What started as a plea to help Southern auto parts suppliers justify their travel expenses has turned into a business opportunity for hundreds of those suppliers.
On June 18, the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association, a trade group representing several vehicle makers and about 400 auto suppliers in the state, will conduct a "reverse trade show" in Birmingham. The intention is to hook up suppliers with automaker purchasing executives and future program managers.
"It will be the auto industry equivalent of speed dating," quips Paul Stutts, business development director for Triana Metal Fabrication in Madison, Ala., and an event organizer. "This isn't introductory marketing. This is interested buyers talking about specific sourcing needs."
The group secured commitments from purchasing officials representing 15 automakers and Tier 1 suppliers in the state that they will meet one-on-one with suppliers during the event. The focus is to be on parts needed for vehicle programs coming up in the next six to 18 months.
The manufacturers include Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama, Navistar and Johnson Controls.
The exchange will see Korean suppliers soliciting business from Mercedes and Toyota while Honda and Hyundai consider proposals from traditional European suppliers of Mercedes.
The event has expanded to include the South Region Minority Supplier Development Council, which fosters minority purchasing efforts around the region, and the Alabama Germany Partnership, an association of German companies that operate in the state.
Stutts said the idea originated when some supplier members told the association's board of directors that they were being pressured by their home offices to stop spending money traveling to the quarterly association meetings. The supplier executives appealed to the group to help stimulate business deals among its members as a way to justify the meetings.