Member Spotlight: Stephen Phillips
Founder of Supply Logistics and Procurement Services
Supply Logistics & Procurement Services, LLC (SLP) has helped organizations gain control, visibility and savings throughout their supply chain.
Stephen Phillips is a graduate of the FastPath Accelerator Program.
Can you please introduce yourself and your business and the date it was founded?
My name is Stephen Phillips, and I am the founder of Supply Logistics and Procurement Services, which was established in 2003. Our company specializes in supply chain consulting, particularly in the areas of maintenance and operating items. We help businesses develop solutions to overcome any supply chain challenges they may face in today’s world.
What inspired you to start your own business?
It was based on a customer request. I used to work for a company that did the same thing. I started it in 1988 when outsourcing was considered taboo. I worked there for a number of years, helped to develop a division, and eventually left to work in family-owned school bus transportation. In 2002, my old customer, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical, who had heard about me selling the family business, asked me to open a supply chain to help them with their needs since I was their former account manager. Having a company like Johnson & Johnson as a blue-chip client was a great opportunity for my business.
How has your identity as a business owner impacted your journey so far?
When I started in 2003, I was on par with the majority of my peers. However, by partnering with my old employer, we were able to introduce a diverse perspective into the company. During this time, I was able to establish myself as an independent business and grow beyond my previous employer’s limitations. Over the years, I have witnessed significant changes in the political and social climate, particularly in 2021-2022, where there is greater awareness of diversity and its impact on businesses. This has opened up more opportunities for me, and I am proud to say that my company has not only met but exceeded the expectations of our customers, especially during the pandemic. We were able to supply much-needed materials to big blue-chip companies, which normally wouldn’t have considered smaller, diverse businesses like ours. We have built strong relationships with our customers during this time and have continued to grow despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Can you share any challenges you have faced as a business owner and how you have overcome them?
The biggest challenge is always access to capital when starting a business. Often, entrepreneurs resort to bootstrapping with their credit card and managing the business on a shoestring budget until they can secure operating capital from a bank. During the first two years, we learned that we had to bootstrap our way through the process. Another challenge has been proving that as a small company, we are just as capable and willing as larger companies. Often, people underestimate our abilities. However, J&J gave me an opportunity to prove myself, which became my marketing card. By working with a well-known company, I was able to use their name to help grow my business and attract other big customers. When other customers saw that I could handle a large company, they became more confident in my abilities to handle their business as well.
Can you share an example of how the Founders First accelerator program supported you in discovering new avenues for growth?
Coming out of the Covid pandemic, we were able to leverage new customers and create a new business silo in healthcare, which we had not supported prior to Covid. This new business silo is now equal in size to our existing business in the MRO. Our healthcare initiative started by purchasing maintenance and operating items, including for companies such as J&J. We bought and sent these items to their plants in China, internationally, and within the US. We expanded our operations to include purchasing items from Mexico and shipping them to the US. As the pandemic continued, hospitals required more equipment. We began supplying them with these items and staffing their operations. Due to high demand, we delivered up to three times a day to ensure the allocated amount reached the hospitals. From there, we further expanded our services to include inventory management for multi-ambulatory clinics that are becoming more popular than large hospitals. These clinics are located in ER first care emergency services throughout the US and require a smaller supply chain due to their size. We were able to manage their supply chain needs, which included avoiding large truck deliveries like those used by larger hospitals.
Can you offer any advice for other entrepreneurs who are just starting their business journey?
To succeed in business, it’s important to have a sustainable venture that generates cash flow and enables you to enjoy what you do. Have fun along the way, but stay focused on finding a market for your products or services. Ultimately, cash flow is key. Once it starts coming in, you’ll be able to leverage your success to access more opportunities, including funding from banks.