Facing competition from Europe, US composites groups partner on 2014 trade show

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LONG BEACH, CALIF. -- A partnership between two U.S.-based polymer-matrix-composite groups will sponsor a 2014 Orlando trade show seeking to neutralize inroads of competitor JEC Americas.

The Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering and the American Composites Manufacturers Association jointly retained the Washington-based CSG marketing service in March for the project of naming, branding and structuring the new event Oct. 14-16, 2014.

During 2012, the European show of the JEC SAS group in Paris occupied 463,000 square feet vs. the primary SAMPE show in Baltimore, Md., with 115,000 Square feet.

"Will JEC Americas become as large as JEC Paris?" Anthony Vizzini asked rhetorically during a May 6 SAMPE International board meeting in Long Beach. Vizzini is SAMPE's immediate past president.

SAMPE President Katie Thorp acknowledged "the threat of JEC coming to North American shores" and JEC Americas' potential to "erode how SAMPE makes money."

She said the partnership with ACMA aims "to counter the threat and expand [SAMPE] into new markets."

In fact, Frederique Mutel, JEC president and CEO, has expanded the footprint of the JEC brand in North America and Asia and has booth space at SAMPE 2013. The 2013 JEC Americas show Oct. 2-4 in Boston does not rival the size of SAMPE's 2013 Long Beach exhibition.

Covina, Calif.-based SAMPE has individuals as members and focuses on high-value low-volume advanced materials and composites, historically with an aerospace orientation.

Arlington, Va.-based ACMA has companies as members and focuses on a wide range of commercial applications for high-volume use of composites.

Holding the joint SAMPE-ACMA show in the fall represents a flip of the traditional spring scheduling for each group's major event. ACMA's Composites 2013 show tool place Jan. 29-31 in Orlando.

Usually, SAMPE holds a smaller technical conference in the fall--for 2013 in Wichita, Kan., Oct. 21-24. SAMPE is advancing its 2014 technical conference to the spring--for 2014 in Seattle June 2-5.

"By restructuring events, we are meeting the competition head on," Vizzini said.

Leaders of SAMPE and ACMA considered multiple scenarios for collaborating and took time to build trust between staff members and volunteers for each group. The effort in the past year addressed issues that emerged when SAMPE joined with ACMA predecessor Composites Fabricators Association for Composites 2000 in Las Vegas. Neither group was satisfied with the results, and planning the 2014 event starts with a clean slate, said Greg Balko, SAMPE executive director.

In another activity, SAMPE is "riding on the coattails of ACMA" for events May 22 in Arlington, Va., and May 23 in Washington, said Ted Lynch, SAMPE vice president. The goal is to educate members of Congress and their staffs about the role of composites in America.

On a separate matter, the SAMPE International board approved a geographic restructuring.

In 2014, SAMPE will mark its 70th year of operating under the same structure while expanding internationally, Thorp said. Clarification was needed.

The new structure adopts SAMPE Global as the parent identity for newly designated North American, European and Japanese regions, effective July 1.

A group of 17 international members toiled for about four years to pin down how to change bylaws and practices for the global and regional organizations.

At the May 6 meeting, global board members approved bylaw changes with 70 in favor, three opposed and one abstention and the practices changes 71-4-1.

A separate meeting of the North American board members adopted bylaws and practices applicable to their region. One change will reduce the general board for North America to 28 members from about 50 currently and make other reductions in the size of the cabinet and the board representation for past presidents.

SAMPE North America approved new student chapters at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, the University of Montana in Missoula and the University of Central Florida in Orlando. SAMPE agreed to recognize the application for a student chapter at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, pending receipt of paperwork and membership verification.