Buyers meet their match

Buyers will have the chance to meet directly with suppliers which have already been matched to their business requirements, thanks to an event organised by the West Midlands Regional Supply Office. By Helen Beasley

Suppliers attending Manufacturing Week will once again have the opportunity to speak to product buyers, thanks to a programme organised by the West Midlands Regional Supply Office (WMRSO).

For its Meet the Buyer forum, supported by the Department of Trade and Industry, WMRSO has researched and created a regional database, based on the needs of the buyers who have decided to participate, which provides information about the relevant products and services which meet their needs. Suppliers which meet these criteria are then invited to join the event.

Graham Park, regional supply office advisor, says WMRSO staff scrutinise suppliers before allowing them through to the appointment stage. `Manufacturing Week is an important event for us as it presents an ideal opportunity to host our own focused events, which are an important activity for the WMRSO,’ Park says.

`This event has received considerable interest from buyers, with the strongest attraction being that we introduce only the most compatible suppliers – and, most importantly, we do so at no charge to either party.’

According to Park, this is also good news for the region: `We estimate that enquiries to the value of around £25m could be generated for West Midlands suppliers and are looking forward to monitoring the results.’

The programme has proved successful in the past, with over £5m worth of orders placed with local companies since last year’s event.

The forum, now in its third year, will be housed in a 220sq m stand, containing five private offices, each of which can be booked by buyers for half-hourly sessions. Rugby Cement, one of the companies attending this year’s event, has booked an office for three days, such is its desire to increase its supplier base.

Tamsin Dale, procurement coordinator at Rugby Cement, says this should help increase innovation at the plant: `There are suppliers out there we have never met before, and we are constantly on the lookout for new ideas which could help our business.’

Nine companies have definitely signed up for the scheme with one more to be confirmed at time of going to press. They include Heller Machine Tools, Messier-Dowty, Nastech, Duple-Metsec and Mitsui.

Jeff Potter, supply controller for Heller Machine Tools, believes the scheme could be a useful method for developing new contacts. The German-owned business only set up its Redditch site two years ago, and is now looking to source makers of tool magazines in the West Midlands.

`Our parent company felt we should become more self-sufficient, but as we are new to the area it required a fast learning curve to pick up people who are interested predominantly in tool magazines but also in complex machine assemblies,’ he says.

`WMRSO has a large database, which is useful when you are trying to do something quickly. Hopefully their experience will add to our own and we will be able to achieve something very quickly.’

Returning to the event for its third year will be Eagle Pitcher, a US company with a UK base in Tamworth, which manufactures anti-vibration systems for the automotive industry.

Another previous buyer making a reappearance is EUMatic which is looking for a second opportunity to meet directly with suppliers of the products and services it needs, without facing the initial difficulties of tracking them down.

The WMRSO is part of Advantage West Midlands, the Regional Development Agency for the West Midlands, which is charged with the economic regeneration of the area.

{{Who’s who at the Meet the Buyer forum

Duple-Metsec – commercial vehicle body builderEagle Pitcher – anti-vibration systems for the automotive industryEdscha – automotive door hingesEUMatic – automotive door hingesHeller Machine Tools – machine tools manufacturerMessier-Dowty – aircraft landing gearMitsui – automotive door-locking systemsNastech – automotive steering column assembliesRugby Cement – cement production

Plus one other to be confirmed}}