Hau Thai-Tang, head of Ford Motor Co.’s global purchasing, has been named chairman of the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council for 2016-17.

The MMSDC certifies minority businesses, and provides those companies with development opportunities. Each year, the organization helps to facilitate more than $20 billion in business between corporations and minority businesses.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to work with the MMSDC,” Thai-Tang said in an interview. “The Michigan chapter is one of the most active.”

Thai-Tang was picked for the leadership role in part because of Ford’s Supplier Diversity Development program, in place since 1978. The program has delivered support to minority, women and veteran-owned businesses by spending more than $80 billion with such companies. This year, Ford has won at least eight supplier diversity awards.

The Dearborn automaker has pledged to spend at least 10 percent of its U.S. purchasing budget annually on minority suppliers. In 2014, Ford exceeded its spending goals for the fifth-straight year, purchasing $6.76 billion from certified Tier I minority-owned suppliers.

“Our premise is that we should do business with people who reflect the diversity of our consumer base,” Thai-Tang said. “We try to make sure we have a diverse representation.”

The supplier partnerships include a number of local minority suppliers, including Andra Rush’s Detroit-based Rush Trucking and former Detroit Piston Vinnie Johnson’s Piston Group. Ford starting working with Rush in 1984, and with Johnson in 2004.

The MMSDC leadership supported Thai-Tang’s appointment to the two-year chairmanship.

“Hau brings a unique perspective and a valued skill set to his tenure as our board chair,” Michelle Sourie Robinson, president and CEO, MMSDC, said in a statement. “Our strategic plan will benefit greatly from his engineering and procurement background, tempered only by his commitment to supplier diversity.”

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