by Bob Zaruta, President/CEO, NWIRC
The beginning of a New Year typically re-energizes us. We may have a fresh new look with gifts of clothing added to our wardrobe. New goals and resolutions are often established for ourself and our company. For most, it’s probably a new budget year with new sales goals. Perhaps for some, a newly developed strategic plan is set into motion. But, for the start of 2021, we are all also dealing with the baggage of the pandemic and may need some new tools to achieve our goals. One of those tools just may be a new business to business (B2B) website for regional manufacturers.
Over the course of the last two years, GR8T Manufacturing (a next generation industry partnership for northwest PA), has been discussing the need for manufacturers in the region to better connect, especially for trying to source products and services on a regional level and better understand or become aware of one another’s capabilities. What started as a collaboration with students at Clarion University to develop a prototype, has now evolved to working with a regional developer (weCreate Website Design and Marketing) who recently created a new website on their own with this same goal in mind. The bottom-line is that, with this collaboration, the website is up and running. It’s ready for regional manufacturers to get registered with their company profile and add this resource to their toolbox.
Chair of the Partnership’s B2B Connections Action Team, Matt Lucco of Precision Profiles, put it simply that “a B2B platform is a critical tool that will aid in connecting manufacturing companies in the region with the ultimate goal of expanding Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and jobs in the region. This can be achieved by providing companies with greater visibility concerning the capabilities and potential deliverables of their fellow manufacturers.” Prior to retiring, the previous Chair of the B2B Action Team (Franklin Bronze’s Dave Greene), had noted that having worked in manufacturing for over 40 years he had many connections and knew the regional business capabilities. But after getting involved with GR8T Manufacturing, he realized there were many businesses that he wasn’t aware of. He also noted an influx of new employees to purchasing and engineering positions across the region in recent years who don’t necessarily have a regional network yet, so they are dependent on the internet for searching information. He thought the development of a regional database could become the first stop for any manufacturing vendor research done by anyone in the region.
While the roll-out of the website is focused on manufacturers who participate in GR8T, any manufacturer in Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio will be able to participate. Companies can get registered on the website now. For GR8T Manufacturing companies in the 8 counties of northwest PA, basic profiles will always be free. There is also a premium paid option for enhanced features like multiple images and video of their operations, but GR8T Manufacturing companies who sign up before the end of January will get those premium features at no cost as well. The site will be organized with companies in a category placed in chronological order, so the early release to GR8T manufacturers will give them the greatest advantage long-term. Manufacturing companies outside of the tri-state area will not be permitted to register on the site, but they will have the opportunity to view the capabilities of all the great resources in our region. The immediate goal is to get companies registered, as quickly as possible, so it becomes a valuable tool for all.
Nate Wheeler, Owner of weCreate and manufacturing lead generation specialist, noted that there is a plan in place – part of which includes GR8T manufacturers placing a badge on their own sites which would link to the new tool – that will allow the site to show up in nationwide search engine results when individuals are looking to procure manufacturing services. This search placement will funnel business directly to the manufacturers on the site and grow our regional economy.
As the Convener of the GR8T Manufacturing Partnership, NWIRC encourages you to participate with your voice in the Partnership (if you aren’t already). Take a look at the website and add your company profile. For companies located in the 8 northwest PA counties who register, you’ll be added to the Partnership mailing list for future activities. The website can be found by visiting www.gr8tmanufacturing.com.
A key contact for Partnership logistics or website questions is Molly Reichard (firstname.lastname@example.org), so let her know of questions or if you’d like help getting connected to future meetings and initiatives.