DENVER — Officials with Metalcon said the halls of the Colorado Convention Center were “abuzz” during the Oct. 1-3, 2014, trade show held here.
Were they referring to the lower oxygen levels at more than 5,000 feet above sea level? Or the attendees of the Great American Beer Festival, which was also taking place at the facility?
No, organizers of the annual metal construction event said it was just the excitement of attendees discovering new sheet metal forming products and learning about ways to enhance their businesses.
This year’s Metalcon took place in Denver — a new locale for the event, and officials with producer PSMJ Resources Inc. said it gave many contractors from the Western U.S. a chance to attend for the first time. There were 275 exhibiting companies — including 53 that were new or returning after an extended absence — and attendees came from 52 countries for this year’s event.
Denver-based sheet metal works company New Tech Machinery used Metalcon to help attract people to its open house, held before the start of the show.
Kristin Peregoy, the company’s marketing manager, said it was an effective strategy.
“We had lots of positive feedback at our open house and many visitors at our booth,” she said. “Traffic was excellent. It was a great show for us and the leads we received were high quality. It was also a chance to show more people our products up close and personal.”
Nelson Hershberger of Hershey’s Metal Meister LLC said he had attended Metalcon many times, but this was the first time his Illinois-based company had exhibited. He used the company’s booth to promote the Variobend sheet metal forming machines for metal roofing.
“We had quite a number of visitors and were very busy throughout the show,” Hershberger said. “We designed the Variobend equipment with the help of a gentleman who repaired most European-made machines. He heard all of the customer complaints about other equipment so we designed ours to eliminate those issues.”
Silvercote Lamination, an insulation used on metal roofing and steel structures, said its product was able to make an impression at Metalcon.
“Metalcon was our ‘coming out’ event as a brand,” said marketing manager Jane Van Bergen. “The response was overwhelming from customers and potential customers. We’ve walked Metalcon before and this is our first time exhibiting. We had a lot of customers and were able to partner with the metal building industry, which is what we wanted.”
Trilogy Machinery Inc. of Belcamp, Md., another sheet metal forming equipment maker, used a touch screen to draw in booth visitors. Similar to a board game, visitors could draw and establish points as they learned about the company’s products.
“This is kind of electronic eye candy for visitors and it works,” said Matt Weeks, a sales staffer with Trilogy. “Traffic to our booth has been really good. We’ve had lots of great leads and one sale. So we’re very pleased.”
Metal roofing contest
A new attraction on the show floor this year was the Metal Roofing Championship Games, a competition sponsored by the Metal Construction Association. Contestants had a chance to show their prowess fastening screws into purlins, installing standing-seam panels, installing rubber roof jacks and placing clamps on a metal roof.
Like many trade shows, organizers encouraged exhibitors and attendees to talk about their experiences through social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, but show director Claire Kilcoyne said she sensed a desire among those at Metalcon to communicate face-to-face rather than through a smartphone.
“All of us are surrounded by electronic communication in our business and personal lives. But that is really a supplement to the personal, face-to-face interaction that can only be achieved at a trade show,” Kilcoyne said. “We’re seeing the trend away from electronics in some areas and this year’s Metalcon showed how important a show like this is for building relationships with prospects and clients.”
Roof Hugger Inc. President Dale Nelson echoed her comments.
“The emphasis on electronics may work well for marketing, but when it comes to our products, the contactors have to see them and understand how they can use them,” he said. “It has to be face-to-face, and that’s why we’re at Metalcon — to meet and talk with contractors.”
Roof Hugger is a framing system to make metal roofing retrofits and replacements easier.
A chance to meet customers is the main reason Akzo Nobel Coatings Inc. attends as well, said Ed Karper, North American marketing manager for the company’s coil coatings products.
“People judge trade shows by different factors,” he said. “Some qualify a show by numbers of visitors or leads. But the real judge of quality in a show is how it helps you build relationships.”
Show officials booked 21 speeches and educational presentations on topics ranging from copper installations to closing residential metal roofing sales. The keynote presentation at this year’s Metalcon was given by Steven S. Little, who spoke Oct. 1 about “The Irrefutable Rules of Business Growth.” An author and consultant, Little said he was going to challenge some of the audience’s beliefs about business with his list of seven rules.
Little said businesses must have:
- A sense of purpose.“Purpose precedes profits, always,” he said.
- Companies need outstanding business intelligence. They must react and adapt to change.
- Effective growth planning.
“The best predictor of if your company will grow… is having an effective planning system,” Little said. It needs to be written, kept up to date and communicated to workers.
“I am not a big believer in boilerplate planning, (but) it’s better than no planning,” he added.
A company should plan for growth of at least 20 percent over five years.
“Great growth companies are planning — and you should, too,” he said.
4. Instill customer-driven processes. A business is people carrying out procedures.
5. You must put the power of technology to work for you.
“It is no longer adequate to be adequate,” he said. Technology changes too fast for that.
In five years, “This will be known as the ‘good old days’ when you actually knew what was going on,” he said.
6. Find and keep the best and brightest.
“This is the most important,” Little said. “It’s true in every industry. The job of a business-growth leader” is finding the people who can take you to the next level. Your return on investment is only as good as the people around you.
Little recommended hiring slowly to ensure you have the right person for a position, but move quickly to get rid of a hire who is not working out.
“You can’t train for brain, but you can test for the rest,” he added.
7. See the future more clearly. Look long-term.
Little said metal roofing contractors should target green building, adding that it appears to have a great future.
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