Tiffany Klingensmith learned early in her professional career that diversification is key to any successful business.
As owner of Unconventional Solutions, she puts that theory to work every day. Her Wixom warehouse and training facility protects equipment, buildings and machinery from erosion, corrosion and abrasion.
“We are always trying to keep up with the trends while finding ways to be innovative,” said Klingensmith. “And it’s really paid off for us.”
Consumers Energy began working with Unconventional Solutions, a woman owned business, through the state’s Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) program. Unconventional Solutions provides the tape to fix natural gas pipes as well as the coating that prevents corrosion.
The PMBC program is helping other businesses connect across the state. Earlier this year Consumers Energy, and state officials announced a plan to spend $1.5 billion with Michigan suppliers annually through 2024, for a cumulative Michigan spend of $7.5 billion.
The commitment includes Consumers Energy pledging to double its spend with diverse suppliers over a five-year period. Those include suppliers that are 51 percent owned by people who are minorities, women, military veterans, disabled or LGBTQ. Klingensmith landed two contracts with Consumers Energy that has allowed her to hire five more employees.
“Without that contract there is no way we would’ve been able to add more employees to bring us up to 12,” she said. “It really helped take our business to another level.”
Klingensmith said she relishes the opportunity to go out into the field to train Consumers Energy employees how to coat natural gas pipelines so that Consumers Energy can continue to provide reliable and safe service to its customers.
“It’s important work,” she said, adding she is certified by the National Association for Corrosion Engineers. “I love providing safety to the public, but we are also providing safety to employees as well. It’s worked out really well.”
She added that the company started out in the automotive sector but made the change to get more involved in the energy sector about a decade ago.
“We really wanted to get involved more with energy and diversify ourselves. We thought it would be the key to having future success,” she said. “It was a decision that has worked very well for us.”
Brenda Ruffing, supplier diversity program manager at Consumers Energy, has worked hard to find contractors within Michigan’s borders that provide a good fit.
“We want to give Michigan businesses every chance to thrive,” said Ruffing. “Our top priority is to help Michigan grow because we are all successful when that happens.”