Chris Straw is looking forward to good things for his company from upgrades recently made to Conexus Indiana’s industrial supplier matchmaking database.  He won’t be the only one benefiting from the improved program in the state.  Straw is president of Team Quality Services, a firm he founded in Auburn, which helps companies with quality control and safety issues.  He will receive an even greater benefit from the upgrade if the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and Ivy Tech Community College make a promotional push to boost enrollment for the database.  “The more businesses in there, the more successful it’s going to be,” he said. “I call it the mall approach. Malls are successful because there’s more to pick from.”  Team Quality was registered with the previous version of the Conexus database for four years and had good experiences with it, he said.  “It was one of those things where I really didn’t know what to expect, but I knew I should be registered; it’s sort of like being in the phone book,” Straw said. “We had some opportunities come out of there that I’m not sure we would have gotten otherwise.  “We had an opportunity to bid on the Hummer plant in South Bend. Most recently we were contacted by an insurance company.… They contacted us through the database; it wasn’t us out hunting them.”  In addition to new features and functionality, the database previously known as Indiana Supplier INsight has a new name, Conexus Icon.  The new version is possible through the Indiana Office of Defense Development and a U.S.  Department of Defense grant it received to help communities and businesses affected by DOD spending reductions.  Part of the $2.7-million grant was intended to help with the further development of a defense-related supply chain in the state.  All of the active businesses in Supplier Insight have been transferred to Conexus Icon. This means the database has about 6,700 businesses, of which more than 2,000 are diversity owned, said Laura Miller, a Conexus spokeswoman.  Indiana Supplier Insight was launched in 2000. The platform on which the database was built did not allow for sufficient tracking mechanisms, so data on the number of matches that occurred were difficult to come by, she said.  “That is one of the reasons Conexus Indiana updated the database – so that they could better track the effectiveness of the database,” Miller said in an email. 

Supplier INsight allowed for search by key word based on a capabilities statement submitted by companies that registered with it, as well as North American Industry Classification System code, zip code, diversity and quality certifications.  In addition to those search capabilities, the improved version of the database can be searched by business type, suppliers the registered businesses support, industries they serve, materials they use, their specific manufacturing capabilities and their area codes.  A geographic information system feature of Conexus Icon also will show the location of search results, to provide a starting point for logistics planning.  “The benefits of this new database are enormous,” Rich Murphy, program manager for Conexus Indiana, said in a statement announcing Conexus Icon.  “Global buyers have a window into the world of Hoosier suppliers through this database, providing untapped opportunities for business growth and development.  “In comparison to supplier databases in other states, Conexus Icon sets a new standard and further differentiates Indiana’s business environment.”  The improved version of the database was launched last month and Conexus plans to offer presentations on it this fall in nine regions around the state to demonstrate its use and show how easy its registration process is.  It took Team Quality only 15 minutes to register for Supplier INsight, and then it spending a few minutes updating the database when the firm’s information changed was the only effort required to reap the benefits of registration, Straw said.  The nine regional presentations will hopefully enroll more Indiana businesses into the database this year, Miller said, creating more opportunities for connecting Hoosier businesses with buyers.

Indiana added 32,000 manufacturing jobs in the last three years and the industry now employs one in five of its residents, Indiana Commerce Secretary Victor Smith said in the Conexus statement.  “Advanced manufacturing is driving economic growth in Indiana, and it’s crucial that momentum continues,” he said. “Paired with our business-friendly climate, Conexus Icon

will be a key asset in helping to attract and grow manufacturing in the state.”  More information on the improved database is available at

By Doug LeDuc