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Expo engages, impresses
Visitors praise event and location
Expo WEB 1
Denise Chiasson, left, of Chef Kern’s networks with patrons at the Small Business Expo. - photo by Autumn McBride

Doug Clayton went to the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center in the hopes of making a few business connections.

Clayton, the owner of Bulls Eye Marksman Gun Club, said the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce Small Business Expo on Thursday drew a lot of people “you don’t normally see” at more regular networking events.

“I probably met a good 20 to 25 people today who not only have something that I might be interested in, but might be interested in something we’re doing,” Clayton said.

Last year’s event was held at Pinecrest Academy. Clayton said having this year’s expo at the new facility, which opened in October, was great.

He said he was impressed by the hospitality opportunities offered by local hotels in Forsyth County and Alpharetta, which could potentially benefit his business.

He explained that clients often come to him from other states to attend multi-day training sessions. Meeting people who could help him find rooms that provide a better learning environment than those next to the shooting range was a big plus.

“It can get loud sometimes,” he said. “So that’s really given me some ideas to open up and maybe do larger classes with more people because I’m not just restricted to my spot.”

Using what resembled a “catch more flies with honey” approach, Denise Chiasson of Chef Kern’s offered roasted pecan pralines to those who visited her booth.

She said the expo had a great turnout.

“People are really mingling around going to see all the different booths and just coming out to be a part of the event,” said Chiasson, adding that she also liked the location.

“It’s more like a true exposition,” she said. “That they have something this large is excellent and the conference center is perfect for it.”

Chiasson, who with her husband ran a catering business for 23 years, said the expo provided a good venue for promoting a new part of their operation.

Jason Mock, director of the chamber’s small business services center, deemed the event a success.

“Our sponsors were pleased, the exhibitors were pleased and we heard a lot of great things from them and hopefully we can continue to grow this expo and make it a success each and every year,” Mock said.

With more booths and the new location, he noted it “wasn’t just a chamber group of people.”

“There were a lot of non-members coming through the door to check out the vendors,” he said. “So all in all, we feel it was a very successful event.”

Chris Strigle set up his booth not only to show off his landscape management firm, but also to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and promote its first event in Cumming on Oct. 1.

The 26-year-old said he is head honcho, head janitor and top mechanic for his company, Lawn Envy.

“I am representing my company, but the real reason I’m talking to people today is to raise money for the Light the Night Walk for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society,” Strigle said.

Those who stopped by were invited to donate $5 to the society and play Ladder Golf, a game similar to Cornhole, for the chance to win a $250 gift certificate for Lawn Envy’s services.

In the past, he came to the expo as an observer.

“This is my first year having a booth and they’ve done a great job with it,” Strigle said. “I think the venue’s great and I think a lot of people are having fun and enjoying it. I know that we are.”