For local company president Rick Barker, working with other local companies creates an extra level of accountability.
“If I make a mistake, I will run into you at Food Lion or see you at church,” the president of Danville-based Supply Resources said to laughter from the audience.
Sitting in front of a crowded, lecture-hall style auditorium at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, three area business leaders spoke on the importance of buying and sourcing locally at the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Business Expo.
The panelists included Gretchen Clark, president of Reynolds-Clark Development Inc., a civil engineering firm based in Gretna; Rick Barker, of the packaging and third-party logistics company Supply Resources; and Richie Barker, chief operating officer of Harlow Fastech, a Danville-based machine shop.
Linda Green, Executive Director of the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance, moderated the panel.
The questions ranged from the benefits of utilizing local resources to misconceptions about local businesses in small towns.
Rick Barker, who grew up in Chatham, said his insider, local perspective allows him to understand the region’s offerings and potential better than an outsider.
“We’ve learned to effectively exploit the assets of this region,” he said.
Richie Barker said his company sources employees locally with the pipeline of workers coming out of Danville Community College and Averett University. They also buy their machine components from local producers.
“If we didn’t have the resources that are around us, it would be a nightmare,” he said.
All three panelists talked about the benefit of providing work to other local companies, which, they said, will care more than corporations not based in the region.
For instance, Clark said that company aims to always use local surveyors.
“We want people who care, and the people who care are in this region,” she said.
Added Richie Barker: “Here I think people do genuinely care.”
The panelists also addressed the notions, which they characterized as misconceptions, that local businesses should have cheaper prices and can’t provide world-class service.
Each panelist refuted the idea that local businesses should have cheaper prices than larger corporations, pointing to many of the same fixed costs they share with those companies.
“You can’t run a world-class organization with less than a world-class budget,” Rick Barker said.
Clark added her company uses the same software as other engineering firms, follows the same standard practices and works with the same community entities.
Rick Barker said Danville, which has struggled with an inferiority complex and cheap prices, is making improvements and attracting investors.
“There’s no reason you can’t have a world-class organization in a small-class market,” he said.
Clark said the network her company works with in Gretna might seem out of place for a small town, but the cluster of professionals helps to build each other up.
“We feed each other work; we collaborate on work,” she said. “It can happen anywhere if it can happen in Gretna.”
One of the main benefits the panelists cited for buying local products and sourcing materials from area vendors is economic, as those dollars serve as an investment back into the community.
“When we do business with those in the region, those dollars recirculate,” Barker said.
The panel was followed by a reception and expo, where businesses from around the region could connect and develop potential partnerships.
Ayers reports for the Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 791-7981.