On the surface, it might not make sense for executives from companies selling automotive components, insurance and paint to attend the North American International Auto Show.
After all, the news media focus on new production vehicles and concept cars, and on grilling automaker executives. When the public arrives after press days, the majority of consumers come to shop for their next vehicle.
But suppliers such as Michelin North America, Denso International America, Johnson Controls and others have found the show to be a valuable one-stop shop to conduct business meetings, introduce products and technologies and interact with the public. The show also lets suppliers keep an eye on competitors' products.
Some companies also use the show as a forum to recruit engineers during the supplier preview days.
"Suppliers have been an integral part of NAIAS for more than 20 years," said Rod Alberts, executive director of the show. "Like the OE exhibitors, the key Tier 1 suppliers are offered the opportunity to host press conferences, and many choose the NAIAS as a global stage for product announcements and launches."
With the expansion of Cobo Center, the 2014 Detroit show will include a record 28 suppliers, including newcomers Comau Group, Ricardo PLC and Samsung Electronics Co.
Michelin has sponsored the media center for 25 years and is perhaps the supplier with the highest profile. The French tire maker has held press conferences at the show to introduce tires, and will again at the 2014 show.