I recently had the pleasure of meeting some of the staff from Finishing Today at the predominantly plating-oriented National Association for Surface Finishing (NASF) Southeast Regional conference in Orlando, a show where you probably would not have seen the magazine in its former days as Industrial Paint & Powder. This magazine, which has a rich history rooted in the painting side of the metal finishing industry, was stretching its boundaries, reaching into new territory and expanding its horizons - an exercise we all could benefit from.
Getting StartedAttending or exhibiting at a trade show you would not normally visit is an excellent way to get started. For example, try attending a government-sponsored meeting such as the Environmental Technology Expos or the various Pollution Prevention (P2) conferences sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other government agencies. National Pollution Prevention week will be held in Washington this September (www.p2.org), and the Canadians will host a similar event called CANECT in Toronto in April (www.esemag.com/conferen/compliance.html). The NASF (www.nasf.org) recently had some success in organizing several meetings in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Defense, and it will host its annual Washington Forum in May where attendees will have an opportunity to meet with legislators.
You might want to look into participating in a government-organized trade tour to a foreign country. Or look for a more regional meeting sponsored by your state. Some ideas include municipality trade shows or Chamber of Commerce meetings focused on the industrial sector. Kevin Helton of Cross Air, LLC, Bostic, NC, said, “I’ve attended a small regional sponsored by the State of North Carolina for years now. The leads are always plentiful, and the competition is slim.”
Another idea would be to try attending a meeting for a purchasing association. The first purchasing show I attended was a Purchasing Management Association show in Myrtle Beach, SC. I ended up meeting the owner of a plating shop located 25 miles from my office whom I’d never been able to get in to see before.
Try walking through one of the large electronics shows, such as the Mac show in San Francisco (www.macworldexpo.com) or the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (www.cesweb.org), to check out the new consumer electronic products being debuted. You may find some new opportunities for your business - not all of that work is going overseas.
Manufacturing shows are another option. I know of several plating shops that attend and exhibit at the Job Shop shows held around the country (www.jobshopshow.com). These shows focus on introducing manufacturers to the resources of smaller value-added companies, such as powder and plating shops. You might also want to consider attending National Manufacturing Week in Chicago, the largest manufacturing show of the year (www.devicelink.com/expo/nmw07). I’m sure that good networking opportunities can be found at that show for both finishers and suppliers.
Shows hosted by The Wire Association International, Inc. (WAI) (www.wirenet.org), such as Interwire in Cleveland, OH in May or the Wire Expo in Pittsburgh, PA, in June, could also present some new opportunities. Paul Skelton of Mid-American Alloys in Sapulpa, OK said that he has plans to attend Interwire this year “just to see if I can find that captive shop that I might not see anywhere else.” He also pointed out that a exposition on fasteners will be held in the same building, and he plans to attend both events.