WINTERSVILLE - An ebullient Chris Byrne left the Business-to-Business Networking Event at St. Florian Hall Dec. 6 brimming with optimism that he'd started building the contacts he'd need to get a piece of the shale gas industry business.
"I didn't talk directly to the drillers today, but this is just the first (meeting)," said Byrne, vice president of sales for Columbus-based Modular Building Consultants. "I wouldn't have missed it for anything. (Shale) is going to boom here and hopefully, I'll get to be part of it."
Businesses from Jefferson County and beyond filed through St. Florian's doors throughout the afternoon, looking for that one contact that could get them a piece of the energy industry's business.
Chesapeake Energy’s Mike Matusick fields questions from area business people at Business-to-Business Networking event Dec. 6 at St. Florian Hall in Wintersville. - Linda Harris
"Every smart businessman is here, exploring every option you have," said John Riley, owner of Toronto-based Riley Petroleum and Kwik King food stores. Riley said his company already is seeing an increase in diesel fuel sales. "I just want to get ready for the natural gas play, find out what I need to do and have to do (to capitalize on the opportunity)."
The event, sponsored by Progress Alliance and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, was a networking opportunity for the local business community.
"We wanted it to be about information, a start for people to learn about networking," Progress Alliance Director Ed Looman said. "I think we accomplished that."
Though there were some cancellations, Looman said he was "deeply grateful" to the companies that had fulfilled their pledge to be exhibitors a list that included industry leaders Chesapeake Energy and Hess Corp., as well as Wagner Industrial Electric, the founder of ShaleDirectories.com, Ohio Oil & Gas Association, Ohio Energy in Depth and Eastern Gateway Community College.
Chesapeake's Mike Matusick, manager of corporate development, said the event was "about creating relationships."
"Most of the jobs that are going to be created in this industry are going to be created with people in this room," said Matusick. "We're going to hire people, but most jobs are going to be created with our vendors and subcontractors."
Christopher Vesco, a supply chain specialist, manned Hess Corp.'s booth, answering questions and distributing literature aimed at would-be vendors, including what's required of them before they can do business with them.
"We look for companies that value safety and understand quality of product, response time and availability," he said.
Jeff Ebbert of AAMCO Transmission said he "just wanted to make contact, maybe get them to send some business our way."
"It's too early to tell how big it's going to be," he said. "In six months or a year, then we'll be able to determine how it's going to affect all of us."
St. Clairsville resident Sal Acosta, who with his wife started a company two years ago that inspects easements, was among the first to enter his corporate information into Hess's prospective vendor database.
"You never know what can happen," he said. "Business comes from the strangest places."