Regional manufacturers have a new tool to help them find suppliers and land contracts, called NWB2B.com.
Some readers may be familiar with NWB2B’s predecessor, NWConnectory.com, which was launched in 2007 by the Pacific Northwest Defense Coalition (PNDC). In 2015, the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership (OMEP) received a grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to re-launch NWConnectory.com. OMEP partnered with the PNDC and Impact Washington Manufacturing Extension Partnership to update NWConnectory with enhanced supply chain management functionality, powered by a cloud-based, mobile-friendly software-as-a-service system called BriteHub.
NWConnectory.com was renamed to NWB2B.com and launched in October. NWB2B.com is now part of the BriteHub network and contains more than 5,000 Oregon and Washington company profiles. OMEP is partnering with the PNDC to continue developing, maintaining and promoting the tool.
Whereas NWConnectory was limited to basic search capabilities, NWB2B goes far beyond just searching. It includes information on company certification, as well as the ability to send email messages and review engineering and CAD documents, send and respond to requests for proposal and requests for quotes and submit purchase orders.
“NWB2B is an end-to-end supply chain tool,” said Linda Wechsler, a manufacturing consultant with OMEP. “It’s a targeted social media tool for buyers and suppliers.”
Several Southwest Washington-based businesses are using NWB2B, including Silicon Forest Electronics, Thinkfast CRM, RLA Engineering and Last US Bag.
“The major reason we built NWB2B is that there are so many Pacific Northwest companies that have great manufacturing capabilities but they need a connection with a larger business that is looking for quality suppliers,” said Dave Hunt, president and CEO of the PNDC.
Hunt said that the PNDC has had two goals: to help companies win more contracts and to help companies spend the dollars they win with other NW suppliers. NWB2B fulfils that second goal.
“We do a series of supply chain conferences each year throughout the Pacific Northwest, connecting people face to face,” said Hunt. “NWB2B harnesses technology to make those same types of connections virtually.”
Will Macia, president of Last US Bag and past board chair of the PNDC, said that his company was an early adopter of NWConnectory, using it since 2010 and landing several substantial defense contracts with big names such as Lockheed Martin and SAIC (now Leidos).
“It’s beneficial to be part of a dedicated database,” because search engines like Google do not target specific capabilities, said Macia.
In the last five years, Last US Bag has used NWConnectory more for procurement than for finding contracts.
“We want to be a more local/regional company, and NWConnectory gave us visibility into raw materials providers and subcontractors – we picked up a half-dozen local suppliers for different projects and products that we weren’t aware of previously,” Macia said.
He is excited about the transformation of NWConnectory to NWB2B, stating that the BriteHub platform is up-to-date, more dynamic and robust. And while NWB2B is still being developed, he said it’s a “step in the right direction” and anticipates using it in the future in the company’s procurement process. The more companies that use it, he added, the more companies will hear about it and make it better.
“It’s important that NWB2B gets promoted and used,” said Macia.
For more information on NWB2B, see OMEP’s video, at www.omep.org/your-resources/connect-to-nw-buyers-and-suppliers.