Is there a business term for a company's whose products and services are entirely in support of another company's product or service? For example

  • Companies that sell door fronts, door pulls and couch covers specifically for Ikea furniture.
  • Repair companies that only repair one specific product or line of products.
  • A software company that exclusively creates plug-ins for another company's software.

Sample sentence: "All our products are accessories for Playosityᵀᴹ dolls because we are a ___ company."

  • Presumably, these businesses are not direct subsiduaries of the company whose products/services they support? Nov 21, 2021 at 10:23
  • @KillingTime I suppose they could be. A word that includes both subsidiary companies and independent companies would be fine. Nov 21, 2021 at 10:25
  • @HighPerformanceMark I edited my question. Nov 21, 2021 at 11:00
  • 1
    The Q is a little broad...does OEM work? Nov 21, 2021 at 17:31
  • It's just a sub-contractor.
    – Lambie
    Mar 17 at 17:01

5 Answers 5


Supplier is the usual term in business.

Cambridge Business Dictionary defines supplier:

a company that provides a product, or the materials to make a product:

  • supplier of sth to sb/sth The company is a supplier of software to the film industry.
  • leading/main/key supplier They used to be a leading supplier of medical equipment.
  • Most energy suppliers are doing well in the current economic climate.

For examples the UK government Department for Business & Trade has a website which promises to help foreign businesses "Find a UK supplier" "Our digital service helps you find UK suppliers of products and services across industries". Business information site Business Gateway offers advice on "Choosing and managing suppliers".

Together the network of suppliers and distributors forms a supply chain.


Another possibility would be the abbreviation B2B (for business-to-business). Nowadays one could say:

Acme Inc doesn't sell to the public as they are in the B2B space.

P.S. B2B, though it would be well-known to anyone who does purchasing on the internet for a business, might not be known to a general audience. The full form business-to-business would be better for the latter audience.

  • @jsw29: Not sure what you meant by your prescriptive comment "should be reserved for B2B communications". That "B2B" should only be used by such businesses in their own communications?
    – TimR
    Mar 18 at 16:40
  • Point taken. I'll add that its ubiquity on the internet shouldn't be confused with it being a "mainstream" abbreviation like TLC or LMAO.
    – TimR
    Mar 19 at 21:50

“Picks and Shovels" is the term.

Here are some links to definitions and usages:



  • 3
    Please don't simply give links. Provide the reasoning in your answer (and correctly cited) linking to corroborative evidence off-site.
    – Andrew Leach
    Mar 17 at 9:17

"Auxiliary company" might work:

An auxiliary company refers to a subsidiary or affiliated company that is established with the primary purpose of providing assistance and support to the main company in its day-to-day operations and functions.
[[S]pecialized or complementary activities] could include providing essential services, manufacturing components, supplying goods, or offering technical expertise [..]

Even though this might not be a common term, the word 'auxiliary' will probably suffice to get your point across—either as an adjective to 'company' or as a standalone noun:


  • additional; supplementary; reserve


  • an organization allied with, but subsidiary to, a main body of restricted membership, especially one composed of members' relatives

If the focus is on direct involvement with one company only, as your sample sentence implies:

All our products are accessories for Playosityᵀᴹ dolls because we are a ___ company."

you could use the phrase captive distributor.

We don't sell to the public as we are a captive distributor for Playosityᵀᴹ and all our products are accessories for their products.

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