Expectations for this year's Federation of Societies for Coatings Technology's (FSCT) ICE Show had been much lower because of the ailing economy and the tragic events of Sept. 11. However, despite lighter attendance at this year's ICE, many show participants said they were pleasantly surprised by the turnout.
"I'm very pleased with how everything is going," commented Dick Mullen, FSCT president and vice president of marketing at Rampart Coatings, during the show. "I heard about other conventions, which are down 40-50%, and we're not down that far. It seems that the people here are the attendees the exhibitors want to see."
"We weren't quite sure what was going to happen with the attendance, while advance registration was low, the on-site registration probably equals what we normally get," said Robert Ziegler, FSCT executive vice president, during the exposition.
According to FSCT, total registration at ICE 2001 was 5,544. Attendance, excluding exhibitor registration, was down 13% from 1999 in Dallas and 30% from record-breaking results tallied at ICE 2000 in Chicago (a city that traditionally attracts a larger number of attendees).
The biggest difference was international attendance, which was down substantially from Chicago and Dallas. This decline was most likely a result of terrorism threats stemming from Sept. 11 events and anthrax scares, as well as a U.S. Justice Department warning issued the week before the start of the show, according to FSCT
FSCT received regrets from many international coatings organizations that have traditionally sent representatives to ICE every year, including The Japan Society of Colour Materials, Skandinaviska Lackeknikers Forbund, Surface Coatings Australia and Surface Coatings Association New Zealand. All cited the recent tragic events and concerns about security.
FSCT contends if "normal international attendance" was included in the 2001 industry attendee totals, results would show only a 10% decline from Chicago, but a 12% increase from the Dallas event held in 1999.
Considering the concerns over attendance, many of the 277 exhibitors were mostly upbeat about the responses they received, and noted that even in some cases, they were better than anticipated.
"We've actually had an excellent show," said Bob Burke, marketing and communications manager at King Industries. "We track our numbers on an hourly basis on a number of criteria, and at the halfway point we exceeded the numbers we had in Chicago. We're somewhat surprised because everybody realized that attendance is down. We had set lower goals than last year, and to exceed these goals, we're very happy."
"The show is well-attended considering the events of Sept. 11, and we're receiving quality, focused inquiries from the attendees," said George Leotsakos, technical manager, coatings at Shamrock Technologies. "People are coming in with focused inquiries."
"I think people who are here are serious about looking for new opportunities," said Paul Elias, business director for Sartomer. "When times are bad, people come here because they have a need. You don't have many tire-kickers."
Perhaps it was a case of lowered expectations, but companies are reported at the show that they gathered more leads than first thought.
"Our traffic has been good," said Paul Newman, business manager, coatings raw materials, for BASF Corporation. "We're pleased with the results at the show, although the total scope of attendance is down."
"My overall opinion is that we have a lot of quality leads," added Steve Speer, Corob's president. "Obviously the volume of attendees is down, but the quality of the leads has been very good."
Equipment supplier Draiswerke Inc. also reported positive results. "Attendance is disappointing, but we did get more leads than we anticipated," said Jeffrey Pawar, sales engineer.
Rick Thomas, president of Eckart Aluminum L.P., described the overall activity at ICE 2001 as disappointing. However, he echoed similar sentiments about the quality of people who did come to the exposition. "While the traffic was lighter, at least in our case, the quality and level of specific interest of the visitors was higher and more focused," he said.
A Sign of the Times?
While companies did report positive feedback in Atlanta, in some respects, ICE 2001 reflected the soft economy and the high costs associated with participation in trade shows in this industry, and in general.
Several prominent companies were not present on the show floor at ICE 2001, and other companies that traditionally had a large presence, reduced the size of their booths.
Of course, many of those companies not exhibiting did participate in ICE in some fashion, sending representatives to canvass the show floor and attend educational seminars, conduct business meetings or host hospitality events in Atlanta. One could argue that this, along with the positive interaction reported by a number of exhibitors, gives some indication that there remains a need in the U.S. coatings industry for an annual event of some kind.
FSCT officials agree. "The interaction this year among the attendees was especially strong and points out that there is a need for an annual coatings event which the Federation completely endorses," Mr. Ziegler said during this year's show.
Along those lines, on Nov. 4, FSCT's board of directors approved a resolution to continue having an annual coatings event in the U.S. The board will examine and perhaps revise the present format in order to meet the needs of the industry. The resolution stated: "The FSCT, due to the needs of the organization, its members and its industry supporters, is committed to an annual coatings event. Being sensitive to the changes in the industry, however, FSCT is conducting an investigation toward developing significant, innovative revisions to the format of future events that will offer value to all participants and be especially cost beneficial for the supplier segment of the coatings industry."
Making the venue a value to all participants and a worthy investment for exhibitors is the main issue FSCT must contend with in the coming years. Each supplier that has participated in ICE in recent years has its own ideas and opinions on this matter.
"The question of what the future might hold for ICE was universal with all of the exhibitors and of course, there were many different views ranging from the venue to the frequency of the show," said Mr. Thomas. "From this exhibitor's perspective, it is clear that the next few years will be critical for ICE to remain the major event for the paint and coatings industry. The organizers are faced with the challenge of repositioning the show to generate a bigger draw, increase the value to their exhibitors and insure that it is a 'must attend event' for the industry."
Due to the fast-paced, increasingly competitive nature of the coatings business, most companies don't wait for ICE to launch new products. However, many use the event to showcase new products and services that have been developed throughout the year to a wider audience. Here is a look at some of the new products and the news our staff uncovered at ICE 2001 in Atlanta.
3M Specialty Materials introduced Fluorad Fluorosurfactants FC-4430 and FC-4432 long-term replacements for Fluorad FC-430 in the paint and coatings industry. FC-4430 and FC-4432 are nonionic polymeric fluorochemical surfactant coating additives that provide low surface tension levels in both waterborne and solvent-borne systems.
Clariant unveiled new pigment technologies at this year's show, including Hansa Brilliant Yellow 2GX 70-S, Hostaperm Blue R5R and Novoperm THI Red 4G 70. The roster of new Clariant products being touted at ICE 2001 was not relegated to pigments. Also among the new products being featured by the company were Highlink DM, an agent to produce formaldehyde-free crosslinkers for coatings and Highlink OG Silica Organosols which are stable liquid suspensions of colloidal silica particles in an organic medium.
Acima, a global formulator of preservatives, fungicides and algaecides systems for paint and coatings, introduced products to North America at ICE. Among the Acima products on display were the Rocima line of biocides which include an in-can preservation system, its biocides for dry film protection and biocides for wood. The company's debut at ICE did not go unnoticed. The recently acquired company is part of Rohm and Haas' consumer and industrial specialties group booth, which won a C. Homer Flynn best booth award.
Eckart used ICE 2001 to spread the word that the company is putting additional emphasis on meeting the needs of the industries that it serves. These efforts include increasing its focus on providing a full range of products and services. "Our strength is metallic effects, and we're the only company that can provide a portfolio ranging from aluminum to bronze to special effects products," said Frank Jischke, director of sales and marketing for Eckart America L.P.
Eckart recently launched its Metalure Hydro waterborne coating system, a passivated vacuum metallized pigment dispersion. To meet the needs for increased service, Eckart's Louisville, KY technical center is staffed with specialists from all walks of the industries that the company serves. "We have staffed our technical center with specialists in powder coatings, automotive paints and industrial paints," said Mr. Thomas.
Chemidex, a coatings formulation information exchange web site, has been exhibiting at ICE for five years-a long time for an Internet venture. Bruce Ianni, founder, has provided thousands of coatings chemists from around the world a free online resource that offers access to MSDSs, product performance profiles and other information. Additionally, users can order samples and make technical inquiries to suppliers who are the site's paying customers. After five years of marketing, much of it through word-of-mouth, the company seems to be on firm ground, he noted.
At past ICE shows, many attendees who stopped at the company's booth were only curious about Chemidex. At this year's event, Mr. Ianni said those stopping by were customers.
Acronal Optive 110, an all acrylic resin for semi-gloss paints with enhanced block resistance at 150 g/l VOC.
Acronal Optive 230, a high solids all acrylic resin for low VOC interior/exterior flat paints.
Acronal Optive 310, a new acrylic latex polymer for high gloss wall and trim paint.
Aspen Buy, e-procurement solution that includes vendor managed inventory (VMI).
SMA 1000mA, a new resin that enables manufacturers to efficiently disperse metallic pigments in a pH neutral system.
Maxemul 6106 and 6112 non-migratory surfactants for waterborne polymer dispersions.
Solsperse 35100, a 100% active dispersant designed for TiO2 and recommended for radiation and cationic cured applications.
Now includes silicone-based resins and additives from Dow Corning.
Purchase and delivery has been extended to Latin America, Central Europe, Middle East, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and southeast Asia.
Gemini surfactant technology, including EnviroGEM AE surfactants and EnviroGem AD01 low foam wetting agent.
Thixatrol VF-30 and VF-40 rheological additives for efficient thixotropic viscosity and thermal sag control.
Rheolate 450 balanced rheological thickener for waterborne architectural coatings, adhesives, sealants and inks.
The Dow Chemical Company:
D.E.R. 6615 solid epoxy resin for low temperature cure (powder coatings)
D.E.R. 6225 solid epoxy resin for improved flow powder coatings
D.E.R. 6508 solid epoxy resin for high-temperature resistant applications.
EasyMatch Coatings color formulation software now provides shot data for dispensing systems.
Highlink OG Silica organosols.
TP Ceridust 5091, micronized ester wax.
Emulsegen V 5127, anionic reactive surfactant.
Rocima line of biocides including:
In-can preservation systems.
Dry film protection systems.
Biocides for wood.
Foamex 8050, 808 and 822, defoamers.
Airex 902W, deaerators.
Silikophen 880 mma, Silikoftal ED and non-stick 60, new compliance resins.
Tego Wet 500, 505 and 510, silicone-free wetting agents.
Airex 920 deaerator and Tego Glide 432 surface control additives, UV additives.
Dispers 650 new product line, alkyl-phenol ethoxylate-free wetting and dispersing additives for universal colorant systems.
Acryflow P120, a zero-VOC, liquid acrylic polyol.
Two additional Acryflow resins are expected to be available early in 2002.