NOTE: Scroll through the videos with this story for interviews with Troy Bevill, Lloyd Nichols, and others! And check back throughout the day, because we are adding videos all the time!
Complete Business Systems had one of the hottest items at the 2014 Business Expo in Tyler on Thursday — a 3D printer.
A steady group of people watched with amazement as the machine printed out 3D versions of photographs and drawings, such as city landscapes and people, made of gypsum.
“The 3D printer is part of what we do,” Tony Raymond, vice president of Complete Business Systems, said.
They are a technology company that works with IT professionals and business owners to bring technology to their organizations so they can become more productive and run their businesses more efficiently. They also offer printer services, such as the 3D printer, to architecture firms needing to create a prototype or print out of what they design, he said.
Raymond said the business, which started in 1982, was “one of the originals” that has come to the expo every year to meet other exhibitors. He said they want other businesses to consider them the tech company in East Texas that has what they need.
The sold-out, all-day 21st annual Business Expo, put on each year by the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce, had 99 booths set up at Harvey Convention Center.
The Tyler chamber holds the free event to give local businesses and organizations an opportunity to exhibit their latest services and products.
Henry Bell, chief operating officer for the Tyler chamber, said about 3,000 people attended the Business Expo Thursday.
Troy Bevill Jr., owner of Proforma Horizon Total Source, said he’s been setting up an exhibit at the expo for 19 years.
“It’s a great way for us to connect with a lot of our customers, reinforce our brand and connect with potential new clients,” he said.
Proforma, which received the Better Business Bureau Serving Central East Texas’ Award of Excellence for best micro-business on Wednesday, provides promotional products, such as printing services, business documents, e-commerce solutions and promotional products, to other businesses.
His father, Troy Bevill Sr., started Horizon Business Forms in Tyler in 1983, and he started working for him the next year. He bought the business in 1995 and joined the Proforma franchise, which has more than 750 locations.
Bevill, 47, said the expo allows businesses to learn about other local businesses and the opportunities that are out there.
“We like to network with other exhibitors … and find out how we can help them and how they can help us,” he said.
Bevill was excited to receive the BBB Award for Excellence, he said, adding that they strive to build trust with their clients.
Lloyd Nichols was showing off his newest business, Fit City Foods, on Thursday.
The owner of The Diner and Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen started the new business in August and said it has grown every month.He started Fit City Foods “to address the healthy, clean eating market lacking in Tyler,” he said.
Customers can order food online before 6 p.m., it is prepared from scratch at The Diner’s kitchen at night and can be picked up the next morning at one of several designated pick up points, Nichols said, adding that one pick up location is The Diner, at 7924 S. Broadway Ave.
Nichols said he set up a booth at the expo for the first time Thursday “because you have to do this to get the word out there on healthy eating … People are interested and want to know about it.”
Nichols opened Popeye’s, at 3820 W. Elm St., in November 2012 and hopes to open a second location, which began construction last Monday, at Fifth Street and Golden Road by March 31, he said.
Calvin Ainley, 61, and his wife of 43 years, Margie, 62, have been going to the Business Expo since they retired to Tyler five years ago.
“We enjoy seeing different businesses and seeing what they have to offer,” Ainley said. “You get to meet people and see what all is out there. It’s fun.”
Ainley is retired from the Army while his wife is retired from working for the federal government.
“We love Tyler,” Mrs. Ainley said. “We like to come support them (businesses).”
Lucia Duran, 28, of Tyler, attended the expo for the first time Thursday.
“I just wanted to see what it was like,” she said. “It’s pretty nice.”
Ms. Duran said she was learning about businesses and organizations and collecting some free pens and candy.
“I will be back next year,” she said. “I’ll bring my sisters too.”
Thursday was also Beth Adcock’s first time at the expo.
The 26-year-old is a geographic information systems technician for Stanger Surveying and said they set up an exhibit because they wanted to inform the public about what surveying is and how the company can help them. Stanger Surveying has been in business in Tyler since 1987 and predominantly offers oil and gas land surveying. With offices in Fairfield and Canton, it has about 75 employees serving customers in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Kansas.
She said the Business Expo was a “good way to branch out, let them know what surveying is for … It’s not our normal crowd but it’s good to get out there and let the public know what we do.”