DETROIT - Trade show promoters are bringing competing mold-building exhibitions to the Motor City area next spring in a battle that has revived a nationalistic fervor on the Canadian side of the Detroit River. The first show announcement came from organizers of Mold Expo U.S.A., set for March 19-21 at the Novi Exposition Center in suburban Detroit. The show originally was scheduled for this past Sept. 26-28 but Mold Expo, citing conflicts with other industrial trade exhibitions, pushed the dates back to the spring.
Mold Expo said it has lined up about40 exhibitors, only two of which are Canadian.
Then, last month, the Canadian Division of Reed Exhibition Cos. announced it will hold its first Windsor Mould Show in Windsor, Ontario, on May 23-24. Reed, based in Scarborough, Ontario, held a space drawing for exhibitors Nov. 16 and said it has received commitments from 53 companies, mostly Canadian.
``The associations approached us,'' said Charlene Jennings, mold show manager for Reed. ``The big thing is that they want a Canadian show.''
The Windsor Mould Show is being held in cooperation with the Canadian Tooling Machining Association, the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. of Canada, and the Canadian Association of Mold Makers. The associations also are putting together a conference for the mold show.
Canadians are insisting on a Windsor show because the economics are better there than in Detroit, where a small tool show might not attract much attention, said Louis M. Papp, manager of business expansion for the Windsor-Essex County Development Commission and a director of the Canadian Association of Mold Makers.
Papp promised that U.S.-based firms will get ``equal billing with Canadian mold makers.'' ``We are running it for everybody,'' he said.
Then, he added: ``Why would [Canadians] exhibit in Detroit when everybody over there knows who they are already?''
According to lists supplied by show organizers, only two exhibitors so far are buying space at both trade shows: Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. of Bolton, Ontario, and Poco Graphite Inc. of Decatur, Texas.
However, one major U.S. firm is placing its bets on the Windsor show. D-M-E Co. of Madison Heights, Mich., the maker of mold bases and components that recently announced a deal to be purchased by Cincinnati Milacron Inc., was not happy with the results of the last two Mold Expos, said Bob Priebe, advertising manager.
``We couldn't afford to be at both and we thought that [Windsor] would be the most successful,'' he said.
The competition between the two shows is significant because the Detroit-Windsor area, with its concentration of automakers, parts suppliers and mold builders, is a major tooling center.Papp claims there are 175 mold shops, each with 15 or more employees, within a 100-mile radius of Windsor.
Mold Expo held its first show in Windsor in 1991 on several floors of an auditorium and used an adjacent parking garage for exhibit space. In 1993, the show moved across the river to Detroit's Cobo Hall in search of more space. But Canadians, miffed about losing the show, stayed away in droves. Of the 2,400 attendees at the 1993 Mold Expo that qualified as buyers, only 85 were Canadian.
``They did not accept that the 1993 move to Detroit was clearly and simply about space,'' said Georges Gignac, president of Idice North America Inc., the Montreal-based company that owns Mold Expo. ``Had they had a facility, we would have never left. Americans love going to downtown Windsor.''
The 1996 Windsor Mould Show planned by Reed is set for the South Windsor Arena. Show manager Jennings said the facility can handle heavy machinery exhibits.
The Mold Expo show usually alternates every year between a North American site and France. Next year, because the Detroit show was postponed for six months, Idice will hold two shows. One is scheduled for June 18-21 in Paris.
Reed also plans to alternate its mold show between Windsor and Toronto, where it produces a machine tool show and related exhibitions every two years under the Canadian Manufacturing Week banner.
In September, the manufacturing week shows drew 17,000 visitors, Reed said. Also in September, Reed produced its first Toronto Mould event as a showcase, or part of a larger machine tool show.
The 1996 Mold Expo in Novi is being promoted jointly with the Engineering Society of Detroit, a 100-year-old organization with about 8,000 members, many of them involved in the auto industry. The society will put together a conference for Mold Expo and promote two other shows running concurrently at the Novi site: the Contract Manufacturing Exposition and the North American Industrial Expo.
Engineering Society show manager Cecil Darnell said he has not had any exhibitors pull out for the Windsor show.
``I've not really had comments from exhibitors,'' he said.
Earlier this year, Idice North America and Reed Expositions discussed working together. Those talks fell through, and now there are two mold shows.
Jennings of Reed is confident that the Windsor show will be a success. She also is eager to draw more U.S. companies.
``We will definitely go after the market in the states,'' she said.
Gignac, while conceding that more of the mold builders are located on the Canadian side of the river, notes that the vast majority of tooling buyers work in Detroit. He, too, is confident of the success of Mold Expo.
``It's going to be intriguing,'' he said.