Forum Provides Details for Potential Casino Vendors in Chelsea

Chamber President Dennis Cataldo, Paul Surprenant of Mohegan, Pete Schultz of Mohegan and Chamber Executive Director Rich Cuthie.

Chamber President Dennis Cataldo, Paul Surprenant of Mohegan, Pete Schultz of Mohegan
and Chamber Executive Director Rich Cuthie.

Jonathan Marks has been doing business with Mohegan Sun casino for more than a decade.

His family’s grocery wholesale company, Paul W. Marks Company of Chelsea, has in fact expanded their business based upon the guaranteed buying habits of the Connecticut casino, he said.

It’s a partnership he told several Chelsea business people and Chamber members on Tuesday afternoon that has helped his company become an even better company.

“With the help of Mohegan Sun, we have expanded what we sell,” he said. “We know they will be using a large number of a certain item and so we’re able to expand our offerings of that product. That has helped them to expand our business and our product offerings. We get their six-month grocery list and scan it for items we already sell and those that maybe we could sell more of. With their guaranteed buying, we can afford to venture out to those newer items – which allows our business to grow.”

That was music to the ears of about 50 or so businesspeople who attended the Chelsea forum by Mohegan Sun on Tuesday at the Wyndham – a forum coordinated by the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce.

Mohegan Project Manager Pete Schultz and Paul Surprenant, director of corporate purchasing, spoke to those in attendance about the project. However, what was knew were details of how Chelsea businesses can prepare for the possibility of doing business with the Revere version of Mohegan – if it is successful in gaining a license.

“We have a buy local philosophy,” said Surprenant. “We have committed to buying from vendors in a 15 mile radius…We know 15 miles is a huge area here that is full of potential business relationships. We are a high volume buyer with a lot of customers and we’re open seven days a week and 24 hours a day. Sometimes we need things on a Sunday afternoon. We need things when we need them, so it makes sense to do business with local vendors who can get us things much quicker oftentimes.”

Surprenant said one of the first things that potential business partners can do is to register with the state. Though many are not aware, the state requires all vendors to be vetted and get a license to sell to the casino. There are several levels of vendors – gaming, non-gaming and secondary gaming – that require detailed record keeping and disclosures to the state.

He said the process in Massachusetts is not as onerous as in some other states, and he recommended anyone interested in selling to the casino begin that licensing process now via the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC).

“We’re still 36 months out from our first purchases,” he said. “Right now we are trying to get to know local businesses, find out what they do, and build a database that will allow us to know the businesses that are here when we are ready to make our first purchases.”

Schultz and Surprenant also said they are encouraging local businesses to sign up for their partnership – which already has about 205 businesses on board and paves the way for businesses to capitalize on the potential casino’s points program.

Schultz said that one in six Massachusetts residents already have a rewards card from Mohegan Sun. If they get the Boston license, those cards would be available for use at partner businesses.

“If we get that license, people will be able to go to any POS terminal and swipe that card at your business and be on their way,” he said. “That transaction will go back to our computers and we’ll keep track of it. Then we come around on a monthly basis and reimburse you for the point you have redeemed…Depending on your business, it will be 80 cents to 98 cents on the dollar…There will be a way to push this out to the community. The businesses we have now go from a dry cleaner to a casket wholesaler to a tax preparer. It’s a way to drive outward business and another example of how we are outward facing to the communities.”

He said they plan to advertise the program at the resort prominently and they also plan to institute a $1 million marketing campaign.

Coming full circle, Surprenant said he hopes many new relationships like that of Paul W. Marks Company in Chelsea can be built in the future. He said they love their relationship with the company and are proud to have helped them grow.

“We’ve been doing business with Paul W. Marks for a long time,” he said. ” They have been able to grow by scanning our six-month grocery list and watching our habits and expanding that business based upon our buying habits. We commit to a set price and a set volume for six months. We’re predictable. That’s six months of guaranteed business at a fixed price point and a guaranteed volume. We never stand up a vendor, even if our volumes are down in that six month period.”

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