What the NFL and IMTS Have in Common

The NFL for 2012 began on Sunday and Monday. IMTS took the stage a short walk from the stadium where the Chicago Bears played the Colts. Both are big powerful institutions controlled by a small group of owners and run by a loyal staff of administrators on the East Coast. And both organizations face major challenges today.

The NFL has two major problems that are closely related. It’s current and past players are extremely worried about the physical toll of the game – particularly concussions. The corollary issue is that parents are increasingly forbidding their kids from playing tackle football because it is deemed too dangerous. When I was at the Chautauqua Institution a few weeks ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was on a panel of speakers moderated by Luke Russert. Luke asked the 2,500 people in the audience whether they would allow their kids to play football. The vast majority shouted NO. Certainly this group was a highly educated and upper income sample, but it appears that pro football players are viewing themselves as highly paid gladiators, and are doubting the viability of their profession.

IMTS – the show – also faces major hurdles in the online age. The challenge for the organizers is to get enough qualified potential buyers to pay the price of coming to Chicago and walking through millions of square feet of exhibits that often are similar to what they saw a few years earlier. Machine tools do not change so frequently in most cases for many purchasers. And usually it is difficult to discern what innovations are meaningful.

For the exhibitors the key to success at IMTS is to attract enough real prospects to their displays and then show them something that ignites their interest and stands out from the competition. I think that in many cases IMTS acts more as reinforcement to previous notions clients have about their wares. The show enables new companies to make an impact by showing innovative products and services, which establish them as legit players.

The NFL and IMTS share an important characteristic in the marketplace. They give the country something to talk about. For the football fan, Peyton Manning’s comeback from injury or whether Tim Tebow can ever be a successful NFL quarterback and can hold a fan’s interest for months. For a machine tool user, the competition between Mazak and Mori or Citizen and Star or Haas and Doosan are grist for the mill. Competition is exciting and the NFL and IMTS play it for maximum gain for the exhibitors.

Personally, I’m excited by both events. The 2012 football season and 2012 IMTS are big fun milestones to be marked and enjoyed to the max.

Question: Are the NFL and IMTS rising or falling in importance to you?

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13 thoughts on “What the NFL and IMTS Have in Common

  1. Kevin Gerrits

    I think the NFL is a great sport. Sometime the the drama is more that we bargain for. I have a 12 year old son palying football and I encorage him to do so. Saftey is in everyone’s mind and the equipment, playerstechniques, and rules are changing quickly to preserve the game at all levels.

    I visited IMTS yesterday and am going back on Friday 9/14/12. I am fortunate that I can commute to the show as apposed to staying over night at hotels etc. I feel strongly that IMTS is a great value for anyone who attneds. Where else can you meet with and observe industry leaders and the equipment they build all in one place? I think the real value for the show needs to be getting young people excited about machining and related careers. I saw a large contingent of senior leaders in the industry, a fair amount of baby boomers, and very few young people in attendance yesterday. I am concerned about the lack of “new blood” coming into the machining career fields. Why can’t the schools, middle schools, high schools, and colleges(2 and 4 year) bus the students into the show. THis would be an outstanding way to get young people excited about a field that has served me and my family well.
    I think if IMTS wants to flourish, they shoudl change the way they do things much the way the football game at all levels are being changed. WE need to bring the young people to a show such as this to try and get them interested in what is a very high pace, technical career. I think that we as machining professionals need to look for ways to get people excited about the machining industry. There are many ways to do this, I think a very big oppurtunity to showcase and industry is on display in Chicago. If you miss the chance to attend consider attending in 2014, bring a young person along, you might change that person’s life in a good way. Just my thoughts.

  2. Derek

    I’ve attened IMTS in 06, 08, 10, but work wouldn’t pay for it this time. 🙁 IT’s about $2200 in travel expenses once it’s said and done.

  3. Mark

    What IMTS has become is a chance to look the red faced mouth breathing machine tool salesmen in the face and ask them “where in the hell have you been for the last two years the only time I see you is when I have a purchase order in hand”

  4. Jim Goerges

    Yes I do believe they have the same importance and have similarities that cause concern for future viability. I believe it has everything to do with descretionary income that people, and many small businesses have or don’t have. Unfortunately our government continues to grow while many business and people have been forced to streamline things during the past several recessions that we have experienced. If government would participate in these recessions, streamline things, make processes more efficient, slash unproductivity, eliminate outdated programs, change things that don’t make sense, then people and business would have more money for attending such things. On 60 minutes there was a piece on how business must compete globally and are forced to create home bases out of the United States. Our country has the second highest tax rate to Japan, which by the way, they are in the process of lowering. When will people realize that this tax is a cost of the goods and services we provide and must be passed along to the consumer. It is a circle of pain that creates more finished good imports and sends jobs out of our country. WAKE UP and SMELL THE COFFEE! It is idiotic that Illinois Teachers are striking, they work 165 days, have the lowest work hours per day in the country, and have turned down a 16% increase over 4 years, and are making 75K right now, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Government has become a MONOPOLY, and is sucking the life out of our economy. I do hope people realize the facts and vote properly this November!

  5. Eric

    Most small machine shops won’t send employees because it is $50 per person plus room, board rental car, ect. If you are an international visitor that works for a large corporation whose business is to make parts for the US market then it is free. I think our priorities are backwards. Once America starts taking manufacturing seriously and more importantly manufacturing education (metal shop in high school) then the potential for growth in the machine trade industry will continue to be hampered. We will continue to encourage foreign countries to produce machined parts for the US market. Most machine shops are small businesses and can’t afford lobbyists in Washington to create an environment conducive for growth in our industry. Big companies can afford to have lobbyists to make offshoring and the business environment better for their profits. The IRS is on a witch hunt against small business’s to gain revenue by dis allowing losses and changing LIFO vs FIFO tax structures and almost forcing Sub Chapter S corps to change to C corps. I’m afraid the end result will be making small machine shops all but extinct in this country.

  6. Tom M.

    I just have a silly rant about the IMTS.. Unlike the design show, No trophies are provided to give to the Kids.. My daughter got a tape measure from enco. Dorian tool is giving out T-shirt but not appropriate for a 9 year old girl. Personally, I think IMTS should have coordinated the vendors to machine parts to assemble into something cool that’s kid appropriate.

    As far as the teacher strike? I’d like to think most teachers want to do a good job, in a secure environment and get paid for it. It seems the system is screwed up. Sad thing is that if I was king I’m not sure what I’d do to fix it.

    As far as small machine shops becoming extinct… Not a chance… I ran into a guy in the cab line and we chatted…(Wish I had more time, I’d would have bought him a beer) Anyway.. East Cost, started in 2001 tool and Die… 4 man operation, with very sophiscated multi-axis machines.. Highly automated…. He has more business than he can handle because he excels at his niche.. Small companies with very sophisticated technology where the owner runs the machines. That’s the future..

  7. Seth Emerson

    Jim G. wrote:
    Unfortunately our government continues to grow while many business and people have been forced to streamline things during the past several recessions that we have experienced.

    Government may be continuing to spend money, but it isn’t growing in size. Public sector employment has decreased 600,000 since Obama took office. That is the opposite of the trend during the past four recessions. The public sector grew during those recovery periods. Strangely, those recoveries took place under Republican administrations. Hmmm?

    (Source Washington Post June 11, 2012)

  8. David

    Lloyd, I am sure you know that IMTS was held every 5 years until 1970. The decision was made that change was happening too fast to wait 5 years–so the 2 year cycle was started in 1972. Do you really think change and innovation have slowed so much that we should go back to every 5 years!! Every time you pick up a newspaper or magazine, there is an article about how the pace of change keeps accelerating. Think back 10 years and compare to today. Everytime I see a movie from before 1995, I have to laugh at the technology they are using.

    It may be true that turning and milling are basic operations, but the implementation, quality control, process control, communication, productivity, and competition are certainly changing rapidly. Things that were talked about a few years ago have become reality. Our business used to be sales calls, phone calls and faxes. Now it is iphones and internet. Would you go back to time-consuming personal calls, voice mail, and unreadable faxed drawings?

  9. Bryan Willman

    1. The NFL could disappear tomorrow and I wouldn’t notice. (Though I did play football in high school.)

    2. A huge value of IMTS is wandering around to the booths of vendors you don’t know, or haven’t heard of, or don’t understand the products of.

    3. Another value is when senior folks from major brands will give frank answers to questions that might otherwise be hard to “dig out”.

    4. I saw some young folks there, and people explaining things to them, and then I offered some explanation of something. Whether they work in the industry or not it’s good for people to understand things.

    5. It ticks me off that after charging the vendors a fortune, IMTS then hits *me* up for money and refuses to finish the registration until I fill in an idiot marketing form. A large part of what I buy after IMTS is things I didn’t know existed before hand, so a pre visit form isn’t very helpful.

  10. Ray Escandon

    I visited IMTS this year and in 2010 as well, if only to network and say hello to some of my vendors and associates in the industry.
    Kevin Gerrits hit the nail on the head regarding the apparent lack of interest from the younger generation and newcomers into the industry.
    IMTS, Trade Organizations and Machine Tool Manufacturers should set aside a reasonable amount of efforts and funds to promote and encourage Middle Schools, High Schools, and Colleges (2 and 4 year) to implement manufacturing technology into their curriculum. Perhaps a even group of volunteer mentors should be put together for IMTS 2014 for that purpose, also to make themselves available for questions and answers from visitors and prospects before, during and after the show.

  11. Kim

    Tom M. wrote: I just have a silly rant about the IMTS.. Unlike the design show, No trophies are provided to give to the Kids.. My daughter got a tape measure from enco. Dorian tool is giving out T-shirt but not appropriate for a 9 year old girl. Personally, I think IMTS should have coordinated the vendors to machine parts to assemble into something cool that’s kid appropriate.

    Really?! You wanted tchotchkes for the kids? I’m all about educating the next generation about the cool things my company’s machines can do. I showed many students of all ages (particularly on Friday when we seemed to have the biggest crowd of students.) how our equipment works and even let them try it out themselves for fun.

    However, I have a limited marketing budget. I don’t have money to have a beer tap at our booth and we don’t give away fancy pens (or even cheap ones) to our potential customers let alone something for kids. Now maybe the super big companies with 50’x50′ booths have more money to spare, but in these tough times, let’s face it – we’re at the show to bring in business, not to keep your kids entertained.


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