MEXICO CITY — If the jammed walkways and positive reports from sales managers are any indication, PlastImagen '97 saw a return in force of something that many said was missing from recent Mexican shows: buyers.
``I think it met expectations,'' said Rodolfo J. Selem, director general of Latin American service and sales for Husky Injection Molding Systems Mexico SA de CV. ``We did not expect too much. It was better than last year.''
Exhibitors' expectations were low because the event was held so soon after June's NPE in Chicago, plus the Mexican economy is just starting to recover from the peso devaluation and economic crisis that began in 1994, he said.
Arndt Pechthold, director of plastics and packaging for Ferrostaal Mexico SA de CV, part of machinery maker Battenfeld, characterized it as ``an OK show. Not good. Not bad. The questions are getting more specific — there are more direct demands and requirements.''
He said late Sept. 11 that the company had sold four machines at the event. The show ended Sept. 12.
Unofficially, attendance at the show topped 15,000, a significant jump from the slightly more than 12,000 who attended last year.
Some equipment sellers said it was the best show they had seen in Mexico in many years. Exhibits were heavy on primary and auxiliary equipment.
One of Mexico's few remaining home-grown machinery makers, Beutelspacher SA de CV, reported that it was the best show in 10 years for the company, which targets its cheaper and slower machines at the Central and South American market.
Sergio Beutelspacher, who owns the company, said the firm sold five machines at the show. He had expected to sell only one or two.
An official with Grupo Ekonorm, a Mexican representative of machinery makers and molders such as Kallfrass and Bredlow GmbH, said she did not expect to sell any machines, considering slow shows from 1994 to 1996. But used molds have been moving briskly, she said.
Norma Acevedo, general administrator of the Mexico City-based company, said the firm has been selling molds since the first day of the show.
For Engel Machinery Inc., the lagging economy and lack of sales at past shows were a concern, but PlastImagen turned out to be a good show that generated lots of leads, according to Kurt H. Fenske, vice president of sales and marketing.
Fenske said the quality of the ``makeshift facilities'' at the show needs to be improved — for example, some exhibitors were relegated to tent space.
But other exhibitors said the facilities were good, and that a Mexican show should not be compared with events held in Europe or elsewhere in North America.
Frago Corporativo SA de CV, which represents 14 machine makers in Mexico, including Foremost Machinery Builders and Axisplast Corp., sold 16 auxiliary machines.
``It's less than what we expected,'' said General Director German Orrego Gomez.
Aoki American General Director Kaoru Yoshimatsu said sales ``were too good'' but declined to give specifics.
And a representative of Fin-Kon Polybag in Mississauga, Ontario, said he was ``pleasantly surprised'' at the attendance and interest.
John Wagner, regional sales manager with Baltimore-based auxiliary equipment maker Novatec Inc., said he was ``very pleased with sales at the show. From the type of inquiries I had before the show, I didn't expect to do business.
``It's not been the students walking by picking up trinkets,'' Wagner said. ``It's been users — people buying equipment.''
Plastics News' Mexico City-based correspondent Joann McKinlay contributed to this story.