This year’s annual MCAA Convention for the Mechanical Contractors Association of America was a huge hit.
Fencetech 2017 just wrapped up at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. The show, which went from February 1st to February 5th, was a huge success and San Antonio was a fantastic host. More than 4,500 fence industry professionals were at the conference to attend meetings, meet with clients, and be educated about new fence standards and products in the industry.
The Electrical Association presented the 2017 Chicago Safety & Sustainability Conference on January 19, 2017 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois. This conference is a table top tradeshow that allows manufacturers to show their latest products and services to over 600 industry professionals. The event is primarily attended by Chicago’s Electrical and Building Industry, Building Owners and Managers, Local Municipalities, Electrical Inspectors, University and Hospital Planners, Engineers, Sustainable Energy Consultants, Construction Safety Managers and more.
During a time when things have quickly become digitally driven, many companies have turned to a digital approach to sales and marketing. And while digital assets such as your website, blog and email marketing have the ability to generate leads and close those leads into customers, there’s something to be said about sticking with more “traditional” means of marketing.
For some industries, sticking to digital might work. However, industries that rely heavily on personal relationships, brand loyalty and product knowledge in an effort to increase sales, customers and market share, elements of traditional marketing is vital.
With so many avenues to choose from, it’s imperative to find the best channels to produce a measureable ROI. Sure ads in magazines and trade publications are great, but can you really measure the success of an ad campaign? Beyond ads and billboards, there are certainly other traditional means of marketing and one that continues to be valuable despite the digital takeover are trade shows. According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, 99% of exhibitors find unique value delivered by B2B tradeshows which are not provided by other marketing channels.
At Wheatland Tube, we’ve embraced the digital way of marketing, but we haven’t given up on trade shows. Attending several each year has resulted in increased awareness about our brand and its products. It also gives us “face time” with customers, both existing and potential, including distributors, contractors and end users. What’s more, these trade shows give us an opportunity to introduce new products and allow attendees (industry professionals) to test and review the products right in front of us, providing invaluable feedback.
Through all of the trade shows we’ve attended, we’ve learned a lot; not only about which shows are best for our sales and marketing goals, but also the best ways to approach each show. If you’re new to the trade show scene or interested in ramping up your presence, here are five essential elements for exhibiting at any trade show.
Just a couple weeks ago, Wheatland Tube sales, marketing and manufacturing associates participated in FENCETECH 2015 at the Orlando Convention Center.
The fence industries premier event, this week long program consisted of seminars, meetings and a trade show. Attracting more than 4,200 industry professionals from across the country, this year's attendance was one of the largest in recent years, indicating growth within the industry since the "great recession".
All of the seminars, meetings and presentations were informative and well-attended. Additionally, optimism about the upcoming year was rampant on the on the trade show floor amongst contractors, distributors and manufacturers.
Every five years, each ASTM standard must be reviewed and updated, and once revisions are made, they must be placed into the balloting process or re-approval. The ASTM F14 Fence Committee met all day on Tuesday, February 3rd, addressing two new standards. These proposals include a standard specifying drive anchors for setting posts and a standard practice for specifying welded wire security fence. With 16 total standard revisions identified for 2015, the committee surely has their work cut out for them this year!
The Chain Link Fence Manufacturers Institute also held a short meeting on Friday morning summarizing 2014s accomplishments and laying out 2015 plans. A busy meeting is scheduled for the summer meeting in July.
Wheatland Tube was one of the several hundred companies to display their latest products at this years' event. With a manufacturing facility and corporate headquarters in Chicago, we proudly displayed our U.S. produced steel conduit, EMT and electrical nipple, elbow and coupling lines at the 2014 NECA Trade Show that took place right here in Chicago from September 28th through the 30th.
In addition to our participation as a sponsor and exhibitor, I was given the opportunity to lead a workshop; Steel Conduit and EMT: Understanding Corrosion and Raceway Restoration. My fifty minute seminar offered a review of UL® and NEC® requirements for corrosion protection, as well as an evaluation of storm- and water-damaged steel conduit and electrical metallic tubing. I also reviewed the process of restoring usable conduit and EMT to be used for service, including the guidelines that must be followed, cleaning agents to employ and best practices for the restoration of raceways. The workshop was offered in an effort to provide some guidance to contractors and inspectors who are dealing with these issues more and more.Wheatland Tube's 2014 NECA Focus
Myself, along with Scott Collins, Dan Binkowski, Michael Strawn, and Philip Racine from our Chicago sales team, are very excited about the awareness and exposure that NECA created for our conduit and EMT product lines. While we offer many different products, our main focus this year was on our 20' EMT and conduit, in addition to our Color Check™ Color-Coded EMT. After talking with current and potential prospects, we are confident about the buzz we created, and expect to see growth within these product lines. It's always a great venue for me to catch up with contractors, inspectors and NECA staff that I do not often see.
If you were unable to attend the convention, here is a breakdown of the products we focused on during the show.
Wheatland Tube's 20' conduit:
FENCETECH attracts more than 3,800 industry professionals from across the country which makes this one of the industry's premier events. The show was held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center where manufacturers, distributors, contractors and specifiers celebrated Fence Industry Week and participated in the FENCETECH show either as an exhibitor or attendee.
Overall the show was very positive. The impact of new AFA management was well received across the board. ASTM meetings were well attended and all goals were met. New tie wire specifications in ASTM F567 and F626 were approved which clarifies and clears up any confusing issues. New items addressed were adding more gate designs, reviewing the current wood standards, drive anchors, temporary fencing, and adding cable to fence for crash ratings, completing a security application for welded wire mesh and cleaning up some in items in the current F1043 framework. Lots of discussions and a lot of ideas were brought to the table.
The Chain Link Fence Manufacturers Institute's meeting members were brought up to date on the 2014 economic and production projections and all activities that are taking place within the CLFMI group.The State of the Industry Panel held Friday morning was presented to a full house. The panel addressed issues from steel, aluminum, PVC profiles and wood future costs and availability, to Obama Care, OSHA, overwhelming contract paperwork requirements, potential labor shortages, industry trend and just about every issue a fence contractor faces.Now on to the show! The FENCETECH show was very well attended. There was a steady stream of visitors to our booth and throughout the show. One of the main highlights of the show was our virtual friend Meisha, a talking life-like hologram who literally had people stopping in their tracks to take pictures as they listened to her provide information on our fence framework products and our new F1083 high strength 50,000 psi yield Schedule 40 pipe which is 1.6667 times stronger than regular grade Schedule 40 pipe. Many contractors expressed interest in receiving Wheatland Tube's in-line galvanized product by name and also expressed their concerns about the quality of some pre-galvanized products not meeting required specifications and the negative impact that these deficiencies have on our industry.
For more information about our fence framework products, contact your local Sales Representative at 800-343-0124 or visit our website at wheatland.com
KNOW BETTER. KNOW WHEATLAND.
We recently celebrated our two year anniversary in Chicago with a guided tour, luncheon and visit from Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the South Side Wheatland Tube manufacturing facility. Mayor Emanuel gave a speech highlighting Wheatland Tube's contribution to local economic growth, after remarks from JMC's CEO, Barry Zekelman, who spoke to the company's role in strengthening Chicago's workforce.
Wheatland Tube invited employees and their families, as well as customers, local contractors, city agencies, and local and state politicians—including Alderman George Cardenas and Illinois State Senator Tony Munoz—to gather at the manufacturing plant and celebrate Chicago's strong base of manufacturing companies.
“It’s not always all about office work. It’s about being able to do all you can for the city. It’s the men and women in the back door of Chicago— the 600-plus people who are committed to the city—who export out of this facility,” Mayor Emanuel said.
During the event, Mayor Emanuel gave a speech highlighting Wheatland’s growth and continued effort to strengthen Chicago’s workforce, as well as the local economy. The event honored the hard work and effort of our employees, who have been the backbone to strengthening the manufacturing industry in Chicago and in our plants across the country.
“The Wheatland Chicago plant has been and will continue to be a wonderful, safe, welcoming place for many years to come to work,” Mayor Emanuel said. “Our employees and their tremendous work ethic and pride keep us competitive and give us the ability to continually invest in Chicago and its community.”
After attending what I believe is my 21st consecutive NAED Annual Meeting, I noticed much has changed over the years. For example, the consolidation of both distributors and manufacturers has made this conference a constantly changing landscape. But one very specific (positive) change stood out in my mind during this conference: our industry has finally recognized that we must put a greater focus on attracting and retaining young talent. This was a topic that came up in many presentations and almost every discussion.
Bob Reynolds, Chairman, President and CEO of Graybar, spoke convincingly about the need to embrace the concept of attracting young people to our industry. He made a very compelling argument that it is critical to our industry’s future that we must all do a better job developing talent to fill the leadership pipeline. Further, Bob pointed out that we must recognize changing workplace trends and harness those opportunities to better ourselves and our companies (Facebook? /Twitter?/Flexible Hours?/etc.). He reminded us that we need to understand that the next generation doesn’t even understand electrical distribution; much less whether they would want to work in this industry (it certainly isn’t as romantic as working at Apple or Google).
Eli Lustgarten, senior vice president of Longbow Securities gave a good long-term guesstimate of where our market opportunities are headed. With a PowerPoint of over 100 slides, there was much more economic data than any one person could consume. He told a very humorous story about someone trying to get a loan from the FHA. Too long a story to tell here, but it showed that regardless of who is in power in Washington, bureaucracy takes on a life of its own.
Charlie Cook, the political analyst who spoke next, gave a wonderful presentation on the upcoming election and politics in general. It was balanced and not partisan. His discussion was entertaining and avoided the easy, cheap shots towards either party or candidate. It was a lively discussion that illustrated and explained in a humorous way our current political landscape, without taking sides.
SO HERE IS MY POINT:
Every year, top leaders in the industry gather at the National Association of Electrical Distributors National Meeting examine important trends and analysis of the electrical distribution channel issues. Part 1 of this 2-part series will summarize the NAED national meeting and forecast what the next year will look like for both manufacturers and distributors. In Part 2, I’ll look at why the industry must place a greater emphasis on attracting and retaining young talent.
Let’s start off this discussion first by saying that the Annual NAED Meeting in Washington, D.C. was a roaring success.
The annual meeting offers the opportunity to meet one-on- one with distributors without the local sales agent. Wheatland Tube had over 25 one–on–one meetings with key distributor partners where we discussed a wide range of topics and harvested our customer’s intelligence and insights to become a more effective part of their success.
While we are committed to the independent sales agent model for most markets, not all sales agents are equal – reps are a fluid bunch in that the best reps may start to wither and the weaker reps improve and fill that void; it is my job to identify these shifts and move quickly to capitalize on them so that we can stay one step ahead of our competition. The meetings give us the opportunity to ask the tough questions – and I thank our distributors for offering candid answers about our rep network, both positive and negative.
We received very good feedback from our distributor partners. Some of the feedback was very positive as distributors recognized the recent improvements we have made in improving our service. We had one distributor go out of his way to tell us “I don’t know exactly what you are doing but keep doing it, as you are taking share” – the best part is it looked like another distributor overheard the conversation—I cannot help but wonder what he was thinking. Maybe, just maybe, he is scratching his head and wondering if he is missing an opportunity to grow his business by not shifting more tons our way.