Lehigh Valley Meet the Buyers Expo Draws Hundreds of Businesses
By Colin McEvoy on October 22, 2015
More than 250 businesses came out for the second bi-annual Lehigh Valley Meet the Buyers Expo today, where small businesses were able to meet face-to-face with government and private industry professionals to discuss procurement deals and business opportunities.
“It’s an opportunity for the business community of the Lehigh Valley to come together,” said Sally Handlon, president of Handlon Business Resources and a board member with the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC).
“It allows for smaller businesses to meet the procurement officers and the key people at our larger businesses, and for the larger businesses to understand what types of local sourcing opportunities may be available to them in the Lehigh Valley,” she said.
Some of the Lehigh Valley’s largest companies were among the buyers who attended the event at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, including B. Braun, Martin Guitar, Crayola, PPL, Lutron Electronics, Mack Trucks, Olympus, the St. Luke’s University Health Network, and UGI Utilities.
Andrew Hines, director of facilities at Lutron Electronics, said he met a wide range of small businesses that could end up leading to long-term business relationships, from engineers and sheet metal companies, to packaging companies and publishing firms.
“We don’t always look in our backyard as often as we should,” Hines said. “There’s a lot of quality suppliers right under our noses here in the Lehigh Valley, and this was a great way to get connected with them.”
Tom Gombos, manager of facilities at Mack Trucks Macungie Assembly Operations, also said he was impressed with the small businesses he met at the Meet the Buyers Expo.
“We’re very excited to be here today,” Gombos said. “It was a pleasure meeting several vendors I had never had contract with, and there’s a good possibility we’ll be able to have business with them in the future.”
Other small businesses to attend the event included print shops, direct mail companies, small manufacturing shops, construction services, landscape management, computer equipment, office supplies, and many more.
“It’s the whole plethora of the profile of small businesses here in the Lehigh Valley,” Handlon said.
Tammy Shelly, vice president of graphic design and sales for Triangle Press, a print and digital solutions provider, said the one-on-one interaction with the buyers is invaluable, because it is often difficult to directly interact with the right people from larger businesses.
“I think it’s been a wonderful experience,” she said. “All the buyers are definitely open to talk to you, take your information, and provide contacts. It’s very helpful because a lot of time you can’t find somebody to talk to.”
Buyers were available at tables set up on multiple floors of the ArtsQuest Center. Attendees had 3 to 5 minutes to talk to the buyers in a one-on-one setting, similar to a “speed-dating” style, then could move on to another table. Afterward, the Blast Furnace area was made available for further follow-up discussions.
In addition to large businesses, government entities were among the buyers represented at the event. They included the cities of Allentown and Bethlehem, as well as the counties of Lehigh and Northampton, and the Pennsylvania Department of General Services, Handlon said.
The Lehigh Valley Meet the Buyers Expo is held every two years. The next one is expected to be held October 2017.
(SEE ALSO: A special thanks to the 2015 Lehigh Valley Meet the Buyers Expo supporters)
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