Trade shows such as NPE2015 are not just spectacular events, like an eclipse or comet, that show up for a brief moment and then disappear. On the contrary, they have echoes. Exhibitors prepare for them, printing brochures and priming their sales force, so that even after the last machine is re-crated and sent off to its new owner, and the last box of giveaways is packed (or recycled), the echoes remain. Here is some advice on how to hear those echoes and make the most of them.
1. Get the show directory from SPI. See the SPI website, or call the association at 202/974-5200. The directory is organized by product or process, so you can find the names of exhibitors that interest you. Then, go to the alphabetical section in the back to get their contact information. It may take time to follow up your interests this way, but a lot less time than it would have taken to go to the show.
2. Get the ANTEC papers from SPE. Given the size of the event, it’s easy to forget that there was a major technical conference going on at the same time, with 100 sessions over three days, plus 75 student and professional posters. The technical program is available to everyone online.
The papers are organized by section, so extrusion, injection molding and so forth are grouped together. However, this can be deceptive, and a good searcher may have to review other sections to find, for example, a paper on how to extrude a new material. Such search work is tedious but, like using the directory, it takes much less time than actually attending the talks.
The full papers are “published” online (for the link, call SPE at 203/775-0471). Better yet, call the authors to ask them for the latest word. This may be even better than reading the papers, as the published versions were submitted many months ago.
3. Get an attendee list. If your company was an exhibitor, you can buy lists from Experient in Frederick, MD; 301/662-9401. You may have to go through your sales department, or whoever managed the exhibit, but if you want the leads, they are available. Experient will sell the entire list, or slices of it based on process, product, geography and so forth. For example, you can get the names of everyone from Mexico who registered interest in blowmolding. The more the list is sliced, the more each name will cost, but since there were more than 75,000 visitors, some serious slicing may be necessary.
4. Press releases and marketing material. This is connected to the first item related to the show directory: When you see an exhibitor you are interested in, request their press announcements, which they may not mind sending to potential customers. Many are printed, but many are also on flash drives, easily mailed or even cloud-mailed. They may even be published on the company’s website.
5. SPI and related organizational exhibitors. SPI had many public sessions and displays: For example, one morning was devoted to a discussion of California Proposition 65, which requires labeling of products with certain ingredients such as some plasticizers. BPA is on the list, but it’s not an ingredient like a plasticizer . . . and that’s another story! The directory lists these sessions with the names and affiliations of presenters who can be contacted, as well as a list of organizational or theme exhibitors, such as the Vinyl Institute (the Vinyl Saves Lives installation).
6. The SPE Chain. This is a relatively new feature from SPE, where you can post questions on most anything related to plastics. Since some of us who read these posts were at the show, you may get the benefit of attendance this way.
Allan Griff is a consulting engineer (with an emphasis on extrusion and packaging), veteran trade show reporter and environmental truth-seeker.