Last Modified: Friday, August 09, 2013 9:03 PM
A Lake Charles nonprofit group wants to make it easier for local industry leaders to vet qualified vendors. And they’re looking online to do so.
The Safety Council of Southwest Louisiana is developing an online database of vendors who have been pre-qualified to work at petrochemical plants and refineries across Southwest Louisiana. The program is in its beginning stages and is not expected to be online until early next year.
“Vendors who go into a plant serve a different function than contractors, and there are different needs and requirements for them,” said Mason Lindsay, the Safety Council’s director of business services and marketing. “Vendor programs do not have to be as stringent as the contractor’s because they are not physically working inside of the unit. A vendor may be the guy who goes in and fills the Coke machine or delivers supplies to the warehouse.”
With the click of a mouse, local plant managers and purchasing agents will be able to go online and peruse pre-qualified vendors who have listed their products and services in the database. Lindsay said vendors will be pre-qualified in areas such as safety programs and the training they have received to enter industrial plants.
He added that the database is the outgrowth of the council’s Pre-Qualifier Form program, which was launched online 10 years ago.
The PQF program requires all contractors to fill out a form that identifies their companies’ safety programs and accident rates. Once the council receives a contractor’s safety measures, they send an auditor to the contractor’s business location to verify the safety measures are in place.
Vendors will submit their companies’ safety manuals and programs to pre-qualify for a listing in the database.
“You’re trying to protect people first, then the equipment and facilities after that,” Lindsay added. “The vendor program began with our plant customers asking us to come up with a database that lists potential vendors who have been pre-qualified to work at their plant.”
Jay Fear, a local independent consultant and small-business coach, said the database is also a tool for industry purchasing managers who want to offer business opportunities to local vendors. Fear, who runs Innovative Small Business Development in Welsh, was recently appointed to the Go Group’s small-business subcommittee to work on the Safety Council’s vendor database project.
“Purchasing managers have a tremendous job to do, and they’re good at what they do,” he said. “The industries in our area want to stay local. We just have to make it easy for them to stay local.”
Lindsay said the vendor database program has been in the development stages for about two months. He added that the program remains both a concept and a work in progress that is subject to change.
“The vendor’s activities are different from the contractor’s activities, so there’s a different set of needs,” he said. “Plants are really small cities. They have all different kinds of vendors who supply them with the products they need. The design of this program is to meet those needs as opposed to what the contractors are doing.”