Countdown to SAC 2023

Matchmaking Session

Matchmaking event is SOLD OUT


Kick off this year’s conference with our VIP Matchmaking Event on Wednesday, October 18!

Cost: Sponsors & Exhibitors – $100; Attendees – $150

Many thanks to this year’s sponsors: Elwood Staffing and Siemens Digital Industries

Confirmed sponsors and exhibitors will receive a link to register at a special discounted rate.
Attendees can select to register on the attendee registration form.

Check out THIS VIDEO from Jean Marie Thrower with Supplier Development Systems for more information on how it works.


  • 10:30 – Registration in Azalea ballroom.*
  • 11:00 – Schedule appointments with OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers.
  • 1:00-5:00 – Appointments in Azalea ballroom.

*All sellers must report for registration in order to guarantee four appointment slots with buyers.

How it Works

  • Sign in at Matchmaking registration to receive a wristband, appointment card, and voucher.
  • View a list of OEMs and Strategic Tier 1 Suppliers and sign up for appointments with your target buyers.
  • Schedule a minimum of 4 one-on-one meetings, five minutes each
  • Extra time? Report to the bullpen for opportunities to schedule with additional OEMs and Tier 1s.

How to Register

  • Confirmed sponsors and exhibitors will receive a link to register at a special discounted rate.
  • Attendees can select to register on the attendee registration form.

VIP Matchmaking Participants

Committed OEMs:

  • Honda
  • KIA
  • Mazda Toyota
  • Nissan MS
  • Toyota
  • Mazda
  • Hyundai

Committed Tier 1 Suppliers:

  • DNUS
  • Eissmann Group Automotive
  • WKW
  • Mahle
  • TI Fluid Systems
  • Plastic Omnium

Pending Participants:

  • Polaris TI
  • Kasai
  • Hella
  • E&E
  • IAC
  • Minth

Keep checking our website to see our growing list of committed OEMs and Tier 1 Suppliers.

Agenda At-A-Glance

Wednesday, October 18


  • Exhibit Hall Booth setup
  • Registration for Suppliers (Sellers) for Matchmaking Event
  • Please Note: OEMs and Large Tier 1s at Matchmaking receive complimentary registration to the entire SAC


  • Matchmaking Event – For Sponsors, Exhibitors, and attendees (for an extra fee). B2B Meetings with OEM & Large Tier 1 Purchasing representatives


  • Wednesday Welcome Reception (Great food, beverages, and live entertainment) – All registered attendees are welcome to attend this opening night reception in the Exhibit Hall at the Beau Rivage. Exhibit Booths will be open for early business prospecting.

Thursday, October 19


  • Exhibit Hall Booths


  • Breakfast and morning networking opportunities
  • Keynote Speakers: Peter Ricchiuti and Joseph McCabe


  • Exhibit Hall Focus and networking opportunities
  • Stars of Southern Manufacturing Awards including presentation by Governor Reeves
  • OEM Panel
  • Town Hall (NEW to SAC for 2023!)


  • Auto Industry Celebration hosted at Morgan Freeman’s own Ground Zero Blues Club

Friday, October 20


  • Hotel check-out and exhibit booth tear down

A Brief History of SAC

SAC 2023 will mark the 16th year for the conference that serves the automotive industry associations and companies based in the southern region, namely Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, as well as the Southern Automotive Women’s Forum (SAWF).

The conference rotates between four states each year, from Alabama to Georgia to Mississippi and Tennessee, and then repeats the rotation. The hosts of SAC represent a governing group called the Southern Automotive Manufacturing Alliance (SAMA) which exists to promote the automotive manufacturing industry across the South and to foster growth.

The SAC has grown in stature and attendance every year mirroring the phenomenal rise in companies locating their facilities in the region including game-changers like Mazda Toyota, Rivian, Ford (Blue Oval), and Tesla.

The southeastern United States continues to boast the fastest-growing automotive industry in North America. Known for its world-class automotive production and sound business environment, the region’s supply base has thrived while OEMs and major suppliers continue to invest.

The Southern Automotive Conference (SAC) selected the Beau Rivage Resort in Biloxi, Mississippi for the 2023 event.

Images from past SACs


Keynote Speakers

Joseph McCabe

As President and CEO of AutoForecast Solutions LLC (AFS), Joe leverages his decades of industry experience and knowledge to provide production forecasting and advisory services to the global automotive community. Joe manages the automotive turnkey operations at AFS including the global light vehicle, powertrain, drivetrain, and alternative propulsion forecast as well as a suite of AFS proprietary opportunity and sales planning software. AFS supports all tiered suppliers, VMs, government agencies, financial institutions, and the academic community with data, planning solutions, and a personalized support to help identify new business opportunities while mitigating risk. Joe’s 25+ year career in automotive forecasting ranges from his tenure at AutoFacts, PwC, AutomotiveCompass, and now as founder of AutoForecast Solutions LLC (AFS). Joe earned his Bachelors of Chemical Engineering degree at Villanova University and an MBA at Pennsylvania State University.

Peter Ricchiuti

Peter Ricchiuti (Ri-Shooty) is the business professor you WISHED you had back in college! His humor and insight have earned him numerous teaching awards at Tulane University where he created and runs the nationally acclaimed Burkenroad Reports ( student stock research program. Peter is a graduate of Babson College and began his career with the investment firm of Kidder Peabody in Boston. He later managed Louisiana’s $3 billion investment portfolio while serving as the assistant state treasurer. Peter has addressed more than 1400 groups in 47 states and several countries. He has been featured in BARRON’S, Kiplinger’s, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He also hosts a popular weekly business show on National Public Radio in New Orleans called “Out To Lunch.” Peter is a husband, dad and author who has attended baseball games at all 30 current major league ballparks.

Stars Award Presentation

Gov. Tate Reeves

As the 65th Governor of Mississippi, Tate Reeves continues to show his commitment to making Mississippi the best state in the nation to live, work, and raise a family. As Governor, he guided the state through 14 federally-declared disasters in his first 14 months in office. Historic flooding and tornadoes, a worldwide pandemic, and the failure of the capital city’s water system didn’t slow him down. Governor Reeves used his steady hand and common-sense to protect the lives and livelihoods of Mississippians. Mississippi is in excellent financial shape and its economy is thriving. Governor Reeves delivered the largest tax cut in Mississippi history, reached record-low unemployment rates, and had the largest annual increase in employees since the last century.


Diane Bohman, CPA

Diane joined Elwood in 2019 and quickly made major growth contributions to the company. In result of her impact and capabilities, Diane was promoted into executive leadership. She then became the first female and non-Elwood family president in the company’s history. Diane has spearheaded the company towards expanding Elwood’s sales force and its evolving development plan. She has also been placing focus on traditional brick-and-mortar expansion into new markets for the company. Diane also implemented a new operational system to aid in consistent and superior service delivery for Elwood applicants. This has helped aid in the company’s market service promise by making applicants feel they are the company’s number-one priority. Diane’s contributions to the company have cemented herself as one of its most influential figures, and most certainly will continue to grow Elwood into new markets.

Bill Cork

Bill Cork is an economic development executive with extensive experience in the areas of transportation, logistics, defense, aerospace and chemicals development in the state of Mississippi. He was previously CEO of the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission where he led the economic development efforts for Stennis International Airport, Port Bienville Industrial Park and the Port Bienville Railroad, while also working with Stennis Space Center. Cork also founded Cork Consulting Group, a real estate, urban planning and public finance consulting firm. Prior to his consulting work, he was CEO of TexAmericas Center in New Boston, Texas. He also is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Steve Grice, Ph.D.

Dr. Steve Grice is a research professor and the executive director of Mississippi State University’s National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center (NSPARC), an internationally recognized multidisciplinary center that takes a social science approach to data analytics to collect and interpret data to help leaders in government and private business make better decisions. Dr. Grice has a PhD in Sociology and has secured over $120 million in research funding from the U.S. Department of Labor, USDA, NSF, FAA, ED, HRSA, and multiple State of Mississippi agencies. His research interests and expertise are focused on data modeling and analytics to drive business intelligence, social and economic impact research, program evaluation, and strategic decision-making. He also serves as the director of Mississippi’s Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) Data Clearinghouse, which conducts research to inform policymaking and advance the understanding of complex processes in economic and workforce development.

Lex Lemmers

Lex Lemmers is Executive at PACCAR and as Director of Program Management & Resident Engineering responsible for Business development and Engine Program Management at PACCAR Engine Company, a division of PACCAR Inc. He joined the company in 1996 at PACCAR’s European division DAF Trucks in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Mr. Lemmers progressed through increasingly responsible positions to become plant manager for the DAF Engine Plant in Eindhoven and in 2007 Plant manager responsible for build and startup of the PACCAR Engine Company in Columbus MS. Before joining PACCAR, Mr. Lemmers was the Quality director for Fokker Aerospace in the Netherlands. Prior to this assignment, he served as the Manager of Manufacturing Engineering for Fokker Aircraft. Born in 1960 in Haarlem, the Netherlands, Mr. Lemmers was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering at the University of Alkmaar (the Netherlands). He earned his master’s degree in Manufacturing Systems Engineering at the Warwick University (the United Kingdom). Mr. Lemmers joined the Mississippi Automotive Manufacturers Association (MAMA) as Board member in 2013 and was President of this association between 2017 and Jan 2020. In his role as President of MAMA he also served on the board of the regional Southern Automotive Manufacturers Alliance (SAMA). In addition, Mr. Lemmers joined the Mississippi Manufactures Association as Board member in 2015 and he currently serves as Chairman of that Board.

Donald J. Leo, Ph.D.

Donald Leo became the first appointed Dean of the University of Georgia College of Engineering on July 1, 2013 and currently holds the UGA Foundation Professorship in Engineering. The UGA College of Engineering is the newest college in the oldest state-chartered university in the nation. Formed in 2012, the college enrolls over 2,600 undergraduate and graduate engineering students, has 90 engineering faculty members, instructors, and public service professionals, and 40 staff members. On July 1, 2022, the joint School of Computing was formed in collaboration with the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, and this School enrolls over 1,500 students in computing and data science and has 35 faculty members. Prior to joining the University of Georgia, he was a faculty member and associate dean in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech and a vice president for the Virginia Tech National Capital Region. He also served as a program manager at DARPA in the Defense Sciences Office from 2005-2007. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a Member of the American Society for Engineering Education. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois – Urbana, Champaign in 1990 and his Master’s and Doctoral degrees from the University of Buffalo in 1992 and 1995, respectively.

Mike Oatridge

Michael Oatridge serves as the Alabama Mobility and Power Center Executive Director. AMP was recently established in partnership with Alabama Power Company and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Inc. as a research and workforce development center to meet the needs of the emerging electric vehicle market. Oatridge worked for Honda Motor Company for more than 30 years, retiring in 2021 as Senior Vice President of Honda Manufacturing of Alabama. Oatridge joined Honda in 1989 as an engineer, taking on increasing responsibilities at its manufacturing plant in Ontario, Canada. He came to the plant in Lincoln, Alabama in 2001 and became Vice President of Manufacturing Operations in 2010, a position he held until 2016 when he was promoted to Senior Vice President. He has been an Executive Board member of the Alabama Workforce Committee, Economic Partnership of Alabama and the Birmingham Business Alliance, and he has served as Chair of the Boards for the Japanese American Society of Alabama and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Erik Skaggs

As president of Toyota Mississippi, Erik is responsible for all manufacturing and administration functions at Toyota Mississippi. The manufacturing facility, located in Blue Springs, produces the Corolla, Toyota’s highest volume selling vehicle globally. Skaggs joined Toyota in 1993 as a quality engineer at its manufacturing plant in Georgetown, Kentucky. During his tenure, he served in multiple roles of Quality Control/Engineering as well as Body Operations Pilot and Production. He was named general manager of Quality Production Control in 2015. In this role, Skaggs oversaw vehicle manufacturing quality for current and new model preparation. In December of 2020, Erik was named vice president of manufacturing at Toyota Mississippi and served from December 2020 to June 2022. In this role he was responsible for Press, Weld, Paint & Assembly operations. Prior to his role as president, Skaggs served as vice president of administration at Toyota Mississippi from June 2022 to September 2023, and was responsible for all areas of administration including Human Resources, General Affairs, Safety and Environmental, Facilities, Accounting and Finance, and Production Control. Skaggs serves on the board of the Mississippi Manufacturing Association, the Center for Manufacturing Excellence at Ole Miss, and is the executive advisor of the African American Collaboration Business Partnering Group at TMMMS, and previously at TMMK. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Tennessee Tech University. He resides in Tupelo, MS with his wife and daughters.

Victor Taylor

Victor Taylor is senior director, manufacturing operations, Nissan Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant, Nissan North America. Appointed to this position in June 2022, he is responsible for overseeing all aspects of vehicle production at Nissan’s award-winning assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi. Taylor brings more than 20 years of engineering and manufacturing expertise, including experience launching and building electric vehicles, which he is using to help transform the Canton Plant into a center for U.S. EV production. Taylor holds an executive MBA from Millsaps College in business administration and management, an MBA from California State University, Stanislaus and a bachelor’s degree from Alcorn State University in industrial engineering. He also completed additional business courses at Vanderbilt University and is a certified Six Sigma black belt.

Clarke Thedford

Clarke Thedford is employed at Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America. She is a Mechanical Engineer working as a project manager in the Facilities and Environmental Department. As a project manager, she oversees the installation and repair of an array of mechanical systems. She is a member of the Toyota North American Advisory for Young Professionals. She is also member of the Association of Energy Engineers and has her Certified Energy Manager (CEM) certification. She became a member of the SAWF board this year. In her spare time, Clarke enjoys traveling and spending time with friends and family. Other hobbies include watching movies, playing in a band with her friends, reading, and doing DIY projects around the house.

Jesse Vance

Jesse leads NAOS Staffing, which joined the Elwood Staffing family in March of 2023. Jesse founded NAOS in 2010 with a specialization in on-site staffing for large-scale operations. Jesse started his career in the staffing industry in 1982 as a Regional Manager for Norrell Corporation. In 1990, he went on to become the S.E. Division Vice President for Talent Tree Staffing. In 1994, after Talent Tree sold and having worked for two very successful entrepreneurs, Jesse started two staffing companies: APS Group and Pinnacle H.R in Atlanta. The companies grew to $125 million in annual revenue and sold shortly thereafter. Jesse is originally from the state of Florida and a graduate of Florida State University. Jesse has been married to Nancy Pharr Vance for 40 years and they have three sons plus three grandchildren and counting.


Download our sponsorship prospectus to learn more about the new features available at this year’s conference and how your company can get involved.

For more information about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Sheila Wardy at [email protected].


Thank You to our 2023 Sponsors!

Book Your Stay

Book your stay at the Beau Rivage, the premier destination of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Offering sweeping views of the coast and historic downtown Biloxi, the Beau Rivage offers the perfect blend of southern hospitality and luxury.

Interested in exploring more of the Mississippi Gulf Coast? Click below to discover everything there is to enjoy along Mississippi’s 62 miles of shoreline.


For your convenience, there is a courtesy block reserved at the Hard Rock Hotel next door. Please call (877) 877-6256 or visit and use the group code SAUTO2023 if you would like to book a room.

Attendees who would like to reserve a room in our courtesy block at the Double Tree can do so at the following link:

We recommend that you book your hotel directly using the link above (which has been provided to us by the hotel), or book directly with the hotel. No convention or booking agencies have been authorized by SAC. We recommend that you be careful in securing your reservation with only firms you know and trust.

Media Toolkit

Let others know about your participation at SAC! Our 2023 Media Toolkit contains images, logos, and banners tailored for a variety of different uses. View our toolkit and spread the word!




SAC is presented jointly each year by the automotive manufacturers associations of Alabama (AAMA), Georgia (GAMA), Mississippi (MAMA) and Tennessee (TAMA). The South Carolina Automotive Council (SCAC), Kentucky Association of Manufacturers (KAM), Texas Automotive Manufacturing Association (TXAMA), and Southern Automotive Women's Forum (SAWF) are affiliates of SAC.