Early this month the halls of the Colorado Convention Center in Denver were abuzz as visitors captured ideas for expanding their businesses in the line-up of new products and education sessions at the 2014 METALCON.
“All of us are surrounded by electronic communication in our business and personal lives. But that is really a supplement to the personal, face-to-face interaction that can only be achieved at a trade show. We’re seeing the trend away from electronics in some areas and this year’s METALCON showed how important a show like this is for building relationships with prospects and clients,” said Claire Kilcoyne, METALCON Show Director.
Exhibitors agreed. “The emphasis on electronics may work well for marketing, but when it comes to our products, the contactors have to see them and understand how they can use them. It has to be face-to-face, and that’s why we’re at METALCON – to meet and talk with contractors,” said Dale Nelson, president of Roof Hugger Inc., Odessa, Fla.
Ed Karper, North American Marketing Manager -Coil Coatings for Akzo Nobel Coatings Inc., Columbus, Ohio, added another perspective. “People judge trade shows by different factors. Some qualify a show by numbers of visitors or leads. But the real judge of quality in a show is how it helps you build relationships. By rotating location every year, METALCON keeps drawing a fresh audience and that expands our opportunities to establish new relationships each time.”
Trilogy Machinery Inc., Belcamp, Md., combined electronics with personal attention to attract people to its booth. It used an interactive touch screen display similar to a game board where visitors could push symbols and draw lines between points while learning about the company, its products and their applications. Trilogy provides metal fabricating equipment for in-house, factory applications. “This is kind of electronic eye candy for visitors and it works. Traffic to our booth has been really good. We’ve had lots of great leads and one sale. So we’re very pleased,” said Matt Weeks, who handle sales for the company.
For exhibitors with something new to offer, METALCON provided a great forum for introducing visitors to their company and products. Nelson Hershberger, Hershey’s Metal Meister, LLC, Variobend USA, Claremont, Ill., had been to METALCON before, but this was the first show where his company exhibited. ”We had quite a number of visitors and were very busy throughout the show. We designed the Variobend equipment with the help of a gentleman who repaired most European-made machines. He heard all of the customer complaints about other equipment so we designed ours to eliminate those issues,” he said.
For Jane Van Bergen, Marketing Manager of Silvercote Lamination, Greer, S.C., it was a great time to talk business. “METALCON was our ‘coming out’ event as a brand. The response [to corporate changes] was overwhelming from customers and potential customers. We’ve walked METALCON before and this is our first time exhibiting. We had a lot of customers and were able to partner with the metal building industry, which is what we wanted,” she said. The company manufactures and laminates fiberglass insulation for metal buildings.
METALCON was held in Denver for the first time so it was an opportunity for local companies to bring visitors to their facilities. Denver-based New Tech Machinery hosted an open house before the show and promoted it to local and regional groups. Kristin Peregoy, Marketing Manager noted: “We had lots of positive feedback at our open house and many visitors at our booth. Traffic was excellent. It was a great show for us and the leads we received were high quality. It was also a chance to show more people our products up close and personal. METALCON is the best way to see and sell,” she added.
Visitors from more than 52 countries came to the 2014 METALCON, held October 1-3, to learn about the top trends in metal from industry experts. A new series of daily programs were held in Learning Zones located in the exhibit hall. The 15-minute sessions focused on technical applications and solutions and offered more intimate question and answer opportunities between visitors and industry experts.
Another lively, new feature was the Metal Construction Association’s Metal Roofing Championship Games that involved a variety of competitions between volunteers from the audience. They competed for prizes of cash and products and had a chance to show their skills in fastening screws into purlins, seaming standing seam panels, installing rubber roof jacks and placing PV clamps on a metal roof. The games demonstrated that with the right techniques, tools and products, metal roofing can be easily and accurately installed.
More action took place in Solar Bay Live, an area dedicated to products and demos related to using metal roofing with solar installations.
These educational forums supplemented the METALCON conference program that included 90-minute classroom sessions focused on what CEOs, presidents and managers need to know to move their companies forward. Topping the list was keynote speaker Steven S. Little, a sought after expert on the subject of long-term business growth, whose opening-day session drew a full house and the complete attention of the audience.
Experts from the 275 exhibiting companies shared their knowledge of products and field applications with attendees. This included 53 businesses that have not exhibited in METALCON before or are returning after a multi-year absence.
METALCON is produced by Newton, Mass.-based PSMJ Resources, Inc., a leading authority on the effective management of architecture, engineering and construction firms; and sponsored by the Metal Construction Association, an organization of manufacturers and suppliers headquartered in Chicago.
The 2015 METALCON will be held at the Tampa Convention Center, Tampa, Fla., October 14-16 and will celebrate the event’s 25th year of promoting and increasing the use of metal products, technologies and solutions in construction.