knew they would bring to the product,” explains Wiers, adding, “It’s been a very good relationship.”
Harley-Davidson also places a premium on the flexibility that all its suppliers, including minority suppliers, bring to the table. Last year, as it began to transform its manufacturing facility in York, Pa., the company needed to find a partner that could also manage its sub-assembly and sequencing operations. Harley-Davidson selected a minority supplier that established a facility near York. “They have proven to be extremely flexible and responsive to our needs,” says Wiers.