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Volume 6   Issue 7                August  2005


One Word for Attendees:  Plan
Develop a Strategy for Upcoming Trade Shows
by Mike Biffl

The summer means more than beating the heat for equipment suppliers—it’s time to prepare for the upcoming trade shows. This issue of DWM focuses on fabrication equipment (see page 52) as we approach the upcoming GlassBuild America show, to be followed by interGLASSmetal/FENESTRATION world ’05 and then Win-door ’05.

We, and all our competitors, are working feverishly to prepare what we hope will be successful exhibits for the trade show season for the fenestration industry. With this in mind, it is a good time to consider how to get the most out of your trade show attendance.
In just a few short weeks, window and door manufacturers will descend upon these shows to see the latest from their current and prospective suppliers. 

Millions of dollars will be invested to display equipment, travel to the host city, entertain customers, stay in a decent hotel and last but not least, see what the industry has been doing for the past two years. We often focus too much attention on the exhibitors and how they can get their “bang for the buck” at these shows. However, the attendees also make significant investments in time and money. Much of their time may be wasted if they do not plan their agenda prior to the trip. 

For many, this is an opportunity to get away from the daily grind, get a free dinner or two and make the rounds of hospitality suites. For others, the show will be all work and little, if any play. This second group is the one that does the planning and reaps the rewards.

Devise an Agenda
Before buying plane tickets and making hotel reservations, manufacturers should decide what the goal of their trip is. Are you interested only in the latest technologies? Have you been partnered with a supplier that no longer satisfies your requirements and you need to see what else is out there? Do you have equipment that has reached the end of its useful life and will need to be replaced before next season? These questions need to be in mind as you go through this issue’s equipment showcase. Going to the show without an agenda is a waste of your time and money. 

As you go through this issue and look at the press releases and equipment photos, make a list of what your requirements are for 2006. Start with your most pressing needs so you can weigh the costs of the equipment versus the budget constraints you need to work

within. As you go through this process it is important to determine the must-see exhibits at the show. These are the companies you need to make sure you have time to visit and spend time with during your trip. There will be a lot of interesting looking exhibits that may not be critical to your company’s success. Save these for later when you know you have gathered the information you need to keep your company thriving.

Take Your Time 
Of course, all exhibitors have made a significant investment. We will all be there to tell you why we’re the best. That’s why it’s critical you spend some time in the exhibits showing the equipment you need. Talk to the representatives on hand. This is your chance to see the newest additions to everyone’s product offering. You can see how the equipment is made and find out something about the people who stand behind the machinery. Don’t walk away until you understand what the exhibitor can and cannot do for your company.

If a company is displaying equipment you need, leave their booth knowing whether or not it is an organization you can work with. That’s the point of the whole experience. Try not to be blinded by flashy displays. This is about the machinery and the supplier who can best help your company to reach its goals.

All of us who will be representing our companies this fall look forward to seeing you at the shows. We hope you will be prepared to make the most of your visits and we all hope we can be a part of your experience. After all, we want to get our money’s worth too. 

Mike Biffl serves as national sales manager for Stürtz Machinery Inc. in Solon, Ohio. 

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