The University of Washington (UW) is a public university educating more than 54,000 students annually. With an ongoing commitment to expanding opportunities for small and diverse businesses, UW turned to the E&I Staples contract to formalize a contract with Guy Brown, a Staples diverse alliance partner.
The University was looking for one contract covering multiple categories, and chose the E&I Staples agreement to source office, technology, furniture, janitorial, and branded products while supporting Guy Brown – a certified Minority Business Enterprise and Small Disadvantaged Business.
The biggest challenge UW faced was promoting utilization of Guy Brown and Staples across its campus, for example, when convincing the University’s janitorial department to reconsider their existing jan/san suppliers and swap to the new agreement.
“Our campus is open, so departments have the discretion to select from numerous contracted suppliers. We don’t mandate contract utilization but encourage these suppliers to promote and market their agreement to our departments,” said Claudia Christensen, Purchasing Manager at UW.
Staples and Guy Brown partnered with UW to encourage contract utilization in various ways, such as by enabling their punchout catalog in UW’s Ariba environment. Staples also provided the University with local expert support during facility walk-throughs to identify opportunities for both labor and product cost savings.
To encourage jan/san purchases, Guy Brown and Staples met with custodial and facilities personnel to understand their pain points, offer a consolidation program, and present solutions to UW’s decision-makers for approval, which resulted in increased contract spend within the department.
Guy Brown offered promotions for first time purchasers, published information in the University’s monthly newsletter, hosted small business and supplier fairs, and regularly communicated and conducted outreach to campus departments.
“The Guy Brown team has been responsive and supportive, providing useful reports, hosting quarterly business reviews, and supporting our various initiatives,” said Christensen.
UW found key differentiators in working with Staples, from their attention to sustainability and diversity solutions to their delivery model and expertise in process and product selection. And because of the flexibility of the E&I Staples contract, the University was able to customize pricing on core products that are most important to them.
By partnering with Staples and Guy Brown, the University has benefited from improved operational efficiencies in addition to enhancing their bottom line. From easy ordering to catalog enablement, cost savings, and even sustainability initiatives such as promoting 100% recycled copy paper across campus, Guy Brown and Staples have collaborated with UW to support a variety of needs.
And because Guy Brown is a certified MBE and Small Disadvantaged Business, campus departments who are subject to federal small business subcontracting goals have a streamlined way to source products that help meet their individual spending goals.
“As organizations are scaling back, Guy Brown and Staples are doubling down on support, hitting the diversity component while shying away from nothing,” said Christensen. “They are partner-driven, offer comprehensive sales support, co-lead business reviews, and ensure they are involved in every aspect of their partnership with our University.”