Published November 2012
By Veronica Sandate Craker, Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business
Since its inception, the Smartmap Expo has grown from a small event, with just a handful of vendors, at Columbia Basin College to featuring more than 100 exhibitors at the TRAC in Pasco.
In honor of its 10th anniversary the TCAJoB asked event participants “What brings you to the Smartmap Expo?”
SIGN Fracture Care International of Richland has attended the expo since the first event debuted at the CBC Auto Body building in 2002.
“Gary (White) has done a fantastic job of marketing,” said Richard Grizzell, SIGN operations manager. “This is about the only one in the Northwest where people come together. They don’t have machine tools like the other ones do, but it’s pretty good networking.”
Grizzell and his colleague design engineer Dule Mehic attended the first Smartmap Expo a decade ago and say they’ve enjoyed watching the event grow.
“A lot of people don’t realize how big manufacturing really is here in the Tri-Cities,” Grizzell said.
SIGN is a humanitarian aid organization based in Richland that gives modern orthopedic care to the injured poor of the world. The staff and volunteers work with more than 4,000 local surgeons in developing countries to prevent disability from fractures by providing an orthopedic implant system designed and manufactured by SIGN engineers and staff to treat fractures and traumatic injuries.
“We’ve had many people come by here and when we tell them everything you see here we are making in the Tri-Cities, it is hard to believe,” Mehic said.
Mehic enjoys the annual event because he is able to learn about other manufacturing companies in the country. He said he likes to learn about what they are creating and how it can relate to what he does with SIGN.
“We definitely meet people here and share information, it helps,” he said.
Jonathan Hillman with Powin Corporation out of Tualatin, Ore. is a newcomer compared to Mehic and Grizzell. His first Smartmap was just last year.
Hillman said because he was able to gain business from the event in 2011, he was excited to return.
“This event is really good for networking between the different folks that have booths here and it actually, I think, generates a lot of opportunities in that regard,” he said.
The Powin Corporation manufactures more than 2,000 products including cookware, furniture, electronics and much more.
“We’ve been a contractor manufacturer for many top name-brand items and items that most people have in their household today,” Hillman said. “Even though we physically are not here, we have products that support this industry on the renewable side as well as the manufacturing and consumer.”
The Smartmap Expo is a Tri-City Development Council event. For more information on the event visit smartmapexpo.org.
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