The view from Chicago

13 June 2007

Just returned from CMM International, in Chicago. The final attendance figures were not available before Converting Today went to press, but organizer Pennwell says there were “more than 7,000 registered attendees”. I had hoped to report a successful turnaround in the fortunes of the US show but, although the move to Rosemont has generally been welcomed, it still looks to be in decline.

Some of the booths certainly did well - among them Ashe, Bobst, Elite Cameron, Uteco, and Stanford - but the majority of exhibitors I spoke to expressed disappointment at the lack of visitors throughout the four-day event. “Slow” was a frequently used term for the level of activity. As expected, the second day was the busiest, but apart from occasional flurries of activity around a few booths, there often appeared to be more exhibitor staff than visitors along the aisles.

One-time major exhibitors such as Mark Andy and PCMC were notable by their absence, and the booths actually displaying machines were few and far between.

A number of exhibitors suggested that traditional shows such as CMM were a dying breed, and that the internet was now the best place to visit for information about products and services - far quicker, cheaper and more convenient. “The money spent on exhibiting at a trade show would be better used to improve our website,” was how one disgruntled manager put it.

The arrival of the CPP Expo/Pack Expo events has undoubtedly complicated things for the US converting show scene. Although the inaugural event in Las Vegas fell flat, the industry is waiting to see whether its second appearance in CMM's former Chicago venue, McMormick Place, next year will mark a turning point. The jury is still out.

I certainly wouldn't write CMM off yet; the US market needs a major show, and the success of ICE here in Europe proves what can be done.

Of course, another way for suppliers to reach their target audience is to stage their own 'exhibition', in the form of an open house event. These are often held by a single company, or in partnership with any number of subsidiary suppliers. As our news pages show this month (with no less than five stories), these events are becoming increasingly popular - both in their own right and as an adjunct to the 'regular' exhibitions, from which visitors are bussed to the other 'show' at the company's plant.

One exhibition about which there can be few doubts is Labelexpo Europe. This year's major event for the narrow web industry opens in Brussels on September 26-29. Our next issue will include an extensive preview of the show, together with a report from the BPIF cartons technical workshop in Dresden, featuring presentations by KBA, Sun Chemical, Robert Horne, Bobst, Kodak and Gilchrist UK.

Mike Taylor


Mike Taylor MikeTaylor

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