DETROIT - After two competing mold-making shows were held in the Detroit area this spring with mixed results, some suppliers to the industry are calling for a single show to make better use of their marketing dollars. ``There needs to be a master plan because there's just too many shows,'' said F. Daniel Myers, district manager for LeBlond Makino Machine Tool Co.'s die/mold division in Plymouth, Mich.
Kona Corp. was an exhibitor at both Mold Expo U.S.A., which ran March 19-21 in Novi, Mich., and the Windsor Mould Show, held May 23-24 in Windsor, Ontario. It is ``questionable'' whether Kona would participate in two competing mold-making shows scheduled so close together in the same metropolitan area, said Andrea Viccaro, a promotions specialist for the Gloucester, Mass., supplier of mold components.
``If they could all get along and we could get one show, it would be a lot easier for us,'' she said.
Still, it seems unlikely that the organizers and sponsors of the Detroit and Windsor shows will ever team up for a single event.
Already, another Windsor mold-making show is in the works for 1998, said Debbie Dollar-Seldon, show manager for Reed Exhibition Cos.' Canadian Division. The trade show company, based in Scarborough, Ontario, said the Windsor Mould Show was a success.
Idice North America Inc. of Montreal, organizer of Mold Expo, is re-evaluating the future of mold-making expositions in Detroit in light of a poor turnout of mold makers at the show, President Georges Gignac said.
What began as a single show based in Windsor developed this year into competing events largely drawn along U.S. and Canadian lines.
In 1991, Gignac held Mold Expo in Windsor where he made use of several floors of an auditorium and space in an adjacent parking garage. In 1993, in search of a better facility, Mold Expo moved across the river to Detroit's Cobo Hall. But Canadians, miffed at losing the show, stayed away.
Gignac originally set the latest Mold Expo for September but schedule conflicts with other industry shows led him to push the show back to March. That put Mold Expo in virtual head-to-head competition with the Windsor Mould Show, sponsored by the Canadian Association of Mold Makers and the SPI Canada Mould Makers Division.
Mold Expo, according to Gignac, drew nearly 2,000 visitors during its three-day run. The Windsor Mould Show, according to Reed, attracted 1,750 attendees for its two-day run.
But even if there had been only one mold-making show in Detroit and Windsor this year, Gignac said it would not have made a difference in getting more mold makers to attend.
Not only did the Mold Expo fall short of its goal of 3,000 attendees but relatively few mold makers attended the event. Even though mold-making shows in North America and Europe have become supplier events, Gignac does not understand why mold makers seem so uninterested in attending.
``If there's going to be a future to the event, it has to change its nature,'' he said.
The scheduling of the Windsor show on a Thursday and Friday preceding the Memorial Day weekend in the United States did not do much to attract visitors from the Detroit side. A Saturday technical conference that followed the trade show in Windsor drew 68 attendees.
``I'm happy with the Mould Show but I was not overly excited about the turnout at the conference,'' said Louis Papp, a local development official who helped the Canadian mold makers promote the Windsor show.
One of the few mold makers to exhibit at the Windsor show was Cavalier Tool & Manufacturing Ltd. Ron Kellenberger, president of the Windsor-based company, said Cavalier had good traffic in its booth, especially on Thursday when most of the U.S. attendees visited the exhibition.
So the question remains: Will there be another occasion when two trade show promoters are fighting for the same mold-making crowd in the Detroit-Windsor area?
``I would hope not because I don't think it's to anybody's advantage,'' Gignac said.
Adds Papp: ``I'd like to see one show. It's silly not to do it that way.''
Reed plans to rotate its mold-making exhibition between Toronto and Windsor on alternate years. Reed did a mold-making ``showcase'' last year as part of the Canadian Manufacturing Week trade fair in Toronto and another is scheduled for 1997.
Reed has not set the dates for the 1998 Windsor show because it still is looking for a facility. This year's show held at the South Windsor Arena limited exhibitors' ability to show heavy metalworking machinery. Exhibitors also complained that the arena had only two pay phones.
Part of the problem in doing a show on the U.S.-Canadian border is that machinery distributors generally do not have territories that overlap international boundaries. Myers suggests that machinery manufacturers might contract for exhibit space, providing a place for distributors and customers to meet. Then location becomes less of an issue.
LeBlond Makino spent about $40,000 to exhibit at the Mold Expo, which Myers said had a ``very poor'' turnout. The firm did not exhibit at the Windsor show.
Show organizers should look at alternating the site for the mold exhibition between Detroit and Windsor, said John E. Shanahan, a LeBlond Makino die/mold product specialist who was a speaker at the Windsor conference.
``I think they could get a lot more cooperation from the OEMs if they did it that way,'' he said. ``And the show could grow.''
Whatever happens, mold makers need to understand the critical importance of promoting and marketing their industry, Wind-sor's Papp said. The industry increasingly faces competition from low-cost producers in Asia and other developing regions.
``We all should be working together as a team,'' Papp said. ``We need to show a united front or the [competitors] from overseas will wipe us off the map if we're not careful.''