Airports, Car Rental Agencies Join Forces to Recruit Disadvantaged Suppliers

Airports, Car Rental Agencies Join Forces to Recruit Disadvantaged Suppliers
Nicole Nelson
Published in: 

Lynn A. Boccio, vice president of Strategic Business & Diversity Relations for Avis Budget Group, distinctly remembers picking up a call from a then-unknown airport colleague just before the 2016 Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC) Conference.

On the opposite end of the line was Raymond Christy, who had just been hired as the airport senior planner and disadvantaged business enterprise coordinator at Salt Lake City International. Christy introduced himself and quickly cut to the chase, asking Boccio to meet him at the AMAC conference to discuss an idea. 

Subsequent conversations not only led to a friendship, but also to a joint gathering of corporate and airport industry champions advocating for increased participation of Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (ACDBEs) in the airport rental car sector.


Project: ACDBE Recruitment in the Rental Car Market

Event: Airport Rental Car Supplier Diversity Outreach Day

Organizer: Airport Business Development Group

Date: April 30, 2019

Hosts: 30 airports across the U.S.

Total Attendance: 1,224

Partners: Airport Minority Advisory Council; Avis Budget Group; Conrac Solutions; Enterprise Holdings; Hertz; Fox Rent A Car: Sixt Rent A Car 

From Avis Budget, Boccio brought Senior Procurement Specialist Sue Pettit and Senior Vice President of Properties and Facilities Robert Bouta. Christy was joined by eight fellow airport executives attending the AMAC conference and the operational manager from Conrac Solutions, a company that specializes in developing and operating consolidated rental car facilities.  

“We all brought various professional business relationships to the table, so we could affect positive change at our respective airports,” explains Christy. 

Bound by a common cause, the people and their respective organizations united to form the Airport Business Development Group. “We’ve been ‘under the radar’ because we came together to get results—not to be recognized for what we are doing,” Christy relates.

Confident in the power of strong partnerships, he was certain that positive change was within reach, given the cooperation already brewing between the airports and car rental companies.

The organization’s recent Airport Rental Car Supplier Diversity Outreach Day is a case in point. On April 30, 30 U.S. airports simultaneously hosted events to increase opportunities with existing and potential ACDBEs in their individual local markets. The event was designed to be extremely impactful for the rental car companies and small businesses within each of the specific airport communities. 

“The participating airports organized it and ran it on that particular day,” Christy explains. The Airport Business Development Group provided support in the form of draft agendas and planning outlines. “We sent them enough information so that they could design, create and implement this event at their airport. We gave them the framework to work with.”

There was only one requirement: Participating airports had to use the same promotional flyer to show solidarity. Otherwise, each airport was free to structure the event to suit its particular market and objectives.

Supporting Roles

To offer his strong endorsement, Joe Ferraro president, Americas, for Avis Budget Group, penned a letter that mandated local employees to attend and participate in the April 30 event at each host airport.

“Our airports at corporate airport locations contain an ACDBE requirement, which sets forth a percentage/compliance goal that we must attain either with regard to our total spend or total revenue as specified and detailed in each concession agreement,” Ferraro wrote. “At the present time, it is difficult to attain all of these goals with properly certified vendors. An outreach event, such as this, is designed to bring our company new ACDBE businesses with whom we can potentially partner, while at the same time providing us with good faith efforts which are required pursuant to 49 CFR Part 23.”

Enterprise Holdings and Hertz supported the cause by sending representatives to each airport-led event to talk about the various goods and services they purchase locally. They also discussed how to conduct business with their respective companies.

Several airports also invited representatives from Fox Rent A Car and Sixt Rent A Car to their events.

Success Stories

In total, the outreach day attracted 1,224 attendees. While Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) had the highest attendance at 126, Christy notes that the event exceeded expectations at all 30 airports.

  • Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) in South Carolina reported a successful event that generated positive feedback from all attendees. Two businesses even walked away with contracts from car rental companies. No Smell, an ACDBE-certified company that provides sanitizing and deodorizing services for vehicles and interior spaces, secured business with three of the four car rental companies in attendance; and Eagle Corps Services LLC, a non-certified company, gained the opportunity to provide spill kits and safety supplies to 40 locations with one rental company. Eagle Corps also earned business from CAE’s Maintenance Department and is beginning the process to become ACDBE certified.
  • At Salt Lake City International (SLC), the owner of a non-certified painting company secured appointments to meet with Avis Budget Group and Enterprise the following day to conduct a walk through and provide a bid for power washing services. She also set an appointment with the local community business center for help completing the ACDBE certification application.
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO) garnered positive media coverage, when George Mourning, director of its Small Business Department, was interviewed by the local NBC news affiliate about the national outreach event.
  • Jolene Cochran, senior business development counselor with city of Austin, reported that multiple detail body shops had pending contracts within days of the event at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS).

Same Time Next Year?

Within days of the coordinated nationwide event, Christy had already received inquiries about the next Airport Rental Car Supplier Diversity Outreach Day. He and other organizers fully expect it to become an annual event, but a specific date for 2020 has not been selected.

AMAC President and CEO Krystal Brumfield says her organization was pleased to support the effort to advance the ACDBE agenda.

“The car rental companies that have been members of AMAC and many of the airports have participated in a working group to identify some of the challenges that minority businesses and small businesses have working at airports,” Brumfield remarks. “We know that in the car rental concession space that the participation goal is low, and therefore the achievement is low. So we were trying to look at policy changes, look at regulatory changes and just look at all kinds of practices that we can do to utilize our airports and really get behind them and strengthen them so that we can increase our minority participation numbers.

“This initiative has become a really big thing,” she reflects. “When we first started talking about an outreach day, we didn’t see it coming together this way. It has really changed the way that we can make an impact—not just on the car rental side of things, but industry-wide.”


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