Manufacturing Executives Collaborate with Supply Chain Partners and Thought Leaders at the Prime Advantage Spring Conference

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Recognized as the Best Buyer-Seller Event, this bi-annual gathering of industrial manufacturing executives and suppliers provides a forum for buyers and sellers to plan cost reduction programs for 2014 and beyond.

Prime Advantage, the leading buying consortium for midsized manufacturers, recently hosted more than 250 senior operations, procurement and sales professionals at its 33rd Conference in Atlanta, GA. The semi-annual event, which took place May 6-8 in Atlanta, GA, brought together hundreds of manufacturing executives from more than 25 manufacturing industries, including commercial foodservice, packaging, truck and trailer, material handling, food processing and construction.

With the Conference theme of “Better Together”, attendees received education and information on measuring Total Cost of Ownership and enhancing innovation from the three opening speakers at Prime Advantage's Spring Conference 2014 in Atlanta.

Keynote speaker Kate Vitasek, a faculty member for the Center for Executive Education at the University of Tennessee, as well as founder of the boutique consulting firm Supply Chain Visions, kicked off the conference on Tuesday evening by sharing some of her research into collaborative buyer-supplier relationships.

Vitasek addressed the importance of bringing a partnership focus to buyer-supplier relationships, saying that it is proven to bring more hard business value than a commodity-based focus that primarily addresses cost-cutting. Vitasek said the first step to embracing and adopting a collaborative mindset in buyer-supplier negotiations is to move away from a 'What's in it for me?' approach and toward a process that considers 'What's in it for we?'

Her rules for better negotiation also included a helpful assessment of the Seven Ailments of Ineffective Sourcing, which allows procurement pros to quickly identify one of seven common symptoms of an unproductive sourcing relationship. This assessment not only provides a clear definition of each ailment, but also offers a simple three-step prescription for assessing the current condition of the relationship, as well as identifying steps needed to bring the relationship back to a healthy state.

Then at the Purchasing Networking Breakfast on Wednesday morning, Intertek's Andy Gbur helped attendees understand why all businesses, public and private, need to be aware of regulations surrounding conflict minerals.

While the issue of conflict minerals is a high profile one thanks to awareness of the Dodd-Frank Act and attention gained through the Hollywood movie Blood Diamond, Gbur said he frequently hears a number of common misunderstandings about conflict mineral regulations from purchasing and sourcing executives, such as:
a] It doesn't impact me because I'm not a publicly traded company
b] My customers are not asking me about this issue
c] I heard that the Dodd-Frank Act was overturned
d] I only sell overseas so this doesn't apply to me

Gbur said that publicly-held and privately-held manufacturers, as well as suppliers and distributors, are all affected by the issue, and all can be covered by completing the Conflict Minerals Reporting documentation that is found at Conflict minerals, which include gold, tin, tungsten and tantalum, are found in a wide variety of commonly used machines, devices and goods, ranging from solders, processors, chipsets and capacitors to speakers, cameras and batteries (which are contained in most smart phones and computers).

Sourcing consultant Tim Underhill of Strategic Business Solutions delivered a message that dovetailed with Vitasek's keynote, on the topic of understanding and measuring total cost in order to maximize an investment return. Underhill offered advice on how to quickly analyze and measure the total cost of ownership with a simple decision tree that identifies key cost drivers impacted in the total cost of ownership for any business investment.

Underhill's presentation underlined the importance for suppliers of measuring their value, because without the accountability of a measurement, a supplier would reduce its service to a commodity, no matter how much the supplier saved a manufacturing client.

Running concurrently with Member and Endorsed Supplier one-on-one meetings at the conference, Prime Advantage also hosted a series of Engineering Focus Sessions that featured unique and timely topics of interest to professional engineers and their industrial manufacturing companies.

Topics included:

  •     What's New in Equipment? Emerging Technologies, Performance Testing, Energy Star and California Energy Wise, Codes & Standards, and Sustainable Design
  •     Impact of RoHS II
  •     Expansion of REACH chemical list
  •     EU PAH regulations for Dec. 2015
  •     Cal Low Lead requirement (NSF 372)

“The feedback we received from our Members and Suppliers who attended the Spring Conference was resounding in its support for the opportunity to learn, explore, and enhance these critical buyer-seller relationships,” said Louise O’Sullivan, founder, president and CEO of Prime Advantage. “Studies show that the most innovative companies innovate at 10 times the rate of the average company…and 60 percent of their innovative ideas come from suppliers. As we continue to grow as a group, our conference becomes a platform to foster innovation for our members and suppliers, and enable them to grow their relationships beyond purely a cost reduction basis.”

Prime Advantage concludes each conference by distributing rebates earned by Member companies based on negotiated programs with its Endorsed Suppliers. In the past ten years, Prime Advantage has paid more than $154 million in rebates and discounts to its manufacturing industry Members.

Prime Advantage’s success continues to gain recognition in the industry. This year, Prime Advantage has been nominated as a finalist for the Expo EXCITE Awards in the category of Best Buyer-Seller Event. Prime Advantage won the award in 2013.


About Prime Advantage
Founded in 1997, Prime Advantage is a buying consortium for manufacturers with more than 750 Members and more than 125 Endorsed Suppliers. For more information on Prime Advantage, visit the website at To request a copy of the Annual CFO report, visit

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