Open house, customer appreciation day, grand opening (or re-opening), technology fair—these events go by many names. Don’t pass them up. If you’re invited, go. They have much to offer.
Typically, these events take place in the equipment seller’s tech center, showroom or production facility, and the company showcases its machine tools or other manufacturing equipment. Usually, the full line is on display, so you’ll see models and options that may not travel to trade shows. It’s common for one or more new machines to be introduced at these events. You can expect live machining demonstrations to show the products in action. Sample parts help you match up your applications with the equipment’s capabilities.
Other vendors may be invited to present tabletop displays or bring in their auxiliary equipment or accessories. Because cutting tools, workholding devices, programming software and so on frequently offer significant productivity enhancements, it is good to see these products alongside the main attractions. Laptops and PCs are so portable that these tabletops are especially handy for software developers.
Many of these events feature technical presentations by experts, applications specialists or customers willing to share their knowledge and experience. Mini-seminars focusing on a critical application or job opportunity may also be presented. These can be excellent sources of know-how and advice. Special guests or celebrities may also make appearances.
Tours of the facility are worthwhile, too. You can see how well the event sponsor can provide training, repair services, spare parts, applications engineering and other support, which are all more important than ever these days.
Almost all of these events include some form of hospitality. The food, beverages and entertainment may be quite elaborate. This element represents a great opportunity to do some networking. Some events entail outings to golf courses, racetracks, museums, plants or other off-site locations. The acquaintances you form and the friends you make during these outings may be the most valuable benefit of participating.
The relationship between equipment suppliers and equipment consumers has been changing. It is not enough for builders and distributors simply to “sell iron.” Nor is it enough for end users to buy just that. Open houses and similar customer events help establish the familiarity and understanding that should exist as the basis for the broader transactions that make up this relationship. So if you’re invited, go!