Juan Lozano attended the revamped B2B Expo for the first time Thursday to learn about other businesses and build good relationships.
An electrical contractor, he started United Electric two years ago and serves commercial and residential customers. Lozano said having a booth at the expo was a good experience.
"I think this will be helpful for everybody," he said.
About 2,300 people attended the B2B (Business to Business) Expo, put on by the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce, at Harvey Convention Center, Henry Bell, chief operating officer for the Chamber, said.
After nearly a year of work by Chamber members, the annual Business Expo got a new name and look this year. Now called the B2B Expo, seminars and a luncheon were added to the expo, where about 90 area businesses and organizations set up booths to showcase their products and services.
"This has been a real success story," Tom Mullins, president and chief executive officer of the Chamber, said of the new format. "We're very happy with the success we're having."
He said the workshops and luncheon were full and the feedback they were getting was positive. They changed the expo this year to give businesses more of an opportunity to network with other businesses and learn about products and services they can get locally. In previous years, the expo was more of a public event and often attracted people who were not serious customers for the vendors, he said.
Noe and Inez Cedillo own Calvary Plumbing in Tyler and offer plumbing services for residential and new construction, as well as light commercial customers.
Mrs. Cedillo said Thursday was their second year at the expo and they attended to try to grow their business by word-of-mouth referrals and visibility. She said she likes doing that by making face-to-face contact with the community.
"I see there are a lot more different varieties of businesses here" than last year, Mrs. Cedillo said. "We need to mingle with other businesses because they need our services."
Mrs. Cedillo, as well as several other vendors, liked the changes to this year's expo.
"I think this is going to be a positive move," she said.
Representatives from Knight Restoration Services have been attending the expo for four years.
Robin Counts, project manager for the part of the company that provides remediation for floods, fire, mold and biohazardous materials, said she found the expo's added seminars and luncheon very interesting and helpful.
Shellie Williams, area manager for Knight's commercial janitorial services side of the business, thinks the changes made were a good idea to let other businesses know they are here.
Several businesses came from farther away to partake in the expo.
Kim Weaver, who works in sales and customer relations for Bear Creek Smokehouse in Marshall, said she attended the expo for the first time.
"We're trying to branch out more," she said.
The 73-year-old, five-generation family business offers smoked meats and is known for its oven prepared turkeys as corporate gifts, through mail order, online sales and wholesale, Ms. Weaver said.
"It's a good networking idea," Ms. Weaver said of the business-to-business expo.
Her co-worker, Sandra Walsh, agreed.
"It definitely gets our name out there," she said.
Kathleen Adams was manning a booth for Longview-based Robert's Coffee & Vending Service. She works in sales and customer service for the 28-year-old company owned by Robert and JoAnn Crawley that offers vending services for large companies like John Soules Foods and Luminant.
Ms. Adams has been to the expo for three years because, "We want to support the local economy and make contact with new businesses." She said they use local products, such as Distant Lands coffee, whenever they can.
Ms. Adams said she liked the changes made to the expo.
"I've made a lot of contacts with other businesses that are current or future clientele," she said. "Because it's more business to business, it really enhances it to me."
Mullins said just how successful the new format was will be discovered later if businesses see an increase in activity because of their presence at the expo.
Stephan Moore was the keynote speaker during the Chamber's membership luncheon, where he talked about "The Essence of Leadership."
Moore is executive director of Shiloh Camp & Adventure Course in Oklahoma and works to build future leaders. He used humor and talked about his days playing basketball for the University of Arkansas and the 10 children he has with his wife to make points about becoming a leader.
Moore discussed his three points of the "essence of leadership."
Leaders provide a vision and clear direction so people can rally around it and be motivated, he said.
"As leaders we have to show people we care … If people know you care, they will do anything for you," Moore said.
He believes effective leaders develop the people around them.
"People are the No. 1 resource," he said.
Seminars geared toward business owners were also held.
Mark Seguin, of TBG Solutions in Tyler, discussed "Social Media Opportunity or Risk: Protect Your Career and Identity from Being Stolen Online."
Brian Brandt, of Core Insights in Tyler, talked about "Navigating the Intergenerational Workplace."