IFAI Expo Asia 2011 roared into Singapore, the lion city, 22-25 March, and provided a new much-needed technical textiles forum for the Asia Pacific region. The combined trade exhibition and educational symposiums held at the glittering new Marina Bay Sands Convention Center, covered the spectrum of the cutting-edge developments occurring in the industry.
Participants were quick to praise the event and call for its continuance. "This was the show that we were missing in Southeast Asia," according to Eike Eberle, SIOEN Coated Fabrics (Shanghai). "It was held at exactly the correct location. If you are holding another show in Singapore next year, we are definitely interested in participating again."
Frank Sinclair, President and CEO, Sinclair Equipment Co., said, "The show has been wonderful for us. Excellent location. We're very happy and we would do it again in a heartbeat."
Ni Guangping, General Manager, Zhejiang Xingyida Reinforced Material Co., Ltd., was glad his company had participated. "We had to borrow extra chairs for all the visitors in our booth. We met several potential clients here who are now going to visit our factory."
The event, organized by the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), attracted more than 1,400 registered participants from 39 countries. Large buyer delegations came from Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Australia and Japan, as well as a surprising number of visitors from North America, Africa, Middle East and Europe. The visitor survey overwhelmingly showed that participants were looking for match-making opportunities.
"We are very pleased with the results," said IFAI President Stephen M. Warner. "The mission of our organization is to provide the marketplace for the industry to gather and exchange information. IFAI Expo Asia 2011 exceeded our expectations."
Notable dignitaries attending included Sujit Gulati, Joint Secretary of India's Ministry of Textiles; Rory Holmes, president of INDA, the nonwovens association in North America; and Pierre Wiertz, General Manager of EDANA, the nonwovens association located in Europe.
The exhibition opened with a spirited ceremonial ribbon-cutting officiated by IFAI Chairman of the Board Peter McKernan, Edward Chew of the Singapore Tourism Board, and IFAI President Warner. The festival atmosphere continued with dancers in traditional lion costumes--accompanied by a drum and cymbal corps--leading delighted delegates and media onto the show floor.
Exhibitors came from 18 countries and included the largest U.S. contingent ever to participate in a technical textile show in the Asia Pacific region. IFAI Expo Asia 2011 was supported by the Singapore Tourism Board and the U.S. Department of Commerce, and was awarded the prestigious U.S. Trade Fair certification designation.
IFAI President Warner acknowledged their contribution. "The work done by U.S. Commercial Service offices and Singapore Tourism Board in bringing buyers to the show was outstanding."
U.S. exhibitor Jeff Sponseller, Executive Vice President-Sales, Miller Weldmaster Corp., agreed: "This show has taken a lot of our leads and quotes to that next level. I was impressed with the diversity of the audience we've seen here from all over Asia. Also with the number and quality of the people who came to our booth. These were qualified buyers. It exceeded my expectations."
In addition to his IFAI leadership role, Peter McKernan was an exhibitor. His company, Herculite Products, Inc., is a producer of high-performance laminated and coated fabrics. He summed up the new show saying, "I thought IFAI Expo Asia 2011 was the best first-time show we've ever participated in. Attendance was good, the quality of the symposiums was extraordinary, and there was a buzz about this that was unexpected. I've been to other international shows, but this one really blew me away."
A personal message came from U.S. President Barack Obama to exhibitors and visitors supporting IFAI Expo Asia 2011, emphasizing the importance of cooperation within the international business community. In a letter published in the show directory, he said that by opening new markets and promoting trade, new sales channels are being created for the exhibitors' products and services.
Organized concurrently with the exhibition were state-of-the-industry technical symposiums drawing large attendance. Under the leadership of Professor Roshan Shishoo, an international advisory team comprised of the industry's leading experts organized symposiums that included applications for geosynthetics, nonwoven, automotive and e-textiles. All of the sessions were designed to address emerging manufacturing opportunities in the Asia Pacific region.
The advisory members were:
- Henk Stijweg, BVZ, Thailand
- Martin King, North Carolina State University, USA
- Samir Gupta, Business Co-ordination House, India
- Junko Takai, Hivix, Japan
- Amie Wang, ACE Geosynthetics, Taiwan
The event was all about making connections throughout the value chain. Companies exhibiting were on many different levels within the Asia Pacific market. Some were at an entry level looking for help in connecting with partners. Others had already been marketing within China, for example, but wanted to expand in Southeast Asia. One visitor interviewed was part of a division that was new to Asia, even though other divisions in the company had been there for years. Others were introducing new products and looking for distributors.
They all had one goal in common--access to new buyers--and this show accomplished that.
The Industrial Fabrics Association International expects to announce the dates and location of the next IFAI Expo Asia in the very near future. There is already keen interest and many exhibitors have expressed their intention to exhibit again.
Says Herculite CEO McKernan, "I think that there will be more people from the States who will want to be a part of it. There is a tremendous interest in the region in high-performance fabrics, and it's really important to be a part of that for our company, and for IFAI to be a part of that. IFAI Expo Asia 2011 was well-done all the way around. We will be coming back."
Mr. Zhao Jinjiang, Vice General Manager of Shandong Roken Group Co., Ltd. - China: "Through this event we have gotten to know lots of overseas clients. We will let our industrial friends in Ling Xian (Ling County) know this. Next year, in name of Ling Xian Geosynthetics Association, I hope to lead more local manufacturers to exhibit overseas."
Mr. Shen Jinling, Sales Manager, Foshan S.L.P. Special Materials Co., Ltd. -China: "We've had very good business, better than we ever imagined. We have nearly run out of our catalogs."
Axel Zangerle, Director-Business Development (ASEAN Region), Pfaff Industrial -Singapore: "For us the show was very good. Surprisingly a lot of people came from Australia, Malaysia and other parts of the world, and it was extremely profitable for us. We have a regional office here in Singapore, but it's the first time we have shown this many welding machines in an exhibition. This is a growing market, people are looking to replace equipment and expand their businesses to meet growing demand."
Peter McDonald, CEO/Managing Director, Gale Pacific Ltd. - Australia: "We've had contacts here at IFAI Expo Asia 2011 in markets that we aren't in such as Indonesia, India, Malaysia, and Thailand; so for us the show has been very good. We got a lot of new leads."
Naveed Ahmad, M.S.E. (Industrial Engineering), Managing Director, H. Nizam Din & Sons Ltd. - Pakistan: "The show has surpassed our expectations. We've met a lot of people over here, especially from Singapore, and even as far as Australia and Bangkok. We haven't been to Singapore in many years, so it was an experience to see it again and meet up with our old customers. It's turned out to be a really good show."
Richard Kish, International Sales Manager, Q-Lab Corporation - USA: "We were delighted to be a participant in the first IFAI Expo Asia, and we got a lot of good leads from all over the world. So this is fabulous. We're definitely going to do this again."
Stephen Siener, Vice President Business Manager, Building Products & Engineered Membranes, Cooley Group - USA: "We've had a tremendous amount of people stopping by. Based on the conversations I've had, I'd say we had eight to ten really good prospects. That's a pretty good ratio."
Mr. Michael Jeon, Sales Manager, G-Line, Qingao G&E Biopolytex Co. Ltd. - China: "We have seen visitors who have come from many counties--Australia, India, Malaysia. It's quite good."
Bud Weisbart, IFM, Vice President, AR Tech and AR Industries - USA: "We met with embassy personnel from New Delhi, Thailand and Singapore; and these folks are very knowledgeable about the potential in their countries. That has been very valuable."
Adrien Derreumaux, Sales Director-International, Dickson/Glen Raven - France: "The show has been good--well-organized, the Marina Bay Sands Exhibit Hall is nice, and we had a nice booth. We met with a lot of our customers from the region--from the North (Japan, Korea), to the South (Australia)--so this was positive."
Murat Devecioglu, Business Development Manager, Duraskin - Germany: "The show exceeded our expectations. It was not just Singaporean customers. There were customers from Southeast Asia--Indonesia, Malaysia, and India, which is one of the fastest growing markets. This is the first show we have attended in Southeast Asia in many years, and it was worth it. We've met good contacts and found good possibilities for marketing our products locally here."
John Pierce, WeatherMax Product Manager, Safety Components - USA: "We will return to the next IFAI Expo Asia. I think this has been a very good show, a great opportunity for both learning and contacts."
Richard Anderson, Jr., President, Lamcotec - USA: "We've been pleasantly surprised at the amount of material that we've given out as well as the people who have stopped by the booth. We're looking at seeing what kind of expansion there is because we know that India's growing, China's growing. We're getting out our product literature and making our presence known."
For more information and photographs--IFAI will soon announce the dates and location of IFAI Expo Asia 2012, and will issue a press release with this announcement. Prospective exhibitors and visitors should check back with www.ifaiexpoasia.com for the latest information.
For additional marketing assistance contact IFAI Marketing Coordinator Melissa Dill at firstname.lastname@example.org.