In 1978, Frank Bonamie, an enrolled member of the Cayuga Indian Nation of New York, set out building pallets in a barn in Spencer, New York. His first client was Kodak and he experienced so much success that it changed the trajectory of his business and his future.
As the relationship with Kodak grew, so too did the demand for Bonamie’s pallets, which motivated him to identify new sources of quality pallets. What he was doing was building the foundation for what would become a network of suppliers, marking his entrance into the broker business model. Ultimately, Ongweoweh Corp., a pallet manufacturing and management company was born.
Its name, Ongweoweh Corp., is derived from a Haudenosaunee word that means “real people” or “original people.” Mr. Bonamie chose this name to represent how the company and the people who would comprise it would do business.
As a result of this approach paired with quality products and service, Ongweoweh Corp. has become a recognized leader for its integrated pallet, packaging, waste and recycling solutions and one of the most successful privately-owned Native American companies in the United States.
Over the last five to seven years, Ongweoweh Corp. has grown significantly through the acquisition of complementary operations to further diversify its capabilities. The company has become a fully integrated pallet and packaging procurement and management, recycling and waste management, and supply chain optimization solutions provider that helps its customers save money and the environment in the process.
“In 2013, we purchased White and Company to better assist in the innovation and service that we currently provide our customers. They offer a lot of testing solutions, so if we come up with a pallet and the customer wants to have verification of the quality and strength of it, we can do that,” Executive Director Kirsten Bellisario explained.
In addition to White and Company, Ongweoweh Corp. depends on its partners Native Trax Transport and Logistics and 7Gen Waste Logistics. As Bellisario noted, “Our goal is to be a total category management company.”
She went on to explain, “We provide additional value for our customers through advanced analytics and also GIS mapping. This gives them a snapshot of their spend, total savings, landfill aversion, Tier One and Tier Two spend. These things are especially important because we are an MBE (Minority-owned Business Enterprise).”
Ongweoweh Corp. has a dedicated vendor management department which assesses suppliers and grows relationships and business opportunities on the vendor, in addition to a dedicated sales team with account managers to support its customers and ensure the team is meeting their needs across the diverse industries they serve.
“As a company, we try to drive innovation by providing our customers solutions that make sure we are providing cost savings at every opportunity possible,” said Bellisario. The company dedicates resources to doing so on a per customer, per product, per process line, per location basis.
Ongweoweh Corp. is ISO 9001:2015 certified and has received certification from the New York and New Jersey Minority Supplier Development Council, an affiliate of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), as a Minority-owned Business Enterprise (MBE), as well as the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC).
Understanding the importance of MBE certification, customers and vendors who are minority-owned can lean on Ongweoweh Corp. when seeking to certify. “We’re there to help in any way we can,” noted Bellisario, which goes far beyond pallet, packaging and waste management solutions.
Ongweoweh Corp. has embraced innovation in terms of its products, its services and its approach to business in order to achieve its mission and vision of becoming the foremost pallet and packaging management solutions provider. As the company continues to grow its repertoire of offerings, vendors and its full-circle supply chain solutions it hasn’t lost sight of what is important: the people and the planet.
With manufacturing facilities and operations that span New York, Georgia, Tennessee, and Missouri, as well as Canada and Mexico, the company has grown to better serve its customers where they are, and despite this growth, it has maintained a focus on sustainability: sustaining the relationships that have enabled the company to grow as well as the natural environment which provides the resources necessary to operate.
Frank Bonamie has stated that, “Ongweoweh strives to embody the seventh generation principle of the Haudenosaunee Great Law, which advises that, ‘In every deliberation, we much consider the impact on the seventh generation.’ This principle guides Ongweoweh’s efforts to find full-circle solutions to benefit our collective future.” Ongweoweh Corp. is dedicated to extensive sustainability initiatives.
Ongweoweh Corp. identifies end-of-life markets for products that are unable to be reused, extending the life of pallets and other packaging materials, as well as diverting them into secondary markets for re-use. It also has a landfill diversion service that helps customers achieve green initiatives, save money and improve operational efficiencies through comprehensive waste and recycling objectives.
Of course, a company like Ongweoweh Corp. doesn’t achieve the level of success it has without a forward-thinking leadership team and a roster of employees who enjoy coming to work every day.
Indeed, Ongweoweh Corp. is Great Place to Work® Certified and has endeavored to attain New York State certification as well, a true testament to the commitment of the company to be an ethical, conscious, quality- and relationship-driven entity that wants to good by its employees, its customers, its vendors and the environment upon which it depends for resources.
“One of the growing trends we’re seeing is that our customers want solid evidence of our sustainability initiatives, so we’re currently working on putting together a program as we’re onboarding new pallet suppliers or other vendors; we are making them aware that we have sustainability preferences – we expect all of our partners to be operating at the standard we are,” explained Alison Meyer, Supplier Diversity Manager.
Demonstrating how consciousness can facilitate innovation – and ultimately, success – Ongweoweh Corp. is committed to identifying every opportunity it can to promote sustainability in its own operations and across its supply chains and networks, making those initiatives more traceable and visible for customers and suppliers.
Looking to the future, which is a key part of the driving philosophy of the company, Ongweoweh Corp. will continue to do more of the same: build strong and valued relationships with customers and vendors alike to strengthen its full-circle supply chain solutions to be the premier pallet, packaging and waste and recycling solutions provider that does right by its people, its partners and the planet.