Exhibitors and attendees shared some positive threads amidst the past year's economic woes in markets other than medical.
``The trend of cutting back, laying off [and] trimming hours has come to an end, and it looks like we will start rebuilding,'' said Dave Larson, vice president and chief operating officer of Mastercraft Cos. in Phoenix. ``The medical market has remained strong and even grown for us over the last 12 months to roughly 30-35 percent.''
The turndown in telecommunications and electronics work struck Mastercraft, a custom injection molder and mold maker, in mid-April.
``It was like a light switch that got turned off instantly,'' Larson said. Both the telecommunications and electronics segments ``are making subtle small improvements, [but it] may take between now and the end of the year to see that swing up with any significance.''
Todd Raines, regional sales manager for Wittmann Robots & Automation Inc. in Torrington, Conn., said show traffic improved significantly during last year.
``Our booth activity has tripled this week vs. last year at this time,'' he said, adding that last year's show was slow. ``No one was looking. This year, it has been nonstop. The West Coast is officially back in business.''
Things are looking up in the Midwest as well, said Peter Russell, vice president of sales and marketing for processor Imperial Custom Molding Inc., dba ICM Plastics, in Rogers, Minn.
``I think the economy has hit bottom, and I think it will start to come back [and] get better and better,'' said Russell.
``We have seen an uptrend in the industry over the last 45 days,'' said Stephen Petrakis, vice president of engineering and marketing for auxiliary equipment maker Sterling Inc. in Milwaukee. ``Our daily activity in orders is growing. We are not going crazy, but we're getting bigger [and] getting better.''
``I have noticed the quoting for tooling programs is starting to pick up,'' said Wes Thompson, engineering manager with the Costa Mesa, Calif., InteSys facility of Textron Inc.'s Advanced Solutions Group. ``I think medical as well as some telecommunications and also automotive is looking better that it has.''
``Things are picking up for us,'' said Harald Goeppert, West Coast manager in Tustin, Calif., for converting machinery maker Hudson-Sharp Machine Co.