Flint Business Summit, Hosted by the State of Michigan

A woman smiles while presenting on stage

Good morning!
My name is Cindi Marsiglio and I’m Vice President of U.S. Manufacturing and Sourcing at Walmart.

It’s great to be here in Michigan today... I don’t think there is another state that has as rich a manufacturing heritage as Michigan does.

I want to thank Trevor and the team at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for inviting us to be a part of the conversation.

In 2013, we announced Walmart’s commitment to buy $250 billion in products that support American jobs.

And Michigan has been with us since day one!

In my job I have the privilege of speaking with a lot of economic development offices... business leaders... and elected officials.

As you can imagine, things like economic opportunity and creating jobs are topics that are on everyone’s mind...

But few states have been more engaged than yours... for that, I want to say THANK YOU.

In fact... since 2011, the work of Pure Michigan Business Connect has led to contracts worth roughly $160 million for Michigan companies.

Those are great numbers and reflect the hard work of people in this room.

And it’s probably safe to say that some of those contracts created products that ended up in Walmart Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets.

So this morning, I want to start with a little background on Walmart and how we engage with our communities... share some of the details around our U.S. Manufacturing commitment... and close by answering some of your questions.

Sound good? Great!

Walmart’s Evolution

From the beginning, we’ve been a company with an entrepreneurial, innovative culture--everything we do is focused on the customer.

You know us as the world’s largest retailer... but we started as one small Five & Dime store in northwest Arkansas over fifty years ago.

Today we operate in 28 countries with a range of formats, over 11,000 stores worldwide and a global e-commerce business.

Ten years ago, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina we made a bold commitment to being a better company.

We had become very big in a short period of time, so we decided to use our strength to help others.

Our purpose is Save Money, Live Better and it drives us.

As our customers save money, they spend it on the things that matter... maybe that’s helping put their kids through school... or a family vacation to the Upper Peninsula.

Global Responsibility: We want to use our strength to help others

But a big part of our commitment to helping our customers live better is using our strength to help others.

We do that in three ways:
1. Sustainability – three goals: zero waste, 100% renewable energy, more sustainable products.

2. Community – Local giving, associate volunteerism & disaster relief

  • I know all of you are familiar with the water crisis this community has faced... and I want to thank all of you for what you did for Flint.
  • We all have a role to play in supporting our communities... and it’s especially important that we work together during trying times...
  • That’s why Walmart and the Walmart Foundation partnered with Coke & Pepsi to donate 6.5 million bottles of water to support 10,000 Flint Public School students.
  • That bottled water donation is only part of what we do to support Michigan... last year Walmart and the Walmart Foundation gave $26.5 million in cash and in-kind donations to organizations across Michigan.

3. Opportunity – includes our commitment to U.S. Manufacturing, which is what we’re here to talk about today.

American Manufacturing – good for business, communities, & customers.

When we decided to invest $250 billion over 10 years to support American jobs... we knew it would be good for our business, communities, and customers.

The business case for U.S. manufacturing is as strong as it has been in decades...

Shortening the supply chain and creates natural efficiencies... it puts us nearer to the point of production and reduces lead times...

We’re seeing a steady improvement in our inventory... and as shipping costs continue to rise, making goods right here at home is becoming increasingly cost-effective.

This work also makes a difference in our communities...

You all know better than anyone the important role manufacturing plays in creating local jobs.
Good jobs... skilled labor jobs.

Boston Consulting Group estimates that our commitment will create up to 1 million jobs.

Let me show you what that looks like...

We ran that ad this summer during the Olympics... I think it’s AWESOME.

We have an opportunity to do a better job of telling our story around this work... because we know made in America REALLY matters to our customers.

In fact, we found second to price, 85% of our customers said it was important for retailers to carry products made or assembled in America.

And when you take a deeper look at something like what drives customers to recommend Walmart to their friends... three of the top five drivers are related to American-made and American-grown products.

You might be surprised by the fact that two-thirds of what we sell at Walmart is already sourced, grown or made in America — remember we run a large grocery business...
But we wanted to expand on that…

Accelerating USM – Ways you might expect

Since Walmart doesn’t actually make anything, we accelerate American manufacturing in three ways you might expect:

1. Re-shoring production from overseas—e.g., Rainier
2. Expanding existing production already here e.g., Jarden
3. Bringing in new suppliers who make, assemble or grow their products here.

Open Call

One of the ways we bring new suppliers in is our annual Open call...

In June more than 2,000 people traveled to our Bentonville campus to pitch their products.
And we hosted more than 800 open call meetings in ONE day.

You can imagine the excitement...

This year we made it even more fun by saying “yes” to almost every item... at a minimum, listing it on Walmart.com.

Many suppliers are also on their way to seeing their products sold in Walmart stores.

One of those suppliers is Giovanni’s Appetizing Food Products out of Richmond, Michigan
Giovanni and Phillip Ricossa are brothers who run a small family-owned business that has specialized in Italian food products for more than 70 years.

They use quality products and natural ingredients and our buyer was impressed with what they brought to the table at Open Call...

Maybe some of you have a product you’d like to see on Walmart.com or on our shelves...
We’d love to host you in Bentonville and hear more about it.

Jump Portal

I want to pause here for a second... because I don’t want you leaving today thinking you have to wait until next year’s Open Call to show us your product...

We’re looking for innovative, shelf-ready consumer products 365 days a year!

You can submit your product proposal through our U.S. Manufacturing jump portal anytime.

Facilitating USM – Ways you might NOT expect

So, we buy cool American-made items... and that’s probably what you’d expect.
But we also support U.S. manufacturing in ways you might NOT expect...

We’re using all of Walmart’s combined resources to drive this effort.

Our Government Affairs team is connecting suppliers and manufacturers with Economic Development Offices around the country...

The Walmart Foundation has granted $10 million to leading universities like Texas Tech...North Carolina State... Georgia Tech... and others... who are researching and driving new innovations across manufacturing in challenging industries like apparel and small motors.

USM logo – We’re flexible & want to work with you

So whether you’re an established business or a start-up... an academic or an elected official... Walmart wants to work with you to create jobs in your community.
We can start small and grow with you…

  • Giovanni’s is a perfect example...
  • Their first purchase order is for 20 stores... right down the road in Detroit...
  • And they’ll have an opportunity to expand across the state if they hit their sales goals.

We know you all are risk-takers... and in many cases you may need a larger or longer-term contract from Walmart for it to make sense for your business...

We understand that... and we want to be good partners as you look to grow your business.

While we’re pleased with the progress we’re making against our $250B commitment... we still have a lot of work left to do.

We have to do a better job of sharing that story with our customers... the ad you saw earlier helps raise awareness...

But if customers can’t walk into our stores and easily find or identify American-made products, then it doesn’t matter.

That’s on us... and we’re going to make it better.

This work isn’t slowing down... we’re committed to working with you to bring more of your products to the 140 million customers who walk through our doors each week.

Because American-made matters to them...

It matters to Walmart...

And it really matters to our friends and neighbors in communities like Flint... Detroit... Lansing... and so many more.

I look forward to working with all of you to create more American jobs right here in Michigan.

Thank you again for hosting me today...