NASHVILLE — Auto parts suppliers in Tennessee mingled and table hopped from customer to customer here last week in a bid to "speed date" their way to new business contracts.
It was the latest occurrence of a business development tool referred to as matchmaking, now gaining popularity across the Southern automotive supply base.
The all-day "Meet Your Match Tennessee" was intended to put second- and third-tier parts and material companies face to face with prospective buyers from tier-one suppliers, as well as from the purchasing departments of Nissan North America in Nashville and Volkswagen Group of America in Chattanooga.
"We don't expect to see contracts signed on the spot, of course, but the event is an introduction," said Ashley Frye, executive director of the Tennessee Automotive Manufacturers Association, which represents 930 suppliers. "These initial conversations allow you to tell a potential customer what products you sell and what your capacity capabilities are. For specific business, that would be further evaluated on the second meeting."
Frye, who previously was vice president of production at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama in Montgomery, Ala., said the events are a business version of speed dating — a way to bring interested and motivated automotive companies together to identify opportunities.
Each meeting lasts 15 to 20 minutes.