1) Will the Japanese and European builders be raising prices in dollars for their products? With the yen at 85, the pressure on margins must be heavy. But world-wide competition is brutal. A domestic producer like Haas has an advantage in North America, particularly with a bread and butter product like a vertical machining center.
2) Will buyers show up for the show? Ignore the supposed attendance numbers offered by show management—are there real people in the aisles and real customers talking to the exhibitors? Is IMTS now a super-regional exhibition, or is it still the really big national show worthy of the big bucks being spent by the exhibitors?
3) What is really new? Is there a hot new technology? Is there a game changing new company? Is the long-term deterioration of the productive workforce of baby boomers giving way to a hungry wave of men and women who see the factory floor as an opportunity?
4) Is money available for the expansion of small and medium contract shops? If 20 percent of America’s shops were wiped out in the recession, is there credit available so new and existing shops can fill the void?
5) Is this the year of deflation at IMTS? Will prices be lower than in 2008 or 2009? Will list prices be similar, but discounting rampant?
6) Will exhibitors and visitors be happy to be in Chicago, or revert to the familiar whine about the McCormick place unions pushing them to Orlando or Vegas?