(Nov. 8, 2004) — K 2004 turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
Organizers said the world's largest plastics show drew more visitors than expected. Many exhibitors were pleased about the quality of contacts. As usual, activity was especially brisk at the big injection press companies, where machines were sold as buyers talked deals and signed contracts.
Other types of equipment sold as well, even the million-dollar blown film lines that are such an awesome sight at Messe Dusseldorf every three years. Some of the deals happened pretty quickly. “So many deals, spontaneously sealed” is the poetic phrasing used by Ulrich ReifenhÃ¤user, chairman of the K 2004 exhibitor council and managing director of a family company that builds extruders and film-making equipment.
One disappointment, though, continues to be the relatively small number of attendees from the United States — even, ironically, as K has become more international. But more on that later.
Overall, about 230,000 trade visitors from more than 100 countries came to K 2004, although the official, audited number won't come out for a few weeks. About 228,000 visitors attended K 2001.
Attendance was “way above” pre-show expectations, said Werner Matthias Dornscheidt, president and chief executive officer of Messe Dusseldorf, the event's organizer.
Two factors cut into attendance. First, large German companies no longer send busloads of their shop-floor employees. Second, a hefty entrance fee dramatically reduced the number of gawkers who used to pile in simply to load up on the free plastic stuff. Dornscheidt said that improved the quality of visitors.
“It's not that people just flock to the show, but the decision-makers are here, who have the authority to make decisions on the spot,” Dornscheidt said. “A great many companies have been able to strike deals.”
More than half the attendees came from outside Germany; many of those came from outside Europe. The number of visitors from Asia jumped nearly 30 percent, to 23,000, and Taiwan alone boasted 118 exhibiting companies, nearly as many as the United States.
Which brings us to U.S. attendance. K organizers said the show drew about 6,900 visitors from North America — about the same number as K 2001. K defines North America as the United States and Canada, but not Mexico.
At K 2001, in the wake of Sept. 11, Americans understandably were few and far between. So why didn't their numbers grow this year? K show officials cited the weak U.S. economy, and the fact that some processors continue to restrict travel. Also, Plastics USA, held in Chicago just three weeks before K, offered a less-expensive option.
But U.S. attendance historically has been low at K shows, even in good times. For example, India sent some 7,300 visitors to K 2004 — more than from the United States and Canada combined.
Yes, it's expensive, but traveling to the big show in Germany remains an eye-opening experience, an unparalleled chance to see the latest technology and talk to top executives and leading experts from machinery, materials and mold-making companies around the world.
During a K show, the packed halls of Messe Dusseldorf come alive with excitement. Plastics is one of the most important, forward-facing industries in the world. That's why you should go to K 2007.