05/25/05 — Cardholders meet local businesses

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Cardholders meet local businesses

By Turner Walston
Published in News on May 25, 2005 1:45 PM

The halls of Goldsboro Country Club were packed again Tuesday for the Seymour Johnson Purchase Cardholder Trade Show. The show was a chance for purchase cardholders to see what Wayne County and North Carolina businesses have to offer. Cardholders purchase goods and services on behalf of the military.

On Monday, the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce held its annual business expo at the country club.

On Tuesday, representatives from more than 80 companies from across the state set up shop for the day. A wide range of businesses were represented, all hoping to establish a business relationship with Seymour Johnson. Products showcased included power backup systems, formal furniture, networking services, bearings, valves, hazardous waste removal, diesel services, and spices.

Spices? What would bring an herbs and spices company to a military trade show?

"We're trying to get in the BX (Base Exchange) and commissary," said Beth Smith of Kinston's Spice Bouquet. "We're hoping this would get our foot in the door."

Ms. Smith said the show had interested retail customers as well. "Just getting our name out here. That's what we're trying to do," she said.

"As much as half of the business we do with the Goldsboro office is military or military-related," said Christopher White of Fastenal Industrial & Construction Supplies. White said his company hoped to strengthen that relationship.

Clark Bunting brought his cleaning supplies business from Greensboro.

"We're trying to gain a greater presence. That's why we're here," said Bunting, the president of Handi-Clean. He said his company does business with other military bases in the region, and hopes to add Seymour Johnson to its list of clients.

Prior to the start of the show, vendors were given a presentation on proper procedures of doing business with cardholders. "We're trying to learn the ins and outs," said Bobby Powell of Holland Industries in Henderson.

Steve Hicks, president of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, said the show was a chance to help both local business and the military.

"This is a renewed effort to help people understand the opportunity to do business with purchase cardholders on the base," said Hicks. He said Seymour Johnson purchase cardholders spend tens of millions of dollars annually on products and services in the area. Business owners need to be more aware of the opportunities the base and its population offer, Hicks said.

"That money is out there. Our local people aren't taking full advantage," he said.

Doug Simmons, director of Wayne Community College's Military Business Center, said the show was "successful beyond our expectations."

Simmons said the show boosted local awareness of matchforce.org, the center's Web site used to connect businesses to military cardholders. He was hopeful that more local businesses would participate in future shows.

"The base really supported the program," Simmons said. He expects next year's show to be "bigger and better. We've learned a lot from this one."

This year's show was sponsored by Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Wayne Community College Small Business Center, Wayne County Chamber of Commerce and the Military Business Center at Wayne Community College. The Exchange Club of Goldsboro provided a free barbecue lunch.