Communities Lifting Communities

Vendor Diversity Fair a Hit with Suppliers, Hospitals

Communities Lifting Communities (CLC) and HASC’s first Vendor Diversity Fair, held Thursday, June 29, was a great success. Approximately 40 vendors of diverse backgrounds and procurement staff from four hospitals gathered at PIH Health Whittier Hospital, creating new connections and developing potential partnerships.

By all accounts the event engaged and benefited both business owners and hospital purchasers alike. Both groups grew their networks and met contacts with whom they might not otherwise have crossed paths.

The afternoon began with lunch and informal networking before Chico Manning, system vice president for enterprise supply chain at PIH Health, kicked off the event program. Manning discussed his efforts to develop new suppliers from the local community and introduced Gustavo Escutia, president and founder of Quality Environmental, Inc. (QE).

Gustavo “Gus” Escutia

Escutia shared how he launched his environmental abatement firm in his garage with his sister and dad in 2005. In 2007, he met Rick Kuyper of Pomona Valley Hospital, who was impressed with QE’s work on a small infection abatement project. Kuyper gave the company its first project with Pomona Valley and an entry to the health care industry.

Kuyper then referred QE to PIH, which needed a specialized lead cleanup at one of its facilities. The work, projected to take nine weeks, involved full decontamination and packing out of all contents in the nine-story building. QE not only successfully completed the massive project, but did so below the estimated cost and time frame.

Sam Radfar

Manning also introduced Sam Radfar, owner of D&S Global Distribution, who he met when the COVID-10 pandemic began. PIH needed 315,000 level 3 masks per month for its staff and started contacting vendors. “We talked with a lot of suppliers,” Manning said, “but Sam was the only who came through with the masks.” In business for over 20 years, Radfar has succeeded by expanding into a range of industries and products to meet his clients’ needs.

Another vendor — who traveled from New York to attend — was Dara Cook, CEO of Expect. The app aims to reduce complications and improve outcomes for pregnant patients, especially those of color, through pre- and post-natal fitness. Cook learned about the fair while taking part in the Techstars Healthcare Accelerator, sponsored by Cedars-Sinai, Point32Health, UCI Health and UnitedHealthcare.

Dara Cook

“As the only maternal fitness platform where every workout is approved by ob-gyns, Expect was grateful for the chance to engage with multiple providers simultaneously and potentially expand our reach within the health care industry,” Cook said. “Moreover, as a Black woman and LGBTQ+–owned and operated company, it is refreshing to see so many world-class providers prioritize vendor diversity. We thank the Communities Lifting Communities team for inviting us and are looking forward to more collaborations.”

CLC is thrilled that the Vendor Diversity Fair has fostered new connections, and the team is planning its next event. The Hospital Supplier Diversity Annual Conference will take place Monday, Oct. 30, at The California Endowment. To learn more and register, visit For any questions, please contact Vetannie Morton.


Vetannie Morton

Job title:
Coordinator of Diversity, Health Equity and Inclusion Programs
Phone number:
(213) 538-0718