Prince William County Procurement Services, along with Stafford County, Prince William County Public Schools and Stafford County Public Schools, recently got together to host a reverse trade show where suppliers visited government-sponsored booths to learn how the organizations conduct business.
The reverse trade show, held at George Mason University’s Science and Technology Campus in Manassas, was aimed at helping suppliers negotiate the procurement processes within the organizations. During the event, suppliers had the opportunity to talk one-on-one with representatives from various county government and school departments. There were also several panel discussions where suppliers could ask questions regarding procurement processes, including specialties like IT and construction procurement. Approximately 150 suppliers attended the event.
The goal of the reverse trade show was to allow suppliers to establish direct communication with the right people, according to Erika Bukva, a Prince William County senior contract specialist. “This is an effort to get engagement from the supplier community, so that they can get direct access to the decision makers who make the purchasing decisions. They don’t always have access to the person who orders the tires or the staff member who contracts with an interpreter.”
Bukva said another goal of the reverse trade show was to help the county benefit from meeting suppliers. “Giving our departments the opportunity to learn about the capabilities of the supplier community means we can consider new and improved approaches in how we serve the citizens of Prince William County. It also gives the supplier community the opportunity to understand more about the procurement process and what the county is looking for in its business partners. That means we get greater competition when we solicit projects, which results in lower prices for the county.”
Suppliers who attended the reverse trade show said they found it beneficial. Clifton Bukowsky, with a heating and cooling company out of Woodbridge, has worked with the federal government, but has yet to work with county government. He said he appreciated the chance to meet people. “I think it’s a great opportunity to make an introduction and make a contact. It’s about being able to get to the right people at the right time.”
Jackie Best, a local representative for a commercial furniture manufacturer out of Green Bay, Wisconsin, said she thought the reverse trade show was “great.” “I was able to connect to a lot of people in procurement and learn a little bit more about who to talk to.”
For more information about how to become a registered supplier and other procurement services in the county, visit pwcgov.org/finance.