Embracing the Global Marketplace
From Hap Porter, President of SMI
Every two years, shortly after a new SMI president is inaugurated, the wire and tube industries hold their show in Germany, at the million-square-foot convention center, Messe Düsseldorf. SMI has frequently been represented by its former president and frequent show-attendee, Scott Rankin. In 2012, Steve Moreland’s first official role as the newly-installed SMI president was to go to the show. And in April I made my first trip. It was an incredible experience.
During the trip I presented a state of the U.S. industry to the European Spring Federation (ESF) International Spring Makers Conference. I put together the speech after talking to a number of SMI board members. My message was that while the U.S. economy has surely recovered from the depths of the Great Recession of 2008-2009, none of the primary measures of general economic health (GDP, unemployment, industrial production, capacity utilization) have returned to their long-term averages. As a result, many SMI member companies report that while their businesses are running at reasonable levels, the current environment provides little, if any, visibility looking forward, making planning very difficult. Add to that the political dysfunction in Washington and uncertainty on the regulatory-front, and it’s clear that our members continue to face many challenges.
The show itself is a massive display of all manner of equipment used in the wire and tube industries. It is hard to fathom the extent of global commerce that can support a show of the scale and scope as takes place in Dusseldorf.
Two special events that week directly involved SMI. For the first time ever, SMI hosted a reception for members, both regular and associate, who were attending the show. While we did not take names, I estimate we had over 70 guests that evening, and it was wonderful to see so many familiar faces in the crowd. In particular, your board of directors was well represented, and the overall level of attendance was a testament to the growing role of SMI in these international events.
There was also an opportunity during the week for a small group of us to visit a training center for spring winders. This is a private/public institution supported by local industry, the German spring federation VDFI, spring equipment manufacturers, and local and state government. It was a fascinating look at one way to help local companies fill the jobs with interested and well trained apprentice springmakers.
Having returned “stateside,” I promise upcoming columns will not detail my vacation to Florida or routine trips to Dallas. However, you may expect to hear updates on the planning for our own trade show, the SMI Metal Engineering eXpo, which as you undoubtedly know, will take place in October next year in Charlotte, N.C.
Along the way, SMI will continue to engage in the worldwide arena of foreign spring associations, standard-setting protocols, and development of technical matters which will benefit our members in their own businesses. We look to embrace the global marketplace in our event in Charlotte, and our focus leading up to that will be fully supportive of that effort.
President and COO, SEI MetalTek