Local owners meet and greet, get connected
Devlin Kyre and his son, Nikolas, 4, play video games in the Games2U booth at the 2010 Business Expo.
BUSINESS TO BUSINESS: 150 EXHIBITORS TAKE PART IN ANNUAL EXPO
Kevin Roberts had just started his Games2U Entertainment franchise business with his wife, Jill, when he was laid off last September from his full-time job as an interior shop supervisor at Pace Airlines.
"Luckily we had built this business three months prior to that," Roberts said yesterday at a business expo at the Benton Convention Center in downtown Winston-Salem.
Games2U is a mobile entertainment company that brings a video-game theater, laser-tag games and giant Hamsterballs, among other entertainment, to customers' doorsteps. The majority of the couple's work comes from school fundraisers, church festivals and birthday parties in Forsyth County.
Roberts said that their business, based in Lewisville, is growing but because of the down economy, they are trying to build better business-to-business relationships.
That's why they attended the Greater Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce's 2010 Business Expo.
"People need every little bit of help they can get with business and the economy being as lame as it is," he said. "I think it's starting to pick back up, but it doesn't hurt to build relationships with people. You don't know what down the road could happen."
Business expos are typically designed for companies to get to know and possibly do business with other companies.
The chamber's 2010 Business Expo had 150 exhibitors, the same numbers as last year but about 50 fewer than in 2007. Attendance figures were not available yesterday.
Gayle Anderson, the chamber's president and chief executive, said that the feedback from exhibitors was positive.
"We've heard a number of exhibitors who exhibit year after year say they had gotten as much or more business this year than in previous years," she said.
Anderson said that the trade show helps with the chamber's initiative to get people to buy local products and services because they can be made aware of the variety of businesses in this region.
"The more dollars that are spent in this community, the more jobs that get created," she said. "Obviously, the more jobs that are created, the more money that people have to spend."
Several owners of companies said they were pleased with the networking and business contacts they made at the expo.
"I thought it was very good," said Jim Perri, the owner of Sign-A-Rama, a sign company in Winston-Salem. "I found that there was constant traffic all day long."
Perri said he met some new people, and has made a follow-up list, including providing price quotes for potential jobs.
Spotlight Media Inc. , a digital-media company based in Winston-Salem that provides video production, website design and photography services, did nonstop business at the expo, owner Laura Kubicki said.
Kubicki recently bought the company, formerly Greentree Digital Inc., from her husband. She previously worked in the pharmaceutical industry but took a leave of absence in July 2009 to stay at home with her two sons, ages 2 and 4.
Recently, the couple re-evaluated their job situation because of the down economy. They renamed the business and took on different roles in the company to help it grow. She handles sales and marketing, and he focuses on production and design.
Kubicki said they came to the expo to meet and network with other businesses because a lot of companies are starting to use more video on their websites, and establish a presence on Twitter and Facebook to help expand their businesses.
"In a recessionary time, you really need to invest those marketing dollars, but you want them targeted and telling customers what you do and who you are," she said.