FABTECH 2011 Off to a Strong Start

Exhibitors report heavy traffic—and even a few orders—at Chicago show.

The vast majority of finishing exhibitors interviewed by Metal Finishing during the first two days of FABTECH 2011—which kicked off at McCormick Place in Chicago earlier this week—reported not only brisk traffic through their booths but also purchasing activity.

“The early feedback has been very positive,” said Anne Goyer, executive director of the Chemical Coaters Association International, or CCAI, on the morning of day two of the four-day show. Not only were there more than 40 new exhibitors within the Finishing Pavilion at FABTECH—in just its second year as part of the show—but many returning vendors doubled their exhibit space compared to last year, she said.

Case in point was PPG Industries’ Industrial Coatings division, which upgraded from a more modest booth at last year’s show in Atlanta to a much larger and more prominent space at this year’s event. “We’ve had pretty good traffic,” said Andrew Meshanko, manager, market development, on the second day of the show.

The sentiment was much the same a few yards away at the BEX booth. More importantly, those who stopped by to learn more about the company’s line of nozzles also expressed optimism about business conditions. “What we’re hearing is that manufacturers are upbeat about business,” said Rob Simmerer, sales. “Despite what you’re hearing in the media, companies are buying equipment and growing.”

Manufacturers of large spray booths and curing ovens, in particular, reported solid activity. “It’s been great,” said Marty Powell, territory manager for Global Finishing Solutions. By his count, the company logged more than 70 leads by the middle of the second day. “We’ve seen more folks here in two hours than we’ve seen at other shows over the course of three days!”

Ditto for burn-off oven manufacturer Steelman Industries, which generated three times more leads here at FABTECH than at another event held earlier this year. “It’s mainly been a mix of OEMs and job shops looking to do more commercial stripping,” said Steve Moore, vice president.

Even some vendors located outside the Finishing Pavilion, but open to serving metal finishers, reported solid activity. Ryan Sneath, who was working the Viking Blast & Wash Systems booth, described FABTECH 2011 as the “best he’s seen in seven years.” And we’re not just talking tire-kickers. “People are buying equipment,” he said.

Much of what many FABTECH exhibitors reported at the show is reflected in the general manufacturing trends and indices. According to the latest Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) Business Conditions Report, for instance, 24% of companies polled predict that overall activity will improve, with roughly one-third of metalforming companies anticipating a 33% increase in orders.

“The interest in this year’s event is a positive sign that our industry is alive and thriving,” said John Catalano, FABTECH show manager.

For more FABTECH 2011 coverage, look out for the November/December issue of Metal Finishing.

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