Planning ahead ... ready to go

Sept. 8, 2005
Business is tough enough even if we don't mismanage our schedules. We have to find ways to break through the limitations.

It’s the middle of summer so some things tend to get delayed. If only that were my only reason for being off-schedule. But, thanks to a colleague who is more organized than I am, better at time-management and project-planning, I’ve got a copy of the promotional brochure for Forge Fair 2006. It’s set to take place next April 4-6, and while you may think this is too soon to start a promotional pitch, think again.

If left to my own ways I might not pay attention to this important event until after Thanksgiving, if that soon. And, besides my own bad habits, there are the problems I cannot change. For example, Forging will have just three more issues before Forge Fair gets underway in Cincinnati next spring.

So, if I’m not the first, let me be the latest to encourage you to make plans to attend the event. The Forging Industry Assn. has been staging its expo and technical conference since 1970, and it is easily the most important event presented for the North American industry. At the last staging in 2003, nearly 150 exhibitors presented equipment, supplies, and services targeted specifically at forgers. Among the product areas due to be represented are automation, heat treating, combustion systems, diagnostic and testing equipment, die materials and blocks, forging/forming equipment, induction heating systems, process design/simulation systems, tooling, and several more. Of course, there will be three days full of technical presentations, too.

Business is tough enough even if we don’t mismanage our schedules. We have to find ways to break through the limitations. And, we have to be ready to move when we find an opportunity. Trade shows are a tried and true way to gather targeted information and to make new connections. They can be an awkward confluence of commerce and technology, but they work because everyone has a single interest. Still, you have to arrive with an objective, and you have to be open to new ideas. So get started now, to be ready.

I thought about all this again when I read the results of a midyear survey of industrial engineers conducted by GlobalSpec, a search engine specialized for the engineering community.

GlobalSpec found that 92% of its respondents in the U.S. industrial sector expect that overall 2005 revenues for their firms will improve on 2004 revenue, and 83% say their revenue is ahead-of or on-target for 2005 forecasts. And, while this information is certainly encouraging, the survey results hint that material and component suppliers are not as commercially ready as their buyers expect. Of the engineer-respondents, only 20% say they get consistently (i.e., 95% of the time or more) the information they requested from their suppliers. And, 43% of these engineers contend that their suppliers keep them waiting three to seven days for a response to e-mail inquiries. Still, 91% of these engineers say they have used the Web to find components and suppliers, and 41% say they spend at least six hours per week searching the Internet for professional reasons.

If I were a forging supplier wondering where to find new business, I’d look closely at this survey. It may be a stretch to connect these respondents with the engineers specifically searching for forged products, but the question should be asked: is there some business opportunity out there waiting for you to respond.