Some plastics machinery and material suppliers are habitual complainers about the plethora of plastics trade shows. But the success of NPE 1997, held June 16-20 in Chicago, provides proof that timing, location and marketing can produce an outstanding event.
The record attendance at NPE and the huge numbers of sales leads reported by exhibitors offer pretty solid testimony to the current strength of the economy here and abroad.
According to the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., the show's sponsor, the exposition drew a record 82,634 registered attendees. That included 10,881 international visitors and 25,708 booth personnel. Other NPE records set this year: 1,726 exhibitors, occupying just over 1 million square feet of space at the recently expanded McCormick Place complex.
More than two-thirds of the exhibitors reported in a pre-show survey that they expected to receive as many as 600 sales leads during the run of the event. SPI, which conducted the survey, said a significant number met
their leads quota on the show's first day.
An on-site survey of show attendees sponsored by DuPont Engineering Polymers reported that 57 percent of the 949 respondents found this year's NPE to be better than the one in 1994 in terms of overall interest and usefulness (see story, Page 8). About 42 percent rated it about the same and 1 percent termed it worse.
NPE clearly benefited from a lack of competition. The next-largest international plastics show this year probably will turn out to be Plast 97, held last month in Milan, Italy.
In North America (setting aside the surfeit of end-market-specific
shows), NPE this year competes primarily with PlastImagen '97, scheduled for Sept. 9-12 in Mexico City. Keep those facts in mind over the next few years, when a crush of large international fairs and smaller regional U.S. shows will tax the endurance of show-goers and exhibitors alike.
NPE's Chicago location is popular and centrally located, especially for the thriving plastics industry in the Midwest. McCormick Place has its faults, but the massive new South Hall added a bit of excitement to the 1997 show, even for longtime attendees.
Finally, a word about marketing. Plastics News and its monthly
competitors produced thousands of pages of news and information related to NPE — and also gave it hefty global exposure via various Internet sites. If anyone in the plastics industry was unaware of NPE this year, they simply were not paying attention.
While some in the industry complain, many attach a great deal of importance to NPE. They wait to announce major new products, business
deals and investments in conjunction with the show. Some spend a fortune
to bring in new equipment or exhibits designed to inform and entertain.
The result this year was a trade fair chock full of news and information.
The poll results are in — NPE 1997 set records both for attendance and excellence. If you weren't there, you missed something special.