An Upbeat Graph Expo
CHICAGO—The feeling inside McCormick Place was one of optimism as the 2002 Graph Expo and Converting Expo exhibition featured crowded aisles, nearly 38,000 attendees, full seminar rooms, well-attended product demonstrations, 570 exhibitors and buyers from more than 9,600 companies.
"Solid attendance, strong sales performance, full seminar sessions and abundant networking opportunities all characterized the annual event, creating the success for the industry that was sorely needed," reports Regis J. Delmontagne, Graphic Arts Show Co. (GASC) president.
And, after last year's big-ticket event, PRINT 01, was brought to a halt by the September 11 terrorist attacks, it was reassuring to see crowded exhibit areas and overflowing equipment demos this year.
David Poulos, GASC director of communications, feels there was a lot to be thankful for in 2002.
"We were on a par with 2000," he says, explaining that the success of the show was due to more than just solid attendance. Poulos claims that, according to vendors, the quality of new sales leads was also much higher than expected.
One exhibitor claimed that his company sold everything it brought within an hour of the opening bell. While another exhibitor revealed it had to call the office and arrange to fly in some additional sales help to handle the demand.
Doris Brown, vice president of marketing for Pantone, says that she was quite pleased with the show. "The quality of the attendance was very strong. We saw a tremendous volume of people, and the attitude of the people coming in was very positive and optimistic. We exceeded our sales goals in the first day and a half."
Heidelberg executives also noted a change in market conditions. "Over the first two days of the show, we accumulated an average of 500 qualified sales leads, which to me means that people are more confident going forward," states Niels Winther, president and CEO of Heidelberg. "This show exceeded our expectations. We are very encouraged and see only positive signs for an improvement in the industry's outlook." After three days, Heidelberg reportedly announced orders of about $115 million on the show floor, $25 million more that it had expected.
Overall, exhibitors say that the renewed interest shown at this year's show may signal that the industry is finally headed toward the much needed and talked about economic upswing.
"We saw a lot more checkbooks than tire gauges," quips Marc Johnson, marketing manager for off-press products at Presstek.