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Suppliers get face-time with BMW, Honda SC, Volvo and more > Charleston Business Journal
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Automotive

Suppliers get face-time with BMW, Honda SC, Volvo and more

Automotive
Teri Errico Griffis Print Story
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James Hamilton, senior account executive with Advanced Technology Services Inc., meets with BMW at the 2022 Automotive Summit in Greenville. (Photo/Teri Errico Griffis)The opportunity to have a face-to-face sit down with a company, and have the business welcome the conversation, is what drove small-time suppliers to the 2022 S.C. Automotive Summit’s B2B Supplier Matchmaker program March 1.

Like speed dating between suppliers and original equipment manufacturers, the matchmaking program is a yearly program put on at the Automotive Summit, hosted by the S.C. Manufacturers Alliance. This year’s event was March 1-3 in Greenville.

“For small- to medium-sized to large suppliers, having that opportunity to get in front of a company like a BMW or Mercedes or Volvo cars is an opportunity that’s hard to get in the door,” said Sara Hazzard, president and CEO of the S.C. Manufacturers Alliance.

Organized by the S.C. Automotive Council and the S.C. Department of Commerce, this year’s 90-minute Matchmaker session featured original equipment manufacturers and Tier 1 companies like BMW, Oshkosh, Proterra, JTEKT, Honda SC, Volvo and more, ready to hear pitches from small, medium and large businesses looking to support them.

When suppliers pre-registered for the event, they were able to make requests who they’d like to meet, said Tammie Greene, business outreach program manager for the S.C. Department of Commerce. Commerce then took those suggestions back to the OEMS to see if there’s a match and set up 15-minute appointments. Some OEMs may limit who meets them based on the constraints of time or needs, Greene said. Other companies prefer not to pre-select, remaining open to whoever wants a seat at the table.

“It’s helpful for our OEMs in the state to know that they’ve got suppliers right here in their backyard that makes products that they need,” Hazzard said.

At a minimum, interested suppliers meet with two OEMS or Tier 1 companies. They can request up to six.

Companies like Elkem Silicones USA Corp., ACI Plastics and Metco Inc. Precision Matching Solutions, which all have South Carolina operations, attended to pitch a variety of resources and services.

James Hamilton, senior account executive with Advanced Technology Services Inc. in Greenville, headed to the Matchmaker event to meet with BMW.

Split off from Caterpillar in 1985, ATS offers maintenance services, helping companies locate where they have gaps in the facility or in the workforce and determining where they should be. The company supports multiple different industries from automotive, consumer package goods, building materials, aerospace.

While a factory like BMW’s is a well-oiled machine, ATS’ a la cart offerings could serve BMW in myriad ways, Hamilton said.

“If something’s not organized efficiently, then it’s just slowing you down,” Hamilton said. “We have solutions that can do full turnkey because some of our customers want to focus on growing their business and they want to just turn over their maintenance to a third party that they can trust, that will help improve plant performance and reliability and drive down costs.”

Other companies might want a short-term approach to things like training, skills gaps or help with maintenance of parts and liability.

Thomas Morris, operations manager with Metco Inc. in Anderson headed to Greenville’s Hyatt Regency to share their precision machining solutions with Schaeffler, Honda SC, Oshkosh Defense and Proterra.

“For us, this lines up because we have some other customers that are in transportation like they are,” Morris said.

The matchmaking event, getting not just an introduction but face-to-face quality time with OEMs and Tier 1 companies represents opportunity for Morris.

“Anytime we can link up with folks that are local, we’ve found a lot of success,” he said.

Morris’ customer base spans up through Pennsylvania, but for most of the family business of 20, their connections are more regional. The proximity is advantageous, especially given some of the components the company moves around.

A local matchmaking program is a “win-win,” Morris said. “Keeping business in South Carolina is always good and good for our employees, our families.”

Reach Teri Errico Griffis at 843-849-3144.

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