FABTECH 2011 Breaks All Records

FABTECH 2011 shattered all records of previous shows, with the number of buyers walking the floor, educational conference attendance and the overall square footage of exhibit space.  The recently concluded, four-day exposition and conference at Chicago’s McCormick Place welcomed a historic 35,457 attendees; 35 percent increase over 2009 – the last time FABTECH was held in Chicago.

FABTECH is North America’s most comprehensive event for metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing companies. This year’s show had more than 1,300 exhibitors, filling a record 522,000 net square feet and attendees from more than 80 countries.

“Exhibitors were enthusiastic about the activity level on the show floor and are looking ahead to 2012,” Mark Hoper, FABTECH show manager, said.  “Returning exhibitors were happy that leads were up from shows of the past few years and numerous first-time exhibitors proclaimed that the decision to exhibit was a great choice for them.”

Many long-time exhibitors described FABTECH 2011 as their best show ever.

“We've been exhibiting at FABTECH for at least 20 years, and in my 10-year tenure, this show was our busiest. We received a record number of leads, and we were able to get our message in front of thousands,” Betsy Van Duyne, marketing manager, Hypertherm, Inc. said. “The results from this show should prove to skeptics that manufacturing is alive and well in North America!”

The many new exhibitors were also impressed with the value they received from the show.

“We were first time exhibitors at FABTECH, and it was an overwhelming experience,” Jim Gillespie, marketing manager at Fast-Rite International, Inc.; a distributor of fasteners, stampings, fittings and assemblies, said. “We have over 500 leads to process, and already have begun receiving orders. Considering it typically takes a year to complete a new-customer sale, we're quite happy!”

Buyers were exposed to more than 500 new products and more than 75 new “green” products and technologies – a new feature on the FABTECH agenda.  All products featured as “green” had to qualify as being more energy efficient, reducing waste and or providing a safer and healthier environment for employees, customers and the community.

According to Chris Kuehl, PhD, economic analyst for FMA and moderator of FABTECH’s State of the Industry session, “Attendees were preparing for a better year in 2012 and were investing to be ready for it. They were engaged and were finding ways to do things better, faster and more efficiently.”

Attendee Al Popovich, owner, Accurate Design and Fabrication, Custer Park, Ill., is one attendee for whom FABTECH opened new opportunities.  “We found some excellent new equipment and met manufacturers we weren't aware of before.  It will definitely make a difference in our future business decisions. Knowing what is available outside our usual capabilities should open some markets to our shop.”  Popovich’s only concern was the limited time he had available to attend the show. “There’s no way to see everything you want in one day!”

FABTECH 2011 was the first show at McCormick Place to take advantage of the recently reinstated work rules which allowed exhibitors to perform many tasks themselves that previously would have been union carpenter or electrician jurisdiction work.

“Exhibitors cited the improved labor conditions and the new cost savings as key to their decisions to bring a record number of machines, equipment and multi-story displays,” John Catalano, show manager explains.  “The new policies strengthen FABTECH’s commitment to Chicago for future shows.”

FABTECH is co-sponsored by five industry-leading associations: the American Welding Society (AWS), the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA), the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA), and the Chemical Coaters Association International (CCAI).

The 2012 show will be held in Las Vegas next November and return to McCormick Place in 2013. For more information, visit: www.fabtechexpo.com

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