Manufacturing Procurement Pros Gather to Meet Suppliers and Get Education

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Prime Advantage’s annual fall conference attracts small and midsized manufacturers from across North America to share insights for improving bottom-line profitability

Prime Advantage, the leading buying consortium for industrial manufacturers, recently concluded its 2010 Fall Conference in Chicago, IL. The semi-annual event, which ran from October 20-22, featured a variety of education sessions to serve the more than 300 attending manufacturing operations and procurement executives, including a keynote presentation by Dr. Chris Kuehl, economic analyst, Fabricators and Manufacturers Association (

Every spring and fall season, Prime Advantage members gather at the conference to enjoy a comprehensive slate of education sessions and to meet with Prime Advantage Endorsed Suppliers of raw materials, finished goods and services that are vital to their success.

“The one on one meetings with suppliers always provide a spark for us,” said Gene Wood, director of purchasing for Perfection Equipment, a manufacturer of stainless steel under-bar equipment. “We found a supplier of an intricate metal component that we have spent years searching for. We found another supplier to provide a valve component that should improve our product performance and reliability and lower its cost. These suppliers are so good and somebody is always coming up with a new, innovative solution that helps our business.”

While education and one-on-one meetings dominate the conference, Prime Advantage also uses its fall event to praise the efforts of Tom Tetlow, vice president of global supply chain management for Manitowoc Foodservice Group (MFSG) (, who was recognized with the President’s Award for outstanding service to Prime Advantage.

Also, Endries International ( and W.W. Grainger ( were recognized as the Suppliers of the Year, which is the highest achievement award an Endorsed Supplier can earn from Prime Advantage. Voted on by Prime Advantage’s Member companies, this award recognizes competitiveness in the marketplace, quality of products, customer satisfaction and intangibles such as innovative approaches that go “above and beyond” what is required to serve the Members.

Both opening and closing keynote speakers provided the attendees with valuable insights. Dr. Kuehl’s presentation analyzed economic conditions for U.S. manufacturers and warned of a potential trade war with China. The closing keynote, delivered by Steel and Metals Market Research ( Managing Director Markus Moll, analyzed market conditions for specialty steel markets in the U.S. and abroad.

A round table discussion on global trends impacting manufacturing featured insights of four speakers with expertise in developing business in foreign markets, including China, Mexico and Turkey, plus an analysis of environmental compliance trends in global industrial markets. Other highlights included the Executive Summit, which is Prime Advantage’s education track for manufacturing executives.

Among the sessions delivered at the Executive Summit were a presentation on succession planning and bench building by organizational development specialist Jeff Ward, a presentation on business branding by Ogilvy & Mather Chicago President Jack Rooney, a presentation on strategies for working successfully with government by successful restaurateur and Chicago Alderman Tom Tunney, a presentation on commodity price risk management by Mesirow Financial’s Michael Zehfuss, and a presentation on shaping a sustainability strategy for manufacturing by Cato Institute Fellow Jerry Taylor.

In addition, attendees were able to earn ISM educational credits for Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) recertification, Accredited Purchasing Practitioner (A.P.P.) reaccreditation or Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM). Attendees were also able to earn APICS and CFSP educational credits.

“Prime Advantage serves a broad spectrum of industrial manufacturers, including companies in commercial foodservice, packaging, truck and trailer, material handling, food processing and construction,” said Louise O’Sullivan, founder, president and CEO of Prime Advantage. “Our conferences provide these executives with many opportunities to interact with their peers and key suppliers, and gain useful insights on how other companies are managing the economic challenges facing North American manufacturers today.”

Beyond the outstanding education opportunities offered at the conference, Prime Advantage also offered a slate of interactive training options for its Members through Prime University 24/7 (, an online portal of educational training modules on a range of topics from technical proficiency to professional expertise.

Prime Advantage concludes each conference by distributing millions of dollars in rebates to its Members based on negotiated programs with its Endorsed Suppliers. In the past ten years, Prime Advantage has paid more than $100 million in rebates and discounts to its manufacturing industry Members.

About Prime Advantage
Founded in 1997, Prime Advantage is a buying consortium for industrial manufacturers with more than 700 Members and more than 115 Endorsed Suppliers. For more information on Prime Advantage, visit the website at


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