Today's IMTS Reflections

Mazak looks like a big winner. Their exhibit is almost always swarming, and they have focused on big machines well suited for the boom in energy production and distribution.

Haas seems crowded. They have a million machines and hordes of salesmen and technicians. I have done a sampling of attitudes of show attendees regarding the company and its products in light of Gene Haas’s indictment. I have found a general awareness of the tax problems, but the people I have talked to feel positively about the products and service. This seems to trump anger or dismay about the court case. Several people were sympathetic towards him, having fought with the IRS themselves. The exception was people in the machine tool field who seem to be delighting in Gene Haas’s problems.

I find it difficult to assess the attendance of this show. Aisles are not crowed. It often seems like more people are working the show than attending, but I know this is symptomatic of the dramatic decentralization of manufacturing in recent years. The GM and Fords are not sending big teams of people. Lean companies send key people because production must go on. IMTS 2006 may be a successful event despite comparatively low numbers. The people I have talked to, both buyers and sellers, are feeling successful and optimistic; it’s a buying climate. Midway through, it looks like this will go down as an excellent show for most exhibitors.

One of the weakest exhibits was by the organizing body of IMTS. Their IMTS TV on big beautiful plasma screens strategically placed was watched by nobody because it was a series of canned advertorial interviews, which reeked of inept PR. When will people ever learn that nobody has time for unauthentic fluff, whether written or on video?

AMT had booths at the front of the North hall. Great location near the hot dog seller, but I couldn’t figure out what their message was. There was a list of senators and a printed message about the R & D tax credit, but the call to action was unclear. AMT probably does good work, but nobody but the members of the club would know it from the display.

IMTS generates a lot of energy from the exhibitors and attendees. From my observation, AMT does a weak job of galvanizing the buzz of IMTS into anything that propels manufacturing in America forward politically and intellectually.

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