Vision. Responsibility. Inspiration. Integrity. Success. Individually, these words can be applied to any number of different things and people. Once in a great while, however, a person comes along that incorporates all these ideals not only into their own way of life, but into their business’ way of life, and its employees and their way of life too. Such is the case with Cheryl Snead, President and CEO of Banneker Industries Inc. Cheryl took over a small machine shop with a leaky roof in Lincoln, Rhode Island in 1991, and has since transformed it into a supply chain management power, now headquartered in North Smithfield, R.I., with facilities in 5 states.
Snead, the first African-American woman Mechanical Engineering graduate of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, entered in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program and went to work obtaining government contracts that were sole-sourced to companies that were certified minority and woman-owned. For five years, Snead and Banneker pressed forward, until Snead’s vision saw the new path that Banneker would take: Supply Chain Management. Snead realized that one of Banneker’s great strengths was not just machining pieces of metal into finished products, but also managing the required materials through the entire process of manufacturing. She saw that they would be able to do the same thing for numerous other commodities as well and that this would in turn give Banneker a leg up as it added value to its customers. A strong relationship with Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems got the ball rolling for Snead and her company and spearheaded their move into the uncharted waters of Supply Chain Management.
One of the many attributes that stands out about Cheryl Snead is her ability to inspire those around her. Constantly reaffirming her belief in her employees is something that makes Banneker Industries such an attractive place to work. Employees marvel about how positive the work environment is there each and every day. Snead’s leadership by example helps drive Banneker forward and towards achieving its goal set forth in its mission statement: “Team Banneker is committed to understanding and exceeding the needs and expectations of all our Customers by working together to drive business excellence.” She believes, and her employees all agree that Banneker is not about just one person, no matter who that person may be. It is about the Customer. Each employee is responsible to the Customers, and Banneker preaches integrity in all that they do. “We do what we say and say what we do,” is at the core of Banneker’s way of doing business and it is obvious that it resonates with its customers.
Vision. Responsibility. Inspiration. Integrity. Success. It is clear that all of these terms apply to Cheryl Snead and Banneker Industries. Her vision to take Banneker from its humble beginnings to a leading Supply Chain Management company, and her ability to lead and inspire those around her pushed her business forward to overwhelming success. Her employees mirror the ideals of the past winner of the SBA Rhode Island Minority Small Business Person of the Year in their work and have taken the foundation that Snead laid for Banneker. Together they built the wildly successful, people driven business it is today. Starting small in Lincoln, it didn’t take long for Snead’s team to gain regional and national recognition for their efforts. Snead was also awarded the SBA New England Women in Business Advocate of the Year, and in 2008, Banneker was named the SBA National Subcontractor of the Year. Is this the manifestation of Snead’s vision of what Banneker Industries would be? In many cases, yes. However, as Snead will quickly point out, they are never done growing as a business and making themselves better.
While Snead and Banneker’s work will never be done, it is clear that her keeping to core values from Day One, is the driving force behind Banneker’s success. Her want to have her company mirror the innovation, legacy and inspiration of its namesake has driven her and her business, and will continue to do so them in future.