Billie Schultz, CECSO, Inc.
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia, it’s time for GWBC Radio’s Open for Business. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:18] Lee Kantor here, broadcasting live from WBENC National Conference 2022. This is the 25th annual conference, and we are proud to have with us, Billie Schultz, one of the founders of the organizations or one of the early participants. Billie, welcome.
Billie Schultz: [00:00:33] Yes, thank you. I’m so excited to be here celebrating the 25 years.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:40] 25 years.
Billie Schultz: [00:00:40] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:40] Is it a blink? Did it go by fast for you?
Billie Schultz: [00:00:45] No, it’s going by faster, because at first, it was kind of clogged up, but now, it’s really a very unique organization and growing, 18,000 and growing. So, we’re excited about that.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:04] When you were at the beginning stages, is this how you imagined it could be or is this better than you imagine? Where is it in your mind?
Billie Schultz: [00:01:12] It is better than I ever imagined, because we were just a few women knowing that we needed a certification process that really helps weed out all of the know—helps weed out the fronts as we were called in the day. So, it’s amazing. I can’t say enough good words about it. Pam Easton and the awesome staff that she has today is doing great things, and we just know that we’re going further to spotlight what women are doing throughout America and beyond, so it’s a great adventure.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:00] Absolutely. Now, are you seeing that women today are a different type of entrepreneur and business owner than they were 25 years ago? Are they dreaming bigger, or where do you see them?
Billie Schultz: [00:02:12] Yes, we are dreaming bigger. I think a lot of people have started really reflecting, and some of the things maybe that happened to us in COVID, and now, the supply chain, but we are becoming more and more innovative. I am in technology myself, and so we have to become more innovative to keep up. And so, we are doing significant things in technology and I hope that we will be able to have a technology committee within the WBENC family very soon that spotlights all of what we do.
Billie Schultz: [00:02:55] I represent 10 major manufacturers in the technology industry, so there is a lot going on in each one of those manufacturers. I am here at this conference to spotlight one of the things that I have done in developing a particular application for logistic and manufacturing companies. It is a print, ship, and return label that is only about flipping over the label. It is cost savings and it is sustainable. It does not have any plastic on it. And so, very innovative.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:40] Now, have you found that technology now, it’s so ubiquitous that every company is, in essence, a technology company in some regards?
Billie Schultz: [00:03:49] Yes. Yes. When I assumed the leadership role of this company, it was just a service organization, and I knew immediately that I had to move toward getting manufacturers to look at my service business and see how good we were, and then be willing to partner with us to perform certain things in the technology industry. Been with some of my manufacturers for over 25 years.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:21] And then, being a certified woman business owner, that’s part of, I’m sure, the DNA and the organization you’re with now. Any advice for that women business owner that hasn’t taken the leap to be certified?
Billie Schultz: [00:04:35] Well, I would just encourage them to give it a try. First of all, if you’re in any kind of business, there are opportunities at WBENC. And so, we women want to do business with women, and one of the things that I’m talking about here today is the second tier. Some of the large corporations, if they can’t reach us on the first tier, what about the second tier? And what about us building a collection of those second tier women business owners that are very credible, like my service business was years ago. But now, I can represent, in fact, I do represent some manufacturers first tier, and then I’m free to go out there and find women that can help in the second tier position.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:28] Right, and partner with them?
Billie Schultz: [00:05:30] Mm-hmm. It is about the pooled power of women right now, I believe. And Susan Barry, who was the first president of WBENC or CEO of WBENC actually said, Billie, always say something about the pooled power of women when you speak, because we do need to pool our power, we do need to prove who we are and speak out. And so, that’s what we’ve been doing and it is working.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:00] Absolutely. Look around. There’s lots and lots of folks here.
Billie Schultz: [00:06:03] Really, it’s just awesome. I can’t say enough good word.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:07] Now, when you started, there was a few hundred women that had pulled together to to form the group, and now, you’re up to, like you said, 18,000. How much—what do you think—the the sky’s the limit, obviously, but how many women businesses are out there that aren’t certified? There has to be hundreds of thousands, right?
Billie Schultz: [00:06:24] Yes. It is all about communication and connections, and that’s what we’re doing right now, is we’re connecting with not only corporation, but women, and we’re connecting in their skills, and then furthering our skills as we partner together.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:44] Right. Pooled resources. It’s the same as it was, same as it ever was, right?
Billie Schultz: [00:06:48] Yes, same exact thing.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:49] 25 years ago, the rules are the same in that regard.
Billie Schultz: [00:06:51] The rules are the same. And I believe there’s a value in connecting with corporate women, because I think they’re kind of at the same place that we were maybe some time ago. They need to have more opportunity to speak out on their skills and to further their career, because lots of things happen. My late husband passed away. I had to do significant things. I had to be bold. I had to go out and get a new bank, because the bank that we had the credit line in wouldn’t accept my signature. I mean, it’s like, what’s wrong with this-
Lee Kantor: [00:07:33] What world is this? I mean, how is that possible?
Billie Schultz: [00:07:38] It was. And now, I have two wonderful banks.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:41] I bet you do.
Billie Schultz: [00:07:44] And they never questioned my signature. They just want me to pay it back.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:48] Exactly. When we focus on what’s important, then things get done.
Billie Schultz: [00:07:52] Yes, it does get done. And then, I had no manufacturers to represent. So, tell you a quick story there. My service people found out there was a fax machine bid out on the street, some large corporation that we were servicing in Dallas. And so, they said, do you know anybody, this was my service person talking to me, that would partner with you to do this bid on this contract? And I said, well, I don’t know them, but I’m going to call them.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:26] I’m not going to wait and hope they find me, I’m going to go out and take some action.
Billie Schultz: [00:08:30] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:31] I make the relationship that happened.
Billie Schultz: [00:08:32] Yes, that way, it did happen. I’ve called up the biggest manufacturer at that time, and I said, I have a bid that one of my customers is going out to bid for and I want to bid it, but I want to be the prime, and you could beat the sub. Well, after he got through choking, because he didn’t know me, okay, we’ll do the deal, let’s bid, and we won. I’m still with that manufacturer today.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:03] Well, congratulations on all the success, and thank you so much for all that you’ve done to help this organization and so many—the ripples are real and the businesses you’ve impacted. You look around here and a lot of this couldn’t be here if it wasn’t for your efforts. Thank you so much.
Billie Schultz: [00:09:18] Thank you, and thank Roz for recommending that I do this interview, because I was kind of blown away.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:24] Well, before we wrap, let’s get your website for your organization, because that’s important.
Billie Schultz: [00:09:30] Okay.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:30] Or to say the name of your organization.
Billie Schultz: [00:09:33] Well, it’s CESCO Inc. We are an IT equipment, software, solutions, supplies, value-added reseller in 10 major manufacturers for those sales and service.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:47] Yeah. So, Google that and you can find out more, because you can help a lot of people, and get involved and help those manufacturers get their goods out there to the world.
Billie Schultz: [00:09:56] Exactly. We are partnered together to make new business. I look forward to connecting with more people here. I already had some good meetings, so yes, continue your work. Thank you.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:10] Well, thank you for sharing your story. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Billie Schultz: [00:10:13] Oh, I didn’t say one thing. I do mentoring for young girls in The Harmony School for Underserved Kids.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:22] Is that in Dallas or that’s national?
Billie Schultz: [00:10:25] It is Texas wide.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:28] Texas wide.
Billie Schultz: [00:10:28] And then, it’s 56, I think, schools throughout Texas, and I happen to be in the business park where they are, one of them. And so, they invited me to breakfast. I wanted to know what I did, and then I took—there was an opportunity at the Go for the Greens Conference, which is one that I serve on the board of. And so, I told my husband, I said, I need to do something right now, because I was faced with meeting these girls, and I just want to make some kind of impression in letting them see what’s out there. So, he said, well, let’s just take three of the girls to this conference. And so, we took three, paid their airfare, and their hotel, and all of that, and they went to where Disney actually does a presentation on how to get an internship at Disney. And then, UPS does something about corporate. So, these girls just completely changed their lives.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:43] They ended up—I’m sure they were so hungry for that type of information, an opportunity.
Billie Schultz: [00:11:48] They couldn’t hardly say their name when I first met them, and now, they’re just—you can’t stop them talking. In fact, there’s an interview on Go for the Greens website and somebody might look at it.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:59] Yeah. Well, thank you for doing that and be the change you want to be in the world. That’s the lesson here. I mean, you’ve made such a difference, because you’ve stepped up, and more, the change that needed to be happening.
Billie Schultz: [00:12:12] Well, the girls are part of the next gen’s employee availability.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:20] Sure. So, well, thank you, Billie, so much. We appreciate you. This is Lee Kantor, broadcasting live from WBENC National Conference 2022 in the GWBC booth.
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