AKRON, OHIO — Plastics News, in conjunction with SupplyBase LLC, is developing a global online directory that will help connect product developers and manufacturers with plastics processors and suppliers.
The new interactive product, called Supplier Search, will exploit the power of the computer and speed of the Internet to streamline the process of identifying suppliers of products and services and simplify the procedure of submitting requests for quotes to those firms. The service is designed to help users boost productivity while providing them with broad Internet exposure and new, qualified business leads.
Plastics News and SupplyBase will sell company profiles in Supplier Search both to support the venture and provide firms with an opportunity to gain a low-cost, high-exposure Web presence within 24 hours. Searching the database will be free to anyone with Internet access and current Web browser software.
``Firms need not be Web-savvy or even have e-mail capability to benefit from business leads generated using the service,'' said SupplyBase managing partner Chris Golec. ``Those less technically proficient companies can receive their Supplier Search-generated leads via fax.''
Participating firms choose from among three types of listings — offering differing levels of detail — and then pay a modest annual membership fee based on that level of service.
``There are no charges for transmitting customer communications to your company, no fees for modifying your company information, nor any commissions based on new business generated through Supplier Search,'' Golec said.
The full Supplier Search service launches in early January, although an introductory offer is now available. More information about it can be found by clicking the Supplier Search navigational button at Plastics News On the Web (http://www.plasticsnews. com).
Plastics News is the exclusive plastics partner in this venture with SupplyBase (http://www. supplybase.com), a San Francisco firm that describes itself as a ``creator of intelligent supplier information and supply-chain management tools for the Web.'' Last fall it launched its DeveloPages online directory (http://www.devel opages.com) for the product-development market, which Golec said helped prove the viability of the overall concept now being leveraged to build the Plastics News and other branded sites.
SupplyBase outsources its programming work to Just-In-Time Solutions Inc., a Web technology and database development firm in San Francisco that employs more than 30 engineers and serves major clients such as Hewlett-Packard Co., Visa International, Levi Strauss & Co. and Sears, Roebuck and Co.
Mark Peabody, a senior analyst with Aberdeen Group, a Boston-based market research and consulting firm, is impressed with the business concept.
``SupplyBase's unique model is pioneering a new approach for establishing a network of business partners worldwide. Corporations, their global suppliers, and the organizations that serve them stand to benefit long-term by participating with SupplyBase.''
SupplyBase currently has a database of about 15,000 firms — which Golec expects will grow to more than 20,000 by January—that is the centralized core of information around which the service revolves.
He estimates that roughly 30 percent of those firms now are plastics-related, including all types of processors and mold makers, as well as materials, equipment and various business-service suppliers. The nonplastics companies in the database are active in various related industries, including product design, medical, electronics, packaging and automotive.
SupplyBase is creating a network of complementary trade publications, each with its own customized, online interface accessing the centralized database. The result is a broad network of online supplier directories cutting across many materials and end markets.
The multiple channels into the database mean that firms listed in it may receive exposure from Web viewers looking for qualified suppliers from any of the partner publications' sites.
This cross-fertilization aspect was key to Plastics News' involvement in the project, according to Publisher Tony Eagan.
``With so many diverse channels leading into the supplier database, not only do the profiled firms gain exposure to viewers from a broad cross section of industries and disciplines worldwide, but the database's users stand an increased chance of finding exactly the right company to serve their needs,'' Eagan said.
Golec pointed out that with a unique Internet address assigned to each profile, each participating company's information also is searchable by the popular online search engines.
This means professionals from anywhere on the Internet can find companies in the SupplyBase network.
In addition, he said efforts also are afoot to tie some major corporations' intranets into the SupplyBase network.
Some plastics processors and others already familiar with SupplyBase say they like the idea.
``The low annual membership fee and focus on generating qualified business leads through several channels delivers the best exposure for our marketing dollar,'' said Jack Shedd, vice president of sales and marketing for Mulay Plastics Inc., a custom injection molder based in Addison, Ill.
``DeveloPages is a valuable productivity tool that I believe will save time and money, while helping simplify the product development process,'' said John O'Brien, product design manager for Apple Computer Inc.
The first trade publication to sign onto the SupplyBase network was I.D. Magazine, an award-winning bimonthly publication for the international design community, which announced the alliance Oct. 1. The Online Sourcebook it is developing (http://www.idsourcebook.com) also taps into the SupplyBase database.
Another partner is Inc. Magazine, which is using SupplyBase's tools and database of supplier information within its Online Virtual Consultant service (http://www. inc.com/virtualconsult/).
More alliances with publishers in other fields are in the works, according to Golec.
Golec is one of three SupplyBase principals. He split the decade of 1987-96 working for DuPont Co. and GE Plastics in various distribution, engineering, product design and global marketing and sales positions. He is responsible for SupplyBase's marketing operations.
Golec's partners are Supply~Base co-founders Ron Domingue, who heads operations, and Dave Mendez, who oversees sales and service.
Domingue spent 12 years with GE Plastics, mostly in application development and marketing roles, working with OEMs and industrial design firms on the West Coast.
Mendez spent about nine years with DuPont and GE Plastics. At DuPont he started in plant engineering, worked in human resources and then in the films and packaging products business, before joining GE Plastics in sales and marketing in California.
Said Plastics News' Eagan, ``Having worked for companies like GE and DuPont, and with OEMs and designers worldwide, [SupplyBase's principals] can relate both to the plastics industry's needs and to our readers' needs.''
For further information on Supplier Search, call (888) 835-1300 toll free from the United States, Canada and Mexico, or (415) 977-1292 from outside those countries.