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The planet’s largest plastics trade show gives U.S. companies the opportunity to hang their shingle out to the world and display their wares to 230,000-plus trade visitors from more than 100 countries.

Matt Defosse

April 9, 2010

3 Min Read
Big show a proven springboard to international sales

The planet’s largest plastics trade show gives U.S. companies the opportunity to hang their shingle out to the world and display their wares to 230,000-plus trade visitors from more than 100 countries.

No one appreciates the tremendous potential exposure of the weeklong event more than the U.S. Commercial Service, which, in conjunction with the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI; Washington, DC), will once again support two U.S. Pavilions at the K, with one in the raw materials hall (No. 5) and one in the machinery hall (No. 13), according to Kirsten Hentschel, commercial specialist plastics and American consulate general for the Foreign Commercial Service in Düsseldorf. Part of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, the U.S. Commercial Service’s raison d’etre is to boost the export of U.S. goods and service.


William R. Timken Jr. (first row, fifth from left), former U.S. Ambassador to Germany, and George Ruffner, Minister-Counselor for Commercial Affairs (first row, fourth from left), are surrounded by U.S. Commercial Service staff from Germany and around the world who supported U.S. exhibitors during K 2007.

Plastics diplomacy
At K 2007, the triennial show garnered its first visit from a sitting U.S. ambassador when William Timken Jr., U.S. ambassador to Germany from 2005-2009, came to the Düsseldorf fairgrounds, meeting with U.S. exhibitors, holding a press conference, and participating in a roundtable discussion with U.S. industry representatives.

While the U.S. Commercial Service doesn’t believe diplomatic representation will once again be present at the show, the agency has selected K 2010 for special support under its Showcase Global Program, which includes Showtime counseling, an industry-focused promotion (IFP), and international promotional support by overseas Commercial Service posts. The service will also provide what it calls the Corporate Executive Office (CEO) program, which provides companies an assisted visit to the show vs. a full-fledged booth. CEO participants have a shared booth space that serves as a base of operations and are provided an individual assistant to handle onsite scheduling, briefings, and advice on which companies to visit at the fair.

Prior to K 2007, numerous U.S. Commercial Service plastics specialists in American consulates and embassies informed local buyers about the U.S. exhibitors and the products they’d bring to the show. They then paired up those buyers and distributors with the appropriate U.S. exhibitors in advance of the event, arranging meetings and offering the U.S. companies insights into the markets represented by the buyers. Prior to K 2007, 50 specialists promoted the U.S. group in more than 50 countries from Algeria to Venezuela.

In addition, 14 Commercial Service plastics specialists were available on the show floor during K 2007, hailing from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Chile, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Morocco, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, and Turkey. Information on the U.S. exhibitors was also published on local Commercial Service websites in Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Italy, Romania, and Spain.
See the concierge
In addition to their work with the Commercial Service, SPI recently announced the creation of its Concierge service for trade show exhibitors, offerings logistics assistance to prospective participants at this year’s Plastimagen, Chinaplas, and K shows. Gene Sanders, SPI’s senior VP of trade shows, told MPW the service allows firms headed to Germany to direct their efforts where they are needed.

“We are able to lend expertise and bandwidth,” Sanders said, “allowing companies to focus on customer meetings, and not trade show logistics.” SPI has two dedicated trade show professionals with more than 40 years of international trade show experience between them, according to Sanders, with Andrew Janosko, director of trade show operations, as the main contact.

At this point, Sanders says SPI already has companies signed up, with “many more” reviewing its services, which include budget preparation, service order administration, floor layout, hotel accommodation assistance, and more. SPI will also ensure that a concierge customer’s equipment, display, and sales materials safely arrive in time at the proper event. At K 2010, SPI will once again host a press conference and exhibitor reception. —Matt Defosse

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