Business Operations

Business Operations

A Matchmaking Service for the Manufacturing Supply Chain

The NAM is a meeting place like no other, where manufacturers of all sizes and sectors gather to make the industry stronger. Recently, along with its partner CONNEX Marketplace, it invited manufacturing leaders to D.C. for high-level discussions about supply chain challenges.

The big picture: This meeting came at an exciting time for CONNEX. Formerly known as Manufacturers Marketplace, the program pivoted in 2022 to combine state-specific installations with the national platform and become a more powerful SaaS.

  • Connecticut launched its own version of the CONNEX platform back in February, thanks to the support of the CBIA (a state business association and NAM partner) and the state’s chief manufacturing officer, Paul Lavoie—who discussed some early success stories at the D.C. event.
  • “In the first two weeks, more than 200 companies joined, significantly more than the state’s most optimistic projections,” according to a Hartford Business Journal piece—and Lavoie told the paper he expects signups to blow past 750 in the first year.
  • Meanwhile, Kentucky is also getting in on the action. The Kentucky Association of Manufacturers (also an NAM state partner) recently launched its own CONNEX Marketplace installation, which was announced by the governor. KAM CEO Frank Jemley also came to D.C. for the meeting, bringing his own success stories.

Talking the talk: The leaders in D.C. focused on how manufacturers can improve security and resiliency in the supply chain. They also discussed how local and state governments can ease supply chain challenges for businesses.

Security: As the participants observed, the key challenge is “illuminating risk” inside the supply chain, so that companies know what they’re facing.

  • They discussed the many types of risks involved in supply chains, including cybersecurity, financial, business continuity, capacity and more.
  • What’s next: CONNEX is working to integrate technology that will identify and highlight potential risks in a company’s specific supply chain.

Cooperation: The supply chain functions (or doesn’t) on the strength of manufacturers’ cooperation, from the largest companies to their smallest suppliers.

  • Furthermore, competition is not company vs. company, but supply chain vs. supply chain, the participants agreed.
  • Small manufacturers might benefit from a coach or guide to walk through the sourcing process so they understand how to remain resilient and competitive, one attendee recommended.
  • What’s next: CONNEX is working on a playbook that entities such as manufacturing extension partnerships can use to help coach SMMs through the procurement process.

Progress: Executives from CONNEX reported more than 4,000 suppliers were connected to buyers in 2022, while the platform hosted 396 separate “postings” from manufacturers looking for specific parts or supplies.

The NAM will host another forum this fall where manufacturers will tackle supply chain issues. Contact NAM Senior Director of Member Business Services Anna Chongpinitchai for details. 

View More