Each month the winners of MoldMaking Technology magazine's Leadtime Leader Award Competition gather in this regular column to share their views on a number of industry topics. The award—designed to recognize outstanding U.S. moldmaking shops and their ability to succeed in today's global mold market—highlights a number of shops that showed outstanding performance in the following areas: leadtime, current and projected sales growth, innovation in the moldmaking process as well as innovation in the business side of moldmaking, technology, industry involvement and customer service.
This month the Leadtime experts explain the importance of attending and—in some cases—exhibiting at industry tradeshows.
Steve Johanns, managing director, business development, Advance Tool, Inc. (Blaine, MN)
I attend and, in some cases, participate in tradeshows throughout the year. My experience has been that there sometimes is as much benefit in just going and meeting new people at tradeshows as there is in actually setting up a booth. It depends on the show. My recommendation always is to attend a tradeshow(s) before you buy space to make sure you know what you are getting into. You also can't underestimate the importance of your spot at the tradeshow. Tradeshows have great potential as a sales/marketing tool and you invariably get out of them what you put into them.
Gary Bewley, general manager, Century Die Co. (Fremont, OH)
Our philosophy on attending tradeshows is, to quote Henry Ford: "Thinking always ahead, thinking of always trying to do more, brings a state of mind in which nothing is impossible. The moment one gets into the 'expert' state of mind, a great number of things become impossible."
Jason Jepsen, Tech Centre manager, Eimo Americas (Vicksburg, MI)
We do make an effort to attend some of the industry moldmaking tradeshows. Even if we're not in the market to purchase new equipment, we see this as an opportunity to stay abreast of new technology and industry trends. We try to spread it out so that everyone, from upper management to apprentice moldmakers, has an opportunity to attend these shows from time to time. Getting people from different disciplines exposed to new ideas and innovations is key for continued growth and improvement within any organization. Tradeshows are an excellent avenue for achieving this.
Tim Windingstad, operations manager, M&M Tool & Mold, Inc. (Green Bay, WI)
Naturally, it seems like my schedule always fills up when there is a tradeshow I want to attend, so I have not attended as many as I would like. It does seem that after I skip one, I come across an application that makes me wish I had attended the show, so I do feel they are worthwhile and I fully intend on making time for future shows. I feel tradeshows are a good opportunity to learn more about new technologies. During a show, you may have the opportunity to hold a component or end product (such as a molded part) in your hands and visualize its use in your own applications. We certainly want to stay current so we can better serve our customers, and ourselves, so I feel we have a responsibility to find out what is available.
There also is a social aspect to attending tradeshows as well. It seems to be a small world in the tooling/plastics industry; it is nice to see old acquaintances and find out what they are up to. Sometimes new vendor/customer relationships can be formed, and sometimes you may find yourselves as competitors.
Gene Bruce, co-owner, Summit Molds Inc. (Post Falls, ID)
We have attended tradeshows in our region of the country, although not as many as we could or should have. Being a smaller shop seems to require that our presence is needed at the shop to answer questions, quote and so on. When we have attended shows, we have always received good information and it has been a positive experience. As we can, we plan on attending more in the future.
Kevin Harrison, vice president and general manager, Electra Form Industries, Division of Wentworth Technologies Co. Ltd. (Burlington, ON)
Wentworth strategically attends tradeshows. Using this forum, Wentworth is able to glean technology and technological advances, and then determine how applicable those advances are to our products and services. By assimilating this information, we are able to sensibly incorporate new technologies that enhance our Best Value mindset and sprit. Attending tradeshows is one of the many ways Wentworth stays in tune with its industry and a way the industry can portal through to customers.