The Aerospace and Defense Supplier Summit (A&DSS) held in Seattle every two years (biennial), makes strong connections for attendees
Andrew Vuong is the director of business development for Pathfinder Manufacturing. The company, located in Everett, Washington, had been known as the Workforce Development Center for over 30 years. In 2022 they changed their name and while the non-profit manufacturer was established, they decided to take their brand to market in a bigger way through the Aerospace and Defense Supplier Summit (A&DSS) in spring 2022.
The contract manufacturer is focused on employing people in need of vocational and technical skills training. They work to build success and independence for individuals through aerospace assembly work. High school juniors and seniors, on Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) at their school, are the employees. These programs are aimed at students with a disability that can benefit from an individual plan that helps them to be their best — conditions that can include anything from autism to deafness, blindness, an orthopedic impairment or speech or language impairments.
For Pathfinder Manufacturing, the model of the A&DSS event, hosted by BCI Aerospace, was notably different from other aerospace conferences that they’ve attended.
The biggest difference with A&DSS, according to Vuong, was the volume of targeted one-to-one meetings.
They were able to participate in 28 meetings during the show in May 2022.
He said, “It was our first time, so we didn’t know what to expect. Some of the meetings went well; we are continuing discussions for partnerships and to become suppliers.”
He thinks that the event is mission critical for many suppliers because, “It is important because it brings a targeted group of professionals together for aerospace and defense. A lot of other events you go to, you meet a lot of services or tradespeople looking to sell products like banking, insurance, etc. A&DSS is very targeted for the aerospace and defense industry.”
For a company like Pathfinder Manufacturing, which Vuong said has been heavily dependent on Boeing, “A&DSS has helped us to broaden our horizons; it is a great chance to diversify and work with other companies.”
Lydie Artemova, project manager USA for BCI Aerospace, helped Vuong’s organization to register for the event this year. Her job is to ensure success for the businesses attending the biennial event in Seattle, Washington.
Artemova has been with the company for seven years and is passionate about connecting aerospace suppliers. She has a strong hold on aeronautics, aerospace, space, and defense industries and is involved with the organization’s international events. Originally from France, Artemova now lives in the Seattle area.
She said that the biggest difference between most industry trade shows with exposition halls, and a BCI event, is “the matchmaking format.” She added, “It’s how we structure the events. We have three days, one day of the conference (with Tier 1 and OEM presentations), and two days of one-to-one meetings.” She shared that the core function of the events is to ensure that the participants are involved in 10-16 prescheduled meetings with prospective customers.
Registering and preparing to attend the event
When registering for industry conferences, often the process is simple — determine if you are attending and if you’d like a booth to exhibit your business. The registration and preparation to attend A&DSS is a little more comprehensive, because of the engagement with OEMs and prospective customers through one-to-one meetings.
Artemova said that they want the event to be beneficial to attendees, both financially and through the connections made. There is a questionnaire the prospective attendees fill out, focused on capabilities. She said there are companies who sometimes are not a good fit for the event, and she will advise them if that is the case.
But for many, she spends time coaching and advising about how to get the most from attending the event. “My concern as an organizer is to make sure the event goes well for them. I guide them in that questionnaire — how to put the company in a good light and include the right details — listing the right capabilities.”
She said that they have over 400 profiles to review for A&DSS Seattle, which is completed within a 10-day period as they matchmake companies for meetings.
Participant Julien Acis, senior manager of key accounts for Albany Engineered Composites, attended the 2022 event. Interestingly, he said they chose not to exhibit specific “parts or structures,” but instead chose to, “focus rather on establishing connections and representation.”
Acis has been involved in the aerospace industry for 20 years and has attended many BCI events, “Since the beginning of my career, I have participated in the BCI events … in Toulouse, Mexico or in the United States. BCI understood very early that since the aerospace industry is a global supply chain, they propose a global and international approach to their event. They have today developed all the necessary contacts to make it a real useful resource in market and technical intelligence with the quality of (the) organizations and attendance.”
The 2018 event provides data on satisfaction, (since the 2020 event was canceled), and Artemova said, “85 percent said ‘yes’ they met with the right contacts.”
Their goal is to help small and large businesses to thrive. Artemova reflected on the plight of the small business owner in the aerospace industry, “If you think of what it is like to be a small business, the number of hats that leadership wears, the pressure of running the business, it is a great duty and privilege to help them.”
She said that success is measured in the connections made by participants, no matter the size of the company. “I want it to go well for all of the participants that I work with.
It is gratifying once I get the participant’s feedback.” She works hard to ensure that all participants are making quality connections through the one-to-one meetings, meetings that she hopes will lead to new contracts and business for suppliers. “We can help the supply chain and help procurement individuals save time.”
Boeing is a key OEM in the region and Artemova said that it is their job to help navigate the Boeing supply chain. “We break it down for them. It is important to the economy. I have a personal interest in seeing business grow.” She added that their event and staffing is a great resource throughout the year for aerospace manufacturers.
Specifically, Acis feels that Artemova has been a tremendous resource in the success of attending companies. He said, “I cannot thank Lydie enough for her help, her solutions, and her customer-oriented approach for this first participation of AEC. By doing so, she allowed me to make my week a success. Because of her support, Albany will certainly participate in the next event.”
Re-engagement year over year can be a testimony to the success of an event.
Simplicity in booth display
Seasoned trade show professionals may be used to design-intensive wraparound booths with large format images and videos, logos, branding, and stacks of rack cards and marketing materials. Booth holders at A&DSS can relax. The booth design is much simpler, putting participants on more of a level playing field.
Artemova said that the booth design is not the key focus, “All of the suppliers have the same size booth.” The attendees can bring marketing materials and pull-up banners, but the expo side of the event is less intensive, as most of the event is focused on the one-to-one meetings and the capabilities of each business.
Vuong said, “The booth was standard compared to other trade shows; there was a table, two chairs, signage, tablecloth, marketing collateral, spare parts and wire harnesses — we didn’t have pull up banners.”
He said despite the booth simplicity, he recommends the event. “I would definitely recommend it for anyone in the aerospace and defense industry.
It is a place for you to meet the right contacts. No company is too big or too small to come to the event (it is) ‘suitable for companies of all sizes.’”
The Aerospace and Defense Supplier Summit (A&DSS) offers a unique take on generating new business through event activity. Attendees find that the early vetting of their company, combined with the pre-scheduled one-to-one meetings, makes a difference in their experience. Acis concluded, “BCI events have become a recognized rendezvous of the industry. The attendance of the main players of the industry is usually guaranteed and combining the good organization with their local representative presence of the event, it is always a successful event.”
Company Contact Information
Lydie Artemova, project manager USA
(206) 468 0073 (PST)