Organizers report record first-day attendance for Fabtech 2012, the annual metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing exposition. By the end of the three-day event, which occurred November 12-14 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, nearly 26,000 attendees had perused equipment exhibited throughout 450,000 net square feet of floor space. Feedback from attendees and exhibitors alike was generally positive, says John Catalano, Fabtech show co-manager. “Attendees were impressed with the size and scope of the show and the vast array of new products and technologies on display. Exhibitors were enthusiastic and report that sales activity was brisk and leads were plentiful.”
Highlights included an unprecedented number of sessions at the Fabtech educational conference as well as several special events, including a State of the Industry roundtable with manufacturing CEOs. The CEOs concurred that growth in manufacturing should continue for the next year, but all mentioned the lack of skilled workers as a stumbling block to growth. They emphasized that manufacturers need to be more aggressive in influencing parents of students, having students influence one another and having schools adopt a more proactive voice in recruiting potential workers.
The show also featured a post-election analysis panel consisting of Washington insiders with long track records of representing manufacturing interests: Omar Nashashibi of the Franklin Partnership LLP, David Goch, parter at Webster, Chamberlain & Bean, and moderator Paul Nathanson, founding partner at the Bracewell & Giuliani LLP’s policy resolution group. The panelists discussed the looming “fiscal cliff” (they believe Congress will at least agree to move the deadline for a debt deal), tax reform (they believe it’s going to happen) and other issues that impact manufacturers. All agreed that the manufacturing sector has gained influence in Washington during the past two years, and they encouraged manufacturers to get involved in industry advocacy via their trade associations.
“If you can take the pulse of the economy by what’s happening in manufacturing, then you have to be optimistic that we are headed for economic growth,” says Mark Hoper, Fabtech show co-manager. “A constant theme I heard both on the show floor and at the seminars was that while challenges and uncertainties remain, most manufacturers believe their businesses are headed for continued growth in 2013.”
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). Fabtech 2013 is scheduled for November 18-21 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois.
For more information, visit fabtechexpo.com.