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Approaching the booth of a supplier can be intimidating, especially if you’re in a long line of attendees eager to make an introduction.

Now let’s see what it’s like on the other side of the handshake.

John Lasitter, a Packaging Engineer Manager for IPS Packaging and a Tier One Supplier from last year’s conference, shares his perspective:

“We want to meet every person who walks up, but keep in mind we’re looking for suppliers who can fulfill very specific needs,” he says. “I think the key is to know what you do best, and then stick to it. That kind of confidence builds trust with me right away.”

After meeting hundreds of attendees last year, John has distilled his advice to three points:

  1. Be confident.
  2. Know what you do best.
  3. If it’s not the right fit, be willing to walk away.

Last year, Lasitter met a certified woman-owned supplier who meets all three qualifications. Tina Stevens, president of Secondary Solutions, Inc. had confidence, as well as the expertise and capabilities that aligned perfectly with a contract John’s company was bidding.

“When I met Tina, she got right to the point about what she could provide. We were looking for someone who could do kittings. Her services were exactly what we needed for a project we were bidding,” John recalls. “And she got me a quote in less than 24 hours.”

John cautions that the sales cycle for finding new suppliers usually takes much longer. But due to the immediacy of the project, IPS Packaging was working with Secondary Solutions in two weeks.

“Everything went very smoothly with Tina. We already had the project designed and had everything in place but the kitting part,” John says. “Tina was the missing link.”

The importance of sourcing minority-, woman- and veteran-owned suppliers is something else John takes seriously.

“As a veteran-owned company, we strongly believe in the value of searching for diverse suppliers.”

John also points out the financial benefits of finding the right synergy.

“Diverse partnerships can increase the bottom line. Partnering with Tina has brought us over a half million dollars in new business because of what her company brings to the table. That’s a win-win.”

IPS Packaging is a veteran-owned company that has been distributing industrial packaging supplies, equipment and service since 1976. The company specializes in stretch film, strapping, corrugated, tapes, poly bags, packaging equipment and more, as well as innovative solutions and customized programs to meet the needs of IPS customers. Today, IPS has more than 11 locations across the country that serve the automotive industry, including leading companies such as BMW and its suppliers.