LOS ANGELES, March 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) achieved a record year in 2012 for contracting with Diverse Business Enterprises (DBEs) with nearly 42 percent of its contracting budget going to minority businesses for goods, supplies and services. DBE companies fall into three categories: Minority Business Enterprises (MBE), Women Business Enterprises (WBE) and Service-Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises (SDVBE). "Over the years, focused outreach and broad collaboration has allowed us to build a very robust Supplier Diversity Program," said Anne Shen Smith, chairman and CEO of SoCalGas. "We have helped many diverse businesses succeed, and in return, we greatly benefited from the relationships with them. Having access to a larger pool of qualified firms has led to more competitive pricing and higher quality of goods and services that we use to serve our customers." As a result of SoCalGas' efforts, spending grew in all areas (minorities, women and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses) last year with a total of $348.3 million spent or 41.9 percent. DBEs provide SoCalGas with everything from meters to pipes and computers, to legal services, heating and air conditioning, information technology to janitorial services and advertising solutions. One example of a DBE who has benefited from this program is Randy Uchida of Uchida Pipe & Industrial Products. Uchida has been providing SoCalGas with steel pipe for nearly 30 years. He credits SoCalGas with helping his business grow. "I had no idea how to get certified but SoCalGas guided me through the certification process," Uchida said. "Diversity programs get minority suppliers in the door and rightfully so. But I don't get business with SoCalGas because I'm a minority. I get it because of my experience and competitive prices."