Tony Waller, Walmart’s vice president constituent relations and racial equity, speaks during Walmart’s Open Call. View here.
Walmart: Textiles will be first focus of U.S.-made initiative
Posted July 1, 2021
BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Walmart’s Open Call 2021 is now in the books with more than 900 small businesses from across the country pitching their products made, grown or assembled in the U.S. to Walmart and Sam’s Club merchants on July 30.
During this year’s virtual Open Call event, small businesses learned more about Walmart’s “American Lighthouses,” a plan to unite key stakeholders in specific regions of the country to identify and overcome top-down barriers to U.S. production. The retailer shared that textiles will be the first focus area for Lighthouses.
As expected, this year’s cohort marked the largest number of business owners ever to take part in the one-day event, representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Of those businesses, 167 of their products are advancing to the next stage in the process to land a deal with Walmart or Sam’s Club and another 705 are receiving further consideration.
“Open Call supports Walmart’s overall commitment to U.S manufacturing and small businesses. In March, we announced an additional spend of $350 billion on items made, grown or assembled in the U.S. over the next 1- years,” said Laura Phillips, senior vice president, customer and business development and U.S. manufacturing for global sourcing at Walmart. “We also announced our American Lighthouses concept, which strives to accelerate progress on this commitment. To do this, we aim to bring together key regions and various stakeholders to address obstacles, support and pilot innovative projects and provide tools and resources for businesses to invest in U.S. production, making the supply chain more efficient, sustainable and making it easier for U.S. manufacturing to flourish.”
Walmart’s American Lighthouses concept will focus on these categories: textiles; metals and motors; food processing; plastics; pharmaceutical and medical supplies.
“We are inspired and excited by Walmart’s American Lighthouses concept and agree that U.S. manufacturing is critical, sustainable and achievable through collaborative efforts across multiple stakeholders,” said Peter Senger, senior vice president/general manager, merchandising, marketing and sales at Renfro Brands, a leading producer of socks and legwear products located in North Carolina. “We employ about 2,000 people across the U.S. and working with Walmart has allowed us to continue to support the needs of the American worker. We believe that an investment in American jobs is an investment that provides for American families and strengthens the communities they live in with a stable and sustainable way of life.”
Open Call supports Walmart’s overall $350 billion commitment to U.S. Manufacturing. In addition to an increase in spending and support for small businesses and diverse suppliers through efforts like Open Call, the company estimates the commitment will support the creation of more than 750,000 new American jobs and will help avoid 100 million metric tons of CO2 emissions by sourcing closer to customers.
Businesses who advanced during Open Call will now work with merchants on opportunities to sell their products in Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs. All businesses who took part in Open Call are eligible to sell their shelf-stable products on Walmart’s various online platforms Walmart.com, Walmart Marketplace or Samsclub.com.
The day kicked off with a General Session in which the business owners heard from guest celebrity – and current Walmart vendor – Jay Leno, who encouraged businesses and entrepreneurs to make the perfect pitch by bringing their “A” game, looking Walmart merchants in the eye and delivering more than they promise.
Governors from Utah, Colorado, Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, Indiana and Arkansas also joined in to thank small business and Walmart for supporting U.S. manufacturing.
The General Session was hosted by Tony Waller, vice president constituent relations and racial equity – Walmart U.S. Other Walmart leaders, including Doug McMillon, president and CEO – Walmart Inc., and John Furner, president and CEO – Walmart U.S., also spoke to the business owners.