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Toyota Opportunity Exchange matches minority businesses with its suppliers

Success stories number in hundreds; more than $100 million in contracts

CINCINNATI (Nov. 12, 2013) – Securing a $1.6 million contract in 2012 brought Ron Nuñez, president and chief operating officer of a group of independent supply companies, back to the Toyota Opportunity Exchange this year for the third time.

The two-day event provides minority-owned businesses like his the opportunity to network with Toyota’s direct suppliers. By the time it was over, IBC had won the major contract with North American Lighting to produce tail lights for various makes, including Toyota and Lexus.

“The goal of the Opportunity Exchange is to make a match. I’ve been to many gala events and golf tournaments and they never turned into a business opportunity,” Nuñez said. “At the Opportunity Exchange the companies there are looking at partnering with vendors strategically – where you’re completely integrated as part of a company’s strategy.”

For Falcon Manufacturing, a member of IBC and the company that assembles the tail lights, the Opportunity Exchange event “brought us together and gave us an opportunity with North American Lighting, which we hope to grow,” said Gary Sherman, President of Falcon, also a minority-owned business, based in Seymour, Ind.

The 24th annual event concluded today at the Duke Energy Convention Center in downtown Cincinnati. Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America (TEMA) started the event with about 300 attendees and it has grown to become one of the largest minority business events in the country attracting about 1,700 people who attend free of charge.  Since 2009, more than $100 million in contracts have been generated by minority business enterprises (MBEs) as a result.

John Munson, Jr., Manager, Supplier Diversity for TEMA, said the experience by IBC and Falcon is what the event is all about.  “Each year, current and prospective suppliers get to connect face to face at the Opportunity Exchange, leading to meaningful, lasting business relationships. We expect many more success stories this year.”

The event kicked off Monday with seminars and panel discussions focusing on several topics, including how MBEs and Tier I suppliers can turn relationships into opportunities. Toyota MBE suppliers (both direct and indirect) also shared success stories about how innovation leads to lower product costs resulting in more business.

Day two of the event began with a breakfast presentation by Javier Palomarez, president and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. A tradeshow featuring more than 300 Toyota Tier 1 suppliers followed the breakfast.