Busy Mexico Manufacturing Shows May Be Sign of U.S. Rebound

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Mexico City, DF – Solid performances at two Spring manufacturing trade shows in Mexico are a welcome sign that for U.S. events, the days of “flat is the new up” could be coming to an end.

E.J. Krause & Associates, Inc. (EJK) reported solid attendance, exhibitor participation and international presence at EXPO MANUFACTURA 2010 (Manu) and PLASTIMAGEN Mexico 2010. The bookend events targeted Mexican manufacturing, a sector that has a definite influence on U.S. tool and machinery makers. “When manufacturing in Mexico is coming back, that means demand is growing somewhere else,” said John Gallagher, senior vice president with EJK. “The saying in manufacturing recently has been that ‘flat is the new up,’ but the shows were successful and we hope that will spill over into the U.S.”

The final statistics for PLASTIMAGEN Mexico, held March 23-26 at Centro Banamex in Mexico City, were still being tallied. However, the performance of Manu in Monterrey belied any idea that the world would be mired in a recession for much longer. EJK reported 300 exhibitors and 9,000 gross square metres (96,875 square feet) of exhibit space filled with more than 100 pieces of machinery shipped mostly from the U.S., Europe or Asia. “We were very buoyed by those results,” Gallagher told Trade Show Executive. “Both of these events were heavy machinery shows, and that sector has performed poorly recently.”

The crowd was a record for Manu, which launched in 1996, and the attendees did a lot more than kick tires and compile wish lists for better days, according to Gallagher. In fact, Gallagher said many deals were made and business was good. “Machines were being sold right off the show floor,” he said. “It was a very hopeful sign.”

Sigh of Relief
The prospects for Manu and PLASTIMAGEN were by no means as hopeful during the darker days of the recession. Mexican manufacturing is joined at the hip to the U.S. consumer market, which took a beating in the nasty recession of last year. In addition, the H1N1 flu was a much bigger problem in Mexico than in the U.S., which made international travel to large public gatherings a dicey proposition.

Like most show organizers involved in economically sensitive sectors, EJK knew it would not be business as usual as it embarked on the sales cycle. “At this time last year, no one knew where the bottom was,” Gallagher said.

Finessing Sales
Gallagher credited EJK President and CEO Ned Krause with assuring his staff that the rule book could be set aside during the sales cycle for the 2010 shows. The emphasis, instead, would be coaxing customers into exhibiting, realizing their decisions would be made later than usual and exercising as much patience as needed to collect booth fees. “We were cognizant of the fact that cash is king and people were deliberately paying late,” said Gallagher. “We didn’t push it, but we did make sure there was a payment plan in place for each exhibitor.”

Show management was fortunate that the venues were also aware that 2009 was a unique situation. Gallagher said there was an admirable level of flexibility among EJK’s Mexican partners that kept obstacles and roadblocks to a minimum. Machines were shipped into the country, cleared through customs smoothly and then assembled on the show floor with all of the necessary utilities in place.

The end result was a fairly typical machine show where amazing pieces of equipment churned out different products while exhibitors busily wrote up orders. “It was very loud, but also very exciting,” said Gallagher. And the most exciting part is that the enthusiasm seen in Mexico this Spring could mean some equally loud and busy equipment shows north of the border later this year.

Reach John Gallagher at (301) 493-5500 x3348 or gallagher@ejkrause.com