Anaheim, Calif. — Attendance was noticeably light at the Plastec West trade show, held Aug. 10-12 in Anaheim.
"We're definitely seeing lower traffic to the booth, it's down compared to previous years. But the quality of leads is as good or better," said Eric Adair, marketing manager at Westerly, R.I.-based US Extruders.
Exhibitors came to the show with low expectations. After all, this was the first in-person North American plastics trade show since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, especially with positive cases spiking again, companies knew that some would-be attendees would stay home.
So while there was some grumbling about the empty aisles, machinery executives were mostly happy.
"It was definitely worthwhile coming," said Chuck Gorman, national sales manager at injection press maker Shibaura Machine Co. America. "We have a pretty big West Coast customer base. We weren't sure what to expect this year, but we've seen a lot of customers."
Like many Plastec West exhibitors, this was the first in-person U.S. trade show for Shibaura Machine since the previous Anaheim show, which was held Feb. 11-13, 2020. That was one of the last major North American plastics events held before travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders from COVID-19 impacted the trade show business.
Missing NPE, which had originally been scheduled for May 17-21, 2021, in Orlando, Fla., was a disappointment for some machinery exhibitors like Shibaura Machine. It would have been an opportunity to reinforce its recent rebranding to North American customers. Japanese machinery maker Toshiba Machine Co. Ltd. changed its name to Shibaura Machine Co. Ltd., effective April 1, 2020.