As the paint and coatings industry convened in New Orleans for International Coatings Expo (ICE) 2006, it did so in a time of major change within the industry as well as the Federation of Societies for Coatings Technology (FSCT).
To meet the challenges of the future, the FSCT has implemented a new organizational structure, in which members directly elect FSCT board members. In addition, the FSCT developed FutureCoat!, a comprehensive annual technical conference that focused on the innovative methodologies and applications shaping the future of the coatings industry.
"We've changed as an organization, as an industry and as a global community," said Dr. Rose Ryntz, FSCT president and executive director for materials engineering and processing at Collins & Aikman.
When the FSCT decided that it would continue to hold its International Coatings Expo (ICE) 2006 in New Orleans in spite of the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina, there was some legitimate concern that the program would suffer.
Attendees check out Clariant's booth.
Mr. Ziegler said that the Federation decided to continue with New Orleans after thoroughly checking the city.
"After examining the status of the city, it was apparent the city could hold our convention, and we wanted to show our commitment to help," Mr. Ziegler said.
While there has been some appreciable declines in participation, FSCT officials said that ICE 2006 has done better than expected, with approximately 300 exhibitors using 51,000 square feet of space.
"It's not as well attended as previous shows, but I believe ICE 2006 did very well overall," Dr. Ryntz said.
"In some quarters of the industry, they said ICE couldn't be done in New Orleans, and I'm very proud to say that we proved that we could run a successful show here," added Mr. Ziegler. "We're very happy to be in New Orleans to show the support of the coatings industry to rebuilding this great American city."
For the most part, exhibitors agreed with the assessment that attendance was down.
BASF's booth drew much attention at ICE.
"We didn't set our expectations quite as high as a typical ICE show, but it was fairly busy, building up later in the day," said James Zawicki, manager, marketing communications for Sartomer.
"It's worked out pretty well for us," said Chatru Wadhwani of Jyoti Ceramic Inds. Pvt. Ltd. India. "This show has been a little slow, but we are seeing quality people who are very good potential customers."
"We're disappointed by the total attendance, but we are very happy with the amount of quality leads we've had," said Jack Gallagher, vice president of sales for Shamrock Technologies.
For any industry, keeping an eye on what the future potentially holds is a key to growth and success. This holds true for the paint and coatings industries. FutureCoat! is key to the FSCT's efforts.
FutureCoat is a major technical event, related to our AC Series," said Dr. Ryntz. "This year, we are focusing on green chemistry, and this looks like a really good program."
"Surveys pointed to a real need for focused programming," said Mr. Ziegler.
FutureCoat! featured highly focused tracks, ranging from green chemistry, formulating, pigments/additives, and manufacturing, to instrumentation and analysis. General interest sessions will examine such topics as corrosion, nanotechnology, weathering/ durability and high throughput.
FutureCoat! was a highlight, according to its chair, Latoska Price of Akzo Nobel Coatings. "With FutureCoat!, we're looking at global changes in the economy and how it affects coatings, such as green chemistries and renewable resources," Ms. Price said. "There is excellent turnout for these courses. With the tracks we developed, we seem to have tapped into the technical interests of our audience."
In particular, the Pigments/ Additives courses drew more than 80 registrants, while the Green Chemistries talks featured standing-room-only attendance and Nanotechnology also drew full audiences.