SVAM’s 2016 Manufacturers’ Expo – Its best one yet!

On August 9th, Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing hosted the 2016 Manufacturers’ Expo at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Virginia. The third annual expo was a decisive success, with a variety of attendees, ranging from manufacturers, to vendors and resource providers. The purpose of the event was to provide a venue for manufacturers to network and share best practices in a peer-to-peer environment. It provided a way for manufacturers to learn more about the local resources available to them through the capabilities of their fellow manufacturers and the organizations that support manufacturing.

SVAM invited manufacturers from across the region, with seventeen regional manufacturers attending and setting up booths. This was in addition to the resource providers and vendors who came and set up booths as well as the industry members and the general public who chose to attend as individual guests.  For the second year in a row, students from Southwest Virginia Community College attended to share their resumes and network with manufacturers. The day was structured with several blocks of networking time to provide participants an opportunity to spend some time getting to know the other exhibitors and attendees.  Several manufacturers and organizations in attendance took a few minutes to provide a presentation about their company during the event.

Three Breakout Sessions were also held to provide additional learning opportunities:  The first session, led by Scholle IPN, was Engaging and Retaining Employees. The second breakout session provided information about Area 1 Business Services led by Southwest Virginia Workforce Development Board. The third session was with Stephanie Surrett and Levi Buck providing information about The Heart of Appalachia Collaborative Economic Transition Project (HEART Project) .

Two lunchtime presentations were provided by Bruce Quilliams, Senior Regional Sales Manager for Sandvik Cormorant Co., and Todd Himes, Regional Sales Manager for Mitutoyo. These presentations addressed the skills gap and what can be done to increase interest in jobs in manufacturing. Participants were also given a Networking Scavenger Hunt to complete throughout the day to encourage attendees to network with the maximum amount of attendees. Of those who completed the scavenger hunt, one was chosen as the winner of the day’s grand-prize, provided by SVAM: a gift certificate to the Martha Washington Inn restaurant, Sister’s as well as two tickets to the Barter Theatre. Door prizes were also given throughout the day, provided by various companies in attendance.

Those who attended were eager to offer their feedback, saying:

“We enjoyed the manufacturers’ expo very much. We met and talked with other manufacturers who may be able to help us in the future and also some companies that we may be able to work with in the future on projects.  It was a worthwhile event and a great opportunity to learn more about manufacturers here in Southwest Virginia.” –Jessica Savage, West River Conveyors

“I am interviewing 2 candidates that I met there for open positions that we currently have. We have the potential of adding 2 new customers we met there to the Samuel customer base….We obtained information regarding free training opportunities for our workforce.  I met several H.R. Managers at the Expo that provides me (and them) a point of reference for comparison of issues that come up in our workforces. Thank you so much. I really enjoyed the Expo and thought {SVAM} did an outstanding job with it. We are looking forward to next year.” –Cathy Fleenor, Samuel Pressure Vessel Group-Lebanon

“This year’s Expo was not to be missed! Our team made great professional contacts; identified needed suppliers for several key components; attended several valuable breakout sessions of interest; gained new interest in Micronic’s water cleaning system; and secured a VIP tour of the Manufacturing Center of Excellence; and generally had fun!”  -Karen D. Sorber, Micronic Technologies

SVAM would like to thank all those who participated and attended the expo this year, especially the sponsors of the event: Southwest Virginia Workforce Development Board,   New River Mount Roger Workforce Development Board, Virginia Economic Development Partnership – International Trade, and Virginia’s aCorridor.

Stay tuned for future events from SVAM!