According to FSCT, ICE 2004 was a success, signaling what it called "the renewed strength of an industry rising to meet continuing economic and regulatory challenges."
All told, FSCT reported that there were, 6596 registrants-the highest number in the past three years. Visitors came from 54 countries, while the show itself featured 326 suppliers in more than 67,000 net square feet of exhibit space. Prior to the opening of ICE, 470 participants attended the International Coatings Technology Conference, organized by the FSCT Professional Development Committee.
As can be expected, reaction among exhibitors to the 2004 event was mixed. Some said ICE was a success, while there were also those who were not as pleased-especially regarding whether or not ICE 2004 met the expectations they had coming into the show.
In some cases, companies had very high hopes based on ICE's return to its strongest venue coupled with the fact this was the last time ICE would be an annual event.
For the most part, however, there was generally a good feeling about the show, although some people anticipated more visitors.
Halox had not exhibited in three years, and sales manager Michael O'Brien said it was a great opportunity to showcase its new products.
"ICE has been fantastic," Mr. O'Brien said at the show. "It was good to be back again. We've seen customers from the East Coast, West Coast, Canada and Latin America. It's been so busy that there were times that we could have used eight of our people in our booth."
"Our substantive traffic was heavier than we expected," said Sue Jaszkowski, global communications manager for Johnson Polymer. "We noticed there were several customers in from Chicago and Wisconsin, as well as attendees from Latin America and China. There were times we had more attendees in our booth than we had technical people to speak with them."
Other people felt the show's attendance was not as high as they had hoped, although they noted that there seemed to be plenty of attendees from local companies.
"The show has been better than in recent years, although the traffic has been lighter than we expected," said Mike Tancini, director of sales, North America pigment color solutions for Datacolor.
"The people we have seen here are all quality, although there's not as many people as I would have expected," said Warren Pushaw, president of Micro Powders. "We have seen a lot of chemists, particularly from the Chicago area."
"I think the FSCT did a marvelous job with the set up here," said Dan Kile, vice president, polymers for CCP. "Traffic has been pretty good, although I am a little surprised there weren't more people and exhibitors, but we've seen a lot of customers that had a lot of interest. I've seen quite a few formulators from a 100-mile radius."
"It was off to a little bit of a slow start, but traffic built through the day," said Bob Burk, marketing manager for King Industries, while on the show floor in Chicago.
Ultimately, however, it is the reaction of end users that will judge a show. Generally speaking, paint and coatings manufacturers Coatings World spoke with felt the show met their needs.
"It was a good show," said Jim Smith, director of technology for RPM Wood Finishes Group. "I was looking for certain things here, and the people who are here in the booths know what they are talking about."
Dennis Adams, production and purchasing manager for Cloverdale Paints, was also happy with the exhibition. "I'm impressed with ICE," he said. "There's a lot of new things out there, and the show was easier to access and had an open layout."
|Marcie and FSCT president-elect Fritz Walker, FSCT president Rick and Claudia Hille, FSCT secretary-treasurer Rose Ryntz and FSCT executive vice president Bob Ziegler cut the ribbon, signaling the opening of ICE 2004.|
For Dave Carberry, director of purchasing for DAP, Inc., ICE afforded him time to talk with suppliers about key issues. "I use ICE to get around to suppliers, pick up brochures, learn about new products and talk to people about supply issues, pricing and supply interruptions which are rampant in the industry."
Elwin Doorenbos, a chemist working on heavy-duty protective coatings research and development at Diamond Vogel Paints, came to ICE for its focus on raw materials. "The exhibitors that had coatings and resin technology were good. Overall it was okay," he said.
Adams believes that the decision to move ICE to every other year was the right one. "I think it should be every other year. That way, it's current, you can see everybody and it's not repetitious," he said.
Gerald Amaito, vice president, international ICI Paint, international export and licensing," said ICE always meets his expectations. "Chicago is a great venue. They key organizations are all represented here. It's a great opportunity," he said.
Still, not every chemist was impressed. "Based on past shows, this show looks a little small," said DaChon Adair, a senior chemist, solvent-based high performance, Rust-Oleum Corp.
|Ray Dickie (left) receives the Heckel Award from Colin Penny at the opening of the Annual Meeting Program.|
Signs of the Times?
The level of interest in purchasing new equipment is usually a good indication of the overall health of the coatings industry. Among equipment suppliers at ICE, opinions were also mixed. Still, renewed interest is keeping some suppliers cautiously optimistic about 2005.
"Making a decision to buy equipment is not easy," said John Bojko, service development manager, Rexson Systems. "But, customers have to invest to survive. While they're not looking to buy at the show, they are looking to buy in the near future," he said.
"There's been reasonable interest, with more activity early in the day," Dave Peterson of Eiger said during the second day of ICE. "It gave us an opportunity to revisit with existing customers as well as make contact with new potential customers."
"From the last show we've seen a little more enthusiasm, but there are not as many people," said Robert Banks of Schold Machine.
That sentiment was echoed by Kerstin Grosse of Buhler. "We have had a few good leads in the right direction, but overall business is a little slow," she said during ICE
Some equipment exhibitors reported good traffic and quality leads.
"It's been a great show, probably the best show since it was last in Chicago," said Stewart Rissley of Premier Mill. "Just yesterday we had more leads than the entire show prior."
Herman Hockmeyer of Hockmeyer added, "We are very happy with the leads."
Still, for some ICE 2004 was more about networking, not sales. "It's been fantastic to maintain relationships," said Christ Zoga of Netzsch, "but I don't see people looking for new technologies."
|Silberline Manufacturing was honored for its 50 years of participation at ICE with a special award from FSCT.|
Many companies use ICE to not only connect with potential customers, but develop into established relationships with key accounts. Exhibitors contend this face-to-face networking allows them to get more in tune with customers' needs.
"This show allows us to network and gives us a chance to follow up on project work with our customers," said Scott Borst, business team leader, building and coatings at Wacker Silicones. According to Borst, ICE gives customers a chance to meet with more than the sales rep or technical manager who call on them, but others in the company.
Some exhibitors use ICE to showcase the complete offerings that can be found within its organization. The silicones and polymers units of Wacker were exhibiting together and a similar theme was at Degussa, which combined its many units under the "Smart Formulating" umbrella.
David Grafflin, business team lead, advanced materials at Wacker Silicones, said the benefit of ICE isn't just the opportunity to showcase what's new�as no supplier would unveil a new "new" product at ICE without showing it to their "A" customer first. ICE, he said, offers customer a chance to talk more about solutions or products they have discussed in the past. "They may have not been interested in it a year ago, but they are now," Grafflin said.
Companies were showcasing their newer technologies and promoting their new capabilities, such as Clariant, which was touting its new DPP pigment production, which came onstream just weeks before ICE. (You can read more about the products being promoted at ICE in the online version of this story at www.coatingsworld.com.)
As exhibitors run through leads and attendees head back to their labs, the industry will fully assess how successful ICE 2004 was over the coming months.
One exhibitor summed it up best: "Obviously it's not like the old days, but it's better than previous years," said Hal Good of HunterLab.
-David Savastano, Kerry Pianoforte and Christine Canning Esposito contributed to this article.
|King Industries' Beach Boy-inspired booth won Best 6-9 booths - raw materials.||Elementis Specialties' Relaxation Center offered complimentary massages to attendees.||Activity at Clariant.|
|Degussa's booth.||Doing double duty, Pat "PJ" Abbott, a NASCAR/Indy driver and Johnson Polymer sales rep was on the show floor with his race car.||Wacker's booth at ICE|
|Beach Boys cover band Still Surfin' performed at ICE's block party.||