Locals among exhibitors at business event

MANCHESTER – Two Nashua companies were exhibitors and many more attended the New Hampshire Small Business Matchmaker event at Manchester Community College, Nov. 30.

The annual event, sponsored by New Hampshire’s Small Business Development Center, provides small businesses interested in government contract work the opportunity to meet with representatives from government agencies and prime contractors that work for them.

Harris Corp., a large Department of Defense contractor with a Nashua office, was one of the exhibitors.

“We attended the event to speak with local small businesses,” Peter Rienzo, director of operations at Harris, said. “Our use of small businesses in our shop in New Hampshire is quite expansive — 90 percent of our subcontracting is done with small local businesses. We set up a table at the event, so small companies could do elevator pitches about what they can provide us.”

Rienzo said the event was a success with six to 10 companies providing pitches that may lead to future work, although he declined to provide their names. However, he said the companies may be manufacturers of circuit boards and cables, or service providers of painting and coating that are used on Harris products.

“We like to deal with small shops that are close to us and we have lots of suppliers near Nashua. We’re a prime example of a large corporation taking advantage of local talent,” he said.

One example of the local talent Harris may be able to take advantage of is Innovative Test Solutions, a Nashua designer and builder of circuit and functional test fixtures. Donald Chin, the owner and engineering manager of the firm,

attended the Matchmaker event and met with representatives of Harris, BAE Systems, also from Nashua, and other firms.

“We sat down with military companies like Harris,” Chin said, “and it was a great way to network and see what’s out there and available for small businesses.”

Innovative Test Solutions relocated to Nashua from Derry two years ago and started in 2012.

“We ordinarily get work though programming houses, where we create and build test fixtures, but we wanted to go directly to companies to get on their approved vendor list,” Chin added. “The people we spoke with were very encouraging and said go ahead and apply and send us your capabilities list.”

Another Nashua small business that attended the event was Far East Support Services, a small defense contractor that provides services to the military in Taiwan. “We do some work for the U.S. Army and large companies like Lockheed Martin,” said James Hargreaves, director of security and compliance. “The event was geared to the defense industry so it was right up our alley.”

He said he met with many prospective partners, with the most promising being the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center.

“We’d like to expand to other Far East nations. We’re a small company trying to get bigger and these events are helpful at that,” he added.

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., attended the event and met with representatives of small businesses and other attendees.

“New Hampshire’s small businesses are the backbone of our economy and we must do more to support their critical work,” she said. “The Small Business Matchmaker event is an important opportunity for small businesses to build relationships with government agencies and prime contractors in order to help New Hampshire companies grow and thrive.”

Cambridge Research & Development, Industrial Marketing, Telescope Defense, Vet IT and WH Bagshaw Co. were the other Nashua small businesses that attended the Matchmaker event.

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Veterans Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the New Hampshire National Guard were the government agencies that attended as exhibitors.