Exhibitors at the 2014 Business to Business Trade Show exemplify the countless ways in which the old industrial economy of the Lewiston-Auburn area has evolved into a more diversified, more robust business model, including traditional for-profit enterprises, not-for-profits, public sector, educational and healthcare, among others. The theme of this year’s show is “Building for the Future,” and the roster of participants attests to the validity of the concept.

For instance, Globe Manufacturing is a fourth-generation family business founded more than 125 years ago. The company invented firefighting turnout suits, and has led the way in “state-of-the-science” product innovation and development since the 19th century. Their in-house designers partner with university and government researchers and the company produces a wide line of turnout gear, fire suits, firefighter boots, and EMS gear: Athletic Gear for Firefighters. Globe was the first manufacturer to be ISO 9001 certified, the first to use DuPont NOMEX material, as well as GORE-TEX and other specialty fabrics and coatings.

Jones and Vining has been “Making Things that Last Since 1930.” Based right here in Lewiston, the company originally made component parts and tooling for the shoe industry, and the company has grown to become a leader not only in the footwear industry, but also construction and building materials, consumer electronics, medical equipment, furniture, sporting goods, and more. With offices in Massachusetts, Jones and Vining also has manufacturing facilities in Arkansas, China, Thailand and Viet Nam.

Kathy Leonard, president/CEO of Auburn Manufacturing, is arguably one of the best-known businesswomen in the L-A area and has served on numerous economic development boards and agencies. AMI is the industry leading manufacturer of high-performance coated textiles and composite fabrics for extreme temperature applications, including end-use products such as welding blankets, curtains and pads. With a worldwide customer base, the company continues to innovate, having just introduced EverGreen Cut ‘n Wrap insulation kits, the first ever modular insulation for on-site fabrication of removable mechanical insulation covers. AMI is ISO certified and is also a certified Women’s Business Enterprise.

Harry Allen, founder Allen Manufacturing in Lewiston, also started by supplying parts to the shoe industry right in the middle of the Great Depression. The company has grown to be one of the most trusted, contract cutting-and-stitching companies in the country. Under the leadership of Harry’s grandson, David, the company today makes sword cases for the Marines, tote bags, sound deafening parts for Toyota, notebook folios made with recycled rubber and leather; wallets made from salmon leather, bison leather, used denim; tool pouches for Harley Davidson, and hundreds of other items.

And speaking of innovation, networking and expanding the horizons for Maine businesses, Blackstone Accelerates Growth, in Brunswick, is committed to building a community of entrepreneurs and innovators throughout Maine. BxG aggregates advisory services, investment funds, entrepreneurial coaching and support, and partners with the Maine Technology Institute, Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development and the University of Maine on behalf of the next generation of cutting-edge Maine businesses and business leaders.

One of BxG’s partners is indeed The Maine Technology Institute, an industry-led, publicly-funded, nonprofit corporation that offers early-stage capital and commercialization assistance in the form of competitive grants, loans and equity investment for the research, development and application of technologies that create new products, processes and services, generating high-quality jobs across Maine.

And so, the B2B is a resource for resources, providing the opportunity for businesses to access a wide variety of services, vendors and customers. It has proven itself for nearly two decades, and this year’s show is a venue for perhaps more innovation and excitement than ever before.

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