SHANGHAI, China – Texcare Asia 2007 – the largest industry show in the Far East – welcomed thousands of visitors during its three-day run, but it was the visitor that didn’t arrive about whom most people were talking.
The International Trade Fair for Modern Textile Care opened on time here Sept. 19, even as this country’s financial center braced for what was being forecast as the worst typhoon to strike China in a decade.
Shanghai, home to 20 million people, closed schools, ferries and other transport links following predictions of torrential rains and strong winds. But Typhoon Wipha seemed to have little impact here as it made landfall well to the south and was soon downgraded to a tropical storm.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs has since reported that 2.67 million people in Zhejiang, Fujian, Shanghai and Jiangsu were relocated before Wipha arrived. The typhoon destroyed more than 9,600 homes and damaged 42,000 others in the region, but only five people were reported to have been killed.
Heavy rain began pelting the Shanghai New International Expo Centre’s fabric roof during Texcare Asia’s opening ceremony, but the weather had cleared by the next morning.
What impact the storm may have had on attendance is anyone’s guess. Several U.S. exhibitors knew of individuals who had planned to attend but either changed their plans or couldn’t travel to Shanghai because of the weather.
Charles Giancola, president of D.J. Giancola Exports, based in Syracuse, N.Y., was surprised by the early attendance given Wipha’s forecasted track.
Rick Kelly, vice president of marketing and sales administration for Pellerin Milnor Corp., says most of the traffic to Milnor’s booth by the midway point were distributors.
Messe Frankfurt, Texcare’s show manager, reports there were 5,785 visitors from 55 countries and regions. In comparison, Texcare Asia 2005 in Beijing drew 5,259 visitors from 52 countries and regions.
Twenty-two percent of visitors to Shanghai – 1,270 – came from overseas. There were 135 exhibitors from 17 countries and regions.
The International Committee of Textile Care (CINET), in cooperation with the China National Light Industrial Machinery Corp. and Messe Frankfurt, offered the Professional Textile Care Academy (PTCA), a special two-day conference and networking program designed to bring European textile care expertise to a China hungry for the knowledge.
But the PTCA – scheduled largely during show hours – appears to have drawn only limited interest. There were 126 attendees on Sept. 20 and 71 on Sept. 21.
WAVING THEIR FLAGS
Many of the U.S.-based exhibitors focused their Texcare Asia efforts on promoting their brands rather than selling equipment.
Giancola spent his time meeting with potential distributors for the brands his company exports, including Chicago Dryer Co., G.A. Braun, Forenta, Thermopatch and others.
Andy Kretz, vice president and general manager of Dexter Laundry, says traveling to Texcare enabled his team to meet with members of his company’s distribution network from South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
With Alliance Laundry Systems having acquired the Cissell and IPSO brands last year, Texcare Asia offered a venue to meet this region’s Alliance distributors and bring them up to speed on that and other changes, says Jeff Brothers, its senior vice president of sales and marketing.
“A lot of the newer IPSO and Cissell customers that have been selling the products for years didn’t know us or what our plans were,” Brothers adds. “Certainly, the Asian markets are important to us ... for long-term growth.”
Chicago Dryer Co. (Chicago®) seeks opportunities to increase its brand exposure internationally, says Carol Tyler, its marketing director, and traveling to foreign shows like Texcare allows the company to meet distributors and end users face to face.
“We’re a world player, so you have to be on the world stage,” says Tyler, who adds that Chicago® flatwork finishers are a popular choice among high-end hotels elsewhere in Asia.
Setting aside an order he’s preparing, Mauricio Lima, director of international sales for American Dryer Corp. (ADC), says he relies heavily on the local dealers he’s meeting to present his company’s message of product quality and energy savings to a growing Chinese market.
Tingue, Brown & Co. was on the verge of formalizing a business relationship with a Chinese company to market certain Tingue, Brown product lines here, according to president David Tingue, who added that an announcement may be forthcoming soon.
“This is a growing market and we’d really like to be here if we can,” Tingue says.
John Riddle, president of Riddle & Associates, the firm that manages the Clean Show, and David Cotter, Textile Care Allied Trades Association (TCATA) CEO and Clean Executive Committee member, exhibited to spark interest in Clean ’09 in New Orleans.
They sought attendees as well as potential exhibitors that could offer unique products of use to the U.S. textile care market.
“I think there’s a huge amount of value for our show, for our U.S. industry, to be here to network and meet people, and expose what we’re doing in the United States to the rest of the world,” Riddle says.
Texcare Asia will return in 2009, organizers say, but the site has yet to be determined. Messe Frankfurt polled attendees during the trade fair about their preferences for the month and location for the next show.
Bruce Beggs is the editor of American Laundry News.