Steel the Show

Camron Ghanemi makes a long-awaited return to the blogosphere as the vice president of Ace World Companies looks forward to this month’s (May) Iron & Steel Technology Conference and Exposition.

It’s been a while since I penned a blog—we’ve been handing the baton around the company’s thought leaders—but it’s timely to interject on the cusp of AISTech 2018, the Iron & Steel Technology Conference and Exposition, hosted by the Association for Iron & Steel Technology (AIST). This year’s event takes place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on 7-10 May.

Ace World Companies will exhibit at Booth 2409. Make a note.

Given the importance of AISTech to our business and the steel community, I’m going to focus this blog on that show, but the guidance can be applied to any event.

I’ll set out to make two main points:

1. Trade show activity should be tailored to the audience

2. Getting the most from a show starts with planning ahead

Molten steel

As long-time members of our audience will already know, steel is our largest market. We consider ourselves a steel crane company to some extent and during AISTech—more than 7,000 people will attend the world’s largest annual steel conference and exposition—existing and prospective partners in the sector get our exclusive focus. In fact, for many of our personnel, it’s that way for 12 months of the year.

That’s an important point to reiterate: many vendors, at AISTech and other shows, adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to exhibiting at events. Indeed, many do so throughout their entire marketing mix. Our product is equally diverse; think about the myriad of end user marketplaces that use cranes: steel, paper, manufacturing, ports, automotive, concrete, oil and gas, lumber, and aerospace, to name just a few. But nobody at AISTech cares.

So what, we recently supplied two custom-built 17 ton overhead cranes and two 1 ton telescopic hoists for operation in a hazardous environment at a battery plant? What does it matter that we installed a 40 ton capacity overhead crane with 20 ton auxiliary hoist for an automotive manufacturer? Ok, there might be intelligence to gather from these applications that can be applied to the steel sector, but there’d be little point focusing on these case studies on our AISTech stand graphics.

Instead, we’ll talk about the 175 ton ladle crane we shipped last year and the 10 cranes we are currently building for a galvanizing plant. Attendees will also be interested to learn about other steel-related overhead lifting equipment that is currently being manufactured.

Exhibitors shouldn’t waste the precious moments they get to engage with key individuals who specify, purchase, design, and operate a variety of iron and steel plants and facilities. Did you know that one out of two AISTech attendees has buying influence for the industry’s products and services? Let’s put it another way: HALF of AISTech’s attendees could buy something from a vendor, while the other half might go away and tell someone who can.

Whether it’s about hot metal applications, including ladle, charging, scrap, and billet handling, or rotating coil stackers, transfer cars, and automated systems, all our marketing, content, and networking will be focused solely on maximizing steel production in facilities throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Visitors need to consider their approach too. Challenge vendors, sponsors, and organizers to address specific steel challenges. If a salesperson is asking you to apply their sciences from other sectors, don’t accept that as sufficient. We won’t ask visitors to our booth to imagine that a die for a stamping press is actually a caster tundish. We walk them through an actual steel crane application to demonstrate our commitment to meeting the challenges of the day.

Show guide

Remember, this blog doesn’t need to be applied in isolation to AISTech; the point I’ll make is that all trade shows are busy, frenetic, fast moving, often after-hours-networking-fuelled occasions. For organizers, sponsors, exhibitors, visitors, and other participants, events can pass in the blink of a blurry eye without a person taking some of the opportunities available. Getting to the Pennsylvania Convention Center before starting to make a plan is too late—much too late.

Exhibitors would have got their booths, teams, literature, and invitations in order (at least they should have!) but many visitors mark their calendars with events and don’t realize how much they need to do in advance to get the most from the experience. For example, there are 550+ technical presentations this year. Visitors need to look at the speakers and presentations they want to listen to and make sure their diary and travel itineraries etc. allow them to absorb that material. Maybe the volume of content one wishes to absorb might dictate how many staff a firm sends to attend.

Also note the show hours. AISTech runs Monday thru Thursday but the expo is only on the first three days. Don’t make a special trip to Philadelphia at the end of the week only to be disappointed. Think back to the seminars and maybe plan days around all facets of the event. Can you attend a seminar, visit half a dozen exhibits, sit down for a meeting, and then return to another seminar, for example? If an itinerary looks as multi-dimensional as that, make sure it is achievable. Don’t be a busy fool and bite off more than one can chew.

Get into town early; there’s much to do on the Sunday before show time, particularly if one is of the younger generation—or a golfer:

Student plant tour: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Conference registration: noon to 5 p.m.
Golf: 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Young professionals’ roundtable: 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Young professionals’ reception: 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Here are the expo hours if they’re not already etched on one’s mind:

Monday, 7 May: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (welcome reception 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.)
Tuesday, 8 May: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Wednesday, 9 May: Noon to 4 p.m.

Never assume an exhibition, particular one that’s part of a larger event, like AISTech, runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Modern-day organizers are much more dynamic than that. Note the welcome reception, which presents a valuable networking opportunity; slightly later start on Tuesday; much shorter day on Wednesday; etc. If a visitor has noted 15 vendors of particular interest, it would be a bad idea to leave 14 of those visits until the last day. Hook up with exhibitors now and advise them of intent to spend time with them. Perhaps they’ll even make an appointment and ensure the appropriate representatives are available to talk.

Social media can help get ahead. If an exhibitor is on Twitter—Ace can be found here: @AceWorldCompany—drop them a tweet or direct message (DM) and ask to connect. AIST do a pretty good job of promoting the event from their account, @AISTech, and I expect content at the hashtag, #AISTech2018, to start ramping up soon. We’d welcome your tweets, emails, and calls, and other vendors should do.

The days between now and 7 May can be used to all participants’ advantage if they’re prepared to put in the preparation.

If you’re attending, be sure to visit Ace World Companies at AISTech Booth 2409.

I enjoyed putting pen to paper again and might even write another piece reflecting on the show and other matters next month.

Travel safely to Philly.

Camron Ghanemi
Vice President, Ace World Companies

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